How data-driven content marketing changes the game

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Publishers have more data on website visitors, subscribers, event attendees and email recipients than ever before. By leveraging behavioral data, as well as the basic demographic data individuals tells us about themselves, media companies are now uniquely positioned to create, package and deliver content aligned with the audience’s needs.  Few, however, are capitalizing on it to advance their business. 

This data-driven approach applies as much to marketing content as it does to editorial content.  This is particularly true in the B2B space, where, based on a prospect’s interest in content aligned with a particular buying cycle, modern marketers can better qualify sales leads.

Marketing and media professionals are no longer reliant on large-scale email blasts and pay-per-click advertisements that cost lots of money, produce sometimes-ambiguous results, and don’t allow us to get to the heart of our audiences’ quest for knowledge and solutions.  That’s especially critical in today’s business world because we have to quantify – and qualify – every dollar spent.

Digital intelligence helps define content

Tools such as marketing automation software (MAS) allow marketers to begin unlocking the power of all the data we’re collecting. Understanding what content prospects are interested in is critical to marketing and sales success.  The analytics intrinsic in MAS tools enable us to answer questions like:

  • Who opened and clicked on what email?
  • How many prospects submitted the registration form that was associated with a certain piece of content?
  • What pages within our site(s) are attracting visitors, how frequently do they come and how long do they stay?

By looking at the data for a specific communication over time and in granular detail, marketers can “hear” and “see” what prospects are interested in.  With digital intelligence, marketers can define a framework for needs and potential solutions that will attract buyers. 

Harvested, aggregated and assimilated lead data can demonstrate:

  • What content (emails, white papers, webcasts, blogs, tweets, etc.) is resonating with our audience?
  • Where do gaps exist in the content lineup?
  • What content or messages need to be optimized?

For example, in the technology space we cover at UBM TechWeb, if the data shows leads are more interested in mobile security than mobile infrastructure, a blog post on how a service provider delivers the best mobile security architecture would be more beneficial than an article on building out a WiFi network in a company.

The content and message contained in a marketing offer can no longer be about only features and functions of a product or service.  Message recipients are starving for valuable content that is right for their buying persona (e.g., technical buyer, decision maker, procurement professional) and buying phase (awareness, recognition, consideration, preference, justification).  Analyzing the data produced by individuals interacting with content enables marketers to create content aligned with a specific buying persona’s goals and relevancy for each phase in the buying process.  This capability can be monetized by media companies and provides direct ROI for marketers.

Content interaction drives lead insight

Leads will implicitly or explicitly show what their needs are and where they are in the buying cycle.  This “digital body language” is the composite of all digital activity: each email that is opened or clicked, each web visit, each form completed or abandoned, and each referral from a social media site.

Segmenting the audience based on this 360-degree view empowers marketers to respond with the right message and content according to the buyer persona, buying cycle and needs.  Visitors that pick up an asset on, let’s say, a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution are the perfect target for an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) SaaS product vs. visitors who pick up an asset on data backup.  These visitors would be the perfect target for information on a data management product that focuses on backup and security. 

By segmenting messages delivered, marketers show audiences that we’re listening to what the audience is “saying” through their activities.  As a result, visitors are more engaged with content and message.

Today’s web surfers are in the driver’s seat. They select only what they want to read among seemingly endless sources of valuable content.  When provided exactly what they want, their quest for knowledge is met, and they are more likely to return, interact and engage.

From an operational perspective, segmenting lists increases the percentage of readers who pick up an asset from an email. At UBM Techweb we segment visitors and registered users who are interested in a specific topic and add them to a lead nurture program within our Eloqua MAS system. The programs are broken down by topic and then again by buying cycle.  The nurture programs send a series of emails and targeted content assets to the readers over a period of time.  When readers “show” themselves as having matriculated to the next buying cycle, they are automatically routed to another segment for another buying cycle for that topic.  The result is an increase in open, click-through and conversion rates. 

Segmenting the target list also helps ensure that those who aren’t interested in a specific topic are not bombarded with content they don’t care about, which ultimately leads them to ignore future messages or explicitly unsubscribe.

Lead scoring: Icing on the MAS cake

Lead scoring is intrinsic to most MAS tools and is icing on the cake for data-driven communications.  Lead-scoring programs systemically uncover who is most active with content. The programs assign positive or negative point values to each type of activity: website visits, email opens, email clicks, form conversions and so on.  When leads reach a predefined threshold point value, they are ready for contact and can be automatically routed into a sales queue, along with a basket of information on their digital activity that the sales team can refer to when they speak one on one with the lead.

Optimizing how marketers communicate with their audience to deliver the right content at the right time has resulted in increased engagement levels. At a tactical level, this translates to increased open, click-through and conversion rates. For example, the open rate on targeted emails is 30% greater than that on non-targeted emails, while the click-through rate is 62% higher. 

MAS tools have taken much of the guesswork out of the business of marketing. Through digital intelligence, we can quantify what content is resonating with what audience, who the audience is, and where they are in the buying cycle. The net result is improved conversion ratios, and a faster and more effective sales process. 

This approach can apply to marketing and engaging readers and attendees, driving leads for your own media sales team, or offering lead nurturing and other programs as marketing services.  All can add up to game changing results and new revenue opportunities.


Mary Wallace is Director, Marketing Automation at UBM TechWeb, the global leader in business information and technology media. 

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