You finally sit down to watch the first episode of that new Netflix show you keep seeing ads for everywhere. As it ends and the credits start to roll, you glance at the clock and realize you have enough time to watch another episode or two. The episode ends. The screen goes blank. Nothing.
Wait, what? Where’s the next episode?
You hit the ‘back’ button and scroll through the Netflix homepage again, scanning for your show. You don’t see it, so you have to search for it. OK, got it. Click. What plays, however, is the opening scene from the first episode again. It’s almost like Netflix forgot you just spent 46 minutes and 12 seconds engrossed in this content and they don’t even want you to watch more. Frustrated, you slam your laptop shut and walk away.
Luckily, this kind of nightmare experience is rare when it comes to binge-watching series on Netflix (and pretty much every other aspect of your B2C life). They know you want to keep watching so they just keep playing the next episode. The experiences are frictionless because the content you want is always ready, on-demand, when you want to watch it. Whether you’re watching on your phone on the train to work, your PC at home, or your iPad on vacation, it’s just there.
Unfortunately, B2B content experiences haven’t quite caught up yet. They are often riddled with one-and-done dead-ends that leave buyers with no next step. This friction slows your prospect’s entire journey slows and makes it looks more like an obstacle course or scavenger hunt that they have to run rather than the seamless, easy, personalized experiences we have all come to expect. Somehow TV, music, shopping, groceries, taxis and more have all made the shift to the on-demand economy, but B2B organizations are falling behind, still stuck in the digital dark ages.
Forcing buyers through slow, frustrating content experiences filled with friction is bad enough, but the other side of that coin is that B2B marketers aren’t even collecting the right data from those interactions or using it the right way in order to better enable buyers to make faster, smarter purchase decisions. It’s a lose-lose scenario. A marketing stalemate.
One-and-done content experiences aren’t hard to find in B2B marketing, and we’ve likely all been guilty of them at one time or another. Here are 4 types of one-and-done marketing to avoid in order to put buyer enablement at the forefront of your marketing and embrace the on-demand economy like our B2C counterparts.
One-and-done experience #1: Email nurture programs
Marketers carefully build long, thoughtful email nurture programs with the best of intentions: to warm up cool contacts in your database, one piece of content at a time. Slow and steady. Week by week. Drip by drip. You try to cut through all the noise with attention-grabbing subject lines and compelling calls to action so they open and click on your emails.
But what if someone actually wants to see more content after they click through? How easy is it for them to find the next logical piece of content for where they are in the buyer’s journey? You already know who they are; why not track their behavior and serve up the next best, most relevant piece of content for them so they have the opportunity to consume multiple pieces of content (binge) in a single session? You only have a small window of opportunity to capitalize on their attention (squirrel!).
TIBCO’s original nurture program sent a series of emails, each containing a single content asset. None of them had a next step, leaving customers hanging until the next email delivered the next asset. It was a classic drip campaign, full of dead ends. Beyond the click, the team had zero visibility into whether customers were actually engaging with the content, or what impact that engagement had further down the funnel. They decided to ditch the traditional drip and put all nurture assets into carefully curated content tracks. Now, buyers are always served the next-best asset and can self-educate at their own pace. They never see the same asset twice. Learn more about TIBCO’s on-demand nurture strategy.
One-and-done experience #2: Website homepages
An entire sub-industry has sprung up around converting anonymous website visitors to known contacts. Usually, that means funneling visitors to forms that gate high-value content assets or to a request-a-demo form, as well as A/B testing images, copy, call to action buttons, and form lengths. Conversion rate optimization is a lot of work and that work is literally never done.
The weird thing is that when someone clicks one of those calls to action, they’re often sent to a dead-end PDF or thank-you page with no obvious next step. Dead-end PDFs scream “FRICTION!”. The buyer’s journey doesn’t end with a single piece of content or a demo request. You’re missing out on a huge opportunity to earn trust and further educate your buyers if you don’t encourage them to consume at least one more piece of content on the back of that first interaction.
Once they’ve downloaded that high-value piece of content you’re promoting on your homepage, what could they consume next to reinforce that message or nudge them further down the buying process? After they’ve booked that demo request, what should they know before they get on the phone with your sales team? These are opportunities to give them the kind of on-demand experience they need and want and better enable them to progress down the funnel.
HPE Nimble Storage recently implemented this kind of experience on their website. They point visitors to content tracks that always recommend the next best asset and include a mix of ungated and gated assets so only the most engaged visitors are presented with a form and passed to sales. As a result, a whopping 20% of visitors presented with forms filled them out and Nimble was increased their MQL-to-SQO conversion rate by 30%. Learn more about Nimble’s on-demand website content strategy.
One-and-done experience #3: Paid ads, promoted social posts, and content syndication
This one is really, really simple. You pay per click on your ads and promoted social posts. Sometimes, you spend more than you’d like on cold content syndication leads. Shouldn’t you try to generate more value from all of those paid clicks? The first step is to give them the option to engage with more than just one piece of content in the same session. Since you know they’re interested in this topic, enable them to self-nurture by offering another relevant piece of content, then another, and another.
Brooke Giroux, Senior Manager of Digital Operations at IDG, revealed during the Content Syndication Channel Panel that her team does just that: “We package editorial or client sponsored content and we see a 42% lift in engagement across the board. 62% of people want to receive additional related content, so why not follow up with an analyst piece or whitepaper? And then further down the line an ROI calculator or demo? Nurture, nurture, nurture!”
One-and-done experience #4: Events and webinars
Most marketers can write event and webinar follow up emails in their sleep. It’s almost always some variation of either “Thanks for attending, here are the slides and a recording” or “Sorry you couldn’t attend, here are the slides and a recording.” Amirite?
Especially for the people who actually attended the webinar or session, this kind of experience doesn’t offer them any additional value and it doesn’t qualify them any more than they were already qualified by attending. It’s just yet another dead end and point of friction that’s slowing down the whole process for everyone.
While they may very well want to revisit the slides or recording or share them with a colleague, what they really need to do is keep learning. Make insights actionable. Take their next steps. And you probably have content that can help them do just that.
Right after the event or webinar, it’s the ideal time to recommend those next pieces of content that will nudge them one step closer to becoming qualified and educated enough to have an informed conversation with your sales team:
“To optimize the magic of the moment don’t wait for someone to come back another time. Make sure that, after a webinar, viewers are surrounded by the next logical step,” Mark Bornstein, Vice President of Marketing at ON24, explained during the Online and Offline Events Channel Panel. “Integrate CTAs, content, maybe even a suite of solutions. Give people the option to self-select the next step in their journey before they even leave the webinar, while they’re interested and dialed in.”
Where else can you find one-and-done content experiences?
These four examples are just scratching the surface of experiences that don’t live up to your prospects’ expectations. Where else are they hiding causing all kinds of friction in your marketing or customer experience? It’s time to start identifying these problem areas and finding ways to provide the on-demand experiences your buyers and customers want and need.
The Buying Friction Series reveals how B2B marketers end up preventing their buyers from getting the information they need to buy. They do this by creating various points of friction throughout their buyers’ journeys that slow them down along their path-to-purchase. The Buying Friction Series helps B2B marketers identify and remove these points of friction to better enable buyers to make smarter, faster purchase decisions.