NEW YORK: The ROI of B2B content marketing is not about return on investment but rather return on interest, according to the chief marketing officer of Xerox.

Speaking to Ad Exchanger, John Kennedy outlined his philosophy as he explained how the world of B2B marketing has changed in recent times with the development of multiple channels and the greater use of data.

"We've reached a greater maturity curve relative to using data and analytics to serve content in a more personalised and relevant way over the last several years," he said.

That trend is most evident in B2C marketing but the same thinking is increasingly being applied in a B2B context as attention shifts to individuals rather than businesses.

"What the advent of digital has done has created more transparency about who all the players were in the B2B purchase process," said Kennedy. "You find B2B marketers are now really thinking about that buyer or the participant in the buying process as a person.

"They used to market to companies. Now it's not B2B – it's business to procurement or business to CIO. That's why you've got B2B marketers now thinking in personas – that's the big shift."

And since B2B contracts tend to be complex and involve a lot of people, the function of marketing is generally educational and helping building a preference – hence Kennedy's comments on ROI.

Part of that process involves being more detailed in the types of material being produced for those various personas.

"We've evolved our model to be less about associating our brand with certain topics in an industry than [about] creating richer content that could help a buyer at different points in their purchase journey across the upper, middle and lower funnel," he said.

"We were being more specific around the role different pieces of content play at different stages of the purchase process. And getting more rigorous in measuring the outcome of that content."

Readers can download a free Warc article: Create a B2B content marketing strategy.

Data sourced from Ad Exchanger; additional content by Warc staff