• Content must be treated as data to deliver on the increasing expectations of B2B buyers
  • A modular approach to content is key to an organization’s ability to capture and classify valuable insights
  • Marketers must be able to respond to customers in real time with content that motivates the next-best action

B2B buyers have become spoiled by their online B2C retail experiences. In a virtual marketplace that seems to tantalize a consumer’s every whim, it’s no wonder that B2B buyers want the organizations they do business with to measure up to similar standards.

Jessie Johnson TechX

“B2B buyers participate in an average of 17 meaningful interactions during their purchasing journey. ‘Meaningful’ is the key word here; if an interaction isn’t providing value, the buyer will disengage. Personalization isn’t optional anymore,” said Gil Canare, co-presenter with Jessie Johnson of “Why Is Colonel Mustard Searching for Candlesticks? How to Analyze Buyer Clues for Hyper-Personalization” at TechX yesterday.

One key to tackling this expectation is to mine the information that is revealed by content. “Content is data and must be treated as such to deliver on the increasingly complex expectations of the B2B buyer,” says Jessie. “As we read the B2B gameboard, content reveals important clues about buyers and what’s most relevant and when — who did what, who might do what next, and how that related to the unique journey of the other players or roles engaged in the decisionmaking process.”

A modular approach to content — breaking it down into its smallest possible components (e.g. phrase, call to action, copy block, image) makes it possible to deliver real-time relevance across nonlinear buying journeys. “Information about content should be captured, classified and expressed to derive meaningful buyer insights, drive activation techniques and understand content performance by guiding the development of labels or tags that identify, describe and contextualize each content module,” said Jessie. By treating content as data vs. an offer, marketing, sales and product are more likely to pick up clues about buyers’ needs, challenges and desires. These clues can help them motivate buyers to move to the next best action in their journey.

“Marketers need a way to bring context to content — for activation and to leverage rich buyer insights based on the outcome of an interaction, which can be used to drive the next interaction,” said Jessie. This “content contextualization” creates an “architecture of relevance” that responds to a buyer in real time with the most relevant content and treatment.

Gil and Jessie outlined three phases for designing and activating content that motivates buyers toward the next-best action and provides insights for downstream activation:

  • Analyze. Set goals for structured analysis to separate true signals from noise; consider topic trends and content correlations within the buying group to predict the next best offer or interaction.
  • Activate. To identify important actions and behaviors and how to respond to them, consider the motivations of target audience members as they move through the buyer’s journey. Tap the wealth of first-party data already living in existing systems such as the WCM and MAP, and examine popular variable combinations to provide insight into the next best content experience.
  • Adapt. Hyper-personalization requires adaptation across content and delivery mechanisms, with considerations for the matrixed identity of the B2B buyer (i.e. individual, persona, buying center, buying group, account, industry alignment) as well as the individual’s personal preferences and professional motivations. This requires alignment in support of business requirements to ensure that people, process and technology are in place to adapt to the needs of buyers and customers in real time.

Although this process relies on technology, no single technology category can fully address the components of each phase independent of other systems, workflows and data sources. Gil and Jessie suggest that organizations consider core business requirements to deliver contextualized, hyper-personalized buying experiences and determine whether the current tech stack fulfills those requirements. If not, talk to vendors to look into filling the gaps, as well as exploring whether the current tech stack is being used to its potential.