The dust from the content marketing storm has settled.
Content marketing is no longer the next big tactic, or the go-to buzzword. It now enjoys a stable spot in the marketing mix, and marketers embrace content as a critical component in their strategies.
But, as these things go, a new buzzword has taken its place: customer experience.
The reality is that content has saturated the market. But our customers need more. They demand a more strategic approach to marketing content than the typical onslaught of blog posts, white papers, and case studies.
Today’s B2B customers want value, proof, and consistency across every channel, touchpoint, and interaction with your brand—they want a consistent customer experience.
In fact, measuring satisfaction on customer journeys is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction, according to McKinsey’s study, “The Three Cs of Customer Satisfaction: Consistency, Consistency, Consistency.”
The normalization of the “Age of the Customer”—in which customers control their own buyer’s journey and research solutions independently of the vendor—has affected nearly every function in B2B organizations.
It has fundamentally changed the way business is done, leaving B2B marketers at an important fork in the road: turn left and continue creating marketing content in siloed factions and get mediocre results, or turn right to align your organization around a consistent, marketing-driven customer experience and lead the way to business growth and better customer retention.
Customer Experience Starts with Internal Alignment
B2B marketing has come a long, long way. In the “old days” of marketing and mass media, organizations could more easily communicate a consistent message using just a few channels (e.g., print, radio, TV). But now, not only has the Internet radically changed the way we communicate and receive information, it’s also opened a Pandora’s box of channels, tools, and technologies.
For B2B organizations, this means that teams are more siloed around channels and tools than ever before, and technology stacks have gotten wildly out of control, resulting in the delivery of disjointed messages and content chaos.
And marketing sits at the center of it all.
Content Marketing vs. Marketing Content
When content marketing first arrived on the scene, it was a beacon of white light: a foolproof way for marketers to get their message out en mass via the Internet to attract and engage new customers.
As the concept of content marketing has evolved, B2B marketers have realized that they need content at every step of the buyer’s journey—not just at the top.
Enter marketing content. At its core, marketing content refers to the idea that content fuels the entire buyer’s journey, from a prospect’s very first engagement to their renewal as a dedicated customer.
Compare this to content marketing, which is a segment of marketing that focuses primarily on top-of-funnel activity, such as blogs, social posts, and other easily digestible pieces.
Why is this distinction important? Because while content marketing uses content as a segment of marketing, marketing content recognizes that content sits at the center of a successful marketing strategy, and—in a modern, integrated B2B organization—feeds into the sales strategy, product strategy, customer success strategy, and so on.
This is why marketing needs to be driving alignment across teams to deliver a consistent customer experience.
Without Coordination There Is No Consistency
When we recognize that content sits at the center of every interaction a customer has with your brand—whether it be a white paper created by the content marketing team, a sales deck, or a user-guide created by the customer success team—we begin to see the fabric of the customer experience materialize.
With the buyer in control, every message received, regardless of channel or sales stage, must circle back to a single, unified message.
When the internal communications team at Rockwell Automation, leaders in industrial automation and information solutions and winners of the Kapost 50, realized that their internal employees across departments and roles didn’t have a unified perspective of their Connected Enterprise (a concept that sales and marketing had been speaking to and creating collateral around for years), they knew they had to focus on aligning teams around one unified message.
The internal communications team stepped up to the plate and created a robust, company-wide campaign to support consistency and alignment around the Connected Enterprise, delivering the information that internal teams needed to speak to this core topic.
As we learned from Rockwell, to deliver this unified message there needs to be consistency and alignment across teams, so every department is creating content assets and initiatives that are aligned to shared business objectives.
And it’s marketing’s responsibility to sit in the driver’s seat.
Likewise, a feedback loop needs to be established to prevent a marketing “push-down” of messaging. This feedback loop gives other teams—such as sales, product, and customer success—an outlet to give feedback to marketing based on what they’re hearing from prospects and customers, and keeps the communication channels open.
Unfortunately, the reality that most organizations face is chaos. Every day feels like a fire drill as communication breaks down between internal teams and important steps are forgotten or poorly executed.
It’s time to integrate strategies, tools, and technologies into a single, holistic view of how customers interact with your brand—starting with alignment across internal teams to deliver a consistent, marketing-driven customer experience.
The choice is yours: will you be a leader in customer experience, or a laggard who goes from fire drill to fire drill?