Behind the Numbers: Welcome Content

We’re going to try something new on the blog: “Behind the Numbers.”  I want to show marketers how to interpret surveys and data by applying things they already know and–when appropriate–a healthy dose of skepticism.

The invaluable eMarketer newsletter shared a survey from content marketing firm Eccolo Media on  popular content throughout the B2B technology sales cycle.  Among other data points, Eccolo shared this one about what kinds of content these buyers want right after purchase:

Sales_Cycle_What_Content_Goes_Where_Eccolo_Media_-_2015-02-02_09.50.35

In descending order, these customers want content relating to thought leadership (36%), tech support (30%), new product info (25%) and customer stories (9%).

The data tell a good story, but they don’t tell the whole story.

As an experienced (read: I made a lot of mistakes) email marketer, I know that a brand never has a better chance at bonding with a new customer than immediately after purchase.  Not only do new customers have a keen interest in getting off on the right foot, they also look for assurance that they made the right decision.

As a result, customers lap up content other than what Eccolo asked them about, namelu onboarding content.  They want to get up to speed quickly and always appreciate content that helps them do that.  I doubt most customers would say “content that tells me what the heck I just bought and how to use it,” but the web teems with case studies saying just that.

However, this chart does an excellent job of showing how to continue the relationship forged during onboarding.  content like thought leadership and tech support go well beyond initial emails.  Marketers should look at user forums, support libraries and, of course, social networks to publish these kinds of content.  I’d also argue that they should work with search marketing resources to understand what terms customers search for related to the brand and build a presence there as well.

If I were advising a B2B technology brand, I’d work with them to map out the customer journey after purchase, not just before.  I’d use the onboarding email not only to create a bond with the customer, but also to encourage them to seek content in the places where the brand has published it.  I’d also keep a close eye on content metrics to understand whether new customers consume content in the proportions suggested above and then make appropriate adjustments to content development.

While surveys like Eccolo’s really help marketers inform themselves about audiences they may not understand, it always helps to bring a real-world perspective to make the most of the data.

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