This article was written by Paul Briggs & originally published by MarTech Advisor

Paul Briggs, GM International, Madison Logic examines the perceived roadblocks that stand in the way of personalizing B2B content, as well as ways to work through them. It’s easier than many think, and the results are well worth the effort

Content marketing has come full circle, regaining favor among B2B marketers as the preferred vehicle to engage with prospective, and existing, customers.

But unlike the traditional generic PDF, todays content marketing strategies are, and should be, increasingly fueled and influenced by insight gathered from data. It’s important for marketers to personalize content, so that it addresses not only the specific user’s interest, but also so that it’s written for their role, and even at what stage of the decision making process, they are in.

With so much technology and data available to make this possible, why are so many marketers still relying on PDFs and other static content formats – especially when we know that personalized content drives dramatically better results?

B2B Buying Has Changed – and Continues to Change

There’s a reason content marketing has become so popular. With so much information available online, experts estimate that B2B buyers are about 80 percent of the way through their purchase decision before they ever pick up a phone – and 57 percent of the way there before they take an action on your site, according to Google. That means you’d better have a lot of information available on your website (and on other websites) to help prospective buyers make the right decision.

In addition to that shift from outbound to inbound, marketers need to know that B2B buyers are getting younger, while purchase committees are simultaneously getting bigger. That tendency we’ve all had to target the CEO is a habit we need to set aside now. This impacts marketing in two ways. First, it means that while white papers and other written content forms are still valid, they are by no means the only content formats to consider. Video, podcasts, and even static infographics, are increasingly important as buyers become more mobile first. It also means that marketers need to understand who is part of any purchasing committee so that they can develop content that speaks to each person and each department. These may include parties from accounting, purchasing, IT, marketing and the C-suite, for example, if the product or service in consideration is a marketing technology platform.

While the first shift explains the trend towards content and inbound marketing, the second shift is one of the many reasons leading B2B organizations have begun using Account-Based Marketing (ABM) as a way to target and engage their key prospects.

Using Data to Create Hyper-Relevant Content

If you’re a marketer engaging in ABM, consider using the same data that powers your campaigns to inform your content marketing. You’re probably already using analytics and CRM data to tell you who your prospects are and what they want. It’s time to add in the third-party intent and surge data you’re leveraging to fuel your digital advertising.

Analytics data can tell you a fair amount about who’s been to your site and what they’re looking for, and that certainly gives you enough information to create topical content. You should be able to see, between your analytics, CRM and MAP data, which companies are visiting your site and consuming content. If these prospects are looking for, as an example, cloud security solutions, you can create some white papers, videos and other downloadable assets to engage these visitors and get them into your nurture cycle.

However, this data leaves some important questions unanswered — questions that can be answered by ABM data. Do you know from which department your visitors have come, or what role they have in the buying process? You may be creating highly technical content about your cloud security solutions, without realizing that your visitors are from the marketing department – or that the CEO or CFO has been seeking information on your site. Is your content targeted to each of those visitors? You answer may be the reason your content is failing to convert.

The fact is, the same tactics you are applying to your ABM campaigns in the advertising world should also be applied to your content. Smart marketers are creating ever more detailed personae and generating content in a multitude of formats to speak to each of those buyers. Site personalization is nothing new in the brand marketing world, but many B2B marketers have missed the boat on this since our audiences tend to be more niche. It’s time to get on board now: sites need to be personalized, as does any high-value content. That means not only multiple versions of your web pages – which can be generated dynamically by your MAP – it also means multiple, carefully tailored versions of each content asset: technical pieces for the IT-team, high-level and benefits-focused pieces for the CEO, and so on – in each vertical the company serves.

Adopting a data-driven content strategy used to require a lot of work with respect to content creation, but with more and more platforms and suppliers becoming available to help companies use data to serve in relevant content, either on first party or third party sites, it now pays off in spades. Relevant, helpful content is habit forming, so if you have an abundance of high-level content on (for example) cloud-based security that is specifically tailored to CEOs, you are likely to see an abundance of repeat visits. Furthermore, if marketers incorporate surge data, they will have the ability to push out content that is increasingly relevant to the buyer’s individual journey, in addition to his or her role in the buying process.

Using third-party data to inform your content marketing programs means that the articles, videos and other assets you deliver to your prospects won’t be just 20 percent relevant – they’ll be 100 percent relevant to each prospect that visits your site. And a site filled with relevant, useful content is a site that delivers qualified leads and sales.