Finally, The First Content Insight and Activation Engine For B2B Marketing

By Nick Edouard, President and Chief Product Officer at PathFactory

At its heart, B2B marketing is a content-centric business. Always has been, always will be.

That’s because the primary function of B2B marketing is to educate buyers. Education generates demand. Educated buyers become high-quality, warmed-up leads that the sales team can ultimately sell to and close. Marketers use content to do this. No matter which channels you use, all roads ultimately point back to content.

Creating high-quality, sales-ready leads requires a lot of content. Blog posts, videos, white papers, tweets, third-party reports, media coverage, and more. All told, the average B2B buyer interacts with about 10 pieces of content before they buy.

The average B2B buyer interacts with about 10 pieces of content before they buy.

As a buyer interacts with all of that content, they should generate a ton of insight and answer important questions for marketers. Unfortunately, the data most marketers collect today about content engagement is one-dimensional and binary. For example: Did someone click? Yes or no. Did someone fill out the form? Yes or no?

It lacks any tangible, insightful, actionable buying signals. It fails to answer questions that all sophisticated marketers eventually ask themselves: Was that engagement good? Did it matter? Is that buyer really more qualified to buy now than they were before? Which content educates buyers the fastest?

With such limited data, every visitor, prospect, and customer looks virtually the same. The really smart marketers have started to hack together point solutions to answer a few of these more complex questions, but the data is siloed and difficult to cross-reference.

These technologies have failed to help B2B marketing leaders solve for the most significant challenges their businesses are facing in 2018 and beyond, including:

  • Establishing a personalized, always-on customer experience
  • Funnel acceleration and better buying signals to grow the business faster
  • Content-centric attribution and influence, so they know which content is working on which channels
  • Better returns on their marketing investments

The harsh reality of this failure shows up in our pipelines as abysmal lead-to-revenue conversion rates, which are less than one percent, on average.

These are the challenges every single person at LookBookHQ has been working hard to solve for the last five years. We pioneered content bingeing in 2013, Engaged Intent – the leading indicator of sales readiness – in 2015, and the first B2B content recommendations powered by artificial intelligence in 2016. In that time, we saw our customers’ content engagement skyrocket, funnel speeds increase, and revenue targets exceeded. Things got a little easier for marketers in their pursuit of helping their buyers buy.

But we’ve always known we can do more – a lot more – to help marketers do better marketing.

B2B marketing went digital…but then it stopped

Despite the proliferation of martech vendors, the majority of solutions available to marketers today simply enable digital versions of analog marketing in an increasingly noisy marketplace. They don’t provide the insights or technology marketers need to map and deliver the fastest, easiest path to purchase for buyers, or for themselves. They focus on interrupting buyers to capture tiny slices of attention rather than sustaining that attention. The ability to serve the right content to the right person at the right time remains elusive despite the fact that we already find ourselves firmly within the engagement economy.

Meanwhile, other industries went digital around the same time. But the difference is they kept innovating. They built data-driven content delivery engines that put the right movie or TV show (Netflix), song (Spotify), video (YouTube), article (digital publishers), or product (Amazon) in front of the right person at the right time. These engines are always on, hyper-personalized, and continuously optimizing the visitor experience to drive as much engagement or as many sales as possible.

The more you watch, listen, or browse, the more these engines learn about you so they can give you more relevant recommendations. They also analyze the content or product metadata, the behavior of people who sort of look like you or who are interested in the same topics as you, and experiment with different options to see how you’ll react. They are continuously activating new, relevant content to keep you coming back for more. At the same time, they’re generating powerful insights from every millisecond you spend engaging with that content.

Data-driven content insight and activation engines can be found in virtually every industry, such as Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon.

This insight and activation innovation has disrupted virtually every industry. The companies that failed to adapt no longer exist and entire categories are disappearing, from extinct video rental chains like Blockbuster, to the struggling bricks-and-mortar retailers on Main Street, to traditional media outlets.

The visitor experience delivered by the surviving and thriving companies is critical, of course, but the real asset is the data. The big box retailers are winning not just because they sell a lot of stuff at low prices, but also because they track how we buy from them through loyalty programs and store credit cards, and then use that data to lure us back in to buy more stuff more often.

Even more important is the ability to analyze that data in ways that generate actionable insights about individual visitors, as well as all visitors in aggregate. In real time. At scale. It’s a very tall order, one that has been missing from the B2B marketing technology landscape. Until now.

Introducing the first Content Insight and Activation Engine for B2B marketers

LookBookHQ has been pioneering content insight and activation for a long time now. And not just because we think it’s a cool idea. After years of working with the industry’s top marketers, we’ve seen how better insights about content and more powerful content activation technology impact sales-readiness and marketing performance.

That’s why we have developed the first-ever Content Insight and Activation Engine – the one that B2B marketers have needed since B2B marketing went digital all those years ago. This new engine is now at the heart of our platform, providing marketers with a new class of data, better buying signals, and closed-loop content activation.

The Content Insight and Activation Engine answers previously unanswerable tactical questions while building a strategic dataset that empowers enterprise marketing teams to deliver on the CMO’s vision of an always-on customer experience. The dataset generated and used by our engine is built on a combination of data from first- and third-party systems that marketers already use, such as your marketing automation platform and CRM, as well as proprietary data collected by our platform when marketers import content to their content libraries and when buyers engage with that content.

Better data leads to better insight about content, and that insight powers better content activation.

For the first time ever, marketers can get much-needed insights to understand the full spectrum of content engagement and its impact on revenue:

  • Get a high-level overview of how your marketing is working and which aspects of your marketing mix are performing the best
  • Understand which accounts are engaging the most and ready to buy, as well as the depth and breadth of your account engagement
  • See which content visitors from a specific account are engaging with, as well as which visitors from that account are most actively engaged
  • Know how content impacts your opportunities, which pieces are generating the most ROI, and which topics are resonating most with your audience

These insights enable more effective content activation that accelerate the path to purchase for buyers, who are living in a world of Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify. They expect to be fed the information they need on demand and consume it all in the moment they need it. They want a buying experience that is less like leafing through an encyclopedia and more like asking Alexa. When marketers can actually deliver this, the byproduct is a more efficient path to revenue.

So long, LookBookHQ. Hello PathFactory!

Our vision has always been to build something truly transformative that would help buyers buy and marketers market better, faster, and easier. As we started to develop this new Content Insight and Activation Engine, we realized that this new technology is so important that it fundamentally transforms the nature of our business. The truth is, we’re not just a content experience company. Not really. Not anymore.

What happens on the front end with the content that marketers deliver is really just a way to harvest data and insights about that content and the buyers who interact with it. So we had to ask ourselves a really tough question: Does the name LookBookHQ and the brand we’ve created around it still represent the sophisticated marketing technology that we are building here? Does it still tell marketers who we are and what we stand for?

As we started to develop this new Content Insight and Activation Engine, we realized that this new technology is so important that it fundamentally transforms the nature of our business.

We thought about it. And then we thought about it some more. We listened to our customers. And our board. We talked to some really smart marketers who have yet to become our customers. And we worked closely with B2B branding experts, including Doug Kessler and his brilliant team at Velocity Partners. Together, we decided that it was time to move on from LookBookHQ. We believe the market we serve is ready for that transformation and so are we.

Today, we are excited to celebrate the launch of our new Content Insight and Activation Engine, as well as our new company name: PathFactory.

We’ve come a long way to get here, but our promise to you is that this is just the beginning.

Written By
Nick Edouard
Nick Edouard is co-founder, president and Chief Product Officer of PathFactory (formerly LookBookHQ). Nick has previously founded or led several high-growth technology companies in Canada, the US and the UK, including Broadreach Networks (acquired by QinetiQ) and Macropolitan (acquired by Arqiva). He was most recently President, North America of Nomad Digital, the leading global provider of connectivity solutions to the transportation sector. A frequent speaker at conferences and events, Nick holds an MA (Hons) degree in Classics & Philosophy from Trinity College, University of Oxford. He’s still figuring out what to do with it.

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