Content marketing can be complex. It involves many moving parts, distinct processes and participation across numerous teams. Through all of this, marketers often waste efforts creating irrelevant content for accounts that shouldn’t be prioritized and teams that likely won’t use it anyway.
Intent data, when used correctly, can be highly beneficial for content marketing teams, informing content development and distribution efforts at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Here I outline the most common and effective ways to leverage intent signals throughout the various buying stages.
Let's start by saying there’s no hard-set rule for a four-stage buyer’s journey. Every organization is different. The stages outlined below are simply based on my own experiences.
A couple of these stages are often broken down into more granular phases (especially Stage 3). Your unique business model, specific products and services, amount of content, technology stack, team resources, and more should inform the sophistication of your buyer journey stages.
Moreover, though stages imply a linear progression of prospect research, this is rarely the case. Prospects will typically jump between stages based on numerous additional factors. The reason why we organize the journey in this way is simply to help ensure consistent, helpful messaging developed according to logical problem-solving processes.
Otherwise known as the awareness stage, this is where prospective buyers typically conduct research to identify the underlying causes of their business challenges. At this point, prospects have little insight into available solutions—they just want to better understand the problem so they can effectively identify a solution.
Content for this stage should be high-level and educational. This isn’t the stage for product-related content or even solution-focused content (though weaving in suggested guidance is appropriate and helpful).
The main objectives for content in this stage is two-fold:
Developing content specific to prospects’ challenges requires you to know a few things about the accounts you’re targeting. That’s where intent data can be so valuable, helping to:
At this point, prospects should have a basic understanding of the challenges they need to address. Here, you want to drill down into the various solutions available to them (often via “how to” content), keeping a semblance of objectivity.
Like with Stage 1, your objectives here should be to:
All of the intent data uses outlined in Stage 1 still apply here. Additionally, you can use intent data to:
Stage 3 content should bridge the gap between marketing content and sales-enablement assets. In effect, it should help convert prospects to sales opportunities and customers.
Objectives of Stage 3 content should be to:
Here monitoring the right topics and/or keywords is critical. (I recommend monitoring both topics and keywords since they have complementary benefits. Topics consider the context of the content consumed, using natural language processing (NLP), which is important. On the other hand, keywords can be customized to your specific needs, which provides helpful insights, especially for niche solutions.)
Rather than monitoring problem- and solution-focused topics/keywords, you want to track those relating to specific product categories, products names and even competitor brand names. You can then use the resulting intent insights to:
Content in this stage should help customers get more value from their current investment and realize how additional investments would result in an even greater return—all while conveying how valued they are.
The specific objectives include:
As in Stage 3, by tracking customer research on competitors and competitive products, you can more effectively:
There are undoubtedly more ways to use intent data to guide your content marketing efforts. Those outlined above, however, provide great benefits for B2B marketing teams, including increased brand awareness and demand among target accounts, better conversion rates, reduced sales cycles and far greater efficiency.