The new marketing standard requires the right data and content

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher September 20, 2019
B2B marketers need a new marketing standard. Personalization remains the elusive goal - but shouldn't a better handle on customer data come first?


Everyone wants to write amazing customer-focused content, although it’s often easier said than done. There are many reasons why, but most come down to one key thing: having the right data to know what content to create - and where to deliver it.

A new report from Uberflip and Heinz Marketing, The New Marketing Standard, a Benchmark Report, surveyed 283 marketers to understand how they felt about the content they are creating today and its role in the B2B buyer’s journey. And the findings agree data is critical.

But first, what is the new marketing standard?

The new standard is centered around a buyer experience that’s built around ease of access and discovery, frictionless consumption, personalized and relevant suggestions, and curated engagement paths - a buyer experience designed to delight, engage, enable, and empower better decisions.

It’s about the right content

The importance of content in the buyer’s journey is pretty much a given, but that doesn’t mean marketers are good at creating and leveraging it. In this study, 48.4% said it was either not or somewhat effective. It seems like effectiveness is more of a problem for the technology industry compared to financial services, healthcare or manufacturing industries. Why? The thinking is that tech is a faster-moving industry and it’s challenging to keep up with what’s changing, and that means content is often outdated before you hit publish.

The answer to fix the problem isn’t about money. It’s about the right strategy.

We saw that a minority 4% of respondents with effective content spend less than a quarter of their budget generating demand. On the other hand, nearly 1 in 5 respondents with ineffective content spend over 75% of their budget to generate demand.

Simply spending money isn’t enough to dictate whether your content will be effective. To reliably find success, content needs to be created, produced, and utilized strategically.

Here’s another interesting finding:

Almost 47% of marketers aren’t great at supporting the content needs of other parts of the organization. The focus for many, it seems, is on the needs of marketing - brand awareness and lead generation. This problem appears to correlate directly with whether the brand has effective or ineffective content: ineffective content is not widely shared.

The idea of a content center of excellence would help alleviate the challenge of not creating content for other parts of the business. It might move content development out of marketing, or broaden the role of the content development team within marketing, to support the content needs of all parts of an organization. I would also suggest that a marketing team whose primary focus is brand awareness and lead generation is missing opportunities to meet and support customers and potential customers. As Jay Acunzo, from MarketingShowrunners says, “Great marketing isn’t about who arrives; it’s about who stays.”

Creating better content marketing programs

It all comes down to creating a strong and scalable content marketing program. When these marketers were asked what is lacking in their current content marketing program, personalization topped the list, following by having enough content and the right variety of content. Number four on the list was a lack of data/insights on what content works.

However, as the report points out, you need data/insights to prevent the top three program deficiencies.

content program types

From The New Marketing Standard, from Uberflip and Heinz Marketing

Marketers in this report said that personalization was their biggest problem and listed it as their number one area for improvement.

Personalization facilitates relationships. It shows your audience that you not only know them, but that you care about their outcomes. Today, successful sales and marketing relies on knowing your audience to a much greater degree - to understand where they’re coming from, what they’re looking for, and what they want to achieve. And today’s buyer has come to expect that same level of attention.

The most common type of personalization the marketers do is persona-based (title, pain point, role, and responsibility), followed by company, buying stage, level of intent or behaviors, time or situation-based, and 1:1 personalization.

Improving the level of actionable data/insights comes in at number two. I would shift those two priorities around.

If you think about what’s wrong with most brand web experiences, does a personalized experience come to the top of your list? Maybe it depends on what type of personalization we’re talking about because there are several levels, not all of which are critical. Also, personalization of any type requires a solid understanding of your customers and what content works for them at different stages. That requires data. So, shouldn’t  data and insights be number one?

The marketers did, however, indicate that if they could add one thing to their current content marketing program, it would be better insights into content performance.

Let’s focus on improving data to improve insights and decisions

The biggest challenge with marketing data is that it’s in many different marketing technologies and as much as marketers would like their marketing stack to play nicely together, for many it’s still very siloed.

It’s no small job to integrate your marketing solutions, so what many marketers still find themselves doing is moving from one solution to another, pulling the data they need and then trying to match it together in a way that makes sense. Others tend to focus on only one or two datasets from key applications, running the risk of not seeing the full picture.

There are solutions out there that can help, like customer data platforms and data management platforms but some are for marketing data only. What’s needed is a complete data view of the customer journey to help marketers figure out the full content strategy. Even if a marketer does bring a tech solution in-house to give them a wider view of the customer, many don’t have the knowledge or resources to leverage it effectively.

Every marketer wants to be data-driven. Every marketer wants to create personalized content-driven experiences. The question is, what’s the best path to get there?

Image credit - Businessman checking mark on checklist with a red marker on dark background - by @PopTika

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