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Ardath Albee

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Are B2B Marketing Priorities Out of Whack?

A few months prior to Content Marketing World, I ran an online survey to help direct the session I created on Customer Retention. I'm compiling an eBook with insights, but in the meantime, I wanted to discuss B2B marketing priorities.

Below is a summary of how marketers ranked 11 different priorities:

CustomerRetentionPriorities2013

As you can see, I've highlighted three of them. These three, taken together, will actually help marketers achieve all the other priorities on the list - but not like this.

Let's take a look at why.

Content Strategy

Thankfully, content strategy ranked fourth. At least I hope this is evidence that marketers see that content marketing and achieving performance outcomes requires more than just publishing. It requires publishing with intent.

Content strategy is about creating consistent, engaging experiences that help prospects and customers learn what they need to know to take steps to doing (more) business with your company. Publishing without a plan for how that progression will occur will not make this happen.

Content strategy must address marketing goals across all the channels in play, must focus on increasing attention and interest and, most importantly, must motivate progressive action by your intended audience. This means it also must include the elements of customer engagement and personalization to be most effective.

Customer Engagement

I found it disconcerting that customer engagement was #6. In fact, I'm not quite sure that marketers can achieve lead gen, brand awareness, customer retention or lead nurturing without it. Not to mention any of the other priorities on this list.

Engagement is a word that has been bandied around to the point of meaningless drivel. But the concept of gaining attention and increasing interactions with prospects and customers is still critical. For without it, you have the tree falling in the vacant forest syndrome. And that doesn't help marketers to accomplish anything.

Although arguably a component of content strategy, marketers need to spend more time determining what they want each interaction to achieve with their prospects and customers. What is the goal of each content asset and what will it guide them to do next? What outcome will help to move the needle? Of course, all things considered, it's pretty hard - nigh impossible - to engage anyone effectively without personalization, let alone your target markets.

Personalization

Personalization coming in at #8 makes me sad. Before I start any project with a client, the first thing we must do is get to know our audiences (buyers, influencers, champions, end users, detractors). What objectives do they have? What do they care about? What gets in the way of them achieving their goals and responsibilities?

For marketers who still believe that personalization is about Dear <firstname> in an email - get over it! Personalization is about relevance. It's about providing value and I'm unclear how any marketer can do this without knowing their audience (buyers) and marketplace intimately.

Content strategy based on personalization is what results in customer engagement that drives business relationships. The three go together hand-in-glove.

Now, I know that marketers are reacting to what they get graded on - lead gen, brand awareness and customer retention, for example. But without putting the fundamentals ahead of the outcomes, how will we reach our true potential of achieving them?

What do you think? Are marketing priorities out of whack?

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More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.