“Ah, what a lovely day to be in the city,” I said to my colleague as we trudged through the rain. We were venturing to an event space in Union Square, New York City, where Ceros promised to make the case for why “experience matters.”
We made our way in and realized we were…in a kitchen? Someone handed us champagne in red Solo cups as waiters scurried around us.
“I wonder if we’re too early,” I said.
We headed into the main space and saw a beautiful open loft. On one side was a presentation setup and on the other a step-and-repeat emblazoned with the Ceros logo and the theme of the night: “Experience matters.”
We were duped. Well, sort of.
The entire event space was separated into good and bad experiences, so attendees got to experience the dramatic differences between the two. While we got the New Jersey Special (which I say lovingly to describe cocktails served in red Solo cups) in the kitchen, others got to go behind the velvet rope, take photos in front of the step and repeat and drink their champagne out of actual glasses.
Ceros unveiled update 6.0 of its platform and announced some new features and functionality that would make the creation of interactive content experiences far easier. (Integration with Getty Images, instant mobile optimization and offline availability, to name a few.) But there was far more to it.
B2B has an experience problem. A big one.
When we start putting our pen to paper and begin planning our campaigns, we imagine creating “high end” experiences like the one Ceros concocted. We want to make our buyers feel like we understand them — that we know their pain points and have solutions that will ultimately make their lives better and easier. And oh yeah, we’ll help them be more successful, too! We’ll use compelling storytelling methods and killer imagery to basically guide them through the experience.
When it comes time to pull the trigger, though, we usually make our buyers feel unknown and unwelcome — the proverbial red Solo cup of “content experience.”
So why do we always end up making the same mistakes and falling into the same cycle of content and campaign creation?
Part of me thinks it’s because a lot of us don’t really know what “content experience” really means. It feels like just another ingredient in B2B’s buzzword soup. It’s thrown around so carelessly in articles, webinars and events that it’s no longer resonating with us. And when something fails to resonate, it fails to instill real change.
However, the other part of me thinks it’s because creating a great content experience is really fricking hard! (Replace “fricking” with your f-word of choice.)
The Experience Matters event got my mind spinning, encouraging me to peel back the layers on this issue. I think I only got about two layers in, but there are a few potential issues and solutions that come to mind:
The first and most critical step in tackling the B2B experience problem is understanding what it REALLY is.
Uberflip CMO and Co-Founder Randy Frisch is arguably one of the founding fathers of content experience. He describes it as:
“The environment in which we serve our content, the structure in which we organize it, and the way we compel people to engage through elements like personalization.”
So really, for better or for worse, your brand is delivering a content experience: digital or offline, through social media, demand gen campaigns, webinars, events, display ads…the list goes on and on. All of these channels and tactics play into your content experience, and they significantly influence how buyers respond to your brand.
The second step? Understanding why content experience really matters. How does it play into our roles as marketers when all we’ve focused on in the past is informing our buyers and persuading them to look closer at our solutions and services?
Ceros explains it eloquently on its website:
“Purchasing decisions (yes, even B2B ones) are made by humans, humans make decisions based on logic and feelings, and feelings are formed by our experiences.”
We’ve all heard it over and over: To create compelling content, we have to focus less on our value prop and more on our buyers’ challenges and pain points. We have to walk a mile in their shoes! As we do this exercise, though, are we really looking at our ideas through our buyers’ eyes? Are we really being that objective? Part of me wants to say yes, but I know I’d be lying.
We’re struggling to take our own ego and bias out of the equation, and determine whether the content we’re developing and yes, the experiences we’re creating, are really what our buyers want. We’re instead focusing on “what’s hot,” what our competitors are doing and what the keynote presentation at our last conference told us to do.
Which leads me to step three: Develop a content strategy that revolves around your content environment (and yes, the experience).
When I say content environment, I’m referring to the end-to-end campaign: all of the tactics, all of the assets, all of the messages to your buyers. How are they connected? Do they tell a cohesive story, and do you make it easy for your buyers to go from beginning to end — how and when they want?
The latest Content Preferences Survey we sponsored reveals that 86% prefer more interactive content that they can access on demand. That’s not to say that all content needs to be created in an interactive platform; however, the overall experience should feel immersive, seamless and relevant. You should eliminate dead ends from your content strategy, and instead, buyers should be able to consume as much (or as little) content as they want.
Finally: Determine where to invest in interactive content to enrich the experience.
Interactive content is an undeniable force in the B2B landscape. It’s giving marketers in healthcare, finance, gas/electric and other industries deemed “boring” equal opportunity to create memorable — even fun — content experiences. Moreover, it’s allowing them to be more strategic in their content experiences, transforming one asset into an immersive content journey that allows the buyer’s journey to naturally unfold.
The survey found that 97% of buyers want related content packaged together.
“But what about the attention span problem? Don’t we only have eight seconds?” I’ll let this timeless blog from Jason Miller give you answers to that in detail, but long story short, NO!
If the experience is right, buyers are actually willing to spend more time consuming content. Nearly a third (33%) of buyers say they’d spend five to 10 minutes reviewing interactive content, while 37% said they’d spend 10 to 30 minutes. To some, that’s completely unheard of.
Your content experience should be so stellar that they have no option other than to dig in. They should be hungry for it and eager to engage with every component of your content — whether it’s carousels, animations, embedded media or other interactions.
There are certainly some best practices for designing interactive content; however, one size does not fit all. We encourage marketers to embark on a creative exercise, conjuring up new and exciting ways that buyers can “peel back the layers” of their content.
The heart of success, though, is understanding your buyers; not just their content preferences and consumption behaviors, but their beliefs, goals, pain points and more. These insights will help you ensure that your experience isn’t just full of glitz, but will resonate with buyers on an emotional and intellectual level. With this valuable foundation in place, you can follow the above four steps to excel at content experience.
Visit the Ceros Experience Matters event in all its Solo cup glory here.
Ready to roll out the red carpet for your buyers? Read 5 Ways Content Can Boost Customer Loyalty for ideas, or contact Holly Celeste Fisk at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how Content4Demand can help.