At Cabral Communications, we’re hyper-focused on building content that draws readers deeper into the marketing funnel. We love it when people view an infographic then open a tech brief to learn more, or read an e-book and sign up for a free trial. In most cases, that’s how the journey goes. But sometimes content doesn’t provide a clear next step, or it drives readers to bail out before getting to an all-important call to action. Here, we call them “dead ends” – and sometimes marketers create them without even knowing it.
To help you identify when you may be unwittingly building dead ends into your content, we’ve put together a quick list of culprits that can derail content journeys.
1. Not providing enough value
Before we think about calls to action and next steps, the first goal of content is to get people to check it out – and stick with it. Studies like this one of director- and C-level execs reveal which qualities they’re looking for in the content they consume: a sense for the widely-held outlook of industry peers, timely or unique information, insights that help distill complex issues in simpler terms and pretty much anything that helps them make informed business decisions. It may seem basic, but when we neglect to provide these value points, we create a roadblock that keeps people from consuming our content and continuing along the path to what’s next.
2. Stampeding to the sales pitch
We get it – the goal of most marketing efforts is to create new business opportunities, so it may be tempting to infuse direct sales messages into every piece of content you create. But getting too salesy with content at the top and middle of the funnel is likely to do more harm than good. Buyers are looking to forego early sales contact and educate themselves for a reason – either because they aren’t ready to buy, they want to be left alone or they feel they have access to enough quality information to narrow down their options. Moving too quickly to promotional content can create an off-ramp in the buyer’s journey that can ultimately lead potential customers right to your competitors.
3. Failing to guide the content journey
The majority of B2B buying cycles last between four and twelve months. Throughout that process, buyers are consuming content to deepen their understanding of a given challenge, decide on an approach to solve it and determine which companies are on the short list. That’s why it’s so important to link your content together in an intuitive way, making it easy for people to find the details they need as they go through these stages. If you don’t provide a clear roadmap to auxiliary or later-stage content, your buyers may get lost somewhere on their journey and exit before they realize the true value your solution provides.
4. Neglecting key stakeholders
According to Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 people. Some represent the business side, while others may be concerned with technology, operations or finance. They’ll each need something a little different, such as solution benefits, product specifications, use cases and detailed cost comparisons, and their needs may change as the buying cycle progresses. When our content fails to serve all parties involved, we create a void that can leave certain stakeholders with no choice but to seek an alternate route.
5. Missing the mark on what’s important
As the old adage goes, B2B products are bought, not sold. We can create all the content we want on ideal use cases, examples of real-life deployments and criteria for evaluating one solution against another – but if it doesn’t map to the acute issues readers are actually dealing with, it can leave them feeling lost. This can happen when marketers make assumptions about the customer’s world without enough primary information, or when the language they use doesn’t match the audience’s own terms. No matter how the misalignment happens, it’s a dead end that can lead an interested buyer directly out of your funnel.
No one intends to create dead-end content, so why does it happen? Perhaps it’s because so many factors come into play when buyer journeys are long and stakeholders are many. While it may not be possible to create the perfect piece of content for every persona at every stage, it is possible to craft content that resonates with your target audience, reminds them of your value and keeps you top of mind until they’re ready to buy.
In fact, rehabilitating your dead-end content might be the most significant improvement you can make to your sales and marketing programs in the next six months. If you’re wondering where to begin, we provide some tips that can help make your next piece of content stronger right here.