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Take Content Beyond the Buyer’s Journey by Playing Nice [11 Expert Tips]

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Take Content Beyond the Buyer's Journey by Playing Nice [11 Expert Tips]


A content marketing strategy based on the buyer’s journey isn’t enough.

Why? First, prospects often encounter content from your brand that the content marketing team didn’t create. Second, the journey shouldn’t end when they become customers.

Buyer engagement today requires a circular approach to content as your journey with the audience isn’t linear and shouldn’t end with the purchase. And that holistic view requires companies to better organize their content operations.

Buyer engagement today requires a circular approach to #content. Your journey with the audience isn’t linear and shouldn’t end with the purchase, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

The marketing department often owns content operations within a company. But success requires close collaboration with other internal teams (such as sales and customer service) and a willingness to extend content beyond the marketing and sales cycle.

It takes work –and teamwork.

But how do you get everyone (content, marketing, sales, customer support, and more) working together to give audience members, prospects, buyers, and customers the content they need? We asked experts presenting at the upcoming ContentTECH Summit for advice. Here’s what they suggest.

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1. Reflect and collaborate

Listen to the other teams’ needs and concerns. Get familiar with the content and its purpose. Recognize that other teams come from a different tradition and way of thinking about content. Then look for the commonalities. Everyone wants accurate, quality, useful content. They want users to find, understand, and use the content. Work toward this shared goal. – Regina Lynn Preciado, senior content strategist, Content Rules

Other teams come from a different way of thinking about #Content, but they want buyers to find, understand, and use it, too, says @contentrulesinc via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

2. Stay humble

Respect is earned, not given. If you want sales and customer service to follow marketing’s lead, recommendations, ideas, etc., listen before speaking. Approach every discussion from a mental place of, “Hey, I might be wrong.” Stay humble – humble people hear more than proud people. And often, what they hear is the difference between the other party wanting to follow them or fighting them each step of the way. – Tom Martin, president, Converse Digital

If you want your sales team to follow your lead on #Content, stay humble. Humble people hear more, making others want to follow – not fight, says @TomMartin via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

3. Stop trying to win

Don’t go in looking for a turf battle. Instead, aim to align around the big picture: If content marketing is successful, buyers should be more qualified, and customer service should be less pressed by basic questions. Ask: What are the factors that would make their jobs easier? What questions can content address and explain to improve their work? – Zontee Hou, director of strategy, Convince & Convert

Align around the goal: Successful #ContentMarketing means more qualified buyers and fewer basic questions for customer service, says @ZonteeHou via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

4. Work transparently

Seek feedback from others before making any grand pronouncements. At least appear as a collaborator before deciding what other teams must or should do. Add transparency to any decisions that affect others, so they understand the whys without begrudging the hows. – Gavin Austin, principal technical writer, Salesforce

Be transparent about #Content decisions that affect other teams, so they understand the why without begrudging the how, says @GavinAustinSays via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

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5. Understand multiple roles, but don’t take on everything yourself

To be a great marketer, you must understand what it takes to be a great salesperson or a great designer. You don’t need to take on these roles yourself, but it’s important to respect the process of these roles, understand the roadblocks folks in these roles might face, and respect the time it can take to deliver success in these positions. Mutual respect goes a very long way in earning the trust of your colleagues, but it will also help you set stakeholder expectations and inspire your teammates to deliver success. – Amy Balliett, senior fellow of visual strategy, Material

Great marketers understand what it takes to be a great salesperson or a great designer. You don’t have to do the work yourself – just respect your colleagues, says @AmyBalliett via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet


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6. Create a shared vision

If marketing is to lead content operations, they need to create a shared context for other internal teams like sales and customer service. Each has its targets, but you can translate them into a common vision. – Tim Hanse, principal consultant, Crossphase

To lead #ContentOps, create a shared vision with sales and customer service teams, says #TimHanse via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

7. Ask, then produce for the entire journey

[Create]  a simple but scalable way to get feedback. We should be creating content that works across the entire customer journey, from awareness to expansion and advocacy. Nothing frustrates a customer service rep more than seeing just top-of-funnel content being produced. We need to know the most crucial steps in the customer journey to plan and map our content strategy properly. – Randy Frisch, president and co-founder, Uberflip

Create #Content that works across the entire customer journey. Nothing frustrates customer service teams more than seeing only top-of-funnel content, says @randyfrisch via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

8. Unite on the goals

The best way to collaborate with other internal teams is to identify common goals everyone can work toward. Of course, there may be some specific goals unique to each department. But having that shared vision is crucial to enabling cooperation. – Jeff Coyle, co-founder and chief strategy officer, MarketMuse

A shared vision is crucial to enabling cooperation, says @jeffrey_coyle via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

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9. Develop familiarity and knowledge

There are several things you can do to gain respect – the most important is regular and collaborative communication. Socialize your success around the business. Use your content expertise to develop personas for each of your internal stakeholder groups and address their pain points in your content strategy.

Show them the questions your audience is searching for, where your company’s answers are falling short, how you can fix it, and the specific benefits of doing that. Run an analysis of your content inventory’s performance highlighting where competitors are pulling ahead (a little bit of rivalry can go a long way). Set up content attribution modeling showing the single customer view, where your eventual purchaser has interacted with your content on the path to purchase. Keep internal teams in the loop with monthly reporting on content performance specific to their pain points. Give tangible examples of how content is supporting their goals. – Karen Hesse, founder and CEO, 256

Keep internal teams in the loop with monthly reporting on #Content performance. Give examples of how content supports their goals, says @256media via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

10. Invite other teams into your content

You can partner with internal teams. For example, in the case of podcasting, bring in members of the other teams as regular guests, so they feel a partial ownership of the podcast. Look at the eBay for Business Podcast, for which we are a partner, as a good example of this. – Rob Walch, vice president of Libsyn enterprise and platform partnerships, Libsyn

Bring members of other teams into your #Content, so they feel ownership, says @podcast411 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

11. Keep an eye on customer happiness

Marketing is about keeping customers happy during the entire cycle of the customer journey – from the moment a lead approaches the company, to making a purchase decision, to resolving issues and conflicts after the deal is closed. This requires tight interaction and integration between all teams, including marketing, sales, development, customer service, and so on. To make sure that the customer has a unified experience at each stage of the customer journey, all the teams need to exchange and share knowledge about the customer’s needs.

If the customer is provided with a fantastically convenient way to make a purchase, but the delivery team messes things up by shipping the product to the wrong address and customer service demonstrates indifference to the problem, the overall customer experience can hardly be called successful. By providing insights into customers’ goals and behavior at all stages of the customer’s journey, suggesting ways to tailor the company’s offerings to customer’s context, and gathering analytics, marketing teams can become the secret ingredient that bridges all other teams, from development to after-sale support. – Alex Masycheff, CEO, Intuillion

#Marketing can become the secret ingredient that brings other teams together to create an optimal customer experience, says @DITAToo1 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

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Be the secret ingredient

Will your content team seize the opportunity to unite the company’s content and create happy customers all along the lifecycle?

Extending content’s impact beyond the sales funnel demands leaders who can make all the cogs in the wheels fit together so the prospect-turned-buyer-turned-customer moves along smoothly.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit this March in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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MARKETING

3 content challenges and how marketers can overcome them

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How to get the best out of creative talent in a data-driven world

The stakes have never been higher for marketers and agencies to produce striking content efficiently. There are also more challenges than ever to the content production process because the number of channels have increased dramatically.

“[Content] plays a critical role in attracting new customers as well as fostering existing customer relationships,” said Anthony Welgemoed, founder and CEO of creative work software company Ziflow at The MarTech Conference. “It also sets the brand apart from competitors and visually demonstrates a broader purpose or mission. And when brands and agencies produce great creative, it makes an impact.”

Here are three major challenges to content creation and how to overcome them.

1: Scattered feedback

In order to produce content as a team, all hands have to be on deck. With more people involved, however, feedback can come from anywhere and gunk up the content production if the feedback isn’t orderly.

“A fundamental part of our creative process is getting feedback on all our creative assets,” said Welgemoed. “It’s mission critical for us to get fast, relevant, accurate feedback. Without this, we can’t deliver great work, and we certainly can’t deliver that work quickly.” 

He added, “Unfortunately, the process that most teams use to manage all the feedback is broken and often badly broken.”

Solution. Determine a single destination for feedback and establish clear systems of record that welcome feedback.

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“The team should be clear and specific when providing feedback, and the feedback should be precise,” Welgemoed said. “Identify the exact location page or frame of the creative asset and what changes are required. Solving these challenges provides richer feedback to the creator and gives them the autonomy to deliver their best work.”

Read next: We’re implementing DAM! Where do I start?

2: Lack of visibility

Content creators lose valuable time tracking down the feedback mentioned in the previous challenge. This can be due to an overall lack of visibility into the content project and its workflow.

“Increasing visibility and control across asset management may seem overwhelming, but teams can easily improve collaboration with some of these tips,” said Ryan Dunagan, Ziflow’s vice president of marketing.

Solution. Define the project with a summary of what assets the campaign will include.

“Give everyone involved in an overview, including the purpose of the campaign, assets required, the goal [for the campaign], and milestones with the right information,” said Dunagan.

Also, keep the assets organized.

“This one is easier said than done,” Dunagan cautioned. “Don’t let brainstorms and multiple versions get out of control. Organize assets and relevant files while collaborating so the most up-to-date version and historical look [of the assets] are easily accessible. Staying organized will help teams to recall what worked and what didn’t in the future.”

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To increase visibility even further, provide version transparency so team members can see the evolution of a project and what decisions were made along the way.

Finally, appoint a person on the team who will make the final decision about an asset to avoid stalemates and project fatigue.

3: Adapting to change

Buyers’ demands have changed. They look for more content across a larger number of digital channels, plus they require a cohesive experience across these channels. These changing demands, in turn, force marketing teams to produce more content at a higher rate, often with the same number of people on the team, or with a reduction in staff.

“And to compound these challenges, a survey of marketing teams indicated that nearly half of their technology goes unused, which makes reaching the true potential of these tools impossible,” said Welgemoed.

Solution. Map out the creative workflow. Make sure the tools that are used to create assets are integrated in a way that mirrors the creative production process.

“These amazing platforms typically come with really great native integration capabilities,” Welgemoed said. “Teams can maximize business investment while adapting to changes by finding vendors that integrate with where they already are. [Creative teams should] look at existing systems and their available integrations.”

He added, “Connected systems have the added benefit of improving adoption across the organization and ultimately speeding up project delivery.”

These improvements to the creative process will help make the team more adaptable as the content landscape continues to grow more complicated and demanding. Meeting these challenges also sets up the marketing team for success in a remote work environment, when team members are looking to collaborate efficiently using remote, digital tools.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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