Format is one of those chicken and egg things about marketing that just needs to cross the road.
Every year, reports come out that tout which content type works best at which stage in the funnel and has marketers responding to which format drives the most ROI in buyer engagement.
Let me ask you this > When is the last time you went online and said, “today, I want to view an infographic?” I’m guessing never. What you do is go search for a topic you’re interested in. Or you’re scrolling through your LinkedIn feed, and something catches your attention. More likely because of the topic than the format.
If your search brings back a list of content options and one of them near the top is an infographic, you may choose to click on that first because the indication is a visual with statistics that’s easy to ingest. Whether the infographic serves your needs is dependent on the information in the visual, not the format of the visual. Believe me, if the information is garbage, you’ll be hitting that back button in short order, without caring if it’s an infographic, video, or a blog post.
A Focus on Format is a Siloed View
Or an echo chamber. Take your pick.
You pull analytics on content performance and see that your infographic (or blog, or case study, etc.) has more views than other formats this month. So, you think, wow, that really worked. I need more of those!
But do you really?
It depends. What else did the audience who viewed your infographic do? Did they spend enough time to really ingest it? Or was it a drive by view, quickly exited? Did they read other content on your site, or just that? Did they subscribe to your blog? Did they like it on social? Did they share it with a comment?
Research from CMI (PDF) finds that fewer than 6 in 10 (56%) agree that they can extract meaningful insights from data and analytics derived from the consumption of content. We need to look deeper. We need to look beyond the single asset to the experience.
A single content asset is simply a stone on the path to attention, engagement, and hopefully, advancement. Looking at it in isolation as an absolute is misleading. Instead, B2B marketers need to understand the relevance and impact of content experiences, not one-off encounters.
A one-off encounter is just that. The goal is ongoing escalation of engagement that advances your audience’s thinking about solving the problem your product or solution helps them with. A single asset is unlikely to do that when buyers admit they’re doing more research, buy cycles are taking them longer, more people are involved, and confidence in the ability to justify decisions is flagging.
What’s Your Content Done for You Lately?
This is where B2B content experiences come into play.
Here’s how I define it:
A Content Experience is the orchestration of storyline, messaging, and resources that speaks to a specific audience in context in a way that motivates them to engage and take an action in response. ~Ardath Albee
A collection of interconnected content experiences is what creates a continuum for the customer lifecycle – from status quo through buying, onboarding, renewal, and advocacy.
Looking at content as random, one-off events is not going to get you here.
B2B marketers have a huge opportunity to step up and use content experiences as the glue that keeps the organization inside the guardrails of relevance. From beginning to end. And there’s lots of room for improvement. That same CMI research finds that only about 1 in 5 content marketers claim that their organization is extremely (2%) or very (20%) successful with strategically managing content across the organization.
It’s time for marketers to go way beyond top of funnel, or a focus on lead acquisition. Most of all, it’s imperative to focus on relevance and experiences instead of using format as a guide.