Lee Odden

Build a Better Buyer Experience with Marketing Content #cmworld

ardath albeeOne of the sessions I was most looking forward to at Content Marketing World was one given by Ardath Albee @ardath421 CEO of Marketing Interactions (blog) and Author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale.

It’s one thing to create a content marketing strategy, it’s another thing to execute it in a way that works out the way you planned.

Buyer experience is important! 43.7% of buyers say they’re taking more time to research purchases. (DemandGen Report) Each person receives 5,000 messages each day (and that stat is 2 years old) imagine what it is today. The amount of information that confronts each person online every day is overwhelming, so people begin to shut down or become better filters of information.

66% of buyers say the vendor’s website influenced their purchase decision (DemandGen Report). However, a problem exists when people SEO their website content so much that it’s not a compelling or useful user experience. Being found doesn’t mean much if the content doesn’t engage prospects.

Content is marketing currency

Attention is a capacity to maintain selective or sustained concentration. Instead of chasing a quantity of fans, friends and followers, focus on creating the best match between brand and social connections. Look at metrics like time on site, return visits, CTR on calls to action vs only how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans there are.

  • Cursory Attention: I might be interested
  • Misleading Attention: Thinking of your content but also 10 other things
  • Voluntary Attention: Every time I read their stuff I learn something useful. You need to cultivate these connections. They will not become buyers unless their attention becomes:
  • Intentional Attention: This information will help me solve a problem I’m dealing with. I wonder what else they can help me with…

The only way to guide prospects through these levels of attention is if you connect your content marketing to guide them through the experience.

Most marketers focus on pre marketing qualified leads and do not nurture. Most prospects don’t contact vendors until they’ve formed their shortlist.

The buying cycle starts with interest and attention, but it’s no longer a proper funnel. Especially in the middle where other people from the buying committee are brought in. Then it narrows again as the shortlist is narrowed.

B2B Buying Process: Status Quo, Priority, Research, Options, Step Back, Validation, Choice

Buyer Experience Funnel: Interest, Attention, Value, Engagement, Buying Committee Involvement, Conversation, Purchase

Ardath is big on marketing automation. Software is critical for nurturing and handling scale.

A key question when developing a content marketing strategy is: “What could cause the prospect to kill the deal?” When the buyer committee members that have not been involved in the buying process come in and start asking questions. When executing our content strategy, we need to have answers to those questions and potential objections. We need to empower the buyer champion so they can provide confidence to their peers.

The secrets to a better buyer experience:  Questions, Conversations & Stories

Questions initiate conversations. When prospects initiate their search for a solution, they often search. It’s essential to understand the overlay between Buyer Experience and Buying Stage. Anticipate corresponding Buyer Questions. Think of the questions your prospects will have in the varying stages of their experience and the stages they go through during the process.

Those questions will help you formulate meaningful content that stimulates conversations with prospects. Content can Simulate sales dialog, ask/answer questions and counter objections. Always remember what you want the prospect to do next.

The story companies tell:

Beginning: You need our products, we’re the leading provider
Middle: Look at our feeds and speeds. You looked – you want to buy?
End: FUD – You’ll perish without us. We can beat that price.

A lot of companies tell this story and nobody cares. Compare it to:

Beginning: We know the buyer. We educate the buyer that there’s a problem. Pain escalates.
Middle: The buyer seeks a resolution. They will encounter obstacles, so help them. They will seek to find expertise (hopefully yours).
End: Overcome challenges. Solve the problem. Buyer is the hero.

It’s not about your company. It’s about the buyer.

Content that builds a better buyer experience:

Education: Where, What, When, Why How (not about the product, about the problem that they’re solving)

Expertise: Industry Trends, Methodology, Strategic Insights, Futuristic. (Add your take on general trends – what does this mean to your customers and what they care about) Show that you have more to offer than the product. Are you a partner or a vendor? Give enough actionable information for prospects to implement and see an effect so they come back for the “rest of it”.

Evidence: Customer Stories, Analysts, Earned Media, Reputation, Credibility. Build trust – people buy from people they trust.

Mix up your format choices because it’s not so much the format, but the content.

Content Hubs Keep You On Track and help you get the most out of your content. Example: Webinar

Pre Event:

  • Registration page
  • Email invites
  • Tweets
  • LinkedIn
  • Press Release
  • BlogPosts

Post Event:

  • Slideshare
  • Email Archive Link
  • Q & A Blog Post
  • White Paper
  • Article Series
  • Podcast(s)

Build in Momentum Accelerators

  • Connected Content
  • Follow-on Offers
  • Calls to Action
  • Conversational Takeaways

If you answer a question with your content, make sure there’s a takeaway. This is how you get your ideas in conversations where you’re not present. If you can do that, you can facilitate the sales process.

This session was rich with great ideas and I wish I’d been able to get a few of the process and content hub slides. However, I did capture a ton of information as you’ve read above. The practical approach and attention to approaching content from a customer needs perspective.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Hi Lee,

    Thanks so very much for your terrific summary of my presentation that makes me look so very smart! I’m honored that you chose to attend my session and that you found it so useful.


  2. Avatar Christine B. Whittemore says


    Thanks for this summary!  I heard Ardath speak at MarketingProfs B2B 2011 and she wowed me with her wisdom and intense focus on the buyer experience. What a treat to be able to live through her CMW session through you. I’m looking forward to diving into your notes.Best,CB

  3. This is a great summary Lee. Ardath really did deliver an outstanding presentation. I might suggest it was the best one I attended.

    • I agree Jeremy – she gave an excellent presentation with the kind of insight that clearly comes from experience. (Sorry about the comment approval delay – you are whitelisted now) 🙂

  4. I think your first point is most important. If you can’t get success at grabbing the attention of potential customers and carefully/gently guide them through a funnel, you might as well save your efforts. 

  5. Great post. In fact, I took notes. Mr. Odden is giving a blue print for something that is very hard to do. Namely, make your product as human as possible –questions, conversations, and stories. As if you are at dinner talking directly with your customer. In my humble opinion, among all the digitalization that has gone on in the business world, people have lost site of the little things like handshakes and thank you’s.

  6. Avatar iqbal siddiqui says

    Thanks for great presentation 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing this great blog. I agree with the points that we should make our product to be as humanly as possible.

    It seems that most marketers on the internet tend to forget that most of the contacts that they are communicating with are real people who are facing real problems online. It is sad to know that there are many merchants who simply treats their subscribers online as just an ATM machine.

    I like your point on giving good values to potential customers and guiding them through education on the reasons why they should purchase the recommended products. I agree with the point that all our focus should be on the customers and not on the company.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


  8. I guess content rules these days and there’s a big difference between creation and curation.  I love your insights here and I’ve bookmarked this post.  Thanks!