Data, Details And Design: Three Common Best Practices In B2B Content Marketing for CRM & Analytics

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by Robert Rose

We’re having a great time really digging into what is the best resonating content across the B2B landscape. Every two weeks we’re pulling out the most popular content pieces across CONTENTgine’s proprietary data set of 500,000 content pieces. And as part of our overall effort with our Top Five Content efforts, we’ve pulled out some very interesting insights.

You see, one of the most interesting discoveries that we’ve made is there are distinct comparisons, as well as contrasts, between the most popular content pieces in different categories.

Put simply: there are learnings to be had for every B2B Marketer in the content that ranks as most popular in any one particular category.

For example, two of our recent episodes featured CRM and Analytics – two B2B Categories that at first glance you would think are entirely different in what would resonate most with buyers when it comes to content.

However, as it turns out there are similarities that we noticed in the Top 5 for each of these categories that may help us determine the best approach in other categories we may be working on.  We’ve separated these into three distinct categories: Data, Details and Design.

Data – There’s Power In Numbers

In our CRM episode we discussed how three of the top five content pieces focused almost exclusively on original research and data to demonstrate the important of why CRM is such a core component of your infrastructure.  Salesforce’s research piece really focused on the numbers telling the story.  And, the others were all really distinguished by how they used data to make an argument for why CRM is a “modern strategy” not just a place to store the names and addresses of customers.

When we compare this to the Analytics grouping, we can see similarities.  Research was a key component here as well (and that’s probably not terribly surprising given the topic), but it was how the Analytics companies really drove home intent in their titles that gave this data enticing value.

Titles such as “Modernize Your Approach To Reporting And Analytics”, and “Ask Yourself These 10 Questions Before You Decide To Build Or Buy” all made clear where in the journey a potential buyer might be, before they used the data to make a specific argument.

Details – Plainly Spoken But Deep Value

One of the common traits of the Analytics Top 5 was how plainly, detailed information was provided.  Analytics can be an extraordinarily complex topic, filled with technobabble and buzz words. But the solutions that ranked at the top focused on the “10 Questions To Ask” or a simple FAQ.  While all 5 offered up detailed information, they focused on what was in it for the consumer of the content.  A great example of this was in the titling of the Analytics pieces.  Titles such as “How To Choose The Right Data Visualization Tool” or “Modernize Your Approach To Reporting and Analytics” provided the right amount of detail – without getting cute about the titles.

Similarly, the CRM group was focused on providing a good amount of detail in their pieces.  For example, SugarCRM offered the shortest piece of the five – but it was nine pages of original research.  And among the top two specifically – Zoho’s primer on GDPR and Salesforce’s Customer Experience research – each of those pieces clocked in and 25 pages and 40 pages respectively.

But, again, each of the solutions delivered that level of detail in a plainly spoken and manner that was easy for anyone to understand.

Design – Simplicity Rules The Day

A key focus in both the Analytics and CRM categories was the attention to simple design.  It wasn’t just the words that were plainly spoken, the design wasn’t overly complex or “flashy” either.

Microsoft’s piece in the CRM category was simply designed, even though it focused almost exclusively on promotion of features and benefits and customer stories.  And Zoho’s GDPR white paper goes through all the details of GDPR and does so in a very simply designed ebook.

On the Analytics side, the design was arguably even simpler.  Each of the pieces in this category was truly focused on being simple, straightforward, and clean in the design.  There was nothing flashy within the Analytics grouping of content, and the focus was on the information and the content in a very simple fashion.

The Contrasts –The Balance of Content And Promotion

Finally, and maybe most interestingly, we asked ourselves were there any real contrasts in these two groups.  Yes, there was one pronounced one.

There was a distinct difference between the two categories on focusing on thought leadership and content marketing vs. more promotional types of content.

Counterintuitively, promotion was more the focus within the CRM category.  There was one outlier here, and that was Salesforce’s Research on the Connected Customer (which was the #1 piece).

However, the other four most popular pieces in the CRM category really leaned into the direct sales calls to action in their pieces.  Microsoft was the most pronounced here – focusing almost exclusively on its own customers, and value throughout the whole piece.

However, even the Zoho paper on GDPR was split almost equally on educating audiences on the intricacies of GDPR and how to configure and use Zoho CRM in order to build that process within their tool.

Balancing content marketing – thought leadership – and sales messaging is always one of the toughest things to figure out in a content based marketing distribution strategy.  And it’s just interesting that there was such a strong leaning in each of these categories.

We’ll certainly be following other categories in B2B marketing as we get deeper into our show, and our research.  And it will be interesting to see how many of these comparisons and contrasts hold true across multiple categories.

So, stay tuned to hear more about what we’re finding and how you might be able to deliver and reach the Top 5!