Content Shines in a Cookieless World

By Georgia Bradley

According to Bombora Company Surge, during the last 90 days there have been over 17,000 spikes in research about content across business services companies. Content falls in the middle of the pack above demand generation in marketing interests, showing where B2B marketers' priorities lie.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 71 percent of B2B marketers say that content has become even more important in the last year. We expect this to continue to increase.

Content has always been at the heart of B2B marketing, from thought leadership to demand generation to sales enablement. Insightful, useful content builds brand affinity and engagement, serving as a critical element in the B2B experience. As we enter a cookieless world, content becomes even more valuable.

The loss of third-party cookies will have a disruptive impact on marketing, forcing B2B marketers to rethink their strategies. The importance of first-party data cannot be underestimated in this new transparent world.

Make Content Relevant

This is where content comes in for B2B. Content that enables business decision-makers to make critical decisions and helps them realize their own professional success is highly sought after. Provided that content is incredibly useful, B2B buyers will be open to sharing their data, especially if there is a promise of future content that they perceive to be valuable to them in their careers.

Capturing first-party data allows B2B marketers to deliver more personalized customer experiences to build trusted, meaningful, and enduring relationships. However, the challenge is not to over-index and flood the category with too much content which will only overwhelm your target audience. Start by understanding the people that matter most to your organization and the questions they need to answer to design content that is insightful and valuable to the audience to break through the noise.

Content Considerations

Be more personal. Leverage intent data and behavioral signals to create content that is relevant to your customers, their industry, and where they are in the journey — engaging them in the moments that matter most.

Be more human. Avoid internal business-focused content that lacks empathy with your customer. Nearly 75 percent of consumers are more loyal to brands that are transparent and genuine, according to Latana. Content that is relatable, real, and human-centric will create greater connections with B2B buyers, especially millennials who value authenticity above all else.

Be more useful. Go beyond simply answering the industry questions to providing the audience with guidance and actions they can take away to achieve their goals. Remember, content that is truly valuable will be shared on social platforms, cited on blogs, and passed around the organization. It has the potential to reach and engage a far wider audience than just the individuals you target, making it important to diversify your topics and formats to provide value above anything else.

Moving forward, we anticipate a significant uptick in investment in B2B content, fueled by a heightened emphasis on data-driven, technology-enabled content strategies (which can be supported by the surging interest in Ad Tech in our graph above).

Customer expectations have changed, and as we move away from cookies to leveraging first-party data, expectations will continue to increase. In exchange for their data, customers will expect brands to know who they are and understand their needs, requiring a greater level of personalization within the content to demonstrate that understanding and empathy. As a result, investments in technology will rise as B2B marketers look to deliver more dynamic, more personal, and more engaging content that their customers are willing to share their details for as they see the value exchange.

Our philosophy: content that helps sells. Content that sells doesn't.

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

Georgia Bradley is SVP of strategy at Merkle.