How to Optimize Content Successfully for the B2B Buying Journey with Heike Neumann, VP of Marketing at Oracle, Global Advertising & CX
Speaker 1: Welcome to Page One Or Bust, your ultimate guide to getting on page one of search engines. In this episode, we're talking to a marketing, computing and technology expert with more than 20 years of experience. Haika Newman is the Vice President of Marketing at Oracle CX Marketing and reveals insights you do not want to miss about creating content for every step of the buyer's journey. But before we get into it, here's a brief word from today's sponsor. Page One Or Bust is brought to you by DemandJump. Get insights, drive outcomes with DemandJump. Get started creating content that ranks at DemandJump. com today. Now, here are your co- hosts, Christopher Day and Ryan Brock.
Christopher Day: Hello and welcome back to Page One Or Bust. This is your co- host, Christopher Day, and as always, joined by Ryan Brock, the Chief Content Officer here at DemandJump. How's it going today, Ryan?
Ryan Brock: Yo, it's a beautiful day.
Christopher Day: It is. It's amazing. The grass is getting cut right outside the window as we speak. I'm pretty sure that noise is not coming through, so let's let it rip. Today, we're going to be taking a deep dive with our special guest into how to create content for every stage of the buyer's journey. This is a major topic on marketers' minds today, and how to tailor content for different audiences. Haika, tell us about your journey to becoming the VP of Marketing at Oracle to kick it off.
Haika Newman: Yeah, thank you for having me. My journey to VP of Marketing at Oracle was a long one. I joined Oracle in 2012 through an acquisition, and at that time I still had been back in Germany and was leading regional marketing there for a set of countries. In 2015, I moved to the US for a very specific job within Oracle, to scale globalization efforts and go into the market in 21 emerging countries in one year. And that has brought me over here. From there I got a team and I moved up and here I am VP of Marketing today.
Christopher Day: So when did SEO first come on your radar as a marketer?
Haika Newman: Basically in all those globalization efforts, once we started to create a scalable plan, how we can simultaneously enter 21 new countries? The question of A, which languages are accepted in which country? And B, what does the SEO need to do where basically come in hand in hand? Yes, we have our company website, but then we also needed to make sure that if we localize any pages on web, that we are grabbing SEO with that too. And that was the first time it really came onto my radar.
Ryan Brock: Interesting. So you had sort of, I would think, a marketer's worst nightmare in some ways. Not only did you have to optimize for SEO on one page, but you had to do it on... Well, how many... I mean, were you localizing for each one of those countries or each one of the languages spoken across those countries? What was that process like?
Haika Newman: We did an analysis of where English is an acceptable business language, and all of these countries, to start off, we didn't localize. Either you have English as a secondary government language, and then it is an acceptable business language or you have countries where English is just very common, due to education in school and people are good with speaking English. So we put those countries with languages on the back burner. And then we looked into where do we have big clusters of language where we can localize? So we have, for example, Spanish, you have all of Latin South America, and you have Europe. And so we ended up localizing into seven languages, and that's where we also looked into SEO.
Ryan Brock: Yeah, and I mean, it's not a matter of simply translating your SEO- optimized English content, right? Because the idioms, the way people speak, the way they ask questions are going to be completely different from country to country language.
Haika Newman: Yes. And then there's also another phenomenon if you're selling marketing software and English is a very common language between marketers. Even when I still was in Germany, I was speaking in my professional day, a mix of German and English. There are sometimes not even translations for some marketing terms because nobody is putting in the effort to translate it to anything.
Ryan Brock: So true.
Haika Newman: And if you would go and translate it, you would come off as, " Oh, they translated this, but they don't really have an idea what they're doing." And that is where SEO becomes really tricky.
Ryan Brock: Can I ask one last question before we move on? Just because I have to know as a language fan. Haika, is there a word for SEO or search engine optimization in German? Or do you just use search engine optimization?
Haika Newman: You use search engine optimization. If you're looking into scholar texts, it will be foreign language.
Ryan Brock: And is that one word?
Haika Newman: It is one word.
Ryan Brock: Yes. Okay. I just like... It's so German.
Haika Newman: A very long word.
Ryan Brock: Beautiful. Okay. I was hoping that would be the case. I just wanted to know for sure.
Christopher Day: Oh, love it. All right, so let's head into a deep dive around content for the buyer's journey. There are so many different studies out there. I think McKenzie had a study that showed 70% of all the research and evaluation in the B2B world now happens digitally, right before people make a decision and they say a decision is made in the last 10% of the buyer's journey. And so I guess you know what that all deduces down to is if we're not present along that journey, it's going to be really hard to win that last 10% of the decision phase. So how are you thinking about content marketing during the first 90%?
Haika Newman: I'm thinking about it in a sense of there are so many people involved in the buying process. If somebody is really thinking that there's one person they need to talk to and this is how it's going in a B2B buying process, they're in for rough awakening. With all of these different people involved in the buying process, either they are the decision maker or they're influencing the buying process in one way or the other, or they are actually the initiator of the buying process because they have a very specific business problem which they are bringing to the knowledge of people who need to make the decision about buying something. All of these people have very different information needs and then bringing on top of it all the different stages of this buying journey. And you never know who is coming in and out at what level. It makes it basically very complex. And then on the other side, not so complex to really get the right content out because what it comes down for me is you need to know what your product is solving for. What is the challenge it's helping to solve? Who are the players who are using it and facing this challenge day to day? How does it fit in the larger company strategy? Because now we are talking about the people who are actually signing the contract and who might all be involved. So if we're talking technology, there's certainly... If you're thinking for example, marketing technology, there's certainly at one point the IT department is going to be involved no matter what. Are they the final decision maker? Often yes, often not. But they are definitely involved in the whole buying process. So you need to find content to fit the needs of all these people along this buying process.
Ryan Brock: Right. Because you talked about what is the problem that you're solving, but that problem is going to express itself as a variety of pains depending on your role. You might actually be solving maybe 20 different problems with one product, but by solving four people's problems over here, you're actually creating problems for IT over here and they're not happy about it. It's making me think about historically how close we get to the finish line. Maybe like six, seven years ago with a customer developing content that solved the problem for someone and then at the last minute someone goes, " Well, we're trying to reach the C- suite and this is really for a manager level, so how do we add in some C- suite language to this blog?" And me having to argue that adding in C- suite language to a blog designed to answer questions for a middle manager made no sense whatsoever. It's hard to capture all that, especially when you think you can do it with one article that's going to solve all those pains and answer all those questions all at once.
Haika Newman: Exactly. On top of that is also all these people have not only different content needs or information needs, they also have different content consumption behavior. And that is where it becomes really tricky. Gartner has a great study about the marketing fuel buyer enablement, and I do really love this buyer enablement because the buyer is actually the one who is making the decision. And so we need to enable them the best as possible that they are able to make that decision. Gartner brings it down to literally six buying jobs you have: it's problem identification, the solution exploration requirements, and building supplier selection. But what's super important is underlying across all of these is validation and most important consensus creation. And if you push the consensus creation out when you have literally the contract on the table, that might go sideways really quickly. So it's better to have consensus creation baked into the entire buying process so that you're not running against the wall.
Christopher Day: That's spot on because I think Gartner talks about there are roughly 10 different people involved in the buying process, all of which bring at least five pieces of information or viewpoints to a buying decision process. And so gaining consensus across all of those unique positions, people, personalities, experiences, backgrounds, needs, desires, solution, and then pile on top of that, all of the information they've gathered, consensus can become a challenge if you're trying to do that at the 11th hour.
Ryan Brock: And I think that we're talking specifically about B2B buying here, but I think there are similar complexities in consumer buying as well because you want to solve for... If I'm talking about selling shoes. Yeah, we need shoes, but we don't need that$ 150 pair of sneakers that are limited. So the reason someone might have for purchasing that$ 150 limited drop pair of sneakers, there's a wide variety of them. And when you try to assume that they're all for the same reason that everyone is doing things and making decisions from the same perspective, if you're going to focus your marketing only on that one assumption, you're going to fail.
Haika Newman: I also often make the distinction not between B2C and B2B marketing, but a considered purchase versus an ad hoc purchase. Because you are also in the B2C world, you can have a very considered purchase. Rarely, it happened to me in my life that I just passed by a car dealership said, " Yeah, $ 50,000 car, just put a bow on it, take it." It is considered purchase. There might be another person in this decision- making process, aka my husband. So we would talk about that and we might have different arguments. He would look at total different content than I would. He is interested in the details on the rims and the so on, so forth. I'm interested in does it have enough room in the back that I can't push my bike in it. So it's different points and if you break it down to a simple family situation and now you take that up tenfold. There you go.
Ryan Brock: And solving for that might be real easy if you can... And we don't want this for the record, most buyers. If you could just talk to human being and say, " These are our considerations. I care about this. My husband cares about this. Let's find the right car that matches all of that, but we want to do this online." So that's the challenge. We're talking about brands having to find a way to capture that kind of context, but in a choose your own adventure- style digital experience, which is really challenging.
Haika Newman: Right. And then with the complexity, we talked before that you have up to 10 people in these buying decisions and you do not exactly know who they are when they're coming in and out and what their content consumption behavior is. What leads to that is that there's more and more search involved in that. Somebody might come into a buying process like three months down the road when it already started. It's getting new into it, starts their own search, or they come in the flow of information to a particular thing they want to research. Most of the people go to Google and just hammer it in. And that is actually where SEO comes into play. And I think in my opinion, with those particular B2B buying journeys, long- tail search is something which is very important.
Christopher Day: Yeah, let's unpack that one a little bit. Literally, you led right into where I wanted to go next. And so what we find amazing, and we've talked about this in the past as well, Haika, but what we find amazing is if we think about the evolution of the internet, we are all trying to figure out how to use it for the first five years or plus or minus. And then this concept of keywords came along. And then now fast- forward to where we are today with all of the smart devices and the computing power and all the different players that are involved in digital marketing, digital advertising, et cetera. We have gotten to a place where there's no difference between the real world and digital. So if you and I saw each other on this street and we engage in the conversation about a hobby or about business, whatever it might be, we don't speak to each other in keywords, right?
Haika Newman: No.
Christopher Day: We actually communicate. We communicate with one another in sentences and long- tail scenarios, right?
Ryan Brock: Questions.
Christopher Day: We ask questions, right? Yeah, exactly. We ask questions and those get answers and those lead to other questions. And it's just a big spider web of things that we are exchanging in real- time. And so how do you think about that? How has your thought process and strategy changed over the years from keywords to now? Well, digitally we should also be thinking about those long- tail versions, the questions, which get much more complex in how we relate and enable that buyer to find us along that journey.
Ryan Brock: And not to be too remedial for our audience, but especially for those who are new to SEO, when we say long- tail, we just mean a lot of words versus short- tail is just a one or two- word keyword search, but a long- tail is a complete thought. It's a sentence. It's five, six, seven, eight, nine words. So there's a big difference in that gap.
Haika Newman: Yeah. Right. And that is basically when I'm thinking about content and how would this long- tail search look like is actually what is the question I need to answer? And that also comes back to what is the pain point. What are we trying to solve? Actually, it is not too tricky. I find it more tricky to really go for keywords than to a full- blown question. We are doing research with our audience groups and also trying to find out is how are they searching. Where are they consuming their content? What are they looking for? And really tailor it to those audiences and it's very different. So for the customer experience world, which is advertising, marketing software, service software, sales software, a service person will look for total different kinds of content than a marketer does look. It also has to do with who are the generations who are making decisions nowadays and their content consumption behavior. So we really need to meet our audiences where they are and accept that they are acting all totally different.
Ryan Brock: It presents an opportunity, especially for the creatives in marketing, to think about how am I actually going to meet that audience where they are. When you give me a short- tail keyword marketing software to write about, there are a million different ways I approach that. I could talk about dozens of different topics. I can answer all sorts of different questions, but if you tell me, " Answer this question: How do I find the right marketing software for my mid- size business that's growing fast?" That is such a specific thing. I know exactly who I'm dealing with when I create that content. And so of course, there's going to be less competition. We're going to be able to rank higher. And part of why it's so easy to rank higher for it is because we know exactly who we're talking to and we can ignore everybody else.
Haika Newman: And this is also the thing, keywords versus long- tail is you need to give the answers to the people you want to talk to and not through the masses.
Christopher Day: Which too... Let's change it from traffic and which leads to traffic alone can lead to vanity metrics and then piquing that from just general traffic and zeroing it into qualified traffic. What is that ICP that I'm going after with whatever I'm selling, right? The more granular I understand that buyer and the more directly I connect to them, the higher quality my leads are going to be.
Haika Newman: Marketing, B2B marketing especially, talks all about personalization. When we're thinking about personalization, we're thinking about the personalization of landing pages of webpages of emails, and so on and so forth. If you are answering a question and you are writing for long- tail search, you already start personalization right there because you meet your potential buyer with what they're looking for.
Ryan Brock: Oh, yeah. I mean, I don't know about you, but I do feel like I tend to search for questions in Google more than I search keyword phrases. Sometimes if I want to get a software transcription service, I'm going to search for that, but a lot of times if I'm trying to learn something, I'm going to ask a question. And it's amazing how there was this period of time when Yahoo answers existed and was the thing, and if someone happened to have asked a question there and got answered, and it's the same as your question, you might find someone who can actually answer your exact question. But it's a rare thing to ask a really long- tail question on Google and actually find that somebody has asked the exact same question. So how great an experience would it be if we can understand our audiences to the point where we can think about every time they ask a question, we've got a piece of content ready to go for them that's more personalized than putting their name on a piece of content.
Haika Newman: Absolutely. And isn't it also rewarding and sometimes funny if you are typing in a really what you think is a stupid question into Google, and then the list comes up and you see, " Oh, somebody else asked that too." So I'm not the only one, isn't that kind rewarding?
Ryan Brock: I'm not alone. I'm seeing...
Haika Newman: I'm not alone.
Christopher Day: That really validates the old adage, what is it the only stupid question is the one that's not asked, right? Because if you're thinking it, a million people are thinking it, right?
Haika Newman: I find that sometimes very rewarding if I'm starting a question, what is and enter whatever, Oh, somebody else is looking for that too. So I'm not the only person who doesn't know what that is.
Christopher Day: An example, I love to give of that all the time because we will here sometimes from marketers, " Well, the persona I'm going after don't ask that question." And I always like to think about, well, so here I am leading DemandJump. It's a high-growth SaaS company, and there are KPI metrics in SaaS that you report on to your investors, to your board, et cetera. I frequently, at least once a quarter, Google what are the best SaaS KPI metrics? And people would say, " Well, I'm not Google that because he already knows all that." Well, I'm always relearning, I'm always looking. What else is out there? Are there shifts? And so we're all human at the end of the day and everybody asks many questions or thinks many questions that come out of their brain, down their arms, through their fingertips onto a keyboard that when you have a way of looking at that data and analyzing it in a more macro level, it's pretty surprising what you find that people are actually looking for.
Haika Newman: Yeah, exactly. And I think there's nothing wrong with it. You also have the chance to test a lot, right?
Christopher Day: Yes.
Haika Newman: Because you can write to answer a certain question, but whatever your content is, and depending how long it is, it might answer five other questions. So you can test all of this against it without basically reinventing what you've just done over and over.
Ryan Brock: Yeah, I mean, that's why we've committed so strongly to the concept of pillar- based marketing. The idea that at its core, any topic you want to rank on page one for is not in and of itself a keyword. It is a network of search behavior. Some of those long- tail questions in that network are going to drive the kind of traffic that gives you leads and increases all of your metrics down funnel. Some of them won't, but by being there for all of them, your aggregate ability to drive better qualified traffic is going to increase, and that's going to make a world of difference for your business. And you're not going to spend time guessing at what is the question TOF would ask. It's so easy to just assume that TOF wouldn't ask that question. And I was actually... When you were leading with that story, TOF, I was locked in ready to drop your lipstick example that you like to use so often. What is the question? The number one search question around lipstick?
Christopher Day: Yep. What does lipstick stand for? The number one most powerful question in the world as it's related to all the words in the network around lipstick is what does lipstick stand for?
Ryan Brock: I guarantee you there's not a single marketer in the world who would guess correctly. That is the most important question, answer if you want to really own that topic, network.
Haika Newman: That is interesting.
Christopher Day: Isn't that wild?
Ryan Brock: So we have to pay attention to the data.
Christopher Day: Yeah. When we look at that data, not one manufacturer... And these are sophisticated companies, right? Revlon and Maybelline. I don't wear lipsticks, so I don't know who they all are, but I mean, they're really large, sophisticated companies and there's no way a human is ever going to know, " Okay, my strategy. I'm going to lead with what does lipstick stand for?" Nobody is answering that question and it gets the most searches of anything.
Haika Newman: So now I'm curious, what does it stand for?
Christopher Day: Well, that's when you click a button on our platform and it says.
Ryan Brock: But that's a good question, Haika, because I think as a creative, that sounds like a really awesome blog post to write. You can go so many different ways with that, but talking about its role in society and what it means, and so I think that's another interesting point to make here in this conversation, which I'm loving by the way, is that just because we're thinking about these really nitty- gritty long- tail questions doesn't mean we're talking about writing for search engines or being keyword spammy. These are actually liberating kinds of questions to be answering because you never know when you're going to come across a question you would never in a million years think that someone wanted you to answer. But then when you take the time, it's a really enlightening question that's going to help a lot of people. That's awesome.
Christopher Day: Yep. Yeah. What does lipstick stand for? I mean, that leads down all the way back to medieval times or royalty and weddings, and it gets into all these really fun, intriguing topics. And colors. And then it even goes farther down the chain; goes into matte and gloss and all those kinds of other fun things.
Ryan Brock: And if I'm a CEO and my marketer comes to me and says, " We're going to write this article and we're going to do a campaign around this." I'm going to be like, " That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." If I don't have the data to prove it, I'm going to say that is the biggest waste of money I've ever heard.
Christopher Day: Yeah. That's exactly right. I love it. So how do you think about organizing your team, or as you step back and organize and think about strategy as you're going to go various solutions that you provide to the marketplace? You start with kind of a blank canvas. And you mentioned Gartner earlier and talking about the buyer enablement journey. How do you kind of high level, do you break it down to big steps and how do you attack that with your team?
Haika Newman: So we've started to build out for this framework already, and it started basically with an analysis of what do we have already? It's not that we are telling brand new stories, which nobody had ever heard of, but really evaluating what do we have and align it with the research we've done on our audiences to see how good are we covered? And then can we use it as is? Do we need to rework it? Do we need to scrap it and do it over? And then where are the major gaps? And of course, this is a massive undertaking. It is literally for us laying out breadcrumb trail on the internet for people to find us.
Christopher Day: I love that analogy.
Ryan Brock: Any one pillar topic network, we look at... In the DemandJump platform, we might look at... There might be 4, 000 keywords and questions being asked in that network. So imagine trying to get coverage on all that. It's a lot.
Haika Newman: Right. So we are trying to find the major ones first. And that's what I also convey to my team is this is not we lock ourselves into a room for 48 hours in coming out and we're done. This is an organism; it's consistently morphine and growing. We just need to keep an eye on what is the end game here so that we are consistently working towards this goal to literally deliver the content to all involved people in the buying cycle if they are known to us or not. Some people in the buying cycle will stay forever unknown. We will never get them in a nurturer, but they still are involved in the process. So really creating this content piece by piece, and then also, especially when it comes to the later stages of the buying cycle, arming our sales people with content they can use in order to help. Because after that buying journey, when 90% through on the internet, at one point they will talk to somebody and there might be still content needs there. So that is the way the team is working is really starting with what we have and then identify, does it still fit as is? Do we need to adapt it? Do we need to redo it? And where are complete white spaces? And then we really need to identify how we are producing this content. Is this something we should do in- house? Is this something we should do with a partner? Are they probably thought leaders we should work with who have something to say about this? And so, as I said, it's an organism. It's consistently morphing and in movement.
Christopher Day: That's spot on and I love it. I think in the Gartner report I was looking at, they talked a little bit about those steps as like step one, job, step two, intent, step three, form, step four design. And it's like identifying the specific activities the buyers need to complete their purchase. In step two, documenting the specific ways that a supplier can support that buyer's journey to be completed. And then identifying the content form factors available to build enablement content and ensuring that enablement content meets a minimum design standard of being relevant and easy and useful, credible and easy to understand. So I love your process. It totally aligns to that whole concept. We're getting right to the end here. We're almost going to go to rapid fire here Haika in just a moment, but how do you think about different formats and channels, links of post, et cetera, when you think about all the pieces and parts you're going to put together, how do you think about that? Different formats, channels, links of post, et cetera?
Ryan Brock: Are all the breadcrumbs the same or are they different?
Haika Newman: No, they're different. They're different in the sense of who do we want to attract to read it and engage with that content. But then there's also content where our goal is to really identify the person behind it in order for them to bring them into a nurture. And then also the content also always needs to lead to a next step. Even so somebody is just reading something generic to answer a generic question, at some point we need to make the connect, so how can we actually help with that? And so therefore, there's always a next step for the different content formats that is basically also driven by A, who is the audience? Is this an audience who reacts pretty much to video, for example? And we probably should have video content for it. Can we get them out of video into written content, some more long form content, or is that not even their wheelhouse? Is it a teaser somewhere, which might be just quick posts on social media, which leads to a blog post which is a little bit longer, which leads to a full white paper if people really want to go down. Or is it an interactive e- book where people can hop back and forth? So it's the variety of content we need to use, but absolutely tailored to who is the audience we want to talk to.
Christopher Day: Yep. I love it. All right, well you're ready to go into the final phase? Some quick hitters.
Haika Newman: Sure.
Ryan Brock: I love this part.
Christopher Day: All right, so what's the last thing you searched for?
Haika Newman: The next triathlon.
Christopher Day: Oh,
Haika Newman: I'm doing.
Christopher Day: I'm impressed.
Ryan Brock: Did you search for it by name?
Haika Newman: No, by month and location.
Ryan Brock: Interesting. There you go.
Christopher Day: Interesting. Right there. Yep. So anybody putting on triathlons out there, make sure you cover what month your triathlon is in and what city it's in, lead with that because that's how you're going to get found by Haika. What keeps you up at night?
Haika Newman: How can I create more content faster?
Christopher Day: Ooh, love it.
Ryan Brock: Ooh, that's a good one. It's so amazing when you actually get the data, you start actually understanding what your audience wants. It's like you can't give it to them fast enough.
Haika Newman: Yes. Exactly.
Christopher Day: What are three key marketing tools that you can't live without or tools in general for your team? What are three tools you can't live without?
Haika Newman: Certainly marketing automation platform. Grammarly is a good spell checker and grammatical checker, and believe it or not Excel.
Christopher Day: I love it.
Ryan Brock: Yeah. I mean, as much as I would prefer not to, I live in Google Sheets. Maybe not so much Excel, but same idea, right?
Christopher Day: All right. Well, how can people find you or learn more about Oracle's awesome solutions?
Haika Newman: Definitely on the Oracle website, Oracle. com/ cx. There you have all the customer experience advertising software, and find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.
Christopher Day: Excellent. I love it. All right. Everyone out there are friends and family and fans of Page One Or Bust an incredible episode today with Haika. I learned a ton. This is awesome.
Ryan Brock: It feels like we were talking about the future here.
Christopher Day: Yep. That's absolutely right. Well, thank you very much, Haika, and we'll see everyone next time.
Haika Newman: Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: Page One Or Bust is brought to you by DemandJump. Know the exact content to create to increase first page rankings and drive outcomes with DemandJump. Get started for free today at DemandJump. com.
According to Gartner’s report on the future of B2B buying, customers don’t play by the rules. They want content at the right time, served right back to them where it makes sense. In this episode, we talk to Heike Neumann, the VP of Marketing at Oracle’s Global Advertising & CX pillar, to discover how you can keep up. She shares insights into content creation optimized to meet the needs of your customers, no matter what stage of the buying journey they’re at.
Got a topic idea? Hot take? Guest pitch? We’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us at PageOne@DemandJump.com.