Break Free B2B Marketing: “Webinerd” Mark Bornstein of ON24 on Dialing In Digital Experiences

Break Free B2B Marketing Mark Bornstein Image

Break Free B2B Marketing Mark Bornstein Image

Like many other digital experiences, the webinar has traditionally been viewed as a means to an end: Create something that seems valuable to your audience, and use it as a vehicle to acquire contact information for lead generation purposes.

But marketers like Mark Bornstein take a different angle: What if we view the webinar itself as an end — an extremely valuable marketing tool on its own? What if we’re just muddying it up with all these mandatory form-fills and sales-y follow-ups?

“You need the name once, you need the demographic information one time,” he observes. “But why do we keep putting forms together again and again? What matters is the experience.”

[bctt tweet=”“Why do we keep putting lead gen forms together again and again? What matters is the experience.” — @4markb on #BreakFreeB2B #DigitalExperiences” username=”toprank”]

Mark elaborates: “It’s the experience you give, it’s the way you’re able to connect and interact with audiences that matters. Because that’s where you’re going to get the real data. That’s where you’re going to learn a lot about them.”

Although he is a proud marketer, and VP of Marketing for the webinar solution provider ON24, this self-professed “webinerd,” Mark urges his fellow practitioners to develop a new mindset by moving away from traditional terminologies: “It’s not about marketing anymore. It’s about connecting people to your brand. It’s relationship-building.”

The days of dry, facelessly narrated slide presentations are gone, he argues. We need to dial in and focus on human connections through authenticity, empathy, and compassion. We need to learn more about our customers than how we can contact them with follow-up promotional materials.

At a time where physical events and meetings are off the table, achieving these connections in the digital space via experiential marketing has never been more vital. In his 25-minute conversation with TopRank Marketing’s Susan Misukanis at B2B Marketing Exchange in February, Mark shared a wealth of insights, which have only become more useful and valuable in the weeks and months since.

Break Free B2B Interview with Mark Bornstein

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:45 – Mark’s experience making webinars, and his view on lead gen
  • 2:00 – Have we reached the end of MQLs?
  • 3:15 – What is an experience and what makes a good one?
  • 5:00 – Examples of companies that are getting digital experiences right
  • 7:45 – What role will technology play in experiences going forward?
  • 10:00 – Are brands becoming more open to moving outside the box?
  • 12:00 – Finding and positioning your brand’s narrative
  • 13:30 – Getting back to opt-in marketing fundamentals
  • 16:00 – Where Mark sees the industry going in 2-3 years
  • 17:30 – Who is poised to win in the short-term (SMB/verticals vs. enterprise)?
  • 20:15 – The value of compassion, empathy and connection
  • 24:15 – How can B2B marketers break free?

Susan: So you talk about an experience … Can you take it a level deeper? What is an experience?

Mark: Well, let me tell you about my world. So in the world of webinars, if you think about what a webinar was even a few years ago — and maybe in some cases still now — the webinar was a talking PowerPoint. Just a headless voice, you didn’t see anybody. You just heard somebody going through the slides in a droll way and it wasn’t branded and it was just boring. And maybe a lot of webinars still are kind of boring. But the fact of the matter is, what we see companies doing now is they’re creating serialized programming. They’re creating these really cool almost TV-like viewing experiences, where it’s a show and there’s hosts and the formats are changing. There’s panel discussions and coffee talks and chat shows and new style formats. So companies that are trying to own thought leadership, to establish a voice, to be the company that people go to — they’re not going to do that through giving a webinar on, you know, here’s our content. Here’s our slide presentation. They’re doing it by building experiences. And I think a really great experience has a few of the following qualities: It should be completely branded. It should be interactive. I always say give yourself the “what can they do?” test. When somebody is experiencing your content, is this all they can do? They’re reading your ebook or watching your video … is that it? An experience is a place where people can ask questions, or they can chat, or they can tweet, or they can download content. They can click on CTAs. You want to create an environment where people are doing stuff, and it’s a multi-touch content experience. And so it’s a different thing today.

[bctt tweet=”“Companies that are trying to own thought leadership, they’re not going to do that through giving a webinar that’s a slide presentation. They’re doing it by building experiences.” — @4markb on #BreakFreeB2B #DigitalExperiences” username=”toprank”]

Susan: We keep hearing that marketing is moving toward AI and tech — in a few years, it’ll all be bot-driven. How do you reconcile that with your vision?

Mark: One of the things that drives me crazy about marketing in general is that we as marketers are very interesting creatures, in the sense that we’re always willing to try new things. But we also get into habits we can’t break. And a lot of the technologies — whether it’s automation, or artificial intelligence, predictive analytics — all these amazing technologies that have been created to scale our marketing in ways like never before? Well, we are acting like this technology that was created to get people to our marketing has now become our marketing. So you need to look at, you know, artificial intelligence tells us out of this vast infinite number of people who we should be targeting, and maybe some of the topics we should be talking about. We can get a lot of great information. Automation allows us to scale that up in a lot of different ways. But ultimately, there is a moment of engagement. There still is that human engagement. And so all of that technology can inform, but ultimately, what really has to drive that engagement is the conversation that you have with them and the experience that you can deliver.”

[bctt tweet=”“We are acting like this technology that was created to get people to our marketing has now become our marketing.” — @4markb on #BreakFreeB2B #DigitalExperiences” username=”toprank”]

Susan: You tweet a lot about marketers not asking for proper permission to opt in. So maybe our prospective buyer has a need, but getting that opt-in and going about it the right way, that’s a big hurdle.

Mark: It is. I mean, if you’re a marketer in the U.K., you know what this pain feels like. I think especially in the U.S., but really around the globe, marketers are not ready. I don’t think they’re taking this seriously enough. You know, privacy legislation is in the U.S. now, but it’s mostly based on privacy protections. It’s not based on opt-ins and that sort of thing yet. It is coming. It is going to happen very soon, people. And so we need to prepare for this, which means we need to build our marketing around this idea of people opting in. So how do we do this? We have to be able to produce streams of programming that people will want to subscribe to, right? It’s no longer about nurtures, it’s no longer about ‘can you come to my event’ or ‘will you come to this one-off virtual experience or webinar,’ whatever it is. We need to find ways to get people who want our marketing to opt into our marketing. At a time when all of this digital noise is scaring them away. We need to bring them back in through more authentic, more human, more experiential marketing. We’re going to get them there.”

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:


Source: SEO blog

How to Hit a Marketing Home Run with Experiential Content

Man Staring Intently at On-screen Experience

Man Staring Intently at On-screen Experience

While their importance pales in comparison to many other things taken away by our society’s ongoing lockdown, I do find myself missing sports. Going without them during a difficult time causes me to appreciate the comfortable routine and reliable distraction they provide all the more.

Those who know me will not be surprised to learn that I’m longing for baseball especially — everything from strikeouts and singles to slides and steals. But there is no part of the game I miss more than home runs.

Home runs are among the most satisfying individual achievements in sports. When a batter goes deep, he takes care of everything, going from home plate to home plate and putting a run — or more — on the board single-handedly. It is the literal representation of “covering all your bases.”

via GIPHY

With baseball and many other cherished forms of entertainment amiss, content marketers can help fill the void by focusing on experiential content, which is characterized by its ability to pull in a user through immersive, interactive, impactful elements. These kinds of deeper digital experiences are also more valuable from an engagement and awareness standpoint, at a time where in-person events are off the table.

“Because people are figuring out how to thrive in an almost entirely online world, their expectations towards a brand’s digital experience [are] also changing. It’s no longer about clicks, downloads, and impressions,” writes Diginomica’s Barb Mosher Zinck in recapping Mark Bornstein’s chat from the Discover Martech Virtual Event last month. “It’s about engagement. It’s about experiential marketing.”

With this context in mind, how can marketers hit a home run with experiential content, covering all the bases for both their audience and their business?

Covering Every Base with Experiential Content

Reflecting the baseball diamond, I see four key aspects of knocking it out of the park with experiential content, at a time where doing so might be especially beneficial for marketers.

Base 1: Entertaining and Effective

The proverbial square one (or first base, in this case) is that experiential content needs to be compelling and engaging. If you aren’t getting someone’s attention and piquing their interest quickly with the content, you’re out before you’ve left the batter’s box.

Technology is always offering new ways to increase the allure of experiential content, including tools like virtual reality, augmented reality, feature integration, and interactive functionality. Small touches like the animations and clickable elements in TopRank Marketing’s Break Free of Boring B2B infographic, for example, can go a long way. The more you bring the user into the experience and make them feel like part of the story, the more successful your content will be.

It’s not just about the entertainment factor. That second word — effective — is equally important, if not more so. Your content should effect the person consuming it, be it emotionally or attitudinally. Ideally, the person consuming this experience will feel something, and come away thinking differently about its subject.

Once you accomplish this, you’re rounding first base and heading into second.

[bctt tweet=”“If you aren’t getting someone’s attention and piquing their interest quickly with the content, you’re out before you’ve left the batter’s box.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Base 2: Educational and Informative

Most marketing content is designed to inform in some way, satisfying the curiosities of its audience while intertwining a distinct point of view. The experiential dynamic is particularly valuable for this purpose. As the old saying goes: “Show me and I’ll forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll learn.”

AT&T is one example of a company that’s using emerging experiential technologies for employee training purposes, taking advantage of the heightened ability to make information stick. As you plan a content marketing initiative, think not just about ways to entertain your audience, but also ways to memorably imprint the messages and revelations you want them to take away.

By this point, you’re already halfway home.

Base 3: Collaborative and Orchestrated

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a solo home run. But the feat is far more exciting when there are runners on base to drive in. Teamwork comes into play in multiple ways when it comes to maximizing the value of experiential content.

via GIPHY

First and foremost, your efforts should be strategically orchestrated throughout the organization. While marketing drives the bus, plenty of others ought to be riding along. By nature, experiential content is intended to address a nonlinear customer journey in which B2B buyers average 17 meaningful interactions on the way to completing a purchase (per SiriusDecisions). How do all those interactions come together around your experience in a consistent, unified, personalized way? How will you ensure that every customer-facing function is aligned?

Secondly, there is the importance of collaboration within the marketing department itself. Generally speaking, a great piece of experiential content is shaped by many different talents and skills: writers and strategists shaping the content, designers and artists bringing it to life visually, search and social specialists making it easily discoverable, etc.

And finally, there is the influencer aspect. While not always a fit, influencers can usually power up experiential content in profound ways:

  • Adding unique insight and perspective from their expert point of view
  • Bringing built-in credibility and trust with their own established audiences
  • Amplifying promotion of the content through their own networks

One example of interactive influencer content in action can be found in the self-guided experience around AI and finance that TopRank Marketing put together with Prophix. The asset beat engagement benchmarks by 642%.

[bctt tweet=”“Great experiential content is shaped by many different talents: writers and strategists shaping the content, designers and artists bringing it to life visually, search and social specialists making it easily discoverable.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Bringing It Home: Impactful for the Business

The three components above all focus on making experiential content valuable to the audience. This is a worthy point of emphasis, since strengthening relationships and building trust are essential objectives for modern brands, especially in our current climate.

But of course, investing the time and resources into creating a high-caliber content experience also needs to be justified by bottom-line business impact. The good news is that bringing users into the experience lends itself to driving action; for example, statistics show that interactive content generates twice the conversions of passive content.

At all comes back to the overarching strategy. What specific business results are you hoping to achieve? How will you facilitate them in a user-friendly way that nurtures trust and builds momentum in the customer journey? Which other tactics will support these goals?

It’s important to think about setting up positive outcomes beyond the direct conversion. A person interacting with your content may not be inclined to fill out a form at that moment, but if they remember the experience, and the way it altered their thinking, and it brings them into your marketing funnel weeks or months later, that’s a win. This reinforces the value of getting it right with items one and two on this list — effect and educate.

Make Your Experiential Content Campaign a Round-Tripper

We may not have sports, but we still have sports metaphors. I’ll keep seeing to that. And the home run serves as a perfectly fitting allegory for experiential content, which can produce so much value for a brand on its own, with one swing of the proverbial bat.

When you combine immersive entertainment with memorable learnings, collaborative clout, and measurable business impact, you’ve got yourself a marketing moonshot. All that’s left at that point is the bat flip.

via GIPHY

For more practical tips and guidance on this subject, I encourage you to check out Joshua Nite’s recap of the B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content presentation from B2B Marketing Exchange in February.

The post How to Hit a Marketing Home Run with Experiential Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Wow Your Crowd: The Recipe for Creating Exceptional Content Experiences

Expert Tips for Creating Memorable Experiences Through Content Marketing

Have you been to a stadium concert lately? The big ones touring the country tend to pull out all the stops. It’s not just a singer on stage — they are usually supported by a giant jumbotron as backdrop providing flashy visuals, along with fog machines, laser lights, platforms rising out of the ground, special guest cameos… the works. 

Why is this? Because the bar has been raised. When fans plunk down the big bucks for tickets to see Drake or Carrie Underwood or The Rolling Stones, they expect more than seeing their favorite artists performing on stage. They expect an unforgettable experience that stirs all the senses.

via GIPHY

In content marketing, we see a continuing shift toward delivering full-on experiences. This emerging focus is evident in the steady growth of the term “content experience” in Google Trends over the past 10 years, and is now reaching a fever pitch as technology enables unprecedented sparkle and scintillation, while the shortening attention spans of our audience demand it. 

The theme for this year’s Content Marketing World extravaganza, as well as our interactive preview and the series of blog posts wrapping up today, all lead back to this crucial edict: elevating experiences and wowing the crowd. The good news is that there are endless ways to creatively approach this initiative, and today we’ll draw inspiration from CMWorld speakers who will be taking the stage next week in Cleveland to offer up some memorable experiences of their own.

The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth

3 Expert Tips on Stepping Up the Content Experience

#1 – Create Serial Content

It’s tempting to think about high-caliber content experiences in terms of pageantry and spectacle, but there are many simpler elements at play. Your audience wants content that it can contextualize, compartmentalize, and reliably look forward to. There’s a reason that almost every big Hollywood release these days is a spin-off, sequel, or reboot — viewers thrive on familiarity. For this reason, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert says serial content, steeped in quality and consistency, is a must.

“This aids in recognition and findability and taps into the truism that multiple exposures are often needed to drive behavior,” Jay explains. And he says another key is making this serial content as easy as possible for your audience to get to.

Ask yourself how your information and insights can be accessed with a minimum amount of effort or hassle for the consumer. – @jaybaer on minimizing content friction #CMWorld Click To Tweet

There are any number of ways to serialize your content. Maybe it’s breaking a big idea up into a series of blog posts, dissecting various components. Maybe it’s a run of videos mirroring the format of a TV season. And of course, podcasts are gaining fast popularity as an inherently serial form of content. 

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about serial content. You can reliably find our Digital Marketing News roundups (both blog and video) every Friday. Recently we’ve been running a Trust Factors series, examining the vital topic of trust in marketing from various angles. And in fact, you’re reading the final installment of a four-part series right now! Check out the previous “Wow Your Crowd” entries below: 

#2 – Use Tools and Technology Thoughtfully

There are so many eye-catching technologies out there offering new ways to package and deliver content. But don’t be blinded by bells and whistles. Add-ons like interactivity only make sense if they actually serve a meaningful purpose. 

“The key for brands is to not just pursue these programs for the sake of doing it, or to ‘be cool,’ but to have a clear purpose and value-add,” says SAP’s Amisha Gandhi

For example, when scrolling through the Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth experience created by TopRank Marketing and Content Marketing Institute, you’ll be able to play games like shoot-the-duck and bop-the-clown. But these interactive gamification elements weren’t just thrown in for the heck of it; they’re meant to play up the midway/carnival vibes of the asset (and this year’s CMWorld conference).

A memorable experience goes a long way. – @AmishaGandhi on raising the bar for content experiences #CMWorld Click To Tweet

#3 – Measure and Optimize

The trouble with all this talk about content experiences is that they can feel difficult to quantify and report on. I mean, how do you measure audience delight? What is the ROI of someone grinning with glee while bopping clowns on their browser?

To some degree, the benefits of a great experience are intangible, at least in the short-term. But we can still measure the impact by connecting consumption metrics with bottom-line results. 

“I think of content marketing metrics in two dimensions: Business outcomes (how content is contributing to the business) and engagement metrics (a proxy for how much the target audience likes the content),” says Chris White of Capital One. 

He breaks them down like this: 

Engagement Metrics: 

  • Views
  • Total view time
  • View-through-rate
  • Percent of target audience (in relation to total viewers)
  • Comments
  • Likes/Reactions
  • Scroll depth
  • Pages-per-session
  • Bounce rate 
  • Time-on-site

Business Outcomes

  • Brand awareness/consideration
  • Remarketing audience size
  • Web traffic
  • Conversions
  • Customer behavior (e.g., retention, adoption rate, referrals, etc.)  

If you’re getting it right with customer experiences, you’ll see growth across all of these metrics over time. From our view at TopRank Marketing, engagement metrics and business outcomes (or proof of ROI) are among the seven essential elements for content marketing performance dashboard. Also included: benchmarks, goals, real-time KPI monitoring, traffic trends, and breakdowns by topic/persona.

Every initiative is paired with a specific business outcome to evaluate performance. Although we keep tabs on engagement metrics, they do not dictate success by themselves. – Chris White of @CapitalOne on measuring content performance Click To Tweet

Experience Is Your Content Differentiator

Turn content experience into your competitive advantage. Create things that amaze your audience and leave them yearning for more. Utilize new trends and tech when appropriate to elevate your content. And, at all times, validate your efforts by measuring the right things and letting your customers dictate your direction.

Is it silly to think about content marketing on the same terms as stadium concerts? I’d say it’s silly not to. 

We’re counting down the days until the grand experience unfolds at Content Marketing World 2019 on Sept. 3, 2019 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on taking your programs to the next level in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.

Wow Your Crowd: The Recipe for Creating Exceptional Content Experiences

Expert Tips for Creating Memorable Experiences Through Content Marketing

Expert Tips for Creating Memorable Experiences Through Content Marketing

Have you been to a stadium concert lately? The big ones touring the country tend to pull out all the stops. It’s not just a singer on stage — they are usually supported by a giant jumbotron as backdrop providing flashy visuals, along with fog machines, laser lights, platforms rising out of the ground, special guest cameos… the works. 

Why is this? Because the bar has been raised. When fans plunk down the big bucks for tickets to see Drake or Carrie Underwood or The Rolling Stones, they expect more than seeing their favorite artists performing on stage. They expect an unforgettable experience that stirs all the senses.

via GIPHY

In content marketing, we see a continuing shift toward delivering full-on experiences. This emerging focus is evident in the steady growth of the term “content experience” in Google Trends over the past 10 years, and is now reaching a fever pitch as technology enables unprecedented sparkle and scintillation, while the shortening attention spans of our audience demand it. 

The theme for this year’s Content Marketing World extravaganza, as well as our interactive preview and the series of blog posts wrapping up today, all lead back to this crucial edict: elevating experiences and wowing the crowd. The good news is that there are endless ways to creatively approach this initiative, and today we’ll draw inspiration from CMWorld speakers who will be taking the stage next week in Cleveland to offer up some memorable experiences of their own.

The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth

3 Expert Tips on Stepping Up the Content Experience

#1 – Create Serial Content

It’s tempting to think about high-caliber content experiences in terms of pageantry and spectacle, but there are many simpler elements at play. Your audience wants content that it can contextualize, compartmentalize, and reliably look forward to. There’s a reason that almost every big Hollywood release these days is a spin-off, sequel, or reboot — viewers thrive on familiarity. For this reason, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert says serial content, steeped in quality and consistency, is a must.

“This aids in recognition and findability and taps into the truism that multiple exposures are often needed to drive behavior,” Jay explains. And he says another key is making this serial content as easy as possible for your audience to get to.

[bctt tweet=”Ask yourself how your information and insights can be accessed with a minimum amount of effort or hassle for the consumer. – @jaybaer on minimizing content friction #CMWorld ” username=”toprank”]

There are any number of ways to serialize your content. Maybe it’s breaking a big idea up into a series of blog posts, dissecting various components. Maybe it’s a run of videos mirroring the format of a TV season. And of course, podcasts are gaining fast popularity as an inherently serial form of content. 

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about serial content. You can reliably find our Digital Marketing News roundups (both blog and video) every Friday. Recently we’ve been running a Trust Factors series, examining the vital topic of trust in marketing from various angles. And in fact, you’re reading the final installment of a four-part series right now! Check out the previous “Wow Your Crowd” entries below: 

#2 – Use Tools and Technology Thoughtfully

There are so many eye-catching technologies out there offering new ways to package and deliver content. But don’t be blinded by bells and whistles. Add-ons like interactivity only make sense if they actually serve a meaningful purpose. 

“The key for brands is to not just pursue these programs for the sake of doing it, or to ‘be cool,’ but to have a clear purpose and value-add,” says SAP’s Amisha Gandhi

For example, when scrolling through the Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth experience created by TopRank Marketing and Content Marketing Institute, you’ll be able to play games like shoot-the-duck and bop-the-clown. But these interactive gamification elements weren’t just thrown in for the heck of it; they’re meant to play up the midway/carnival vibes of the asset (and this year’s CMWorld conference).

[bctt tweet=”A memorable experience goes a long way. – @AmishaGandhi on raising the bar for content experiences #CMWorld” username=”toprank”]

#3 – Measure and Optimize

The trouble with all this talk about content experiences is that they can feel difficult to quantify and report on. I mean, how do you measure audience delight? What is the ROI of someone grinning with glee while bopping clowns on their browser?

To some degree, the benefits of a great experience are intangible, at least in the short-term. But we can still measure the impact by connecting consumption metrics with bottom-line results. 

“I think of content marketing metrics in two dimensions: Business outcomes (how content is contributing to the business) and engagement metrics (a proxy for how much the target audience likes the content),” says Chris White of Capital One. 

He breaks them down like this: 

Engagement Metrics: 

  • Views
  • Total view time
  • View-through-rate
  • Percent of target audience (in relation to total viewers)
  • Comments
  • Likes/Reactions
  • Scroll depth
  • Pages-per-session
  • Bounce rate 
  • Time-on-site

Business Outcomes

  • Brand awareness/consideration
  • Remarketing audience size
  • Web traffic
  • Conversions
  • Customer behavior (e.g., retention, adoption rate, referrals, etc.)  

If you’re getting it right with customer experiences, you’ll see growth across all of these metrics over time. From our view at TopRank Marketing, engagement metrics and business outcomes (or proof of ROI) are among the seven essential elements for content marketing performance dashboard. Also included: benchmarks, goals, real-time KPI monitoring, traffic trends, and breakdowns by topic/persona.

[bctt tweet=”Every initiative is paired with a specific business outcome to evaluate performance. Although we keep tabs on engagement metrics, they do not dictate success by themselves. – Chris White of @CapitalOne on measuring content performance   ” username=”toprank”]

Experience Is Your Content Differentiator

Turn content experience into your competitive advantage. Create things that amaze your audience and leave them yearning for more. Utilize new trends and tech when appropriate to elevate your content. And, at all times, validate your efforts by measuring the right things and letting your customers dictate your direction.

Is it silly to think about content marketing on the same terms as stadium concerts? I’d say it’s silly not to. 

We’re counting down the days until the grand experience unfolds at Content Marketing World 2019 on Sept. 3, 2019 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on taking your programs to the next level in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.

The post Wow Your Crowd: The Recipe for Creating Exceptional Content Experiences appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

The Experience Factor: It’s Time for Content Marketers to ‘Flip the Switch’

Flipping the Content Experience Switch

Flipping the Content Experience Switch

I’d love to tell you everything. But in the spirit of brevity and relevance, I’ll cut to the moment it all clicked.

While enjoying a lovely dinner with an old family friend last week, he relayed his version of a classic Maya Angelou quote to me:

“You know, you meet so many people throughout your life. And you never really remember what they said or what they did, but you always remember the way they made you feel.”

via GIPHY

For decades, content marketers have been tasked with meeting buyers along their journey, striving to create best-answer content that satisfies curiosity, encourages brand engagements, and paints their product or service as the solution buyers are looking for.

However, as technology and innovation soared, internet accessibility expanded, competition evolved, and buyer and consumer preferences changed, many marketers have felt pressure to ramp up content production and push it out fast to stay visible, engaging, and relevant; they’re saying and doing more than ever.

But the question every marketer needs to answer is: Is my brand delivering experiences that leave a lasting impression?

The Current Situation

Savvy and ambitious content marketers are increasingly insight-driven, leveraging owned and third-party data to inform their content approach. For example:

  • For years research has consistently shown that buyers conduct much of their research online prior to reaching out to a vendor. So, you aim to create best-answer content based on search demand and topical relevance.
  • More research and experience shows that buyers don’t trust brands, but they do trust their peers and industry experts. So, you partner with relevant industry influencers to provide wide-ranging perspectives and grow thought leadership.
  • Social media platforms are learning and engagement destinations; it’s where buyers spend a huge chunk of their time personally and professionally. So, you leverage social media as part of your integrated strategy to amplify content, engage in discussions, spotlight influencers, and more.

But the question still remains: Are your efforts making a lasting impact? Are you making customers and prospective buyers feel something?

It’s the age of experience, folks. Fresh research from Gartner reveals that 80% of marketing leaders surveyed said they expect to compete mainly on customer experience this year. A study by Forrester, which was commissioned by *Adobe, shows that experience-led businesses have higher brand awareness, employee satisfcation, customer satisfaction, customer retention, and the list goes on. Finally, Adobe’s Digital Trends Report reveals that half of brands will increase CX-related technology spending this year.

Understanding discovery and consumption habits and preferences is vital. They are key parts of building your content marketing strategy, and part of our own process for developing best-answer content. But it’s time for a shift; it’s time to flip the experience switch.

Flipping Your Switch

The examples in the previous section are still smart and relevant marketing plays. But the output may look a little different once you apply the experience lens.

The good news? Shifting your strategy to focus more on experiences largely comes down to mindset. The bad news? Shifting your strategy to focus more on experiences largely comes down to mindset.

When you flip your experience switch on, the data you seek, the conclusions you draw, and the strategic choices you make—from experimenting with new mediums such as podcasts and interactive content to innovative storytelling—will naturally evolve.

[bctt tweet=”Creating compelling experiences with interactive content is one way to stand out, differentiate, and optimize for effectiveness. @leeodden” username=”toprank”]

But it can be hard to break free of the status quo—or convince other stakeholders it’s the right move.

A great first step is simply test something new. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should chase after the newest, shiniest tactic. We believe in being bold and breaking free of boring B2B traditions, but you need to be smart with your time, budget, and resources.

When it comes to getting stakeholder buy-in, you’ll undoubtedly have to provide data-backed rationale, examples, level-set on potential results, and outline the needed budget. But be confident in your recommendation. You’ll certainly need to be open to feedback, but stay focused on your end goal to prevent your plan from being completely watered down. As Tim Washer, a seasoned B2B marketer, keynote speaker, and comedian once told me:

“These days, there’s so little content out there that truly connects with people. So often we start off with a good idea, it goes through a committee where everyone wants to have a say in something, and the idea begins to soften. Then you end up with the lowest common denominator of something safe.”

[bctt tweet=”So often we start off with a good idea, it goes through a committee where everyone wants to have a say in something, and the idea begins to soften. Then you end up with the lowest common denominator of something safe. @timwasher” username=”toprank”]

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Ready. Set. Flip.

As Shep Hyken—a seasoned customer service and experience expert—shared with us not long ago: “Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had.”

[bctt tweet=”Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had. @Hyken” username=”toprank”]

Content marketers can play an integral role in crafting and advancing positive audience experiences with their brands. But it will require a shift in mindset for you, your team, and other key stakeholders within your organization.

So, start small by breaking out of your comfort zone and testing something new. If you don’t have the right tools, expertise, or internal resources, tap your friendly neighborhood content marketing agency.

Resonance is a key factor in creating content experiences that form audience connections. Get inspiration and insight from 10 seasoned marketing pros.

The post The Experience Factor: It’s Time for Content Marketers to ‘Flip the Switch’ appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


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