Here’s a question we hear often from corporate marketers:
The answer depends (you knew I was going to say that) on a number of factors. Generally speaking, especially if your marketing ambitions and scope (e.g., portfolio of products and services, diversity of buyer and influencer audiences to be communicated with) are of significant size, the answer is probably yes.
As a starting point, let’s try to simplify the issue.
First, a sure warning sign that you’re going to want to start segmenting your content to some appropriate, audience-centric degree that is right for your organization. Then, a quick “ABCs” model for thinking through at least an initial plan for segmenting content in a relevant way.
You’ll Want to Segment Content When…
Look at the website or microsite that is your primary distribution hub for value-adding content. See if you’ve categorized your content based largely upon the format of the various content assets.
In other words, does your primary navigation scheme feature category headings or tabs such as “Newsletters, White Papers, Videos, Webinars”?
If that’s your main way of organizing content, and maybe even of planning which content to create next, then it’s probably time to starting thinking about segmenting. Here’s why:
Organizing content based on the format in which the content is presented is the equivalent of organizing the shelves of a library under the heading Books. Or providing TV viewers with a schedule that lumps all the shows on a particular night under Programming. Or, maybe the best analogy, inviting shoppers into a grocery store where the signs above the shelves display words such as Bags, Boxes and Bottles.
In other words, it’s a relatively generic and not terribly customer-relevant approach. You’re labeling the content format, but not the content’s value and relevance. Thus, it gives visitors virtually no clue as to which content asset or assets will help them solve the problem or answer the question which brought them to your site in the first place.
Sound overly simple? We said it would be. But it’s a place to start when it comes to developing a segmentation scheme.
And it’s surprising how many content marketers miss this point. Or, who start out thinking they’ll eventually segment content in a more audience-relevant way, but never quite get around to it. The result can be a thicket of content asset types — piles of white papers and a voluminous number of videos. But almost no way, except perhaps a site search function, for users to determine which content assets might be most useful at the moment they come searching.
Let’s say you need to organize a jungle of content assets in a more audience-centric way. Or, better yet, want to start out your content marketing effort so you avoid growing a dense thicket of content asset types. It’s likely you’ll want to segment your content by one of the following:
Who are the audiences you need to attract and engage? Maybe it’s both the CFO and the human resources director. Or the CEO and a purchasing decision-maker. Those specific job titles or audience “personas” are a great place to start in deciding how best to organize your content so each member of your audience can find content likely to be relevant to his or her concerns.
What type of businesses or organizations does your company serve best? Are your primary “verticals” health care, education and manufacturing? That’s a great place to begin a segmentation strategy. And then, within that vertical segmentation, you might even categorize content by audience. Now you’re truly helping the user find the content that’s most relevant to them and their business.
What are the major needs, pain points or business issues your products or services solve? Let’s call them “challenges.” Sometimes this is the easiest segmentation approach of all, especially if the challenges tend to be universal across business verticals.
Can you create and organize content in a way that speaks to decision makers at various stages in their consideration and buying process? Often the B2B sales cycle is long enough that it breaks down into major stages. You’ll know you’re fairly sophisticated (and being helpful to your users) if you create and organize content by audience, business and buying stage. When you have not just a white paper or a video, but content assets designed to inform a hospital system CFO at the early stages of considering a new patient admissions software system.
What do you think? Is segmenting content important to your business? Have you found some particularly effective ways to plan and organize content that you’d like to share? Comments welcome.
This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.
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