Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content at #B2BMX

Ryan Brown Ceros

Ryan Brown Ceros What makes an experience an... B2B Marketing Experience? Full disclosure: I am not on the design team at TopRank Marketing. But you know what I mean. You’ve eaten dinner at dozens, if not hundreds of restaurants in your lifetime. But there are likely one or two that stick out in your memory. What makes them memorable? That question drove an intriguing presentation at B2B Marketing Exchange, led by four expert marketers: B2B Content Experience Team Short answer: What makes experiences different and memorable is if they’re really good… or really bad. Anything in the middle tends to blur together in our recollection. Only the extremes stand out. [bctt tweet="“What makes experiences different and memorable is if they’re really good… or really bad. Anything in the middle tends to blur together in our recollection. Only the extremes stand out.” @NiteWrites" username="toprank"] Case in point: The vast majority of B2B content. It’s...fine! But maybe not so memorable. 

The Five Levels of Memorable Content

Ryan observed that, when a B2B business has customers or clients in the office, we offer amazing experiences: Everything from go-kart rides to monogrammed socks.  So why do we offer blocks of black-and-white text in a PDF to our digital customers? Not only does our static content fail to be memorable, it isn’t measurable, either. Interactive, immersive content can provide a better experience and help marketers optimize at the same time.  According to Ryan, there are five levels of “memorability” for great content:
  1. Narrative. This is text content at its most elemental: ad copy, blog posts, stories, scripts.
  1. Visual Elements. Images, graphics, photos and videos liven up the text, but are still static assets on the page.
  1. Integrated elements. Forms, maps, chat, embedded content. This level pulls in multiple different types of content from external sources, like a lead gen form or a Google map.
  1. Interactive Elements. This type of content solicits and rewards active engagement, versus passive consumption. It can include content you click, touch, or hover over to open content paths and customize the experience.
  1. Immersive Elements. This type of content comes alive as the audience moves through it, with animation, actions triggered on scroll and click, parallax effects to give depth, and multiple layers of content.
Most B2B marketers are proficient in the first two levels, and many are getting comfortable with the third. But truly interactive and immersive experiences aren’t as common.

Barriers to Immersive Content


According to Ryan, one reason we get stuck with same-old content is the workflow between teams. Typically, content teams create the copy and hand it off to design. The design team isn’t consulted in the planning or execution of the copy.  Then, the design team takes the copy and goes through the design process in their silo. There’s no collaboration; it’s content + design.  To fix that workflow, Bluecore’s Paige and Sharon recommend that content and design teams work together, from planning to execution to optimization, in order to:
  • Engage early
  • Partner on content development
  • Frequently sync on milestones
To illustrate how their process leads to more engaging experiences, Paige and Shannon showed off their Content Concierge, an interactive recommendation engine for their content library. Versus their static content, Bluecore's Content Concierge achieved a 93% higher interaction rate, and 80% more dwell time. Tools The other major roadblock for interactive experiences is the tools marketers use to create content. These tools tend to reinforce the divide between content and design, Ryan says. More complex multimedia experiences also require a third cook in the kitchen: A web development team or vendor partner. The solution is to seek out tools that empower content and design to work together on interactive, immersive experiences. Darius from Carbon Black shared how his team used Ceros to design different types of experiences for their customers. They created a choose-your-own-adventure style game for an immersive, long-form experience. But they also created a snackable March Madness-inspired tournament game that people could play in under a minute.

Memorable & Measurable Experiences

According to Ryan, downloadable assets — like a typical white paper — miss the opportunity to provide a memorable experience. What’s worse, they’re not measurable once downloaded. Did the downloader make it past the front page? Was there an infographic that really hit with your target audience? It’s impossible to tell.  With the right type of interactive content, you can be a fly on the wall as people go through the experience. You can tell where people are clicking, how deep they’re scrolling, and when they’re likely to drop off. That means more opportunities to optimize and engage more deeply.  Darius encouraged marketers to invest their time and energy in creating and optimizing these memorable experiences. “If we’re not putting the time in with our customers, we can’t expect them to give us their time back,” he said. [bctt tweet="“If we’re not putting the time in with our customers, we can’t expect them to give us their time back.” — Darius Eslami, Carbon Black" username="toprank"]

Getting Started with Experiential Content

Creating memorable content experiences requires a shift in mindset and operations. Making the change can be tricky, Sharon and Paige warned. They offered a three-step approach to getting started:
  1. Create a business case to get buy-in
  2. Do a proof of concept — have a clear outline, objectives and measurable goals.
  3. Prioritize where you will get the most impact 
That last point is crucial, Sharon said. Without a clear set of priorities, you can get option paralysis with the possibilities. Or, as she put it, “It’s like going to the Cheesecake Factory hungry and trying to navigate that massive menu.”

Be the Architect of Your Brand

Ryan ended the session on an aspirational note. He reminds marketers that we are responsible for designing the ways that customers encounter and perceive our brands. “Take pride in the experiences you create,” he said. “Stop ‘writing at’ your customer, and start ‘creating for’ them.” Dynamic, interactive, immersive content is more engaging for customers, gets better results for marketers, and can even lead to quicker sales and more revenue for the company. It’s well worth making your content experience into an… Experience in glitter text See how interactive content made for a memorable experience that smashed benchmarks for our client Prophix.

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