Content material + information: The pillars of a profitable demand gene technique

Strategies for generating business demand have always been difficult. As marketers, we've tried everything: events, direct mail, email campaigns, cold calling, targeted digital ads, and every other method we can think of.

Regardless of the method, however, the heart and brain of the operation are always two components: content and data. For every demand generation, marketers need to create pinpoint content and have the right data at hand. Without these two pillars, it is difficult to succeed in today's digitally driven marketplace.

Unfortunately, marketing content repeats itself and stagnates. In an effort to appease search engine algorithms that favor content-heavy websites, many marketers have turned into content machines, creating blog posts, e-books, and case studies at high speed.

But how much of this content is actually effective?

In the meantime, data has become an irrepressible topic. Marketers are inundated with information about data tools and investments designed to solve any problems we have.

In the rush to pursue data-driven marketing, marketing's largest investments have been made in analytics and data solutions, accounting for 16% of the annual budget. At the same time, more than half (57%) of marketers worldwide say they are overwhelmed by incoming data, causing many corporate marketers to stop hearing the word "data".

With all of these issues in mind, it is time to dig deeper into the content and data methods that you are using in your demand-generation strategy. When combined correctly, content and data can become the two pillars that will take your demand generation to a new level.

The content column

Marketing content should primarily be of value to the reader.

According to a study by the University of Denmark, the collective global attention span is getting shorter and shorter than ever due to the onslaught of constant information. People don't want to read more than they need to: nearly 60% of those who share articles on social media do so without reading past the headline. Obviously, this is a major challenge for content marketers.

To work as a demand-generating piece that initiates and accelerates the learning and buying process, content must be filled with creativity and the art of storytelling. Too many marketers use content strategies that create uninspired clutter for the sake of content alone. In addition to creative storytelling, content must also have value for readers – in particular, it must provide value – while supporting the representation of your business or buying cycle.

Step back and imagine the story you want to tell by sharing virtual and physical experiences and events, as well as online content. Stop and think: what is the story you want to tell? How can it solve a problem for your target audience?

Once that vision is pinned, it needs to be translated into the kind of thought guidance and other content that will support your business. According to an Edelman study from 2020, only 17% of marketers rate the quality of the thought guidance they read as "very good or excellent". If you succeed in creating content that spans a consistent narrative, you'll see a ripple effect – from brand awareness and intentional behaviors to mid-funnel research and customer expansion behaviors.

When each of your pieces of content tells a deliberate, valuable, and engaging story, it's time to get your data in order.

The data column

While data has opened up exciting opportunities in marketing, it has also brought some of the greatest challenges. 54% of business organizations state that poor data quality and completeness are the biggest hurdles to be overcome. Worse still, 52% of marketers say their team members spend most of their hours managing data.

But marketers shouldn't lose hope: data is science at its core.

The most important data points you need to know are the right audience and the topics that should be addressed in a demand-generation campaign. So the important question is: How do we understand what our addressable market looks like?

Getting data – from industry to location to job title – about your addressable market is critical. To understand your overall market, you need to think beyond email addresses. You need clean, updated data that is tested quarterly: accurate direct mail addresses, updated phone numbers, relevant social accounts, and constantly changing job titles to get started.

Once you've identified your overall addressable market, understood the gaps, and identified opportunities for expansion, you can bring your program to life by using this data to drive relevant communications and offers through the appropriate channels.

* * *

Combining good storytelling and content with the right audience, and using data tools to help you understand your entire addressable market, makes for a formidable demand generation strategy. Campaigns across social networks, websites, emails, and events drive engagement, build lasting customer relationships, and enable real sales, while increasing overall support to those in the pipeline.

The Content + Data Formula creates a Campaign Fulfillment that delivers real results that every marketer needs in the chaotic time we've stepped into.

2020 is the most turbulent year yet for marketers. So now is the perfect time to revamp your content and data strategies and build a foundation that will last through the pandemic and beyond.

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