Demand GenerationMarketing Strategy

How We Figured Out What Content Our Buyers Really Want

By October 29, 2014 No Comments

The meeting had an air of desperation. The management team decided we needed to broaden our reach among enterprise marketers. And the task of targeting them fell to our own marketing team.

The three marketing directors huddled in one of the tiny conference rooms to figure out what to do next.

“So I know we want to go after the enterprise, but do we know where they are?” I asked.

A silent shrug permeated the room.

“And do we know which topics are going to work for them?” I said. “I’m not sure how to make the content even more on-point.”

“Well, they probably care about global marketing…,” someone replied.

This was roughly how the meeting went. We needed to target a particular segment of buyers. We knew the responsibility for reaching them fell on marketing. But we didn’t know exactly what our buyers wanted, where to reach them, or even how to speak their dialect.

We could have complicated this mystery in so many ways. But when we thought through it, we realized success would come down to answering three critical questions:

  • What kinds of content do enterprise marketers want?
  • Where do they go to find that content and share it with their peers?
  • How do they communicate?

When attempting to build an audience, it’s important to nail all three of these questions. Get two right and miss another, and your content can still be wildly off the mark. It’s like visiting a foreign country, researching a local eatery, then having no idea how to order once you arrive.

We set out on a research project to find our answers. No single source would provide the full picture, so our process had to be multi-pronged.

We came up with three tactics for understanding the enterprise marketer’s content tastes and habits.

In the coming weeks, I’ll provide a more in-depth look into each. (Subscribe to our newsletter and you won’t miss any.) But here, I want to break down each tactic and how they roll up to a larger strategy.

The Three Prongs of Our Market Research

1. Survey of Our Enterprise Leads

This is a time-honored approach you’re likely familiar with. When you want to know what someone likes, ask them.

Just because the method is predictable, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. The goal of our survey was to provide answers to those “what” and “where” questions. We sent the survey to a select segment of our database, specifically, people from companies with 1,000 or more employees.

The survey was neither too short nor too long. The questions asked about favorite media and blogging outlets, preferred methods for sharing content, and the most desired forms of content.

Basically, we asked enterprise marketers to tell us what content they want and where they go to get it.

We found some surprises in the responses, like: Email is still the preferred means of receiving and sharing content, and marketers prefer whitepapers to eBooks.

But we didn’t want to just rely solely on what people told us. We needed to understand how they actually act.

2. Content Scoring

Understanding actual buyer behavior is as important—if not more important—as self-reported preferences. That’s why content scoring proved invaluable.

If you don’t know what content scoring is, here are the basics. It’s a metric that demonstrates the influence of individual assets or campaigns by showing how many leads, opportunities, or deals they generated. It’s pulled by matching the data collected in your CRM against the behavioral data captured in your marketing automation. (If you want more info on content scoring, there’s a whole kit here.)

Understanding actual buyer behavior is as important—if not more important—as self-reported preferences.

Using content scoring, we were able to see which content assets and owned digital properties were most influential in our customers’ journeys from lead to closed deal over the past two quarters. We isolated for enterprise marketers by running a customer report in our Salesforce CRM for leads, opportunities, and deals among prospects at companies with 1,000-plus employees, then pulling that report into our content scoring engine inside Kapost.

With this data we were able to find patterns in content consumption as this cohort of buyers moved from stage to stage in their journey to purchase. This blog, for one, is growing in influence. Webinars were a consistent touch point.

Content scoring enabled us to marry the data we gathered from our survey with actual behavioral data to provide a complete picture of the kinds of content enterprise marketers respond to. Next, it was time to figure out how to speak their language.

3. LinkedIn Semantic Analysis

Our hypothesis went something like this: We wanted to know exactly how to speak to our audience, so what better way than to look at how they describe themselves?

Content is increasingly an actual position within the enterprise.

We created a process for doing a semantic analysis of the profiles of enterprise marketers. We selected 125 marketers, and ultimately cut that number down to 119, that fit our exact customer profile, and collected their profile data into a giant spreadsheet.

We were looking for patterns in word and phrase usage, and assigned higher value to those words or phrases that appeared higher in the profiles. These profiles ranged from senior managers to CMOs. We plugged all the key words and phrases into a counter to find the most common ones.

Armed with this knowledge, we realized integrated marketing, digital marketing, and global marketing were key concerns among enterprise marketers. Intriguingly, when we looked at the change in job titles from previous job to current job among this group, content was the most common addition. Meaning that content is increasingly an actual position within the enterprise, but it often is an addition to those charged with leading communications, demand generation, and digital marketing roles.

I’ll go into more detail on how we performed each method of this operation over the next few weeks. But you can get the results of our research now. The main value of this research is knowing how to actually reach our buyers, what to reach them with, and how to tackle their key concerns.

If you’re tasked with reaching a specific segment of buyers, and guiding them into your funnel, I recommend you dive into research first. We all know what they say about assumptions.

Jesse Noyes

About Jesse Noyes

Former Senior Director of Content Marketing at Kapost. I enjoy learning, teaching and eating...not necessarily in that order.