Content Marketing Check-Up: Creating Content for the Full Customer Journey.

Having a lot of content is not enough. Great content marketing requires organizations to meet prospects where they’re at with high-quality, audience-specific content. In our roundtable discussion with ON24 and Netline, we discussed strategies for meeting content demand and enabling prospects to find what they need. Originally aired on October 5, 2022

Be proactive in the face of the evolving buyer's journey. Catch the other two roundtables in this series to learn how to effectively use intent data and how to determine the right metrics for your goals.


Key takeaways.


Think of content as a product.
Content should be planned with enough forethought for reuse, the creation of related content, and for fueling upcoming campaigns.


Target each stage of the funnel. 
Go beyond personas and develop content that focuses on where buyers are in their journeys, pivoting messages based on funnel stage.


Prepare prospects for the next conversation. 
Content is a part of the journey, not the end. Create content that will tee up a sales conversation and move prospects further along.

HubSpot Video

We’re not just here to be entertainers. We’re not just here to be a utility. We’re here as marketers to help our sales team qualify leads and get new prospects in the funnel.

Tessa Barron • VP of Marketing, ON24

Watch the next roundtable in our series.

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amber-keller-250x250 (1)
Amber Keller • Associate Content Director, Iron Horse

Amber is an Associate Content Director at Iron Horse with 20 years experience creating and editing content for print and web. Amber works closely with our customers and internal teams to produce impeccable content that engages, informs, and drives business growth. Before coming to Iron Horse, Amber created award-winning e-learning for tech, financial services, consumer, and government sectors.

Tessa Barron
Tessa Barron • VP of Marketing, ON24

Tessa Barron is the VP of Marketing at ON24 and leads the company's brand, digital and demand generation campaign strategy. She brings with her a wealth of marketing expertise from both in- house and agency experiences. In 2019, she was named to DMN's "Top 40 Marketers under 40" list and is a founding member of the Women in Revenue Marketing organization in NYC.

David Fortino • Chief Strategy Officer, NetLine

David is the Chief Strategy Officer at NetLine Corporation where he is responsible for the strategic direction and adoption of NetLine's content-centric buyer engagement platform. He brings more than 15 years’ experience managing the development of content distribution, audience monetization, and digital marketing/targeting platforms.

Episode Transcript

Ellen Smoley: Hello, and welcome. Earlier this year, we asked enterprise B2B tech marketers about how they're adapting to the changing buyers journey. The results can be found in our recent report, which is linked in the chat. In a series of these conversations, we're asking experts from the industry to dig into some of the challenges that we found that were identified in the report.

Ellen Smoley: Today, we are starting with content and how we're connecting content for the full customer journey. It's an interactive session, so please put your questions in the Q & A, and we'll get to them at the end of the session. Now I'd like to introduce you to our wonderful speakers. First, Dave Fortino. He's NetLine's Chief Strategy Officer. Second, Tessa Barron, ON24's VP of Marketing. And last but not least, we have our own Amber Keller, Iron Horse's amazing Content Strategist. Amber, take it away.

Amber Keller: Hey, everybody. So nothing like having a little bit of technical issues one minute before your round table starts. Can you hear me okay?

Tessa Barron: We can.

Amber Keller: Awesome. Okay, thanks Ellen. Hey, Tessa. Hey, David. Great to see you today. As Ellen mentioned, this session stems from research we conducted earlier this year, where we asked B2B enterprise tech marketing leaders about the ways they're adapting to the changing buyers journey. So on all of our minds, of course, ABM is one of those big ways. Personalization is super important. Folks are using intent data like crazy to understand their audience. Marketers have all these tools at their disposal to create more engaging, personalized experiences for prospects across the full journey. Everyone agrees this is important, and yet everyone is really struggling to make this work in real life.

Amber Keller: So that's what we're here to talk about today. That's what this round table series kind of stems from that. We're talking about a number of different areas, where people are just kind of struggling to make this work, and figuring out how to really make it successful.

Amber Keller: Today, the topic is content, and really creating that personalized content for the full journey. So some particular struggles that came up in the data. 58% of respondents said that adapting content to multiple personas is a challenge for executing ABM. 56% cited limited content as a barrier to personalizing demand and tactics. These are kind of two sides to the same coin, in my opinion. I think we all agree on that.

Amber Keller: So to start us off, I just wanted to say or ask before we get into why this is challenging, what is effective personalized content? What does effective personalization look like to you?

David Fortino: Tessa, do you want to lead us off? I'm sure you've got some great observations.

Tessa Barron: Sure. Sure, Dave. And also great to be here today. Thank you Iron Horse for hosting us, and thanks Amber. I know you're struggling, like we all have been there one day. But just so the audience knows a little bit about me, I lead marketing here at ON24. We're a platform where thousands of marketers use us to create interactive and immersive webinar, virtual event and content experiences. And the special part about ON24 is that marketers are able to use all of that engagement, and turn it into data and analytics so that they can convert what they were able to do during a session with their audience into actual sales execution, and hopefully move those prospects into customers.

Tessa Barron: Dave, I'll let you share a little bit about yourself too to the audience, so they know something about you and then we will kick it off with a discussion on personalization.

David Fortino: Lovely. Sounds great. So yeah, so I'm Dave Fortino, Chief Strategy Officer over here at NetLine. I technically head up AMP, stands for Audience, Marketing and Product. Distinctly, you can think of NetLine as a solution that helps B2B marketers translate their existing content into lead based outcomes that drive pipeline.

Tessa Barron: Awesome. I mean, Dave, both of our technologies are really built for marketers to turn all that work that we're doing, all of that engagement into pipeline.

David Fortino: No doubt.

Tessa Barron: And I think that that's actually where I want to start with personalization. To me, effective personalization means thinking about the audience first, and understanding where they are, versus forcing them down the funnel. I mean, who doesn't want to start a conversation by saying, "Are you ready to buy now?" Of course, but it's not that easy. We have to educate our customers, show them that we know them, and get them to want what it is that we solve, in a way that goes beyond just the speeds and feeds, and really understand the why we matter to their business. And I think that that's even more important today, and that really is effective personalization. When you're able to connect to someone's pain points, to compel them to want to learn more, to continue their journey, that is what wins. Dave, I'll let you chime in.

David Fortino: Yeah, I completely agree, and I apologize in the background if there's a lawnmower going by, 'cause that's indeed happening.

David Fortino: So I would say when I think about personalization, I often gravitate towards where personalization goes wrong. Right? And so as much as it's about solving pain points, and offering context and time appropriate solutions, it's also very much about listening to what you do know about the audience, and reacting accordingly, and not attempting to force things through a standardized funnel.

David Fortino: If you have already understood where they're at, and/or the content that they've consumed, don't feel like it's necessary to then start going upwards to educate them on things that you feel like they don't know. Simultaneously, offering the ability for them to have a self guided exploration of their own funnel, I think is something incredibly empowering to buyers, especially with today's market. And this has been for years in the making, where most buyers would prefer not to engage with the sales rep. So if you're allowing them to self navigate their own path through you, you're more than likely to be delivering very personalized experiences that are just down to that person's behavior, the way they want to consume, versus your next customer prospect.

Tessa Barron: Yeah. I mean, I'll share a story, Dave, that was a bit of a personalization failure on our side, and this is because I know a lot of you out there are probably thinking about how do you make your content more personalized, and I'll start by sharing a lesson of maybe what not to do.

Tessa Barron: So when we think of personalization, I think most of the time we immediately leap to account-based marketing, which is funny because an account is not the person. An account is the company that that person belongs to, and often the pain point that person you're trying to sell to, or collection of people you're trying to sell to, is quite different than the pain point of their company or industry. And so we, a few years ago, went down the path of ABM and thought we were going to be hyper personalized, by making something very vertically specific, and it totally missed the mark.

Tessa Barron: In fact, our prospects from that vertical, who went through this more personalized, verticalized campaign, converted at a lower rate. The content was not as well received as our more general content, and the reason why was because we were speaking to the industry that they belonged, but not to the job that they held. So talking about manufacturing as a vertical was actually less relevant to the marketer that we were trying to reach, because they were actually trying to market to an audience that wasn't manufacturing. So I think that when you're building content, you really have to dig deep and ask yourself, "Is this solving someone's problems, that they are going to encounter in their daily life?" And of course you want to make the context about the industry they're in, but if it doesn't connect to the challenges that they face on a day to day basis, then that content, it won't resonate. Or at least that's what our failure taught me.

David Fortino: Yeah, I totally agree. I think almost extract yourself from B2B marketing for a second, and layer yourself into the consumer world. When you're buying something, let's say on any commerce site, Amazon probably be a great example. Those product recommendations that you see when you're about to check out are not a catchall for people who are just looking at that general category. Those product recommendations are personalized to you, looking at your purchase propensity for prior products, the product that you're buying and so on. Everything's one to one, truly. They're not acknowledging your name in that case, but it's clearly all about using algorithms to personalize the experience, versus to Tessa's point saying, "Well, this is an industry, and so we'll speak to it this way," and saying that that's personalized. I would say it's more a targeted and thoughtful approach, but not down to the buyer, versus the company level approach.

Amber Keller: So for marketers who are trying to then get this content created, to be able to actually answer questions for the individual people in the account... And I should say too that I agree with everything that you guys said, and that also it's not just one persona within that account that you're talking to either, when you're account based marketing. Right? Or when you're doing any kind of a personalized strategy.

Amber Keller: So what are some of the challenges that you see getting in the way of adapting or creating content for different personas?

David Fortino: Yeah, I mean in my experience, there's almost a general overthinking and over complexity that's associated to a lot of this. More often than not, you've created this content. It might not have the appropriate title and/or packaging that you desire to present to a specific audience or influencer. But more often than not, it's there, and it's not about re-architecting everything and recreating the wheel. It's about simply repurposing and/or breaking content down, whatever it might be, and making it a bit more approachable and relevant to that specific persona.

Amber Keller: And I think that's where the problem comes in. That task seems very, very daunting, but like you said, the content is already there. It's not about recreating, starting from scratch, recreating the wheel with the content. It's more a matter of adapting, but for some reason that sort of repackaging, people are finding that very difficult to make that happen.

David Fortino: I think it's almost like you're just-

Amber Keller: What do you think?

David Fortino: Yeah, I mean I think it's almost a discomfort with going back. For some reason, marketers are programmed, and maybe this is a character flaw where we all are focused on going forward, and kind of forgetting the groundwork that we've done. And even if they were great executions, we're still always running forward. And so there's something to be said about if you've created some killer content or campaigns that have worked, keep leveraging that. It doesn't mean that it's overstayed it's welcome, because you're still targeting new prospects. Right? These are people who have not bought from you, not perhaps engaged with your content. I don't know. Tessa, what're your thoughts on that?

Tessa Barron: Yeah, I mean, I also think it's often because we're not coming to the table with a plan for reuse. So execution looks like getting something done and shipping it, versus making it iterative to begin with. And I think that is not something that comes firsthand, but if we all did ourselves a favor and thought about, "Okay, I'm going to create this piece of content, but I need to think beyond just that this individual piece. How does it fit into a campaign? How is it going to be torn apart?" and then built it with the end in mind, I think it would be a lot easier.

Tessa Barron: The problem is that often we end up creating something, and especially if it's personalized, that to try and do something else with it, it's so specific, and it's almost like it's so hard to deal with that you have to just move on and create a new asset, versus saying, "Okay, I know that we have to," I'll use my account based marketing again. "I know that we are going to want to go after our top accounts, and let's engineer this broad based piece of research to have a specific section, so that we can create an account based version of this larger report for these accounts, and then we'll design the chapters that way."

Tessa Barron: I mean, it takes a lot of thinking and planning, but I feel like if you have a plan to view execution as something that's going to take place over several months, then that's going to give you the room that you need to have more iteration, versus just shipping something and calling it done.

Tessa Barron: It's kind of like if you were to think of a website, or a software product, like no engineer, no product manager, ships something and says, "I'm never going to touch it again." And I think that's where we, as marketers and as content marketers, need to think of our assets like products, something that you're going to continue to build, and optimize, and innovate, rather than something that you ship once and forget.

David Fortino: Yeah. Even challenge, and we'll get to some of this in a bit, that content can become a product, and can become an experience that users can interact with, in some way.

Amber Keller: Do you want to get to that now?

David Fortino: Sure, sure. Yeah, so we actually leveraged a lot of what Tessa just shared. Right? So we create this annual 2022 content consumption demand report. It's about analyzing about five million party, fully permissioned leads that users have provided, as they're registering for content.

David Fortino: Long story short, that's a massive static resource, and although that's really helpful in driving volume, it's most certainly not personalized. And so we started creating more vertically oriented derivatives, which is fine, and it still gets to what Tessa's experience was in creating more vertically oriented, go to market motions. But ultimately what we figured out was we started having marketers ask us, "Hey, what's this look like just for my mini slice of this massive industry?" And there was no way to create that content on the fly, in an editorialized fashion, but we had all of this massive amount of data, billions of data points. So why not flip the script, and say the tool becomes the actual content?

David Fortino: And so we developed a tool called Audience Explorer. It's a completely free, un-gated asset that allows B2B marketers to go check out what their ICPs are doing, the types of content that they're consuming, by job level, job area, industry, sub industry, company size, geographic region, and so on. And that is a living, breathing entity that is a companion asset to that piece of content, that's really kind of like our tent pole content that lives throughout the year. This tool also allows us to spin up new insights that are more short form, like a blog post, where you're using the data that comes in out the tool, and quickly spinning up a very short form, abstract distillation of what we're seeing in the market, at any given time. Amber?

Amber Keller: Sorry. Having some technical difficulties over here. Yeah, it's a great tool. I love using it, personally. I think that this idea of thinking about your content as a product, how not everybody can spin up a tool for people to use their content. So I'm wondering, Tessa, is there a way that you think about content as a product, and how that helps plan out those derivative assets that come out of something like a webinar? Which is, in my opinion, a content format that just kind of keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. Could you talk through how you plan that out?

Tessa Barron: Yeah. Oh, man. Might take the whole next rest of our time here. So I'll give some broad brushstrokes. So we start with a campaign framework in thinking about the themes. I'm sure everyone's nodding their head, "Yep, do that." And then we also think about the key personas we're trying to reach, and the stages of their journey, and I'll just simplify that as top, middle, bottom.

Tessa Barron: And then we want to have hero assets for those personas, and this means a persona whose decision making and needs really is different. And I think that's maybe sometimes, and I saw in the chat Cynthia was saying, "Personas haven't been that helpful." And I think the question becomes, "Are they really different personas?" That in and of itself can be challenging, is to understand is someone's criteria and pain points really different, in that we'd market to them differently? And if the answer is no, you may only have one buying persona. Maybe you have two. Whatever. Maybe you have three. It's not a hard and fast rule. It really depends upon your go-to market.

Tessa Barron: So, with that in mind, we then think about hero assets that are going to exist for those specific per personas, per stage, and then that kind of fuels all the derivatives. So as an example, we have a best practices series webinar that we run, and it is our tried and true, middle of funnel content for our practitioner persona, meaning the person who's going to be using our technology on a daily basis. Their pain points are much different, often, than the person who actually signs the contract. So we market to them differently. And we know that it's a big webinar. That fuels our January, February, and March, and we strategically have it in December.

Tessa Barron: And so yes, it's a webinar where we showcase all of the best of the best examples from our customers, but it then feeds into a look book into social posts, into eBooks, into then each individual customer that's recognized becomes their own little webinar of the next year. And so that is planned with that intent, in the way that when we ask customers to participate, we're getting their permission to use their content in all these different formats. We're working with PR to write a press release about all of the different customers mentioned, and we do that right from the beginning, and that really starts by having a great briefing process. I think Stephanie just shared it. That forces you to think through all the different channels in which you might leverage this, all the different themes you want to hit, how it ties in to other campaigns, and then of course, most importantly, what is it that you're trying to do?

Tessa Barron: And I think that's also another piece of marketing and planning that can be challenging, is we have two jobs. Right? We have to think about creating great content, and planning for its reuse, but we also have to think about how doing all of that is going to translate into results, and making sure that we know why we're doing it, and what KPIs we're going to use to measure, and how sales is going to action it. And that really means you've got to think about everything with a two-stroke mindset.

Tessa Barron: First, how am I going to accomplish this marketing program, in the most efficient way, and how is it going to feed my other programs, and tie into my overall campaigns? And then, how is it going to translate into sales results? And I really believe that having a great brief, from a strategy standpoint and a tactical standpoint, allows for you to think in those two waves.

Amber Keller: Yeah. That planning piece is so important, and one of the things that also came up in our survey was not just repackaging content for different audiences, but repackaging or having content for different funnel stages. And I think one of the things, it's in the way of just all of this is, we get tied to a certain calendar. I see this a lot with the clients that I work with, that we're going to produce 10 blog posts a month, and we're going to keep that calendar chugging, and we're not stopping to figure out not just which ones are most effective, but if we're missing things for different stages of the journey, or maybe we should put a pause on some of this blog content, so that we can pull it together into some kind of other asset, for another stage of the journey.

Amber Keller: So I am wondering if you have any strategies. Other than starting with that planning and starting big, do you have strategies for marketers right now, who are wondering, "Well, I can tell that there's something missing for middle of the funnel, or on the funnel, for this audience group"? What are some tips for getting in there, and finding that piece of content, and getting it out to people at the right stage?

David Fortino: Yeah, I mean typically mid and bottom of funnel, in my experience is always centered around how do we take our existing customer successes and translate that into content, right? And the medium and format doesn't matter. Whatever's easiest, quite honestly for you, as the marketer, pursue that. Clearly, you can have massive plans and aspirations, but if a certain format's near impossible for you to do, then don't do that, and don't waste time thinking about that for months or quarters on end.

David Fortino: So those kind of more bottom funnel alignment pieces of content, all about not only gaining confidence and consideration in a hyper purchase decision, but it's also creating derivative content around that, to influence other influencers for decision makers for that. So we've created companion pieces, which is a content marketing cheat sheet for non-B2B marketers. And so that is clearly, and it's even written in the way that this person is supposed to go to their CFO and actually make the case that, "Hey, this is what you need to know, and this is why I'm making this business case to sign off on this budget."

David Fortino: But you've got to just artfully be listening, always. And I think Amber gets back to your point of schedules and structure are beautiful, but only if you're also keeping an open mind, ears, and eyes throughout that process, and not kind of running down the street with blinders on, ignoring everything that you could potentially be absorbing from customers. And this gets back to, I think Tessa said, all of this always has to be starting with customer-first mentality.

David Fortino: And so you need to not just start there though, right? It's a persistence there, every single day, that has to be the genesis of what you do, the KPIs that you're looking at, and making those hard decisions to say, "Okay, well I know we were going to go here, but based upon everything I'm seeing, we need to pivot, like now." And that's okay. There's no negative impact to you, and/or your team, for being intelligent, observing data, and making an informed decision on it.

Tessa Barron: Yeah.

Amber Keller: Looking at what you said too, about the medium and the format not being quite as important as getting that content out there, and I think that can be a really big sticking point, especially thinking that, "Oh, well we have to do this in a webinar, but we don't have the bandwidth to spin up a webinar," or some other large piece of content. Tessa, do you have any thoughts on that?

Tessa Barron: Yeah, yeah, and Dave can speak to it too, but we've seen often that our eBooks, with the least amount of writing, are actually the most successful. So we've put together, in a lot more of a scrappy fashion, look books, and our product lends itself to being screen shotted, but look books for people to look at to get inspired. And that didn't require us to create paragraphs and pages of content, but it really just meant we needed to showcase the great outcomes that our customers were already sharing.

Tessa Barron: And that could mean thinking about, "Are there slide decks that maybe become how-to guides? Are there presentations that have been given in a webinar, that could easily be PDF'd and made into an eBook, because some parts of your audience would rather consume in that format?" So I think when you're struggling for content, you have to figure out is it just locked in a delivery mechanism, that maybe needs to be translated, and exposed in a different way? Or is it that it needs to be topped and tailed differently?

Tessa Barron: Those are all ways that you can make do with what you've got, and not have to start over again. So Amber, I would say those are two of my biggest tips. Look at slide decks as an eBook, and then also look at content that's being delivered a lot, and figure out how to deliver it in a different channel.

David Fortino: Yeah. Just to quantify that a bit, for Tessa and the audience, eBooks, the 2022 report on our side quantifies this a bit, but eBooks were requested 484% more than any other content format across our platform, which I believe at the time was about 14,000 pieces of content. And so, when you're thinking about quickly getting things out, and not committing a ton of resources and/or time, that is a great way of doing that, and a slide deck could certainly be called an eBook, with just some caressing and careful messaging.

David Fortino: Yeah. Something they consider there, but definitely do your homework about what your audience is and ICPs naturally gravitate to as well, because if you're finding that they do love a certain format, don't try to force them to consume the different type of formats. Stay in their lane, and again, that kind of is getting back to a personalized approach to them.

Tessa Barron: Yeah. And actually, speaking about webinars specifically, and videos, those are two mediums that really can be leveraged in an interchangeable way. As an example, we'll take a demo that exists as a standalone video, but run it as an on-demand or semi-live webinar, because people want to ask questions as they're consuming the video. And so it does create an event. It creates a compelling moment for us to drive an audience to.

Tessa Barron: They're still getting the content, and they know it's been prerecorded, and that's okay because there's a human there that they can ask questions to. And at the same time, our audience that maybe wants to discover us on YouTube or anywhere else, can watch that video as it was recorded in its traditional form. And that is what I think we have to remember, is it's not just the content itself, it's how you're getting people to it, and they're experience when they're consuming it that is just as important.

David Fortino: Yeah, I mean imagine, and you know this very well Tessa, inside of your platform, the engagement with the content in that environment, the amount of intent you're able to capture and understand is exponentially greater than a user registering for an eBook, and casually perusing it, and/or not. Giving someone an hour of your time, or even 20 minutes of your time, intentionally, it's very different. So those are things to also be cognizant of as well, because what does that mean in terms of that buyer's commitment to you as a brand, and your solution? I think those are phenomenally aligned assets, to more bottom of funnel type orientations.

Tessa Barron: Yeah.

Amber Keller: And I think one thing that you were just getting at too was having content available for that more self-service journey, where people want to be able to discover you. So if they're on YouTube, and they can still discover you there, but also once they've consumed that piece of content, having thought out a path forward for them, from that piece of content, wherever they access it. So really something that, again, I talk to the organizations I work with a lot, is about not having dead ends.

Amber Keller: There shouldn't be any dead ends in the content. Always thinking about what that journey is, and how to give that next step forward from the thing that they're consuming, because you're not going to necessarily be there to know that they're consuming it, or to help shepherd them along.

David Fortino: 100%. Yeah. Couldn't agree more.

Tessa Barron: Yeah, I was actually just talking to a customer this morning, and she was saying that the QR codes that they have in their webinars, and they're a customer of ON24, so they're able to embed them, that they are seeing a 48% greater utilization in entry point of their audience through those QR codes, than through any of their advertising. So it's like they're taking an audience that's captive, and then they're driving them towards something, versus saying, "Okay, audience. We have your attention, and then we're going to have to go fight for it over here in another channel." They're doubling down, and they're driving them further down the funnel while they have them, and I think that that is so critical today. It's not about trying to get someone to engage with you in every channel. It's about trying to get someone to engage with you more, and more, and more, while you have them in that channel.

Amber Keller: Right. Once you've got them.

Tessa Barron: another channel.

Amber Keller: Right.

Tessa Barron: And I think sometimes we're thinking, "Oh, I need to be on the channel, because that's how someone's going to engage with me." No, you have to be omnichannel so that the channel someone picks to engage with you in, they can. I think it's a shift in mindset that we need to have.

Amber Keller: That's a really great distinction. Yeah, the channel is the entry point.

Tessa Barron: Yeah.

Amber Keller: It's not that they're going to be then hitting you on all of those other channels. It's not the same people, necessarily.

Tessa Barron: Exactly.

Amber Keller: Things are all doorways into that journey, with your organization and with your content.

David Fortino: Yeah, and that comes back to, specifically within EBM, there's this whole concept that everything's personalized, but it's not, and Tessa referenced this earlier. All of that omnichannel presence and campaign execution is really just all company level targeting. Right? And so you don't know if you're targeting Jane, or Jim, or Jane 17 times throughout the day, which would also be an issue.

David Fortino: So I think that's the part where it gets lost, and I think conveniently the industry generally ignores that as a non talking point. But it's something to be very cognizant of, is how are you reaching the buyer in their preferred channel? And it doesn't matter going to sales and saying, "Well, I've touched this account 17 times across these six channels," especially when it's company level targeting. Did you hit the finance people? Did you hit engineers? Because you recognize their IP address? Is that offering you any value? Things to consider there.

Tessa Barron: Yeah, and then if the follow-up isn't aligned, then that's also a problem, because we put so much time and energy into personalizing maybe that piece of content, that personalized ad delivered to this account. But then if a salesperson isn't able to continue that thread, that's also a problem. And so I would say that's another really important aspect of content development that we need to think about, is how would a salesperson follow up on this? 'Cause we're not just here to be entertainers, and we're not just here to be a utility.

Tessa Barron: We're here as marketers, to help our sales team qualify leads, and get new prospects in the funnel. And that's where I think that has to be an aspect to be included, as you're developing content. How is this allowing for a salesperson to pick up on a pain point? How is it allowing for them to continue a conversation? How is it allowing for them to bring up a perspective, that perhaps allows them to question the status quo that prospect is currently under? That's how we have to think about content. It needs to be weaponized, and not just executed.

Amber Keller: So you're not just talking about working internally with your sales team to talk about what content they can use as a follow up, in certain situations, but actually planning out your content, with the idea in mind that, "How is this going to prepare the reader, the recipient, the consumer of this content for that next conversation with sales?" Either by giving sales some information, because they consumed it and that gives some information, or by setting up, kind of teeing up those questions that sales can then answer.

Tessa Barron: Yep. Yes. Exactly. And so that's where thinking about content as part of the journey, not an end to it. Right? And I think it is sometimes, again, we think it ends with the content. Like our job is done, but no. It's got to lead into a sales conversation. And so the more that you can game-ify or architect content to tee that up, the better.

David Fortino: Yeah, and I think an example of where that's gone wrong, for me as a buyer, was I engaged with a piece of content from a very recognizable brand, clearly went into their funnel. I also, with the content request, asked for a accelerated contract. I theoretically was already bought off on the company, their capabilities, I understood it inside and out, didn't need a pitch. I just wanted a contract to start negotiating off of.

David Fortino: It went the entire opposite direction, where the rep actually ignored the content I requested, ignored the request, and just constantly was asking me to schedule a demo with him. And it's like, this is tone deaf, right? You're sitting here, I'm saying I want to spend money with you, but because of a clear disconnect inside of their marketing to sales, and customer experience thoughtfulness, they lost us as a client. And so that's something that, yeah, the best marketing executions in the world externally fail if you don't have these things sorted out internally.

Amber Keller: Right, and we could probably do a whole year of round tables, digging into that whole process and the pieces that go into that. But I think that was something that I wanted to bring up earlier too, with personalization. That personalized experience is, for me, a lot of it is about you don't actually notice the experience, because it fits. You're not getting a bunch of stuff that doesn't suit your needs. Right? It's answering your questions. It's hitting you at the right time. You're asking for a contract. So they're going to come right in and talk to you about a contract, instead of starting over at square one.

Amber Keller: And I think, like you said at the beginning, David, what makes personalization good is not necessarily what is the personalized experience, but isn't a personalized experience. So any other tips, before we go into audience questions? Which I think we have many. Any other tips or strategies for making sure that the right content is getting to the right audience, at the right time, and that you're not starting over, taking them over through a path that really doesn't appeal to them?

David Fortino: I mean, one just low hanging fruit for every marketer that they can leverage and costs nothing is just to talk to customers, and that there's always a historical knowledge base there, as to their buyers journey that they did go through. And what were things that could have been improved upon? What are things that your client services or customer success team already kind of wished that they could improve upon, or wish that they had content to speak to?

David Fortino: And those same internal discussions apply to sales as well, obviously. And none of that costs anything, and could be inspirational for quick solves that you may already have written, but not formatted correctly, or positioned correctly. You might just need a little bit different kind of massaging on the context. But again, you know, you don't need to go pay a market research company and figure this stuff out. You can definitely action it very quickly with casual discussions.

Tessa Barron: Yeah, I mean, I was going to say, FAQs are, I would say what David mentioned, that should be the output of listening to customers. Understand the questions that they're asking, and having a FAQ document can be the blueprint of the content that you need to create, because you should be writing and developing content that answers the key questions that your prospects are searching to answer. And that will come from your current customers. And to be honest, and FAQ format is also is another very scrappy way to develop a piece of content and does very well. People love FAQs.

Amber Keller: Not to mention the SEO impact.

Tessa Barron: Exactly. Oh, I know. Exactly. That's what I'm saying. We make it so hard on ourselves.

Amber Keller: Right? I mean I think that is really one of the biggest takeaways for me, from this conversation, and just from thinking about this, is that we make it too hard on ourselves. It's okay to be scrappy. It doesn't have to be this big, big production.

Tessa Barron: Yeah.

Tessa Barron: It's good words to keep in mind, as we're all going into 2023 planning, or they're already underway.

David Fortino: Indeed, indeed. I see Ellen's dropping back in.

Ellen Smoley: I'm dropping back in. So let's get to the questions. Thank you also very much for this insight. We have a few questions here. First, Jordan asked, "When engaging your email list, and you have your product in mind, do you sell your product, or do you sell your journey and the results?" Can you all kind of talk through that?

David Fortino: Yeah. On our side, we're not talking about product. There's really two segmentations that are very high level segmentations of our email. One would be prospect oriented, one would be customer, and I suppose there's a third, which are people who are using our self-service tool. And so none of it's really inherently talking about product. There will be messaging around enhancements, but it's always back to the narrative of this whole session, which is solving pain points, and creating content that answers questions that hopefully helps today's B2B marketer to make better decisions tomorrow, specifically as it relates to [inaudible 00:42:41], where we are in the world.

David Fortino: But yeah, I think outright product promotions has very small existence in the world, but it tends to be felt on the opposite side. We all receive those emails. What do you do? You tend to just delete them, because there's nothing to learn there, right? It's either, "I'm going to make a purchase off of that, or not." And so why give your prospect just a binary decision to evaluate?

Tessa Barron: And I mean, I would say it also depends upon where that audience is in their journey. We have a different path for someone who's cold, and really probably has very low awareness for ON24. That content that we're delivering, via email especially, is going to be very different. Often we're just inviting them to spend some time with us in a webinar, because that's a great qualifier, to know if they're actually in market or not. Whereas we leverage Sixth Sense as a intent tool. We also have intent that comes from NetLine and other sources, including our own, and ON24.

Tessa Barron: And so those prospects, that have proven to be in market, they are going to get offered a demo. We are going to push them there, and often that's in tandem with our sales team, and we're really trying to tee up the opportunity for our team to come in with a conversation around solutions, versus the specific products. So we're trying to get them to the table, so that our sales team can have that conversation.

Ellen Smoley: Great. Thank you. Jordan, hopefully that answered your question. Next question we have is, "Dave, give us one more nugget from your 2022 content consumption report."

David Fortino: Oh, boy.

Ellen Smoley: You mentioned the eBooks. What's another top of [inaudible 00:44:41] of content?

David Fortino: Oh, I'm going to drop this in. I didn't expect this question, but I did have this up. So yeah, there's 51 answers to that question.

David Fortino: So we recently just published this. Yeah, I think one thing to think about is there's a metric called the content consumption gap, and this is something again that most people don't realize, but it does get back to personalizing customer experiences. And so that metric is something we coined, and it's just due to where we exist in the world, and that we're looking at a lot of moments where people are registering to gain access to content, and then there's a delay into when and or how long it took for them to actually start viewing it, listening it, reading the content. And so what's happened is most of the world has built sales motions, that assume that there is no delay. Right? That the user registers for your content, unless it's a live webinar, they are ready to go ask for a demo immediately.

David Fortino: That's not true. It typically is getting close to about 30 hours, and in some industries, and by some job functions and job levels, it's actually longer. And so when you know that, then it suddenly changes how you respond to any action that your prospects are taking. Right? So if they're registering for an eBook, having a sales rep immediately pounce on that and saying, "Hey, can we talk? I'm glad you downloaded our eBook." They haven't read it. They have no idea what's even in that asset, and the same thing would apply for every format.

David Fortino: So it's not to say that you can't respond and invite them to perhaps just know who you are, and position yourself as a resource to have a dialogue in a week, but set expectations and really understand what that metric means for you. You can obviously use NetLine's data as a indicator there, and then you can typically find out some of that stuff on your own.

Ellen Smoley: Perfect. Thank you. And everyone check out Dave's blog that he posted in the chat. And Tessa, this last question is for you. So you mentioned sales follow up. Can you give us one or two tactical ways on how to orchestrate working with sales and that alignment?

Tessa Barron: I'm going to use my favorite word again, the brief. So we have a very specific briefing process at ON24, where any program where we want sales follow up, we have a templated sales brief that we prepare, and the brief is held two weeks in advance, at least. And so it includes all the context that they would need to know about what we're doing.

Tessa Barron: To Dave's point, they have to know to be able to continue a conversation. It includes the ways that they can be involved, by promoting it themselves to open doors, and then it includes specific opportunities for follow up and content that they should be delivering, in response to those that engage with the program that we're running. And then we also are very specific about the hand raisers. So we share with sales what is it that we're trying to find from this audience, that would tell them that this person is in market and ready to buy from them?

Tessa Barron: So in a webinar context, we are going to be including a call to action for booking a meeting. We are going to be including a poll question about having a recent failure. That is your trigger to follow up on, with a specific play, and our sales team responds really, really well to that, because now they see us as marketers helping to feed into their deal flow, versus running against it. And the last thing that a salesperson wants is more cold leads to qualify. And so we're here to help them understand who's already qualified, so that they can continue to have that conversation, and that has served us very well in terms of ensuring that the follow up is happening, and it's happening intelligently, and in a way that our customers actually hopefully enjoy.

David Fortino: They do.

Ellen Smoley: Thank you. Yes. Well you guys, thanks so much for this great conversation. Tessa, Dave, Amber. Amber, even though we couldn't see you, we enjoyed it.

David Fortino: Okay.

Ellen Smoley: If y'all enjoyed the conversation, we have two more round tables coming up. Steph is going to post the link to our round tables here. There will be one in November, and one in December, so take a look at those. But thank you again for your time. Thanks for our industry leaders speaking on content. Hope everyone enjoyed it, and have a great rest of your day.

David Fortino: Thanks.

Amber Keller: Thank you.

Tessa Barron: Thanks everybody. Bye-bye.

Amber Keller: Bye.

David Fortino: Bye.