Nine out of 10 B2B marketers are actively using content marketing, regardless of their size or industry.

Here are some lessons learning from the world of content marketing.

1. Focus on engagement

The objective of content marketing has shifted from lead generation to developing effective engagement. A total of 88% of marketers now view the primary goals of content marketing to be enhancing customer loyalty and prospect/customer engagement, according to a survey by Smart Insights.

There is no shortage of content, so marketers need to find ways to enhance the customer experience by going beyond a presentation or a whitepaper. Marketers need an interactive engagement to keep their prospects and customers actively involved.

Using content marketing to deliver a compelling story allows marketers to build an emotional connection with the audience, bringing to life the information and making it relevant, interesting, and useful.

When people are involved in digesting information via an interactive experience (as compared with a passive experience, such as watching a video or reading a whitepaper), they retain up to three times as much information.

In an interactive experience, each piece of content is only presented when and where the user chooses, ensuring that each person gets to navigate a highly relevant and more individual understanding of the products and solutions. Each user decides what sections to explore, and in what sequence and level of detail.

2. Show, don't tell

Experience has demonstrated that visuals combined with text copy are much more effective than either text or visuals alone.

The content marketing tactic that increased the most in 2014 was infographics. When multiple senses are employed in processing information, the level of retention increases.

As the world moves towards more bite-sized chunks of information (e.g., 140-character tweets), the use of visual imagery to convey important information becomes more effective. The combination of well-designed text copy in concert with visuals dramatically enhances the cognitive processes used when reading or scanning documents, and this is incredibly useful for content marketers.

Rather than discussing an increase in product functionality over time, for example, a thought-provoking chart with a clear depiction of a rising arrow sends the message that grabs the reader's attention. The complementary text describing how the product's functionality has expanded reinforces the underlying message by both adding credibility and creating specific information the reader remembers.

3. Make content personal

Though the marketing team strives for delivering a consistent message about solutions and products, the way that the prospect experiences the message can be highly personalized to suit his or her needs.

Personalization will continue to be a focus of marketing attention for the rest of 2015, especially with the continuing development of marketing automation tools that allow for more unique and relevant deliverables.

Marketers in companies of all sizes can directly target customers based on specific titles, needs/wants, and stage in the buyer's journey, which means not only personalizing email greetings but delivering specialized content to each category of user. If customers are reading, comprehending, and interacting with the meaningful content created and sent to them, they will have an elevated experience and greater knowledge retention. That translates into increased usage and sales.

Some 78% of the most successful marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago, so delivering a more relevant and personalized piece of content is becoming more necessary (and effective).

4. Reuse and repurpose content

Forbes recently reported that 69% of CEOs believe that their marketing organizations waste money on redundant marketing initiatives. Apparently, marketers agree.

Successful marketers know that by maximizing their investments through repurposing their deliverables, they can help alleviate this concern. In a 2014 survey, conducted by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, 86% of CMOs said they were also looking for ways to repurpose content across new platforms within the next 12months, without recreating or reformatting it in any way.

Rather than creating individual marketing deliverables for each event or product launch, and instead of spending money on content specific to a channel or device, focus on reusing and repurposing the same content marketing applications across any device or marketing channel.

Similar to responsive design, new marketing platforms (like the Kaon Application Delivery Network) are finally allowing for interactive content to be created once and deployed everywhere (mobile devices, tablets, desktops, websites, touch screens, etc.). This gives companies the ability to create one cost-effective "user-driven" piece of content that can address multiple constituents within the buying ecosystem, across multiple selling environments (sales meetings, websites, trade shows, briefing centers, training, etc.). Same brand, same message, same value story.

Face-to-Face Interactions: The Most Effective Venues

Though digital marketing is the most common platform for interactive applications, delivering content in an interactive manner can, and does, happen face to face as well.

Moreover, just because some piece of content is online does not make it interactive.

Being interactive means that there is a dialog, a back and forth between the user and the application, that delivers a personalized, more effective experience. (Think of the difference between watching a video and playing a video game.)

Interactive 3D product storytelling applications, on touchscreens and mobile devices, allow customers to create their own buyer's journey within a tradeshow booth, or a customer sales event, navigating how products operate together in a variety of real-world scenarios to solve their problems.

By incorporating consistent marketing messages within these interactive digital experiences (via relevant messages and sales materials), companies can better tell their product/solution story in a branded user environment.

* * *

Make your content stand out, and deliver an effective (and cost-efficient) customer experience by incorporating these lessons learned. Deliver engaging content through visual storytelling experiences, facilitating personal navigation across multiple channels and devices.

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image of Gavin Finn

Gavin Finn is president and CEO of Kaon Interactive, a provider of interactive 3D marketing and sales applications that help B2B marketers and salespeople consistently demonstrate and differentiate products.

LinkedIn: Gavin Finn