I remember the day my employer first launched email. It was the early 1990s, the web was in its infancy, and email was the next big thing. As we excitedly sent test emails to our peers across the company, we could feel it—the future was happening. Sounds ridiculous by today’s standard of continuous innovation, but if you experienced the early days of business technology, you understand the generational divide that exists in our world today.
If you’re marketing a company, product or service using content, it’s critically important to pay close attention to how the technology experience across generations is impacting—and will continue to impact—your content marketing efforts.
The Internet: Before and After
There are currently four generations of B2B buyers in the workforce who can also be classified into three categories by their experience with the Internet:
- Pre-Internet: generations born before 1964
- Emerging Internet: younger Baby Boomers, Gen X, and older Millennials
- Immersive Internet: those born after 2001
A significant divide exists between pre-Internet and post-Internet generations, and while it doesn’t mean pre-Internet buyers aren’t consuming digital content, it does mean they have distinct preferences for the type of content they like to consume. Incorporating this knowledge into your content marketing strategy is critical as buyers are aging and a new generation of digitally savvy, research-first IT decision-makers quickly become your customers. In fact, 73% of Millennials are involved in B2B product or service decisions with their companies.1
Content Preferences by Generation
According to HubSpot research, younger generations including Millennials, Gen Y and Gen Z want short-form, visual, and video content. This generation also wants less email, looks to social media for information, and is drawn to personalized experiences based on the information they have made publicly available on the web. If your buyers are in these generations, you need to build a strong social media presence and promote content with images and video for maximum impact. You also want to consider text and chatbots to engage this audience with quick, short messages that let them interact in a question and answer format. Additionally, if you’re already focused on decision-makers in the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations, you want to take steps to adapt your content strategy to this new generation of buyers as they age: in 2020, the oldest Millennials will turn 40 years-old.
For older generations, content preferences focus more on research reports and news stories, and these buyers will invest time to read long-form content. While their interest in social media and visual content is lower than younger generations, they do like and want more video content. So if your buyers are over 40 years-old, include longer articles and papers, storytelling, and third-party research into your content marketing mix. You also need to increase your video library assets if you’re not already producing consistent video content. And unlike younger generations, this group isn’t opposed to receiving your email.
In addition to the universal appeal of video, podcasts are another well-liked content option. In 2018, the number of podcast listeners in the United States reached 75 million, and the number of monthly listeners is predicted to hit 164 million in the year 2024, with the compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2023 pegged at 17 percent.
Building Content for Multiple Generations
Most technology companies are selling across generations and targeting decision-makers, influencers, and users that span a broad age range. Adopting a strategy to create more content for different buyer preferences seems daunting, but you can make it more manageable by starting with a one-to-many approach — essentially one topic that’s delivered many ways for your audiences, channels, and different types of learners. Depending on the volume of content you’re looking to create, you can do one topic per month and generate a sizable amount of supporting content.
When you use this approach you can generate up to 10 pieces of content in six different formats on a single topic. There are many ways to go at this depending on your buyers, their content preferences, and your content marketing goals. By starting with the long-form content piece you reduce the writing requirement with each iteration. Building multiple pieces of content around a single topic also increases the likelihood of knowledge transfer and retention through message consistency across a variety of delivery methods.
Not Sure Where to Begin?
Start by understanding your buyers and look to understand content gaps that may exist. Knowing who your buyers are and the content formats they prefer, begin building relevant content to fill the gaps. Test and measure this effort to determine the impact new content formats have on your audience engagement, conversion rates, and marketing-qualified lead numbers – ultimately watching to see the impact on sales pipeline and revenue. Need some help? As a multi-award winning content agency, we have your back. Let’s set up a time to talk.
1 Sirius Decisions Command Center 2019