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Using Algorithmic Content Curation to Power Marketing Automation

Content Marketing

“The B2B buying process has fundamentally changed. Prospects are spending more time on the Web doing independent research, obtaining information from their peers and other third parties. That’s why companies are meeting prospective buyers earlier than ever, and is a key reason why having sales attempt to engage with every early-stage lead is premature.”

Marketo, The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing

So lets look at a typical B2B Buying Cycle:

  1. An individual within an organization becomes aware of a business problem negatively impacting his organization’s performance. It is important to understand that this happens quite frequently and at this point in time does NOT imply a desire to solve the problem. It is just another entry on a long list of business problems the organization has to deal with.
  2. Investigating solutions for identified business problems costs time and money, hence NOT for every problem a resolution will be searched for. The organization’s management has to take a conscious decision which problems to investigate and how much budget to set aside for this. This decision will be driven by perceived ROI, but also by general industry trends, peer discussions, investor expectations and so forth.
  3. Now a multi-disciplinary team is established to define a solution based on the parameters set by the resolution decision (scope, costs, timeline, risk ..) of the prior phase. The team will formulate one or more potential solutions and analyze them in terms of ROI, risk, TCO etc.
  4. Once the solution has been defined potential vendors are contacted and RFPs are submitted. The different vendor offerings are compared and the final decision by management is prepared. Management then takes the decision based on the vendor evaluation, peer conversations and general industry trends.

In each phase there is demand for information supporting the process. Obviously the more relevant information a vendor can provide and the earlier in the process the better his chances to influence the decision criteria in his favor.

1.  Problem Awareness

At this stage the person realizing the business problem is not interested in talking to sales. Instead she is looking for relevant information to judge whether the problem is a) worthwhile investing time in and b) there are proven resolutions to the problem.

To attract the buyer’s attention in this early stage we provide curated social media, blog and trade publication content together with relevant white papers and case studies via a topic oriented landing page together with an RSS feed. This way we associate our brand with the business problem increasing the likelihood of being considered in the next phase.

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2. Resolution Investigation

We support the client’s investigation with success stories, self-assessments and ROI calculations as well as 3rd party content such as studies and infographics. Our aim is to be perceived as the provider of a value proposition addressing the identified business problem.

3. Solution Evaluation

In this phase we want to learn the buyer in person and for this reason we invite him to our own events, point him towards industry events such as fairs, seminars and conventions or to our virtual events like webinars. We also start establishing the superiority of our products and services by providing data sheets, interactive demos, charts etc.

4. Vendor Evaluation

Finally we highlight our USPs, influence evaluation criteria in our favor, lower the perceived risk of our products and services by pointing towards favorable industry reports, benchmarks and customer testimonials.

When done correctly we start our relationship with an unknown, anonymous prospect and grow it into a very intimate one adopting constantly to his individual buying cycle, avoiding push where he wants to pull, by always providing valuable own and 3rd party content relevant to the buyer within his individual context.

Using Algorithmic Content Curation to Power Marketing Automation image Marketing Automation2 600x384

This is where Algorithmic Content Curation comes into play: providing individually relevant information especially during the early phases of the buying process can be performed neither via static content offerings nor by human curation. Instead the individual buyer’s interest graph has to determine content supply, the appropriate delivery channel and the most suitable format. Using applications we described before Algorithmic Content Curation provides for low cost, highly effective content marketing for organizations of any size.

1. Topic-focused Landing Page

Here we provide our white papers and case studies complemented by curated social media, blogs and trade publications regarding a common industry problem. This way the site is highly dynamic, presents new content with every visit and generates SEO visibility. The visitor stays anonymous, nevertheless we can dynamically curate content based on his reading behavior, which in turn increases time spent on the site and number of pages per visit.

Zooming in on the anonymous visitor’s interest graph increases our chances to motivate him to subscribe to an RSS feed, newsletter or even register for our user portal.

2. Individual RSS feed

Rather than providing one standard RSS feed to all visitors we offer a personalized feed automatically adapting to the reader’s interest graph by following which own and 3rd party content he consumes. The reader can view the feed’s content on one or more front-ends of his choice.

3.  Individual Newsletter

Just like with the RSS feed we can provide our own and curated content via an individualized newsletter adapting to the reader’s interest graph, but here we need the visitor to disclose his identity for the first time by providing his email address. As email newsletters live and die with relevance it is important to use the visitor’s interest graph he built during the visit on our landing page or by reading our RSS feed.

4. User Portal

After we demonstrated our problem resolution capabilities via the content we provided and thus gained a trusted advisor status we offer the buyer access to premium content via a user portal. Again we will use the interest graph built in the prior phases to achieve relevance from the first moment. Only now that the buyer has qualified by consuming our content we will invest our staff’s time for webinars, interactive demos and direct sales contacts and spend money on analyst reports, eBooks and other premium content.

5. Mobile App, TV-App

Ultimately we provide the buyer with an app on his personal device like a smartphone, tablet or even TV with valuable features like ROI calculators, configurators and self-assessments and thus establish our brand on the most precious properties of all.

There are a host of advantages Algorithmic Content Curation brings to the table when used the way we described above:

  1. The buyer is always in control of the process. We control which content we offer to him when and where, but he picks time, location and format and this way tells us about the progress his buying process is making.
  2. We provide 3rd party content just as our own and this way educate the buyer extensively on the topic we claim to have expertise in.
  3. Via the content he consumes we can watch the buyer establish his vision and tailor our solution for him already before we meet him in person.
  4. By looking at the 3rd party content the buyer consumes we learn about our content and offering gaps.
  5. Analyzing the interest graphs we built will allow us to segment our prospects by interests and develop highly focused niche campaigns.
  6. Using the interest graphs we can simulate the reach of our own content even before releasing it and instruct internal and external writers on which topics to cover to generate awareness.

(This post was originally posted on www.relevancer.tumblr.com)

Comments on this Article: 2

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  1. Interesting post Stefan. Another way of putting it is that as the prospect moves through the funnel, the information becomes less generic and more focused on their specific situation.

    • Exactly. The thing we haven’t solved yet (and which is actually outside the scope of what Relevancer does) is how to determine which maturity level of the buyer’s interest graph relates to which phase of the buying cycle and – as a consequence – triggers which marketing activity. Any ideas on this highly welcomed!

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