The shift from building content about a company and it’s products and services, to building content that speaks to specific interests of target audiences, raises the issue of content relevance.
What makes content relevant? How would we gauge the degree of relevance of a content item?
This shift is being driven by new customer buying processes enabled largely by internet availability of information traditionally provided by vendors. As buyers begin their buying process with online research, content becomes more critical than ever before. Content is what helps companies get discovered during this research process. Used properly, content can help companies discover potential buyers before they decide to contact vendors.
Search engine optimization (SEO), internet syndicated articles, and marketing automation technology (among others) have changed the marketing game.
Buyers are not interested in vendor products and services until quite late in their buying process. At the start, they are primarily interested in their business problems. And, to paraphrase the common line about politics, all problems are personal.
So content is relevant when it is tailored to specific:
- Buyer roles or personas
- Issues or interests
- Questions buyers ask at different stages in the buying process
- Industry factors
- Alternative approaches to buyer solutions
- Communication purpose (capture attention, educate, motivate, prove, etc.)
Formats for Delivery Channels
In addition to tailoring the contentS for each variable, audience have preferences for both formats and communication channels. This is forcing marketers to create multiple versions for each important communication. Examples include:
- Very short text formats: Emails, Tweets, Linkedin and Google+ posts
- Short length webpage, landing page and microsite copy
- Medium length blogs
- Long length whitepapers
- Mixed media ebooks, web and landing pages
- Visual images for Slideshare, Pinterest, infographics, presentation support
This 2:30 video explains this and the implications for content creation more fully.
In a complex corporate sale most companies sell to three to seven different buyer roles. Typically problems are comprised of multiple issues. Customer buying processes can be segmented into at least four stages. Many companies sell into two or more industries. Customers have many optional approaches to solve their problems.
Consider the implications of these variables. For any topic, if one wanted to optimize content relevance for every combination of situations it would require over 1000 versions! Now obviously this is an overstatement, but don’t let that make you too comfortable. If you are building content for purposes of lead nurturing, you probably need three different pieces of content for each version.