Have you ever watched one of those newlywed shows, where the wife writes down answers to questions and then the husband guesses what she answered? Some of the fun is when they get it wrong, especially when the guessing spouse is extra confident they’re right. Let’s say the wife wrote that her favorite food is a ribeye steak, but the husband nearly jumps out of his chair yelling that she loves his ramen soup, pumping his fist in the air because he just knows that he nailed it. Except, of course, that he didn’t. He was so far off, it’s kind of hilarious.
As fun as it might be to watch lighthearted marital misses, this is almost exactly what it’s like with marketers and their buyers today. Marketers are feeling really great about a new whitepaper topic and distribution plan, while their buyers are sitting over on the sidelines, shaking their heads and muttering, “I guess they just don’t know me.”
It’s important to note that the vast majority of marketers (and spouses) are all really well-intentioned. But still, somehow along the way, wires got crossed. And the result? Major disconnects. We had a hunch this was the case in today’s business landscape, especially after 2020 caused most marketers to experience budget cuts of 20% or more. As budgets have shrunk, marketers can’t afford to waste resources or frustrate their buyers.
So, we conducted a study to find out just how big the chasm is between these groups. Here’s what we learned.
The Meaning of Personalization has Changed
Marketers are still avidly personalizing their content and communications, but 51% of them report that they do this primarily by personalizing the customer’s name. Buyers, however, don’t really care about that. They want marketers to customize the content they get based on the problem they’re looking to solve. Unfortunately, this type of personalization wasn’t even on the radars of the marketers we surveyed.
This shows that the meaning of personalization has changed, morphing from being about knowing customer facts to actually knowing what matters to them. With the access we have to data today, marketers have a major opportunity to start personalizing their content around solutions to customers’ problems above all else.
Not all Assets are Equal
Marketers have been talking for a long time about catering to their buyers, but we found that this isn’t happening with content assets. Buyers find user reviews most useful (64%), followed by product tours (43%) and videos (33%), but marketers continue to prioritize sales sheets (47%), white papers (42%) and ebooks (30%). It was pretty telling that there were no overlapping categories in these responses, at all. In order to break through to customers and prospects, marketers need to start giving the people what they want – and forgoing what they don’t.
Relevance Runs the World
If one aspect of the study stood out, it was the role that relevance plays in buyers’ satisfaction and action today. Sixty-one percent of buyers expressed that they need relevant content in order to make a decision or a purchase, but only 36% of marketers are using relevant content to entice them to do so. This is a very wide gap. Given these stats, it makes sense that 33% of buyers told us that irrelevant content is a pain point for them.
It’s important for marketers to see these numbers and hear what buyers are saying, because a lot of time and resources are being wasted chasing after the wrong content. If you focus on reallocating your efforts toward relevant content in the formats buyers prefer, you’ll end up seeing much greater ROI and saving yourself a whole lot of time and expense.
Educate, Don’t Sell
Finally, our findings reinforced what we’ve been hearing about consumers for a while now. They like to do their own research and be educated, not sold to. Yet, remember how the largest content category marketers prioritize is sales sheets? Looks like another disconnect.
We found that most buyers (85%) search online when they’re considering making a purchase. They also go to vendors’ websites (66%), online review sites (64%) and third party publications (63%). Marketers are doing okay here because they do use their websites primarily (52%) to educate customers, but they’re missing the boat with search, online review sites and third party publications. This highlights a real opportunity to switch up your content marketing plan, and incorporate these important components into your digital content mix.
The good news is, just because a new husband fails to guess his new wife’s favorite food (or vice versa) doesn’t mean they’re doomed to separation, failure and misery. In fact, it just shows that they could benefit from getting to know one another better. Similarly, this report identifies some disconnects between marketers and their buyers. It doesn’t mean their businesses will flop or their customers will leave them in droves; it just identifies areas in which they can do better.n it comes to personalization (relevance), content assets and education, you now have the facts about what buyers want. This gives you the chance to listen to them and respond the right way. If that isn’t a golden opportunity, I don’t know what is.