Content Marketing
Exploring IT Audiences: Real-time, Custom Content Consumption Insights

Exploring IT Audiences: Real-time, Custom Content Consumption Insights

September 12, 2019
6 min read

Leveraging data to give your content marketing strategy a competitive edge is gaining attention in the B2B marketing world. While analyzing real-world data points is becoming a must-do, it’s challenging to find the right information or tools to gain meaningful insights.

One of the tools I have been using is Audience Explorer from NetLine, which provides some pretty cool interactive, no-cost, real-time, custom content consumption data on various audiences. Designed to democratize access to high-level activities associated to buyer content consumption occurring across the NetLine network on a real-time basis, this tool opens up the vault to first-party data.

NetLine possesses one of the largest repositories of content consumption insights. They process hundreds of thousands of leads on an industry-agnostic platform each month.

If you read their 2019 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report or dug into my highlights, I think you will see just some ideas on how this data can be valuable to giving you customized results that pertain to your exact audience.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Job function, job level, industry, and area are all important attributes to build a target persona.
  • Data can help you identify which segment of your audience is receptive to your content.
  • You need to get the frequency and format of your content right, so that it resonates with your audience.

Introducing a brief series of articles, I’ll be divulging some best practices to drill down on data points and get the most out of this tool to build or optimize your marketing strategy. First up, let’s dig into the IT audience.

Breaking into the Report

The entrance to this tool starts with choosing a job area, and for good reason; it promotes the habit of digging into your target persona. When it comes to content-centric lead generation, you’re not targeting hundreds of people in a particular industry — you are targeting a specific persona that is most likely to engage with your brand through your content.

Regardless of the chosen job area, two methods emerge as the most viable strategies for absorbing actionable insights. Deciding which way to move forward depends on your answer to this question: Do you have a defined target persona or are you still in the midst of creating one?

Targeting Strategy with Target Personas

If you do have a target persona within IT, taking advantage of the options to filter by Job Function, Job Level, Employee Size, Industry, and Region allows the opportunity to have specific audience insights. For example, here are our selected filters:

  • Job Area: IT/Computers/Electronics
  • Job Function: All
  • Job Level: Senior Employee and above
  • Employee Size: 250 and above
  • Industry: Computers and Technology, Construction, Healthcare & Medical, Manufacturing
  • Region: US, UK, Western Europe

Now, the fun begins.

With interactive pie charts, there are endless ways to slice and dice data to gather fresh knowledge on what and where your ideal clients are consuming content. With this example, we see the Manager Job Level holds the highest percentage of this group at 31%. Digging deeper, if we click on the specific job level, it impacts the rest of the graphs, giving custom insights for this particular job level.

This allows us to determine which job function pertains to our target personas and we can start to build our content plans around this.

We now understand the professionals at the Manager level largely serve the Job Function of IT Systems Management. The data also reveals larger companies are the most active, with 10,000 – 19,999 employee size at 18.7% and 50,000+ at 18.5%. If targeting enterprise companies isn’t your goal, the pie chart shows smaller companies aren’t too far behind those stats. Also, keep in mind our selected filters don’t include SMB, but lightly touch on mid-market.

This can be replicated with any of the filters – employee size, industry, job function – and the more you click around, the more you can understand different segments of your audience. If you have multiple target personas, you can repeat the process to understand each segment of your ideal buyers.

Targeting Strategy without a Target Persona

If you do not have a target persona, you can still investigate consumption data without filters. Based on the IT job area alone, you can allow real-time behavior to help narrow down your target persona. Understanding the overall audience in a designated job area will come from dissecting the pie charts, which will then dictate the best approach to refining the filters.

This alone allows you to see the demographic make-up of your target audience and can provide insights into your content strategy.

Giving a unique look at the entire IT audience, the pie charts provide the perfect canvas for dissecting different buyers to help nail down your ideal persona. If Company Industry piques your interest, click one of them to bring insights about that particular industry.

For this example, let’s use the Finance Industry, which makes up 8.2% of the total audience, as a point of interest.

Once we click on Finance, the data appropriately shifts to guide your research. The custom insights show in this particular Job Area and Company Industry, the most active professionals have the job function of IT Systems Management, are Managers, and are from company employee sizes 10,000 – 19,999.

Having a blank slate, the data directs you to understand which segment of the IT audience is ready for your content. For starters, marketers often target the C-Suite only, but understanding that Managers are consuming content related to your brand objectives more than other Job Levels is a necessary reminder to tap into the buying committee.

The charts also inform us Senior Employees aren’t far behind, totaling 15.9% of the Job Levels actively researching. Building a targeting strategy around this promotes a content strategy that speaks directly to your most active and engaged audience.

Job Function and Company Employee Size also hold golden nuggets of insight, specifically if you do or do not have wiggle room around targeting either SMB or enterprise-level companies. If anything, this tool thrives with an open mind to discover strategy building blocks for hyper targeted campaigns. Making it easier to create content that speaks directly to those most interested in consuming it, this data can streamline your marketing efforts.

Questions that help you identify your target persona:

  • Do you specifically target SMB, mid-market or enterprise?
    • (If unsure) What is the size of your company?
  • What is the ideal job role/job title of your ideal client? How much buying authority is required to gain entry into the sales cycle? Keep in mind the realistic perspective of how many individuals are usually involved in making buying decisions at larger organizations.
  • What are your buyers’ top pain points?
  • What is important to them when selecting a vendor?
  • Is your product/solution industry-specific? Or does it span industries?
  • What kind of content are you planning to utilize and are your personas aligned with the funnel?

Content Strategy

Although the targeting strategy depends on your development of personas, the best practices for each method can apply to any company. While the charts lend a helping hand with your content strategy, the other features of this report steal the spotlight. The following features dynamically update depending on how you refine your filters to ensure specific, custom insights. For now, let’s move forward without any filters for a holistic dive.

The conjunction of Top 10 Trending Topics and Buyer Research Stream provide an inside look into the needs and challenges of your audience segment. Analyzing the trending topics from the largest pool of content consumption insights available on the web enables you to craft messages appropriate for your audience that are most likely to resonate.

In this example, identifying “Intrusion Detection Systems” as the top trending IT topic gives you the power to cater to your audience with a topic that proves significant. The following two topics relate to Data Centers, giving additional insight into how your content can not only be relevant in the market today, but also deliver the most value.

Knowing the real-time trending topics can help you adjust your editorial calendar to create content that is relevant and will resonate with your audience?

Arguably one of the most interesting features this report offers is Buyer Research Stream. This hones in on the types and topics of content that specific job levels from specific companies are actively engaging with. Using this section, you uncover real engagements from real people. One example we see is a Senior Management/Senior VP from Bank of America Corp who had recently registered for an eGuide about Anti-Hacking. That’s an ABM marketers’ secret weapon and can help generate a persona if you like what you see.

We just ran through that quickly, so let’s break down the information gathered from this one section:

  • Job Level
  • Company
  • Content topic
  • Content format

This uncovers a couple layers to aid in developing a targeted content strategy.

  • The curtain is pulled back to give you knowledge into a piece of content a professional just downloaded.
  • Job level + content title gives a unique look into what’s really resonating with decision makers and the buying committee.
  • Company detail sheds a light on who is currently in-market.

Moving to the next section, the Most Active In-Market Companies isolates top organizations who are engaging the most with content. We can observe AT&T Inc. is the top organization that has generated the most content consumption engagement in our targeted audience, which demonstrates a strong sign of intent. If ABM is part of your strategy, taking these ten Most Active In-Market Companies into account when building your targeted company list helps you meet your hungriest IT audience.

This can allow you to target accounts in your ABM strategy, nurture prospect contacts from those companies, even implement re-targeting strategies with your paid investments.

Giving your content strategy another boost, the top two most consumed content formats for this audience are White Papers and eBooks. Planning and structuring your content in an asset type that proves to be most appetizing brings another competitive edge to your strategy.

Custom Insights Ready for Immediate Use

Whether the interest is to revamp your entire IT targeting and content strategy, or you have the desire to optimize either one of the two, access to first-party data-backed insights makes your marketing strategy work smarter. In the content-battlefield for people’s attention, leveraging real-time consumption data helps build an informed strategy to maximize engagement.

Audience Explorer is yours for the taking! An extragalactic amount of real-time data is ready to be viewed right here. Your IT buyers are waiting.

NetLine is using the hashtag #ImaDataMarketer to gain feedback on their reports if you want to message them directly!

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.