Data, storytelling and design, the recipe for audience engagement

The audiences we’re trying to engage are most of the times characterized by lacking time, having a short attention span, being constantly bombarded with information asking for their attention. Still, what matters to them, and how can we engage them with our content and campaigns to win their trust and loyalty? Let’s dive deeper into the critical roles data, storytelling, and compelling design play in this arena.

B2B audiences profiling

When we say a company talks to another company, “business to business” or B2B, in the end, it’s still people to people talking. Let’s understand first how this audience looks like, as we want to target these people to influence and get on our side.

They’re senior and usually have a big say in making business decisions. They’re busy and inundated with rightful claims of their attention. Still, this audience has a few traits that we can work with to influence. They’re very curious for compelling insights and actionable solutions. They are actively searching for new ways that are data-driven and backed-up and that they can take onboard. Their attention goes towards essential things that give them a competitive advantage in today’s fast-changing market.

As long as a brand serves them insights and thought leadership content that is data-driven, credible, and solution-oriented, in a digestible and attractive way, senior audiences will engage with it. Once it manages to build trust through consistently delivering on these promises, it’ll have a loyal audience that will look up that particular business when needing the solutions they’re offering.

According to a recent study made by Longitude, around “Learning from Leaders,” B2B senior audience will be more likely to engage with a brand’s content rather than traditional media as they offer more credibility when seeking actionable insights and impartial advice. It, therefore, leaves room for an enormous opportunity for companies to put in the effort to have a consistent strategy around tackling thought leadership, content marketing, and their lead generation campaigns.

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How to engage, inform and influence B2B audiences

According to the study mentioned above, business leaders look for a good, credible content, told compellingly, for them to pay attention and act on it. Data support the facts and offers trust; the story around it catches the attention and provides the needed insight, while a good design makes it all easier to digest and remember. The reasons why B2B senior audiences will disengage with content and fail to take action based on it are related to weak supporting research, uninspiring visual execution, or a boring read.

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Data, storytelling, and design used right, make the ingredients that build trust, grow the relevant audience for your thought leadership pieces, and put in place the right wheel to get your business growing. Let’s take a look at how each of these three ingredients can contribute to this strategy to be efficient and deliver the desired outcomes.

Data

We use nowadays more and more data to base our decisions on. Moreover, it’s easy to get why a decision-making audience is looking for credible research and data interpretation when reading something to influence their next move or change in the organization they’re leading.

Therefore, to hook and influence the B2B audience you care for through your content and strategy, you need to build your data exceptionally well into your story. Think how the information you provide can make a difference, in a way that it offers a solution to a knowledge gap. Maybe two points of interest for your audience are not connected, and you can provide the data to build a bridge between them. There are various social listening and analytics tools you can use to find out about the “hot topics,” monitor what your audience talks about and use that insight to research, collect and offer relevant data.

We’ll talk more during the design part, but putting the data into an easy to digest and interactive format will contribute not just to hooking the audience’s attention, but keeping it for longer and turning them into a repetitive one.

Storytelling

As compelling and exciting your data can be, it is the story that brings the “so what” into the mix that brings your audience to you. The most efficient tale is one that translates data in a format that is easy to resonate with by the audience, is well-structured, combines insights with relevant examples, talks about benefits and breaks into coherent parts even the most complex topics. These make a pretty good checklist when thinking about your storytelling strategy for thought leadership, content marketing, or your campaigns.

To add to it a few pieces of advice, make sure you can pitch the story in one line, that way you are going to be sure you know what you are talking about. Moreover, what the audience will get out of it. Word count doesn’t matter, as long as the idea is the relevant one, making the difference. So make your content browsable, non-linear, and easy to read by its pieces, as some of them can trigger specific interest. This way it will also be easier to use it in on-pagers, landing pages or other forms of content syndication you might need.

Design

The majority of the excellent content and data out there lack this ingredient. Most content pieces are dull and plain boring, hard to follow, and triggering anything but curiosity. It goes for most of the corporate materials companies have today, and we won’t be talking here about the lost opportunities attributed to the weak interest generated by such materials. Design, in the end, represent the visual storytelling of data and words, and it’s the way to make your audience understand, absorb, and comprehend the information you are sharing.

To make sure your design stands out and gets the desired results, make the data you’re sharing look good. Take the next level up from boring bar charts and some meaningful icons. Be bold, sleek, easy to get in one second. Choose the elegant option, choose simple, choose that data that matters and fits the content the right way.

Research also shows business leaders and B2B audience consume content into a variety of formats, from case studies and one-pagers to podcasts and videos, but still, long forms such as whitepapers or eBooks are preferred by the ones curious about details and getting the full story.

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The diagram above sums it all up, the recipe for getting to your B2B leaders audience through content. While it might look simple, in reality, it is not very widely implemented. Most content producers miss on one or two of these elements, obviously resulting in a less than ideal experience for both the reader as well as the company expecting the return on investment.

Impressing an audience that is busy and hard to catch and keep is not easy, I get it, but if you are to put in the work to do it, why not maybe doubling it and making sure you’re getting somewhere? Data alone with poor storytelling and no design or a brilliant story that has no coherent research to back it up are for sure recipes for failure. Investing in doing it right will position your company as a trusted source, and in time the element of trust will attract more people to buy your products and services and the effort will pay off big time.

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