Clear Strategy And Careful Planning Are Key To Content Personalization At Scale

With Tricia Wills Ruiz, Creative Content Manager, Real Impact

Content personalization is all about talking to potential B2B clients and clients as if you knew them. Not just where they work and their job title, but what keeps them up at night. Treat potential customers as their peers and build a personal relationship that grows as they learn more about your products and services.

It all starts with identifying the topics that interest your audience. From there, you need to understand how they will use the content you provide them to solve business problems, based on their role in the company. And in order to really earn their trust, you have to speak up as part of their community – not as someone just trying to sell them something.

It’s tough, but it’s what today’s self-directed B2B buyer should expect. In many ways, buying habits between businesses and organizations are beginning to resemble B2C purchases more than classic B2B funnels. (A recent McKinsey study found that three-quarters of all B2B buyers now prefer self-directed digital buying experiences.) Personally, I know I tend to think of myself as a “user” of commerce sites rather than a “consumer,” and the same is true for B2B buyers. Insiders and insiders.

Optimizing content personalization with a focus on revenue

Real conversations with these buyers start with personalized marketing content — and lots of it. Creating the volume of custom content needed to fuel your revenue pipeline requires technology, a deep understanding of your target accounts buying process, and a strategic approach to content creation.

I recently spoke with Mark Kilens, Vice President of Content and Community at Drift, about how he has set up his team to create deeply customized content from the perspective of his best customers. Our conversation, part of the True Influence Accelerating Revenue series, covered a lot of bases, from Drift’s plans to build a personal “organic” experience on her own site, to how content marketing lays the foundation for sales to serve as a strategic advisor.

To create personalized marketing content at scale, Kilens says it’s essential to align your efforts with the channels and personas of the buying group that generate revenue. He adds that content is a major revenue contributor to Drift, with organic search being one of the company’s most converting channels.

Proof of revenue for any activity is critical, and it is a hot topic in content personalization. Kilens mentions a recent Gartner report that grabbed the headlines when it suggested that 80 percent of marketers may abandon their content personalization efforts in the next few years. But a deeper look shows that their frustrations are largely due to poor planning and resource allocation – not a lack of confidence in the value of personally relevant and useful content. Gartner has found that personalization accounts for 14 percent of marketing budgets, but only about 5 percent of marketers say they are satisfied with their personalization strategy. This is a recipe for failure, no matter what you do.

Kilens emphasized that every content project in Drift begins with a campaign brief, outlining the following four key success factors:

  • Effects – What happened started the effort.
  • justification – How effort will grow revenue.
  • objective – Quantifiable targets for effort.
  • audience – The different personalities of the Buying Group that the effort will reach, and how the content will be customized to meet their distinct interest groups.

With a clear revenue path, marketers can create customized content at scale with confidence.

Content brokers

Perhaps the most interesting detail Kilens shared during our conversation is that about 70 percent of Drift’s marketing content comes from people outside the company, representing the customer communities he wants to participate in. In fact, he describes his team as “content brokers”, rather than “content makers”.

Getting content from real members of your target audience helps build the insight and empathy necessary for personalization and getting people to connect with your content. It helps customers see themselves as part of the conversation, and it adds a sense of authenticity to marketing touches that aren’t even achieved with a sales call.

Content teams are built on the basis of the buying phase and personality

Another interesting aspect of Drift’s personalization strategy is the organization of content teams. Each team focuses on the content coordination and their role in the B2B buying journey. Within these three focus areas, Content Moderators develop specific offerings for distinct buying group personalities.

  • Media, including video and podcasts. These pieces typically correspond to the classic “high conversion funnel” and resemble B2C play, similar to what you might see from media influencers, Killins said.
  • More in-depth conversational marketing, which often resembles internal sales. The focus here is on how the solution works and how it might work in the potential client’s business. Think about the beginnings of the conversation.
  • Educational content, mainly targeting influencers who will spread the word within their organization.

Drift’s buying journey models align with these concepts, and enable the purposeful planning and execution of camping that generates revenue.

Check out the episode!

Be sure to check out our full conversation with Mark Kilens on your favorite platform.

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