By Stephanie Stahl published February 5, 2020

Optimal Customer Experience? Content Marketing Plays a Role [New Enterprise Research]

One guiding star shines brightly for both the brand and its customers – the optimal customer experience across the engagement journey.

After all, no customer (or prospect) wants a disappointing encounter at any touchpoint in their interactions with a brand. And every brand wants contented customers who buy its products or services again and again.

But what role does content marketing play in delivering that optimal experience across the buyer journey?

That’s what we investigated in our latest research. The results are shared from Content Marketing Institute’s newly released Enterprise Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America (gated) sponsored by Seismic. This research is based on responses from people who work in B2B and B2C for-profit companies with 1,000 or more employees.

Interestingly, over half (51%) of those who agree their brands deliver an optimal customer experience across the engagement journey say their content marketing is extremely or very successful. Only 29% of the total set of respondents rated their content marketing that highly.

51% of enterprises w/ optimal customer experiences have highly successful #contentmarketing via @CMIContent. #research Click To Tweet

That big gap – 22 percentage points – between those who provide an optimal experience and all enterprise respondents hints at the importance of content marketing in the journey.

Drilling deeper, we discovered two additional categories – audience- and sales-related activities – where major differences occur between the optimal experience deliverers and everybody who responded.

Focus on the audience

Here’s how marketers who provide optimal experiences differ from the general group when it comes to focusing on the audience:

  • Optimal experience marketers prioritize delivering relevant content when and where a person is most likely to see it (89% vs. 68%).
  • They also prioritize the audience’s needs over their organization’s sales/promotional messages (70% vs. 54%).
  • And more optimal experience marketers say they create content based on specific points/stages of the buyer’s journey (64% vs. 49%).

Those who feel they provide optimal experiences also were more likely to meet other audience-related goals (build credibility/trust, build loyalty with existing customers, and building subscribed audiences) when compared to the total set of respondents.

The essential focus of #contentmarketing is the audience, says @EditorStahl via @cmicontent. #research Click To Tweet

These findings reinforce our belief that the essential focus of content marketing is the audience. If you’re not giving them what they need, when and where they need it, in a credible way, you’re not contributing to the ultimate brand goal of providing an optimal customer experience across the engagement journey.

Interestingly, one place where we found surprisingly little difference was in the division of the content creation pie among the four levels of the buyer journey – top, middle, bottom, and post-sale. Only post-sale content showed a difference of greater than 1% between the optimal experience providers and all respondents (13.2% vs. 11.5%). Even though the difference is small, it represents an opportunity for all respondents to re-examine the role content marketing should play in the customer experience after the sale.

All this focus on the audience doesn’t mean content marketers can ignore the numbers. We also looked at how content marketing connects to sales-related and number-focused activities. Again, those who say they provide an optimal customer experience differ significantly from the total set of respondents in several areas:

  • They measure the ROI of content marketing activities (66% vs. 49%).
2 of 3 enterprise marketers delivering an optimal experience measure #contentmarketing ROI via @CMIContent. #research Click To Tweet
  • Their content generates sales/revenue (64% vs. 49%).
  • They align content marketing and sales teams (36% vs. 21%).
  • They use metrics to measure content performance (88% vs. 74%).

Make sure to incorporate sales-minded thinking into your content marketing team. Everybody should know the standards their work is being measured by and how well they’re achieving those goals. They also should connect regularly with the sales team to share details around what content is available and how it’s working from a marketing perspective. It’s also an opportunity to learn what content works best for the sales team.

Make sure to incorporate sales-minded thinking into your #contentmarketing team, says @editorstahl via @cmicontent. #research Click To Tweet

A few more things

You didn’t think I’d write about our research without sharing our favorite ongoing question, did you? Yes, documenting your content marketing strategy still makes a difference. Sixty-two percent of optimal experience marketers have a documented strategy, while only 46% of all respondents do.

Read the full report to learn more about these areas of content marketing at enterprises:

  • Success and maturity level of programs
  • Team structures and outsourcing
  • Metrics and goals
  • Budgets and spending
  • Technology

Headed for success

These results are helpful for content marketers who want to strengthen their impact on the enterprise. If you truly commit to your audience and view your role as directly connected to sales, you’re well set for ensuring content marketing’s contribution to creating the optimal customer experience across the engagement journey.

Download the report Enterprise Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America sponsored by Seismic.

Bring your team to advance their audience-focus and sales-centric skills at Content Marketing World this October. Group rates are available. Register today. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Stephanie Stahl

As General Manager of CMI, Stephanie leads the brand’s event, digital, print, and e-learning operations. Previously, Stephanie served as VP of Content Marketing for UBM’s Technology portfolio, providing strategic guidance on content development, content optimization, audience engagement, and go-to-market platforms for technology clients. Stephanie also spent many years as Editor in Chief of InformationWeek. Find Stephanie on Twitter @editorstahl and LinkedIn.

Other posts by Stephanie Stahl

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