We devote a lot of space here at The Hub to exploring methods and technologies which afford marketers the opportunity to deliver contextually relevant content to the right leads and at the right time.
The tools are out there, from marketing suites which offer predictive analytics or fire alerts as prospects reach hit new touch-points, to journey management offerings and real-time email personalization. It sometimes seems that finding ways to automate and scale the personalized customer experience is all we right out.
But a lot of brands still aren’t paying attention.
That’s the takeaway from a recent report issued by the CMO Council. Working with content marketing vendor NetLine Corporation, the Council set out to examine a yawning gap between content marketing and lead generation in the B2B space. According to existing research, more than half the content created for B2B marketing purposes isn’t used, and where it is used, it has limited impact on conversion rates.
Based on a survey of over 200 marketing leaders, the reasons the Council uncovered for this gap make depressing reading. They include the following:
- Only 12 percent of respondents say they create content with specific customers, targets, markets or industries in mind.
- Marketers still rely on owned channels like corporate websites, email to known databases and social media promotions, even though only four percent say their current channels are highly effective at delivering quality leads.
- More than 25 percent do not have any strategy for content syndication, distributing it on an ad hoc basis.
- Over 40 percent believe content does not reach decision-makers, or the intended audience at all.
The list could go on. What’s clear is that many marketers are still relying on mass distribution of content created for a mass audience–throwing it at the wall and hoping it sticks. At best, the leads generated might consist of name and email, even though–as the report points out–most marketers agree that high quality leads should incorporate much more granular information about the prospect.
And to the extent there’s any distribution planning at all, it overlooks the enormous and growing importance of third party channels. Almost 70 percent of B2B buyers start their journey with a search engine, and not with a vendor website: “Objectivity, thought leadership and neutrality trump all else.” It’s possible to bring content to these valued channels, but it will require a change of mindset.
Marketing technology is clearly only part of the story–although it’s an essential part, given the scale of the challenges. Marketers need to get aboard the personalized (and neutral channel) content train.