Remember the days of producing content on your website just to, well, produce content?

Maybe it was for SEO. Maybe it was to add another element outside of product descriptions and the “About Us.” The more content, the merrier.

Content may be king, but it’s a pawn without relevancy for the buyer. Two reports released in the past week -- one by IDG Connect and the other by Forrester Research -- deliver this message.

“When it comes to providing content, the two most important things are its alignment with organizational needs and its relevance to the buyer,” Robert Johnson, vice president and principal analyst for IDG Connect, told CMSWire this morning. “… More vendors have woken up to the fact that they simply can’t just create new content. In some cases, the buyer can’t find what they need and when they do find it, it isn’t relevant enough. It’s hurting vendors.”

Forrester: Break Through Clutter

In Forrester’s report released today, “Choose The Right Vendor Tools To Help With Content Marketing Development And Distribution,” (fee) analyst Tracy Stokes said today the content “pendulum” has swung back to a focus on quality.

“Content must deliver visible value to break through the content clutter,” she said. 

customer experience, Marketing Content No King Without Buyer Relevancy

The current attention to content marketing, she added, has led to a new set of technology and service suppliers that aim to help marketers develop content itself and distribute it to gain visibility.

“Ultimately, marketers will not put forth the resources to piece together a patchwork solution of content providers,” she said. “Their need for a one-stop solution will fuel consolidation of content marketing suppliers.”

Stokes cited Oracle’s purchase of Compendium and Sprinklr’s of Dachis as “small signs of a fast-changing playing field.”

IDG: Know Your Target

IDG Connect in its fifth installment in this arena, “Irrelevant Digital Content Impacts B2B Vendors’ Bottom Line,” (registration required) interviewed 200 technology buyers. On average, eight out of 10 of them said relevancy in a vendor’s content affects their likelihood of short-listing them as a potential buy.

“The bottom line is you gotta understand your buyer in terms of their content preference and format preferences,” Johnson said. “Know who’s involved in the buying and at what stage. You can’t create content anymore on your historical experiences or your own beliefs.”

customer experience, Marketing Content No King Without Buyer Relevancy

So what makes content relevant? Page views? Shares? Likes? Johnson said you should track those metrics.

Even better, though, marketers should intimately know the buyer's journey through their content. Were they able to find it easily? When they consumed it, did they go somewhere else after? Did the buyer journey continue afterward?

In other words, did your content set up an easy path for a buyer that moves your organization from the buyer's radar to the buyer's shortlist?

Johnson referred to it as “having them explore more deeply with you.” 

Content Action Steps

Forrester’s Stokes provided some takeaways for delivering relevant content:

  • Find a seasoned service partner to lead the way. If you are a product or retail marketer without a history of content development, seek service partners that can provide strategic guidance, content expertise and hands-on resources to create the right content approach for your needs. 
  • Go for a full-service agency if you’re inexperienced. If your marketing team is either few in number or inexperienced, then a full-service agency can provide the people power you need to develop and distribute content. Most manage the process as they would a typical creative development process for a TV ad or digital campaign. 
  • Recognize that software will help you scale. Marketers that have dedicated and experienced in-house content expertise need tools that enable them to streamline content development and sync content marketing initiatives with business impact. 
  • Measure the results. As content marketing investment rises, so will the need for measuring impact. Savvy B2B marketers tie content to lead generation through content distribution solutions.