By Doug Kessler published July 29, 2010

Library Marketing: The Next Big Challenge For Content Marketing

As content marketing takes off in the B2B world, more and more brands will be building significant content libraries. That’s fantastic but it does create new challenges for the content marketer.

In the early days of content marketing, we were all focused on one piece at a time. Write an eBook, promote the eBook, repeat. Now that our content libraries are growing, we need to start thinking about library marketing, not just content marketing.

Having a large content library carries special challenges:

Risk of alienating the audience: An unstructured bucket of content can scare away prospects and web visitors instead of attracting them. If there’s just too much to make sense of, it’s easier to go away.

Getting the right content to the right people: With a big library, it’s imperative to steer people to the best content for their specific needs.

Delivering the right content at the right time: Each stage of the buying cycle has its own specific content needs. Don’t throw the expert guide at the beginner or your best ‘closer’ at a cold prospect.

Merchandising your most strategic content: A really common mistake in content marketing is to promote the recent over the best. A two-year-old eBook might still be the best for certain audiences and buying stages.

While each piece you produce will have its own marketing and social media program around it, library marketing is all about treating your entire content resource strategically — the art and science of generating the most value from your content. It’s an emerging discipline, but a few library marketing principles are becoming clear.

Have a strategy

A content strategy and editorial program are the basics of content marketing. As your library grows it’s even more important. Have a clear idea of what you want your content to do and what stories you most need to tell.

Start with personas

Buyer personas are just as important for your library as for your entire website. Know exactly who you’re aiming for and what their needs are. Then build content journeys for them. If a persona is an early stage prospect from a small business, create content specific to their needs and make it really easy for them to find it.

Personas keep each piece of content on track, and they also make it easier for you to organize and present your library. Each of your important personas should be able to get to the right content for them without wading through a lot of irrelevant stuff.

Build in analytics at the start

Library marketing must be driven by facts, and facts come from analytics. You’ll already be tracking downloads but you can also review these kinds of metrics:

  • The source of traffic that leads to a download versus traffic that doesn’t.
  • Search terms that bring in the best traffic – mapped to each specific piece of content.

Set up campaign conversion metrics; use custom URLs to track traffic sources and map them to conversions. But keep the reporting simple!

Test your heart out

A/B testing is hugely under-practiced in B2B. In library marketing, it’s a potent weapon.

Test landing page headlines, content titles and descriptions, cover designs, email text and subject lines – basically if it’s a variable, you can test it. Over time, you’ll evolve an optimized ‘content funnel’ for your key personas, with conversion rates constantly improving.

Nurture those leads

Lead nurturing is a B2B staple in general, but for library marketing it’s even more potent. Knowing who you’re talking to and what they’ve done before makes it much easier to present the right content.

A lead nurturing process will show you which of your content is most effective at each stage of the sale for each major persona. You’ll know which content to push hard and which to downplay or retire.

Map content to buying stages

Create content for each buying stage and present it accordingly. Let prospects self-select based on their stage, or use your lead nurturing to inform each visitor about what content you serve.

Organize the way prospects think

As libraries grow, we’re seeing a lot of organizational structures that say “Videos/Case Studies/White Papers” etc. But buyers don’t look for media types; they look for topics and issues. Your library should be organized that way, too (even if one piece appears in two or three buckets).

Build in flexibility

Your library home page needs to be modular, with plenty of scope for swapping in new stuff. We like rotating banners or ‘lenses’ that let you promote three or four main pieces in a prominent place.

Library marketing in action

For a good example of library marketing, take a look at the resource section of the Marketo website. Marketo has a massive content library and is very good at presenting it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the visitor. They’ve organized the content by topic and medium, with clear headlines, short descriptions and information about number of downloads and reader ratings.

Marketo also packages up lots of content into what they call ‘Success Kits’ that combine papers, webinars, blog posts and multimedia content all around a specific topic (Social Media, Demand Generation, etc.).

As content marketing evolves, so will library marketing. I hope this post helps you to start thinking beyond your next eBook and encourages you to develop a strategy and processes for your entire content library.

Have you seen good examples of library marketing? Share them in the comments!

Author: Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler is co-founder and creative director of Velocity, the London-based B2B marketing agency. He helps clients tell great stories, then drive those stories into the market using content marketing. Doug wrote Velocity's 'The B2B Content Marketing Workbook' and 'The B2B Marketing Manifesto'. Doug is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. You can follow Doug on Twitter at @dougkessler.

Other posts by Doug Kessler

  • Jody Pellerin

    Absolutely the type of article I needed! I am just beginning to build our library but I know it will be unmanageable before I know it.
    Thanks!

  • Doug Kessler

    Great. Glad to hear it. This feels like it's emerging as the next discipline tot master on the Content Marketing learning curve.

  • http://www.writespark.com Janice King

    Another value of this library perspective is that marketers can maximize their investment in content development. Too often, content projects are viewed as one-time, short-shelf-life efforts that are forgotten almost as soon as they are posted. But if you are actively managing a content library as an asset, you'll quickly see the documents, videos, etc. that could have a longer promotional life if they are simply refreshed. Certainly, refreshing an existing content element is less costly than creating a new one and you'll get a greater return on the initial investment of time, effort, and expense in that project. For example, I worked with a client on writing and updating a technology selection guidebook that went through six editions before it was retired, after producing years of marketing value for the company.

  • Brian Land

    Doug,
    You're the Don Draper of B2B.

    Brian

  • http://twitter.com/nvanweerdenburg Nick Van Weerdenburg

    A talk from Clay Shirky was titled “It's Not Information Overload. It's Filter Failure.”

    I think this talks to that. As content explodes, and is delivered in new ways, we need new filters.

    Library marketing will be one of the top initiatives in marketing for the next 5-10 years. I'm excited to find this blog.

    A good example of a company providing a library on external resources around their customers is Zappos with their Twitter summary page:

    http://twitter.zappos.com

    Regards,
    Nick