As with most things in the marketing world, “content experience” has many different definitions depending on who you’re talking to.
One way to think about it is like a reading book versus reading an excerpt. While an excerpt might whet your appetite for the full story, it lacks both context and impact. It’s a bite, not a meal. But when you sit down with the entire book, you get to experience the story in its entirety, and its impact extends beyond the time you spent reading it.
Similarly, a content experience allows one to engage with a B2B brand’s message on a deeper, more interactive level than a random, one-and-done piece of traditional content. This ultimately helps your brand create a more lasting impression on your prospects.
Don’t get us wrong. Individual pieces of content like white papers and standalone videos have their place in a marketing strategy. But ultimately, their impact will be fleeting if they live on their own islands, irrespective of your prospects’ larger experience of your brand.
For many B2B organizations, that disconnect happens when content is created simply for the sake of having it. Prospects can tell when you’re just checking off the boxes; the message will ring hollow.
Good content experiences are bingeable. Whether it’s through multiple pieces tied together by theme in a cohesive environment or a singular deep-dive into a particular topic, your audience should be able to wade in and extract a ton of value from the experience.
Content experiences can also be interactive and provide value via personalization, giving prospects a view into your brand through the lens of their own unique context. In the end, they should come away feeling like they learned something and that their time was well spent.
But when you shift your focus from talking just to be heard to providing a real, holistic experience — that’s when you truly start to set your brand apart.
In the last few years, the B2B world has come around to the idea of content marketing. While that’s a great thing generally speaking, it also means that the market is absolutely saturated with content.
A B2B prospect searching for information now has to swim through a deep ocean of blog posts, videos, white papers, and ebooks from many different companies vying for their attention. And more often than not, none of that content is doing or saying anything new.
A unique, compelling visual presentation or format alone can help capture and better keep their attention. Furthermore, if you aim for the experience to be one of depth and relevance (think: personalized or serialized content), it becomes all the more valuable and keeps them coming back for more.
Content experiences are also immersive, meaning your audience will stay engaged longer.
From a B2B perspective, that’s critical to making a lasting impression. The B2B buying journey is long and involves a lot of research. There’s a lot riding on these decisions, so buyers need as much information as possible to inform their final choice.
A deeply engaging, comprehensive content experience ensures that you leave no stone unturned when it comes to providing value and proving your products or services are the best-of-the-best option.
Finally, creating content experiences allows you to better control the narrative. Most B2B companies don’t just have one vertical or buyer persona they’re speaking to. And especially in the context of account-based marketing, where you’re trying to reach multiple people at each account who all have different responsibilities and pain points, you want to make sure that you’re saying the right things to the right people.
What works for a mid-level manager differs from what works for the C-suite. What’s relevant to the higher education vertical differs from what works for government agencies. When you create unique content experiences for each of those audiences, you can zero in on the information that’s most relevant to their context.
In this way, you can optimize the time prospects spend engaging with your brand and map out their path to purchase more clearly.
Content experiences can come in many different shapes and sizes depending on your audience’s needs, the information you want to share, and the context in which you’re sharing it.
Let’s explore examples from some of the leading brands in the B2B space.
If you have a large pool of existing content, you can draw from it to create a personalized or curated experience for your prospects. This format wrangles in the most relevant information for each specific audience and presents it in a neat, organized environment that makes binging easy.
This can be as simple as manually pulling content you think they’d benefit from and addressing the target company or person by name, or as complex as using a tool that leverages data from your CRM to dynamically present content on the fly.
Provide the most relevant information for each specific audience in a neat, organized environment that makes binging easy. This can be as simple as manually pulling content you think they’d benefit from, or as complex as using a tool that leverages data from your CRM, as well as search behavior, to dynamically present content on the fly.
If you’re going for a more one-to-many approach, you can take a page from Sigstr’s book. They use Uberflip on their website to create content hubs based on use case, meaning that prospects from different departments at a company can drill down to the articles, videos, and flipbooks that are most relevant to their own roles.
The large majority of people like to interact with a brand regardless of whether they’re part of a B2B or B2C audience, most people like to interact with a brand before making a purchase. This is doubly true if they can also gain something from the experience without having to buy something upfront.
Interactive content experiences are a great way to do this. Think quizzes that will help them self-select the best products or services for their needs. Think cost calculators and planning tools. Even surveys and reports that help them benchmark against others in their industry can be greatly valuable while also providing an obligation-free introduction to your brand.
HubSpot’s Website Grader, which does a top-level, automated scan of your website and generates tips for improving your site performance, SEO, and security is a great example. It then serves up CTAs that offer a free trial of the HubSpot CMS, or a number of free 15-minute lessons. And of course, the grader requires an email address – can't forget the lead-gen!
No time or budget, then take existing content and repurpose it into something more dynamic and interactive to create memorable experiences. A great example of this is how Leadspace created an animated, comic book-esque walkthrough of how their platform helps accelerate the sales process. It’s almost like an explainer video that you can interact with — fun!
Creating a lot of content in various formats is never a bad thing — it’s when that content is scattered all over the place that it starts to become more of a problem than a benefit. Today’s B2B audiences are strapped for time and patience, so making them go on a wild goose chase for information often means they’ll probably just go somewhere else.
When you create a well-organized, easy-to-navigate content hub around a particular topic, you’re not just making their lives easier, you’re providing them with a reliable resource they can come back to time and time again.
A core topic pillar page that links out to sub-topic pages.
A database of all your content that can be sorted and filtered.
A page that houses content in a variety of different formats.
A great example of a content hub is Mailchimp 101. This is a section on the email provider’s website geared toward training customers on how to use the software and get their email marketing up and running. It’s not only well-organized, but extremely well-branded with Mailchimp’s unique illustrated style, making it as easy on the eyes as it is easy to navigate.
Brian Dean of Backlinko also does a great job of providing well-organized and comprehensive experiences in the form of his content hubs. He has covered everything from SEO to content marketing to YouTube — all pretty complex topics — and broken each of them down into their basic parts to help marketers grasp the technical and strategic concepts more easily.
If the idea is that content experiences should provide a ton of value and keep your audience engaged in interesting ways, serialized content is a natural fit. This type of experience allows you to explore certain topics more in depth than you ever could with a single piece of content. Plus, the regularity of a series lays the foundation for sustained, repeatable interactions with your audience.
Whether you’re providing onboarding through a pre-scheduled email drip sequence or producing new content week to week, your audience will learn to expect to hear from you. And over time, that reliability can build invaluable trust in your brand.
Let B2B buyers consume content during the moments that work for them, like their commute?
Shopify does a great job of this with their two podcasts, Masters and Vanguard, which cover various business-related topics like ecommerce and entrepreneurship — i.e. subjects that will help their customers sell better and get more use out of the Shopify platform.
An active, well-organized YouTube channel full of informative and inspiring videos can also serve as a great content experience for B2B prospects. The newest B2B frontier, where people go to learn how to do things and research brands before purchasing something — even B2B buyers.
One example of a B2B brand making great use of their YouTube channel is Zendesk. Their channel features whole playlists of videos that cover everything from product tutorials to customer stories to inspirational talks — they even have videos that let you peek behind the curtain of the company. Quite endearing!
The types of content experiences that will resonate with your audience will vary depending on many different factors: your industry, the nature of your products or services, and especially the various personas you’re trying to reach. Our list here is not exhaustive! Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to content experiences you can create for your unique customers.
Based on what we’ve learned about Iron Net, here are some ideas we think could really work for you:
With the wide range of great existing and new content you create, combined with the right martech platform, you can truly move the needle with customers through the deployment of content, dynamic destinations, and tracking for success.
Specifically, Iron Net can begin identifying target prospects and deploying personalized content down to the industry, account, and even individual level through ads, syndicated content, and emails.
Then utilizing your wide range of content, Iron Net can also create engaging personalized content experiences down to the 1: Few and 1:1 level.
Finally, imagine being able to track the audience engagement with the content that you deploy across owned destinations like content hubs and landing pages, and being able to action on this data.
Performance tracking and attribution is the backbone of today’s ABM and demand marketing approaches in driving KPIs, lead, and ultimately sales.
All of this is intended to help you support your sales programs and meet your revenue goals, and that’s how we track our campaigns.
The CSI Group
160 Summit Avenue, Suite 200
Montvale, NJ 0764
Call us: (201 587-1400)
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