3 Components of a Great Content Experience

The role of content strategy has evolved as the number of digital touch points has exploded across new platforms and channels. Think social media, IoT, AI-driven chat and voice experiences, and more still to come. B2B marketing leaders and strategists must think holistically about how customers engage with their content and how individual pieces of content work together to shape a consistent and considered customer experience.

Today’s customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. When it comes to digital content, this means frictionless, personalized experiences. That’s why content experience is deeply intertwined with customer experience.

Content strategy focuses on defining, measuring, and optimizing how content is created and distributed. The goal is to deliver consistent and relevant content that meets an audience’s needs. Among content strategists,
there is a growing focus on the overall content experience: How do customers engage with content at each step of their digital journey? Is their experience consistent and smooth, or frustrating and disjointed?

Marketers and content strategists cannot focus only on the quality and performance of individual content assets and marketing campaigns. They must consider the end-to-end experience they’re creating and optimize how users engage with their content. Content experience recognizes the connective tissue between content types—landing pages, social posts, banner ads, assets, chat, IoT, kiosk display content, even customer service talking points.

Content should be orchestrated to support the customer journey at each step. The goal of a well-designed content experience is to deliver the right information to the right person, in the right way, at the right time and place. To do this you must create content that is consistently focused on customers’ needs and top tasks on their digital journey.

In a content-saturated world, it’s harder to get your message across. The bar is now higher for quality, but that’s not the only factor. For content marketing efforts to succeed, your content must be surfaced in the right context. That means serving it up to customers and prospects at the right time over the right channel. Too often, that doesn’t happen, and the effort that went into creating content is wasted.

Customers expect personalized experiences (thank you, Amazon and Netflix) and content that maps to their current stage in the digital journey. They get frustrated when you drive them to a website that doesn’t match their interests and expectations or doesn’t acknowledge that you’ve
already had a conversation with them.

Between PCs, mobile phones, watches, and smart-home gadgets, our world is exploding with connected devices. The marketer’s challenge is to communicate with our audiences across multiple platforms in a consistent and personalized way. That requires a more holistic thought process and attention to the content experience.

Components of a Great Content Experience

What do superlative content experiences look like, and how can you engineer them consistently for your customers and prospects? When we put content experience under the microscope, its core characteristics come into focus. The content assets you create should, together, deliver an experience that reflects these components.

  • Progressive Content Experiences

A progressive content experience is one in which each touch point builds on the previous one, rather than repeating it or existing in isolation. In this example, we see a progressive experience from ad to website. When we know a user has clicked the ad, we recognize their interest, and we can progressively add more information—and incentives—to the conversation. We’re building a progressive experience based on what we know about the user.

By curating a guided journey, you’re deepening audience engagement by suggesting the next relevant piece of content to consume. Think “Recommended for you” or “You may also like.” Give your audience little prompts and nudges for the next action to take. If you’ve dedicated budget dollars to get someone to arrive at your landing page, the worst thing you can do is leave them hanging with nowhere to go (except off your website).

Properly structuring your content allows you to create it once and push it out automatically across multiple platforms—blog, social post, landing page banner, Google listing—to meet your audiences where they are. Structured content is a geekier topic than the other characteristics of content experience, since it depends on the technical, back-end setup of your platform or CMS. In essence, it’s about breaking up content into component pieces—title, image, rich snippet, reviews, category/tag, publishing date, location/map, and other structured fields. Structuring your content saves time and allows you to more easily create rich, consistent content experiences across channels

  • Connected Content Experiences

In a connected content experience, each touch point bears some resemblance to the previous one and maintains consistency of campaign messaging, personalization, or design. In this example, we see a disconnected experience: An advertising “takeover” campaign in a Washington DC metro station—with corresponding digital ads—focuses on the needs of this regional market (privacy and secure office space). But when users click to the company homepage, that connection is lost: the homepage contains generic messaging and does not reflect the messaging or style of the takeover campaign. This is a missed opportunity and the customer’s interest is more likely to evaporate.

You are competing for your audience’s attention with a veritable feast of sensory experiences, which is why it is more important than ever to draw them in with content that is fresh, immersive, and creative. Engaging content experiences take many forms—from virtual reality to collaborative storytelling that includes audiences in the process. Choose the right format carefully to create the best experience for your audience and to deepen their engagement with your brand.

  • Contextual Content Experiences

How your customers experience content depends on the context in which they consume it. To break through with the right message at the right time, you can serve up contextual, personalized content based on the type of device, time of day, location, journey stage, relationship with your company, or other factors. Giving thought to context is critical to delivering excellent content experiences.

When you understand your audience—their industry, role, behaviors, or preferences—you can serve up relevant content that resonates and converts. The magic of personalization gives you myriad options. For example, your homepage can display different hero banners for visitors who work in education versus healthcare or government.

5 Steps to Develop an Effective Content Strategy

To get started with a serious strategy or strengthen the one you have in place, take the following five steps:

Identify your ‘why’

The only way to produce authentic content that is valuable for your audience is to fully understand the reasons you do what you do. Then, and only then, can you identify what makes your knowledge, position, or message unique.

Ask yourself: Why is it important that you put your knowledge and expertise out there? What gap can you fill?

Determine your audience(s)

After you’ve looked inside to find your ‘why’, the next step is to make sure it aligns with the ‘who.’ Content marketing without an audience is simply creation for the purpose of creation.

And unfortunately, it happens. In fact, most of the barriers to success in content marketing identified by the Content Marketing Institute showed that it all came down to audience — and how you’re serving them (or not).

Only with a defined audience in mind — one that considers a buyer persona’s pain points, needs, and personalities — can you create a content strategy that focuses on producing content they need and will interact with. In other words, content that gets results.

Create SMART goals and define your KPIs

Center your strategy around core goals. If your goal is to create content because you’re “supposed to,” sound the alarms! Content marketing only serves a purpose with SMART goals in mind; goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results- Oriented, and Time-Bound.

Overall objectives will differ based on where you’re at in your business’ life cycle. What makes them SMART is defining them in a way that gives you key performance indicators you can act upon and measure. Let’s take one of the most common objectives of content marketing and break it down for you.

Align goals with company objectives

The goals specified in step three should, of course, support the overall objectives of the organization. To continue with our example of lead generation, this would support what is often a common objective of all companies: increasing revenue.

Not only does tying goals into overall company objectives encourage more buy-in organization wide, but it also encourages marketers to look outside the marketing silo to evaluate the relationship of content marketing to efforts by other departments within the organization.

Document, document, document

About that verbal strategy: it’s great to get the wheels in motion, but without a written plan, it’s tough to mobilize people and action around it. Put your plan in writing with a B2B copywriter. Maybe it’s in a shared Google Doc or Evernote. Or posted on your intranet. Post it. Share it. Then, document tasks, progress, and lessons. The only way to see what’s working is to track it, which requires documentation.

Only when you’ve taken care of the bruise left by not owning your strategy can you move on to heal the rest of the wounds from your content marketing.

How to Avoid the Dreaded Content Silos

B2B organizations are pouring resources into producing a lot of different content assets. These B2B content assets are living on a variety of different channels.

A well-optimized content experience allows organizations to strategically organize their content so the end-user can easily discover the information they need to continue along the buyer journey. What’s stopping them from doing so? The silo-fication of content.

Content silos are dangerous because they lead to “dead-ends” in your engagement path. A few common examples of content silos include:

Organizing by content format or type instead of topic

Let’s say your organization pours a lot of resources into creating white papers with a B2B copywriter. Think about how you organize those white papers on your resource center in relation to how your end-user is seeking content — no one wakes up in the morning thinking “Gee, today is a great day to read a white paper!”. Your end-user is far more likely to discover the right white paper by searching via topic as opposed to sifting through a pile of unrelated and irrelevant information in your “white papers” tab.

Letting your content pile up by date

Similarly, a content silo could occur if you’re letting your evergreen content pile up by date. Your end-user isn’t necessarily searching for your most recent piece of content. As great as your latest blog post might be, “new” or “latest” isn’t code for “relevant to everyone”. By letting your content pile-up by date, you risk leading your end-user astray from your engagement path because you’re enforcing recentness over relevance.

Sending your inbound traffic outbound

Another example of content silo-fication occurs when you send your inbound traffic outbound. For instance, your organization might be producing videos and posting them on YouTube. While tapping into your YouTube audience is a good idea, if you’re referring your inbound traffic from your blog or resource center out to YouTube, you risk losing them into a clickhole of obscurity (probably in the form of cute cat videos).

Create a content hub to avoid content silos

A well-optimized content experience involves the amalgamation and centralization of content for both the content manager and the end-user. By centralizing all content assets (in a content hub, for instance), the content manager can think of their content more holistically and strategically organize it to provide tailored content streams for the end-user, thus providing a more relevant content experience.

4 Best Practices to Make Case Study Content More Effective

To be effective, case studies need to be credible. There are three main ways
to ensure this:

Incorporate the voice of your customer

Include first-person accounts and testimonials of what the company experienced while using your product or service. Make sure you get permission to use any testimonials you want to include, and always attribute them correctly, noting the name and title of the relevant person.

And remember that more often than not, the best way to get testimonials is to ghost write them for your customer, rather than asking them to come up with something on their own. That not only makes the process easier for your customer (who then simply has to edit and approve what you’ve written), it also helps ensure that each testimonial focuses on the
most important points.

Including a testimonial or two from a relevant stakeholder from inside your business can also help further personalize the case study and build credibility.

Create a well-written, clear, and concise document

As with all of your external content, make sure your case study is well-written, clear, and error free. This is especially important with case studies because you’re not only representing your brand, but also your customer’s brand.

And, if that representation contains errors, typos, or other quality issues, you’re associating your company and your customer’s company with that poorly written content. Make sure you have a B2B copywriter system in place to adequately review your content before you publish it, whether that involves human editors or some form of optimization technology.

Show tangible results

We touched on this earlier but it bears repeating. While stating what you did is important, it won’t get you very far unless you can also explain the resulting impact.

While qualitative results are great (we increased sales, customer satisfaction went up, etc.), quantifying those results is even better. By what percentage did sales increase? How much higher is customer satisfaction now than it was before?

Numbers can go a long way toward demonstrating tangible ROI, which in turn builds credibility.

Tell a relatable story

While credibility is certainly a top priority, to really ensure that your case study resonates, it needs to do more than simply relay facts. It has to tell a story. Practically speaking that means:

  • Making the case study relatable by putting it into the appropriate context so that your readers identify with it.
  • Ensuring that you have a strong narrative and adopt a conversational tone of voice.
  • Incorporating the elements of any good story: strong characters trying to overcome a challenge, ups and downs along the way, and a satisfying resolution.

If you can wrap your case study into a compelling and credible story, you’re all but guaranteed to create a highly effective piece of content.

3 essential content experience functions your CMS needs

By now, you probably have a good understanding as to why you should be focusing on providing a remarkable content experience, as well as the building blocks that you need to acquire to build it. You know it’s in your best interest to build a content experience, but what tools and technologies are actually required to build one?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you want to build a truly remarkable content experience — one that allows for you to properly manage content, build an engagement path, generate leads, and leverage content across your entire organization — your current content management system (CMS) probably won’t cut it.

A traditional CMS is designed for building static web pages. Despite the number of plugins that are available to encourage engagement and lead generation, it can be difficult to fudge together and manage your content experience when you’ve built it from the same blueprint as Frankenstein’s monster.

In addition to aggregating and managing large quantities of content, as well as allowing your content to be leveraged from all corners of your organization, the solution you choose to build your content experience needs to be able to:

Provide a responsive experience

If your content experience isn’t accommodating different screen sizes, you’re in trouble. Thanks to Google’s Mobilegeddon update and the fact that the majority of content is consumed on mobile, you risk creating more leaks in your content experience if your technology does not facilitate responsive design.

Integrate with your technology stack

Modern B2B organizations understand the value of having the right technology, and more importantly, the value of having technology that seamlessly integrates with the rest of their technology stack. The results of having a disjointed martech stack can be dire — after all, if your content leads aren’t properly feeding into your marketing automation platform, you’ll not only miss opportunities, but will also lack accurate insight into your content marketing and lead gen performance.

Eliminate IT barriers

It’s difficult to separate IT from your organization’s technology; however, IT barriers are all too often the cause of massive productivity issues. Technology that inhibits a marketer or salesperson’s ability to perform nimbly and to the best of their ability is almost contradictory. It’s important to seek software solutions that empower your employees (especially for non-tech departments such as Sales and Marketing).

Conclusion

The concept of a content experience isn’t new, but B2B organizations — particularly, marketers — haven’t necessarily been putting forward the amount of resources required to properly optimize their content experiences. Perhaps it’s because the focus of much of our recent content marketing lexicon has been on creation, distribution, and insights. Or, maybe it’s because we have been limited by the technology that’s available to manage content.

Whether you’re leveraging content for marketing, sales, or success, your goal should always be to provide value to your desired end-user. Your content’s value shouldn’t be limited by the experience in which it lives — the experience is an integral part of the content marketing process, and, like any environment, can have a profound impact on your end-user’s behavior and, ultimately, your content’s performance. Allow your content to reach its full potential by building a remarkable content experience and hiring a B2B copywriter.

The Content Creation Best Practices of Pro B2B Marketers

To be effective, case studies need to be credible. There are three main ways
to ensure this:

Incorporate the voice of your customer

Include first-person accounts and testimonials of what the company experienced while using your product or service. Make sure you get permission to use any testimonials you want to include, and always attribute them correctly, noting the name and title of the relevant person.

And remember that more often than not, the best way to get testimonials is to ghost write them for your customer, rather than asking them to come up with something on their own. That not only makes the process easier for your customer (who then simply has to edit and approve what you’ve written), it also helps ensure that each testimonial focuses on the
most important points.

Including a testimonial or two from a relevant stakeholder from inside your business can also help further personalize the case study and build credibility.

Create a well-written, clear, and concise document

As with all of your external content, make sure your case study is well-written, clear, and error free. This is especially important with case studies because you’re not only representing your brand, but also your customer’s brand.

And, if that representation contains errors, typos, or other quality issues, you’re associating your company and your customer’s company with that poorly written content. Make sure you have a B2B copywriter system in place to adequately review your content before you publish it, whether that involves human editors or some form of optimization technology.

Show tangible results

We touched on this earlier but it bears repeating. While stating what you did is important, it won’t get you very far unless you can also explain the resulting impact.

While qualitative results are great (we increased sales, customer satisfaction went up, etc.), quantifying those results is even better. By what percentage did sales increase? How much higher is customer satisfaction now than it was before?

Numbers can go a long way toward demonstrating tangible ROI, which in turn builds credibility.

Tell a relatable story

While credibility is certainly a top priority, to really ensure that your case study resonates, it needs to do more than simply relay facts. It has to tell a story. Practically speaking that means:

  • Making the case study relatable by putting it into the appropriate context so that your readers identify with it.
  • Ensuring that you have a strong narrative and adopt a conversational tone of voice.
  • Incorporating the elements of any good story: strong characters trying to overcome a challenge, ups and downs along the way, and a satisfying resolution.

If you can wrap your case study into a compelling and credible story, you’re all but guaranteed to create a highly effective piece of content.

How to Build a Content Engagement Path

With the surge in popularity of interactive content platforms, many a B2B marketer and B2B copywriter are relying on interactive content assets to remedy their engagement problem. However, engagement is a bigger issue than achieving poll responses and quiz completions.

Engagement means establishing a meaningful connection and a long-term relationship with your end-user. While interactive assets can certainly help build these kinds of connections, it’s important to think of your content on a holistic level and focus on building an engagement path.

First, you can’t expect your end-user to take the time to sift through your content and find what they’re looking for (which is why strategic content organization is key to content discoverability). A truly great content experience is ultimately about designing for enduring engagement, content cross-discoverability, and customized content pathways that help keep things personal and relevant for your end-user.

Second, you need to encourage enduring engagement by enabling conversations using certain elements of engagement that will help to build a stronger relationship.

Organizing and managing your content to create tailored content streams that are highly relevant to your end-user is one way to encourage engagement. However, it’s also important to have a few aspects “baked in” to your content experience to facilitate and measure engagement. In all likelihood, you’ve heard of some of these tools before, but it’s important to understand how these elements work to promote engagement in your content experience.

Enabling comments

Commenting is one of the best ways to start conversations and, ultimately, understand whether or not your content is providing value to your audience by allowing the opportunity for feedback.

Of course, some brands (like Rainmaker Digital, née Copyblogger) have famously disabled their blog’s comment section to broaden the conversation using other networks and avoid wasting time cleaning out inevitable spam. It’s ultimately up to you and your organization as to whether or not you include comments to meet your goals.

Add social sharing buttons

Social sharing buttons are also a great way to generate engagement because they facilitate seamless sharing on social platforms, thereby allowing greater distribution and greater opportunity for your content to become part of a conversation.

Include exit overlays

Exit overlays are “pop ups” that are triggered by exit intent technology, which monitors visitor behavior on your blog or website. When a visitor shows the intent to exit — e.g., by moving their cursor to their top navigation bar, or to close a window — an overlay pops up to encourage them to stay on the site and take action. Exit overlays can be used to build subscriber lists, or offer exclusive content, or suggest content recommendations — the opportunities are endless.

Provide content recommendations

Part of building an engagement path means always providing a logical and tailored next step to keep your end-user engaged with your brand’s content. One of the easiest ways to do this is by implementing a content discovery engine that provides targeted content recommendations. Think of content recommendations as an automated system that lays the next content “brick” in your end-user’s engagement path. The path will continue as long as there are enough relevant bricks ahead!

The Playbook for Sales Enablement Content

In a sales context, content can be anything from customer-facing collateral and assets like brochures, white papers, and presentations to internal-only content like FAQs, competitive battle cards, and sales playbooks. For sellers, content is the key to convincing buyers to progress to the next stage of the buying journey—it is the foundation for instrumental messaging, training, guidance, and direct engagement. On average, sales reps use more than 17 pieces of content throughout the sales process. Content-based sales enablement helps companies grow revenue, recognize revenue more quickly in the sales cycle, and retain more customers.

The other universal truth is that regardless of an organization’s sales or marketing maturity, they always have sales content somewhere, and too often it’s everywhere.

For sellers, finding the right content that is relevant, properly timed, and aligned to each stage in the buyer’s journey, is a very hard juggling act. Organizations without effective content management or a B2B copywriter often run into the same roadblocks. Content is scattered across multiple platforms and locations (think SharePoint sites, Dropbox folders, and Salesforce libraries) and as a result, sellers can’t find the appropriate content. Or all content is stored in one large, amorphous repository that is difficult to browse and search. Old gets mixed with new; reps rummage around in the bucket of content without being able to find the right assets and don’t know if they can trust what they find.

Sellers waste a lot of valuable selling time searching for content, in fact, research has shown that sales reps spend a full 40 percent of their time searching for or creating content. The result is that reps start trusting their own hard drives as the best source for sales content—and this is a recipe for disaster. This solution invariably leads to public-facing documents and content that are off-message, off-brand, and out-of-date. This, in turn, degrades the quality and effectiveness of sales interactions and pushes buyers towards competitors.

Another major pain point with sales content is understanding what content is actually being used and what content is most effective in driving prospect engagement.

Without visibility into how content is being used, marketing can’t evaluate which content reps prefer, how much content is being used, how content is modified, and how content is influencing revenue. Sales teams are also flying blind—without knowing what content they really need, and what best practices they should adopt. The result is a major disconnect between the sales and the marketing teams about how to prioritize content investment. Sales enablement provides a link between marketing and sales teams, not only housing the content that marketing produces but also provides guidance on how to best deliver content.

With a sales enablement tool collecting and reporting content usage and effectiveness, the sales and the marketing teams can better align and optimize their focus and investment in sales content.

Benefits of Sales Enablement Content

To say that today’s sales landscape is competitive is an understatement. Buyers are able to evaluate, research, and eliminate vendors before ever contacting a seller.

To elaborate, research shows that buyers travel through 57& of the buyer journey ahead of their first meaningful interaction with a seller. By the time a modern buyer does reach out, they expect a fast and personalized response that adds value and insight beyond what they have already researched on their own.

If not, they are likely to take their business elsewhere. Sales reps must execute at a high level to move deals forward quickly, or they risk losing out to better prepared competitors. And to add insult to injury, Forrester finds that business buyers remain unimpressed with the content that marketing and sales present to them: 60 percent say vendors give them too much content, and most say what they get is useless.

At the same time, sales cycles have become longer and more complex, causing sellers to shoulder ever-increasing administrative burdens resulting in less time spent in direct selling activities. On average, sales reps only spend a third of their day actually talking to prospects.

With less time available for selling, this makes it more difficult to provide meaningful interactions that are required to be successful when engaging today’s buyer.

All of this means that sellers must capitalize on every conversation and approach each exchange artfully, adeptly, and expeditiously. To do this, sellers need more than traditional sales training or sales readiness and more organizations are looking to sales enablement and hiring a B2B copywriter as the oath to modern selling. The Aberdeen Group found that 77 percent of organizations now practice some form of sales enablement. CSO Insights reports that the percentage of companies with a dedicated sales enablement person, program or function increased by 180 percent last year alone.

The key difference between sales enablement and traditional training and readiness is that it’s ongoing and it incorporates training on a continuous basis—alongside the right engagement content and assets at the point of buyer engagement.

How to Create Sales Enablement Content

Selecting a robust, innovative content management solution with exceptional sales enablement functionality is the fastest way to upgrade your go-to-market starting with content at the core. Utilizing a sales enablement platform with a built-in content management solution allows sellers to find, leverage, and pitch the correct content when they need it.

Content Repository Features

Sales enablement platforms save sales reps time by providing one content repository for all their content needs, cutting down on the amount of time they spend searching for and creating content. Patented AI and semantic search delivers highly accurate results so sellers spend time selling.

As previously mentioned, modern buyers travel through most of the buyer’s journey without interacting with a seller, preferring instead to conduct their own research and compiling a shortlist of vendors they engage with. This now requires sellers to be prepared to offer content that’s rich with valuable advice and expertise on the subject matter.

If sellers cannot locate the right content they require, or worse still, do not know it is available, they will lose prospects to better equipped competitors. For your sellers to deliver an effective sales meeting that clearly establishes their competence, knowledge, and insights into a buyer’s needs, they should offer content that communicates exactly the right solutions for the buyer.

Intelligent Recommendations

Measuring the effectiveness of content is very important as it provides insight into whether a content strategy is properly aligned and in fact driving growth. Analytics that provide insight into buyer activity, such as email opens, content downloads, and time spent on content are key indicators of effectiveness. With this information, marketing and enablement teams can evaluate content messaging and effectiveness at each stage of the buyer’s journey to uncover what is ultimately influencing revenue.

With Highspot, the most effective and top recommended content by a B2B copywriter is automatically identified using AI, or managers can hand-curate their recommendations. Highspot automatically identifies the most effective and top recommended content based on historical customer engagement and revenue production data.

As a result, Highspot can guide users to effective content that is most relevant to their current scenario, based on sales stage and persona. This guarantees that the seller will have the right content in hand when she goes to pitch her prospect.

Content and Guidance

Today’s buyers expect sellers to be nimble and knowledgeable enough to send content that is valuable, personalized and aligned to their stage in the buyer’s journey, almost immediately.

To navigate this new set of expectations sellers need access to guidance that is easy to use, dynamic, digital and intuitive. This provides sellers with one location for the content and guidance throughout the sales cycle. Not only should content provide buyers value and new insights, but it must also map to their stage in the buyer’s journey —helping them progress through the purchase process.

With Highspot, sellers can find content that is aligned to their prospect’s opportunity record within the CRM. As a result, the content buyers receive is directly mapped to their stage in the sales cycle and aligns with important attributes such as buyer persona. This allows sales reps to quickly find the best content for each conversation, ensuring they stay aligned to the buyer’s stage in the purchase journey.

Conclusion

In today’s competitive sales landscape, adaptable, intelligent solutions that provide effective content management and ultimately drive seller enablement are a necessity.

As a result, it becomes easier for sellers to guide prospective buyers through the sales process quickly and methodically, allowing them to win more deals. With easier content discovery, higher quality engagements, and more analytics, sales enablement tools create drastic improvements for today’s seller effectiveness.

6 Steps to Content Management Success

Once you have a content management solution in place, how do you move from content chaos to the ideal state of buyer-aligned content nirvana?Creating an effective system to manage dispersed and sprawling content may seem daunting at first, but there are a number of concrete steps that can be taken to achieve the ideal outcome for sellers.

Create a Content Map

The starting point and the most important strategic step in implementing a content management solution is creating a content map with a B2B copywriter. The purpose of mapping is to identify the content you have to work with, what you need, and where it fits in your company strategy. When content mapping, be aware that leaning too heavily on the intuition of one team will not yield the results you need.

Your map needs to accommodate the perspectives of multiple groups, never forgetting that the ultimate audience is the sales team. In the same way, you would use a map to find a physical location, your content map is created to easily and quickly guide sellers to the best content for their specific buyer interaction. It creates the bones of your solution and structures the seller’s content experience. A content map is only as good as the steps taken to create it.

Organize and Curate

At its most essential, the content map must be set up and maintained in a fashion that lets sellers search to find what they need, in the ways that make the most sense to them. In order to do this, it’s important to understand the three common ways that sellers search for information: browsing, searching, and discovery.

Consider you are searching for a TV on Amazon. You’d start by entering the term “TV” in the search engine. This returns a very large number of diverse results, with the most popular displayed on top of the list, but there are also filters which allow you to narrow down your results. For example, you might filter between 42 and 55 inches, manufactured by Sony or Panasonic. This process of filtering down the results into a smaller, more narrowly defined set of characteristics is browsing. If one TV is of particular interest and you click on it, Amazon will also present you with a number of TVs with similar attributes that you may find interesting. When the system uses this information it’s learned about you (the particular kind of TV you favored) to suggest similar options you may like, that is discovery.

90% of B2B sellers don’t use sales content because it is irrelevant, outdated, and difficult to customize.

Effective content organization includes content curation —the act of auditing and sorting content. This means keeping content that is effective, used often, and is directly tied to revenue creation, and archiving content that is not. While this is a step where a lot of very indepth work can be done on an asset library–updating, eliminating, rebranding where it makes sense—it is important not to get bogged down. The goal is to strike a balance between the impulse to thoroughly uncover, classify, and update every last piece of existing content and getting key assets into the content management system and ultimately the hands of sales reps.

There are broad strokes that can be taken to strike this balance and help pare down the mass of existing assets without sorting through each individual item. For example, what needs–and deserves–to be rebranded? What is old enough that it should simply be eliminated? What contains outdated information, or hasn’t been updated with new product information? Is it worth updating, or should it simply be thrown out? Remember that 90 percent of B2B sellers don’t use sales content because it is irrelevant, outdated, and difficult to customize. This is an opportunity to dispose of some of the dry rot that isn’t being used.

As the process of curating content is occurring, design and document a process to make ongoing curation a part of the content management best practices. If content is not continually curated in the new content management process, content bloat will occur again.90%of B2B sellers don’t use sales content because it is irrelevant, outdated, and difficult to customize.

Conduct a Content Audit

Once there is a content map in place and established content categories, it is time to audit your existing content. Content audits are an important exercise because it provides visibility into what attributes existing content align with, such as sales stage or buyer persona. Common sources to search for when auditing content include:

  • Content management systems, like Sharepoint, Alfresco, and Jive
  • Online file sharing systems, like Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive
  • Video repositories, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Brainshark, and Brightcove
  • Internal web portals or intranet
  • The company website
  • Legacy sales enablement solutions
  • CRM systems such as Salesforce
  • Seller hard drives

Once the pillar content items that sales reps use every week have been uncovered, the next step is deciding where these content pieces will fall on your map. In some cases, there will be a question as to whether a piece of content is still relevant or should it be archived. This exercise helps to show when there is too much content that is aligned with similar attributes or that content has reached its expiration date and should be removed from the content library.

Another common outcome of a content audit is visible content gaps. It is necessary to document and evaluate the steps taken in the audit process, as the audit should be repeated periodically over time.

Provide Content Guidance to Sellers

When a content map is developed, it aligns content to the buyer’s journey as well as the sales process. As a result, when sellers search for content, they find content tailored to their specific buyer interaction, aligning the buyer’s journey and sales stage. The right piece of content, delivered at the right moment, provides buyers with meaningful insight while convincing buyers to move to the next stage of the sales cycle. This is why 64 percent of buyers say the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision.

When content is provided to a seller, it’s an opportune moment to deliver the asset and educate the sales rep on how to use that content when pitching to a buyer. This functions as a type of training that takes place in the middle of the workflow, making it easy for sellers to access guidance without breaking stride. It also provides learning in-context, which is a highly effective training method.

Creating this dual process—of content delivery in connection with training delivery—is an approach that should be designed and built into the content management system from the beginning. This is one of the most significant ways that a sales enablement platform plays a primary role in consistently training sales teams. In addition to training sellers in-context, a sales enablement platform delivers bite-sized components of training on a regular basis that is easy for reps to consume and remember. This keeps sales reps up-to-date on the latest product information, changes in messaging, new sales techniques, and updated best practices.

With intense demands on sellers’ time, this is a highly effective, flexible method for ensuring that sellers are consistently learning and ready to engage with buyers.

Analyze Content Usage Engagement and ROI

One of the greatest benefits of a content management system is that it provides insight into how content is being used, to what extent, and by whom. More importantly, engagement analytics provide quantified data on which pieces of content buyers are opening, downloading, and how long they engaged with each item.

This gives sales reps a tremendous leg up while giving marketing and enablement teams the ability to discern what content is linked to revenue production. Determining content ROI is a tricky business that can only be determined with a content management system that has the ability to track the full lifecycle of a piece of content. Sales content analytics connect the dots between ineffective content and content that has helped close deals.

Typically, only a very small percentage of content is used consistently by sales reps. In fact, 65 percent of marketing content is never used by sales.⁹ An effective sales content management system provides visibility into content that goes unused so that marketing or enablement can examine why. This is an essential step because it helps ensure that organizations are investing wisely when they makes content decisions.

Optimize, Rinse, and Repeat

Based on the data gathered from the analysis done in Step 5, KPIs will help identify which assets to cull, curate, or create more of. Essential areas of focus include frequent usage and non-usage. Data from the content management system will also make it apparent whether the guidance provided alongside those assets is effective–making it easy to continually refine and update the guidance that enables sellers to pitch the content effectively.

In effect, a robust content management system is equipped to perform an ongoing content audit. With a content management system in place, organizations are able to identify the core set of content pieces that are used most often and that should be kept, improved, and invested in. Alternatively, insight is provided into which content goes untouched and therefore should be eliminated. While getting rid of unused assets might seem difficult, given the investment that’s gone into creating them, culling the pieces that are cluttering the system is an important component of highly effective content management.

After all, one of the essential rules of honing messaging and content delivery is making sure there aren’t too many pieces of content available, but instead, ensuring the right pieces of content are aligned with their place in the sales cycle. This ongoing, continuous cycle of audit, curation, and refinement helps ensure that the content you have is the content you need.