Intelligent Content Delivery Can Accelerate the Path to Sales

March 29, 2019

By Bharath Ram Srinivasan

Hanna Ferentc/Getty Images

Netflix changed the movie industry forever by disrupting home video sales and rentals. It was able to retain and grow its customer base over the years successfully due to its ability to keep its consumers engaged through its proprietary video recommendation system. Netflix was able to use machine learning to make recommendations that made its consumers binge watch videos for hours together. Netflix's success offers us great marketing ideas in capturing our customer's attention.

Email marketing is widely used, and while there are benefits to having a large emailable database to target marketing content, the volume of contacts makes it hard to identify the buyers within the database who want to know more and consume more content. They get lost among other, poor-quality leads. Marketers spent over $74 billion last year on content creation, tools, and services to get people to engage with the content but still don't have clear visibility on who is actually consuming the content and whether it ultimately influenced the buying decision. According to Sirius, 94 percent of MQLs never convert into sales.

Traditionally, marketers relied on clicks, form-fills, and asset downloads as the standard for measuring engagement. However, in the last two decades, the whole buying process has become much more democratized. The bulk of the buying process in today's world happens outside of sales. On average, it takes about seven to 10 pieces of marketing content to truly educate and qualify a buyer, and depending on the size of organization, this may require repeating this process with up to six people. The internet and e-commerce have made the buyer much more informed than ever before, and he or she is in control of the buying process. Traditional marketing tactics such as gated landing pages make it too easy for buyers to disengage.

Once a buyer shows any level of interest in a piece of content, the marketer shouldn't leave the buyer to figure out where to go next. A one-and-done approach to buyer education and engagement is an expensive process, and the buyer often struggles to find what they need. This creates a huge missed opportunity. Drip campaigns and one-and-done experiences just won't cut it anymore — they slow down or push away the fastest-moving buyers. The marketer should instead let their fast-moving buyers go faster and guide them at the same time. Often there is a big disconnect between what the buyers want and what the marketers are delivering. B2B buyers would prefer that marketers package together related content so that it's easier for the buyer to find and then make the determination on their end which pieces to engage. When buyers move from casual research and start consuming multiple pieces of content, there is a point when they become ready for sales. The marketer should detect that moment and capitalize on it.

All clicks shouldn't be treated equally. Some buyers are early in their research and have a larger window of time to decide, whereas other buyers are ready to learn more immediately and make a decision faster as they may have time constraints. If the marketer misses identifying this latter set of buyers, they may go to a competitor. Every click should be validated based on actual content consumption. Just like how Netflix would have shown its consumer more relevant movies or episodes to watch after consumption of one piece of video, the marketer should also have a mechanism to deliver more relevant content to the buyer right at that instant making them progress further in their journey.

Marketers have been building robust nurture tracks over the years. However, these take significant time to build within the marketing automation platform, and if there are tweaks to make to an existing track, it takes time to make the changes as well. These make it very difficult for the marketers to get out their campaigns quickly or drive the desired results faster. However, newer advancements in marketing technology have made it possible for marketers to make this process more agile and have given them the ability to get newer content out quickly, creating more time and bandwidth for strategic activities. The marketers' efforts become truly effective only when more buyers spend more time with relevant content, making them progress forward through the funnel and translating quickly into sales. Today products such as PathFactory and Uberflip have attempted to address these needs for the marketers. Savvy marketers should try some of these newer methods to accelerate their buyers and drive more sales.

Bharath Ram Srinivasan is currently head of demand platforms at HPE.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


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