Today, many CMOs are faced with a dilemma. As digital and media interactions become more intertwined in everyday life, marketers must respond. Respond with content and media that adapt to the new world of digital commerce. However, as CMOs invest and allocate more to digital media and content, the benefits are not coming to fruition as expected.
Various studies have shown that shoppers continue to find that 60-75% of content is not relevant. In one study, SiriusDecisions found that 60-70% of the B2B content produced goes unused. Basically, results like these indicate that content and digital media have trust issues.
Understanding the problem
Much has changed in terms of marketing media in the last fifteen years. However, approaches to understanding shoppers have only evolved marginally in the same time frame. The problem marketers face is that there remains a lack of understanding as to why buyers actually make decisions and make decisions.
Marketing and sales still depend on market segmentation and buyer profiling, as it has for the past 25 years. In B2B commerce, for example, we can get a good idea about the organizations’ segments, roles, key initiatives, pain points, and criteria related to product specifications and purchases. The kind of intelligence that sales have been based on for the past three decades and is often publicly available. Although it may sound like a lot of intelligence, it still isn’t moving the needle in the right direction.
While this kind of intelligence is useful, it lacks information about shoppers’ goal-directed behavior and why they make the decisions they do. At the heart of the problem is the simple fact that marketers are having a hard time getting what makes buyers happy and satisfied.
Consecutive years of high percentages of unused content by buyers confirm this. Also, the effectiveness of B2B content marketing is falling. The latest B2B marketing comparative study, jointly produced by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, indicates that the percentage of B2B marketers who believe their organizations are effective at content marketing has dropped from 38% to 30%.
Goals are important to buyers
It has been found predominantly, through decades of organizational and psychological research, that people make decisions regarding their goals and goal-directed behaviors. In essence, the buyer’s goals are very important and if they don’t connect with the buyer’s goals, the statistics mentioned above are obtained.
What also matters is understanding the correct goals. As simple as the word is meta , there are many misunderstandings about goals and goal-directed behaviors. (With regards to buyer personas, I’ve seen the word target used more often, but superficially.)
The first thing marketers need to recognize is that goals are different from what we tend to think of in the business world. Particularly in the context of B2B marketing. Often times, we see confusion related to objectives, initiatives, goals, criteria, metrics, etc. To simplify a bit here, confusion has a lot to do with confusing pain points, tasks, responsibilities, and activities with goals. They are not the same. Goals have a lot to do with desired personal end states and involve a myriad of specific types of goals and subgoals.
Trying to connect on an impersonal level of “business talk” doesn’t work
Where the disconnect occurs is when CMOs and their team focus solely on the profile-based information as described above. These attempts are impersonal and based on facts. While understanding profile-based information is important, especially for sales, it amounts to trying to connect with buyers solely on the basis of descriptions of their general roles, responsibilities, and goals.
Shoppers are inundated with a flood of impersonal content on a daily basis that proclaims how they can best do their job tasks, activities and responsibilities, as well as meet goals through product or service features. It is usually loaded with “business language” and acronyms. It’s no wonder more than 70% of the content is ignored and unused.
(The above are important reasons why shoppers may end up being ineffective. Profiles are incorrectly tagged as shoppers and amount to job or role-oriented profiles filled with “business-speak” language, such as initiatives, criteria, KPIs, factors, etc. Marketers can employ a simple litmus test on the authenticity of buyer personas: if they are not based on qualitative research that elicits goals and goal-directed behaviors, as well as if they are created within a goal-directed framework, then buyer profiles should be considered, not buyer personas.)
Goal-directed marketing connect on a personal level
With the degree of inefficiency in digital media and content becoming more pronounced, CMOs today are looking to reverse the decline. Recognize that product marketing and sales-oriented approaches to profiling buyers are at a rapid point of diminishing returns.
One way for CMOs and marketers to turn the tide is to develop marketing communications based on how buyers can achieve their goals, both in a business and personal context. To do this, they will need to conduct buyer research on the influence of buyers’ underlying goals and how they manifest in goal-directed behaviors as well as buyer decisions.
Unlike profile-based information, which is often publicly available, goals and goal-directed behaviors reside in the unconscious and unarticulated minds of shoppers. Therefore, making the need for qualitative buyer research an important element of the targeted marketing .
Marketing, in the new digital economy, is increasingly focused on understanding new behaviors and relationships within the context of digital technologies. A constant in this turbulent global economy is that buyers are largely driven to pursue goals. New digital technologies mean that new types of goal-directed behaviors on the part of shoppers are evolving. As a result of new ways, buyers make decisions and make decisions in pursuit of goals.
This new world of marketers means that marketers can adopt a simple but profound premise: if we understand buyers’ goals and communicate to them how we can help them achieve their goals, we will have buyers who will be happy to participate .
(What follows is an interesting dimension of understanding goals. Derek Sivers talks about why you shouldn’t advertise your goals. Research has found that most people don’t, and goals are often not articulated. therefore, making the value of qualitative buyer insights research central to targeted marketing. And, why a focus on goals and goal-directed behaviors is the most in-depth form of buyer awareness ever. can achieve).