The idea of starting with the question of what to sell when creating content is now obsolete. The glut of editorial and marketing content available demands that brands be more relevant to their customers. So, most leading B2B marketers are tapping data sources to tell them what topics are most likely to resonate with their prospects and customers.
One obvious way for marketers to adopt this data-driven approach is through Google Trends. Of all of the topics you can write about, which are spiking on Google? Spending 30 minutes punching topics into publicly available tools gives you a quick idea of what's hot and what's not.
The problem is that those topics are not tied to specific customer segments, so this approach is hardly a recipe for relevance.
To identify and understand your addressable market, you need to be aware of three constituencies of content consumption: a key list of accounts, your database (or CRM), and website visitors.
1. Your key account list is a start
A fundamental part of marketing, a list of your key accounts is critical to identifying who you want to target. In an account-based marketing-focused world, having this list is critical to finding out what topics (through intent data) are most popular to people within these companies. Having one results in more effective marketing and content production.
For example, Big Data-related topics made up three of the top five most aggressively spiking terms across a set of 300 financial institutions early this year, according to Bombora's surge data. For marketers targeting financial institutions, producing content about their solution through the lens of Big Data could potentially result in greater reach and much more meaningful engagement.
2. A robust database or CRM makes the future less risky
Your second constituency is all the users that you've already captured. In a perfect world, those users are only from your key accounts, but that is rarely the case. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of others in your database that have expressed some interest in your product or service.
Though these users may not be your current focus, the reality is that your key accounts will change every quarter or at least every year. Understanding the needs of this set of prospects is important in building for the future.
For example, incorporating intent data into your database or CRM matched against existing data points can provide insights, in aggregate, about what your database is most interested in when mapped against all the business topics for which you can create content.
3. Website visitors need the right content
A study by Accenture and hybris found that 50% of business buyers would most like personalized products or services recommendations on their website. But if you don't know who visits or what they are interested in, you cannot serve up the right message.
That brings us to the last and perhaps the most elusive content consumption constituency—your website visitors. Although personalization is lauded as one of the trends fundamental to marketing success, understanding and identifying who is visiting a website has proved to be the challenge to providing a truly one-on-one experience.
You can use a range of tools (such as Adobe, Optimizely, Marketo, and GetSmartContent) to help identify who visits your website. Generally, B2B data providers will plug into these platforms, allowing you to understand a range of demographic and firmographic characteristics. The additional boost from overlaying intent data is in gaining an understanding of what topics your visitors are most interested in, based on their behavior on other sites, at an aggregate level.
A more sophisticated application of intent data, integrated through a site personalization platform, is in automating these insights in real time and present visitors with content that most interests them.
Making the most of data to drive clever content marketing
By collecting and incorporating data into your three content consumption constituencies, you will be armed with a range of insights to inform a clever content marketing practice and a broader marketing and sales strategy.
But collecting these insights is just one part of the process.
To make the most of these insights, you should consider the following.
- In content marketing, the simplest approaches are often the best. So many insights... Where should you start? Content marketing doesn't have to be overly complex. It may be using your key account list's interests to build a community through a social media platform and engaging them on trending topics. It may be sharing relevant content produced by other notable publications.
- Find the conversation; don't try to create it. These insights allow you to understand what the conversation is about, so you can invest time in understanding where it takes place, how to best insert yourself into it, and the best angle to suit your business.
- Live and breathe a marketing data-driven approach. Having these insights is one thing, but if they are not embedded into your process (from content production to overarching marketing strategy), they will be useless. Embedding these insights as a part of everyday process and taking an integrated approach will help realize the true value of these insights across the marketing mix.
- Don't keep these insights to yourself. Make sure you share them with your sales teams to keep them in the know about what their addressable market is interested and drive relevant conversations.
- Make your content consumption constituencies work for you. There are multiple marketing tools to help you accumulate and grow your base of data and insights on your addressable markets. By checking in with them regularly will help you further grow your dataset to offer them meaningful and timely engagements.