Customer experience goals remain elusive for B2B marketers, but top performers look to good content

With continued emphasis on 'customer experience' (CX) across brands, channels and technologies, B2B marketers are still finding success at building a long-term customer experience to be elusive. In fact, in a recent report by the software company Kapost, only 12 per cent of B2B marketers rated themselves as "very effective" at delivering a great customer experience.

With two thirds of companies asking marketers to be responsible for the overall customer experience, there is increasing pressure among marketers to improve performance while many agree there is a need to establish alignment and visibility across departments and functions.

The best indicator, according to the report, is a solid content marketing strategy that is defined, delivered, and tracked with the customer experience best observed, understood and tweaked based on content, the report suggests. Good content can initiate, drive and determine the CX and those B2B marketers who oversee the entire content lifecycle, from strategy through optimization, should be the most proficient in content marketing.

With 85 per cent of B2B marketers agreeing that consistency across content, teams and channels is the backbone of an effective customer experience, it is no wonder that 81 per cent of marketers surveyed say they 'invest' in content. However, if content is the backbone of an effective CX and businesses are continuing to invest in content, then why are some B2B marketers falling short?

The report looks at the top three barriers to successfully delivering consistent content and those include inefficient internal processes, tracking and reporting the right metrics and lack of alignment across internal teams.

One of the true challenges to content marketing in B2B is that much of it is created reactively with a distinct lack of collaboration and alignment that has made great, market-driven customer experiences elusive to this day.

While 85 per cent of those surveyed now agree that content is the backbone of an effective customer experience, lead generation and revenue were ranked as the top two marketing priorities. Yet, only 41 per cent agree, or strongly agree, that the teams they work with are actually data-driven and focus on the most effective content, channels and initiatives across the customer experience. The report suggest that in order to optimize the customer experience, 83 per cent of top performers should have a documented CX strategy in place. Additionally, 75 per cent of top performing B2B marketers have a buyer-centric approach to content.

The report notes that even the marketers who felt they had a 'very effective' or 'somewhat effective' strategy for delivering a consistent CX still don't feel that they have the internal support they need and lack clear visibility into initiatives, timelines and deliverables across internal teams. Yet, interestingly, the pressure does continue to build on B2B marketers to deliver with 56 per cent of those surveyed stating they are directly responsible for revenue at their organization while a total of 63 per cent of top performing companies surveyed said they are now responsible for the overall customer experience.

Many organizations are now questioning the wisdom of focusing so much of the CX responsibilities on marketers with 29 per cent of respondents indicating that everyone within the organization is somewhat responsible for managing customer experience. The report notes that because marketers have had to learn new skills, tools and technologies to stay relevant, they are acutely aware of what content should fuel which channel, with the greatest challenge facing marketers experienced by 63 per cent of those surveyed is improving lead quality.

"Quite often, B2B marketers think, "OK, I have these five or six channels and I need to put content in them," said marketing strategist Ardath Albee in the report. "Yet, they don't know that a particular piece of content is answering a question a buyer might have when they're at a specific stage in the buying process."

In looking at top marketing priorities, the triple crown of lead generation (67 per cent), brand awareness (47 per cent) and revenue (48 per cent) remain the biggest challenges for B2B marketers. While 82 per cent of executive level respondents noted that consistency across content, teams and channels is the backbone of an effective customer experience, revenue is considered to be one of the top priorities of marketers. This points to the fact that tracking and reporting the right marketing metrics is still a huge barrier that revenue marketers and top performers must sort out. One of the key problems, according to the report is that execution of marketing strategies fall flat due to silted teams, channels and technologies.

One of the reasons is an inefficient internal process and lack of alignment across teams with top performers three times more likely to have visibility into initiatives, timelines and deliverables across teams. With 75 per cent of those surveyed saying that they have visibility into initiatives, timelines, and deliverables across team, marketing organizations that are strongly aligned with shared business objectives are three times more likely to be effective at delivering consistent customer experiences. While 92 per cent of top performers surveyed have a shared editorial calendar, which is considered critical for aligning internal teams around marketing content, campaigns and initiatives, overall only 57 per cent of total respondents have a shared calendar.

Additionally, 83 per cent of top performers use a content hub where all stakeholders can access the most relevant and up-to-date content. Each social post, email or sales pitch is part of a larger story that guides buyers to an end solution. Relevant, up to date content should be easy for internal teams to find, access, and use. When asked if respondents had a content hub where all stakeholders could access the most relevant and up-to-date content, 85 percent who did said it was very effective.

Tracking and reporting the right metrics also remains a big challenge for marketers. The majority of B2B marketers do not have a documented buyer's journey to identify gaps in content for specific stages or personas. Without this insight, it's nearly impossible to optimize content at each stage or accurately measure conversions.

Ultimately, top performers (59 per cent) agree that they have become a data-driven marketing team, focusing resources on the most effective content, channels and initiatives across the customer experience. Additionally, 67 per cent of top performers said they have documented a buyer's journey and another 67 per cent said they have a process for identifying content gaps by persona.

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