Enterprise demand generation strategies have always been tricky. As marketers, we've tried it all: events, direct mail, email campaigns, cold-calling, targeted digital ads, and any other method we can think of.
But no matter the method, two components are always the heart and brains of the operation: content and data. Every demand generation effort requires marketers to create on-point content and to have the right data at hand. Without those two pillars, it's difficult to find success in today's digitally driven market.
Unfortunately, marketing content has become repetitive and stagnant. In an effort to appease search engine algorithms that favor content-heavy websites, many marketers have transformed into content machines, producing blog posts, e-books, and case studies at rapid rates.
But how many of those content pieces are actually effective?
Meanwhile, data has become an irrepressible topic. Marketers are flooded with information about data tools and investments, all of which are supposed to solve every problem we have.
In a rush to embrace data-driven marketing, Marketing's biggest investments have been in analytics and data solutions, taking up a reported 16% chunk of annual budgets. But, at the same time, over half (57%) of marketers worldwide say they are overwhelmed by incoming data, to the point that many enterprise marketers don't even want to hear the word "data" anymore.
With all those issues in mind, it's time to take a deeper look at the content and data methods you're using in your demand generation strategy. When correctly combined, content and data can become the two pillars that lift up your demand generation to new heights.
The Content Pillar
Marketing content should, first and foremost, be of value to the reader.
Because of the onslaught of constant information at our fingertips, the collective global attention span is becoming shorter than ever, according to a study by the University of Denmark. People no longer want to read more than they have to: Nearly 60% of those who share articles on social media do so without reading past the headline. Naturally, that presents a hefty challenge for content marketers.
To work as a demand generation piece that engages and accelerates the learning and buying process, content must be infused with creativity and the art of storytelling. Too many marketers use content strategies that create uninspired clutter just for the sake of having content. Alongside creative storytelling, content must also contain value to readers—specifically, it needs to offer utility—while supporting the narrative of your business or buying cycle.
Step back and envision the story you want to tell by sharing experiences and events, whether virtual or physical, and through online content. Stop and think: What's the story you want to tell? How can it solve a problem for your target audience?
Once that vision is nailed down, it must be translated to the kind of thought leadership and other content that supports your company. Only 17% of marketers rate the quality of thought leadership they read as "very good or excellent," according to a 2020 Edelman study. By successfully creating content that embraces a consistent narrative, you'll see a ripple effect—from brand awareness and intent behavior to mid-funnel research stages and client expansion behavior.
When each of your content pieces tells an intentional, valuable, and engaging story, it will be time to get your data in order.
The Data Pillar
Although data has brought exciting opportunities to marketing, it has also brought some of the biggest challenges. Fully 54% of enterprise organizations say a lack of data quality and completeness is their biggest hurdle to overcome. Perhaps worse, 52% of marketers say their team members spend most of their hours on data management.
But marketers shouldn't lose hope: Data is, at its core, science.
The most important data points you need to know are the right target audience and the subjects that should be covered in a demand generation campaign. The important question, therefore, is this: How do we understand what our addressable market looks like?
Obtaining data—from industry to location to job title—on your addressable market is crucial. To understand your total market, you have to think beyond email addresses. You'll need clean, refreshed data that is tested quarterly: accurate addresses for direct mail, updated phone numbers, relevant social accounts, and continually changing job titles, to start.
Once you determine your total addressable market, understand the gaps, and identify opportunities for expansion, you can bring your program to life by using that data to drive relevant communications and offers via the appropriate channels.
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Combining good storytelling and content with the right audience—while using data tools that help you understand your total addressable market—makes for a formidable demand generation strategy. Social, website, email, and events campaigns will all garner increased engagement, building lasting client relationships and providing true sales enablement while giving those in the pipeline more overall support.
The content + data formula creates campaign fulfillment that offers real results, which every marketer needs during the chaotic period we've entered.
2020 has become the most tumultuous year yet for marketers, which is why now is the perfect time to revamp your content and data strategies to build a foundation that will last through the pandemic and beyond.
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