There is large consensus across B2B marketers that content marketing is crucial to driving business results, with a whopping 95% content marketing adoption rate among B2B marketers, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
A recent Outbrain breakfast masterclass brought together some of the best content marketing minds from the B2B tech marketing field to examine how B2B tech brands can drive measurable results through content.
Here are some key insights from our masterclass so that you don’t miss out.
Innovating Digital Communications in the B2B Technology Space
Amy Slayter, Director of Digital Marketing at Oracle
Today’s IT landscape is growing increasingly complex and so is tech marketing. IT buying is not a linear process. Marketing is now measured on real ROI and not just intrinsic value. It is no longer confined to top-of-the-funnel awareness.
Although marketing plays a huge role in the purchase decision, a study by Nielsen indicates that only 11% of marketers have high confidence in the audience they are targeting. After all, with 1,876 vendors and platforms across 43 categories that marketers can choose from, (according to ChiefMarTec), the chaotic marketing ecosystem often overwhelms marketing strategies.
— AndreaWTBEdwards (@WithoutBollocks) September 7, 2016
With these trends in mind, modern marketing should be:
Accurate: Target based on all online and offline customer IDs (e.g. cookie, social, email purchase, mobile, and postal IDs).
Data-driven: Connect the largest set of anonymous and known marketing data. Data allows for new types of creativity and insights on IT buyers and helps brands acquire new audiences.
Adaptive: Orchestrate experiences rapidly based on behavior, preferences, or attributes. Through DMP and programmatic advertising, brands can enable adaptive messaging throughout the campaign.
Intelligent: Optimize content and experiences that are self-learning and predictive.
Open: Tap into marketing and advertising tech such as content amplification and programmatic media platforms.
But several challenges make it difficult for marketers to achieve these ideals. Marketing processes and departments tend to be siloed, and there aren’t many tech publishers, so IT marketers are all working with the same few publishers.
The question then is, how can marketing achieve succinct customer experiences and acquire new audiences?
The key is remembering that it isn’t just the buying cycle that is circular. The whole campaign strategy itself has to be circular, from planning and designing to implementing, analyzing, and adapting.
Modern marketing is a development process, and here are its four key stages:
- Engage: Engage prospects with contextualized experiences by executing cross-channel engagement. Brands can create messages using a responsive email template to render across different devices.
- Convert: Drive funnel conversions by creating targeted personas and delivering relevant, contextualized content throughout the customer journey.
- Acquire: Deliver new customer acquisition by lead scoring based on customer profile and behavior, creating the buyer’s journey and nurturing prospects through that journey.
- Grow: Leverage engagement and conversion data to find customers that resemble your ideal ones through look-alike modeling.
Who Reads White Papers Anyway?
Timi Siytangco, Head of Amplify SEA at Outbrain
According to 2016 B2B Enterprise trends by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, marketers deploy 16 content marketing tactics, with the top three tactics being in-person events, videos, and social media content. However, two out of three marketers don’t find their efforts effective.
This is because marketing is going through a fundamental shift — push marketing is losing impact and pull marketing is gaining ground. As such, enterprise tech marketers need to be at the forefront of this shift.
The buying process is rapidly changing, and marketers now have to rethink their strategies.
According to CEB, 57% of a buying journey is done before a sales representative is involved, and a study by Harvard Business Review shows that 90% of decision-makers say they never respond to cold calls and unplanned outreach.
These pose key challenges to tech marketers – bid pricing is extremely competitive, engagement has moved to mobile, and it is hard to find the right audiences.
In light of these challenges, here are six ways marketers can capture the attention of audiences:
1.Understand prime time moments
There are three prime time moments that define online audience engagement:
- The intent moment: Audiences use search to find information that addresses their query.
- The influence moment: Audiences go online to interact with people.
- The interest moment: Audiences are online consuming and discovering content.
The key to capturing audience attention lies in creating what audiences are interested in and showing it to them during these moments.
2. Share industry knowledge
According to Corporate Visions, 74% of buyers choose the representative who is first to provide value and insight.
Therefore, apart from sharing knowledge about their products, B2B tech marketers should share more about their industries to help consumers better understand what they do. This positions marketers as thought leaders and helps them build trust in consumers.
3. Build your own audience
When building audiences, marketers have to bear in mind multiple objectives across the marketing funnel and the corresponding types of conversion metrics.
One way to build audiences is through implementing an email subscription service, as subscribers are nine times more likely to convert than non-subscribers and 90% of the content B2B buyers engage with comes via their inbox.
4. Explore different formats
Many IT marketers heavily rely on textual content, but video is an engaging format marketers can explore.
Redhat, for instance, created a 15-minute long brand video telling the story of two brain cancer patients who publicly shared their medical data and turned their crises into an open sourcing movement for patients to take control of their healthcare.
— Rohan Kamra (@rohan_kamra) September 7, 2016
5. Craft strategic headlines
First impressions count, and headlines often determine whether a piece of content gets clicked-on or passed over.
6. No content? Talk to public relations and analyst relations
Content doesn’t always have to be produced by marketers themselves. So speak to your public relations and analyst relations team, as they can identify good stories for the press to capture new audiences.
Content marketing is all about business transformation
Andrea Edwards, CEO at The Digital Conversationalist
With only 15% of people trusting recommendations from brands, according to a study by Gartner, businesses have to change the way they think about marketing by putting themselves in the shoes of their customers.
Content marketing is what’s going to lead us into a more customer-centric future. It has to be at the heart of your business. To do this, the traditional silos of business need to be dismantled. There needs to be an adoption of unity across all business functions instead.
CEOs: All executive leaders must embrace content marketing and participate actively on social media. As the face and voice of their companies, CEOs have to lead conversations through the content they create and join the conversations taking place among customers on social.
Sales: Only 15% of sales people are using social media to sell, as they find that building relationships online take too long. But isn’t sales precisely about nurturing relationships? Salespeople need to step up and be content and social leaders. Beyond that, sales have to be integrated with marketing, so that sales content can be created with customer insights in mind.
Customer Service: Companies need to understand how customers feel and whether their experiences are satisfying by getting feedback from customer service. This feedback has to be channeled back to the heart of the business so that it can be addressed through content marketing.
Human resources: All businesses need to have a platform where employees can voice their thoughts. Not only does this keep employees engaged, it also attracts new employees who are looking online to find out more about your company’s culture. Companies should also encourage employees to creatively advocate for their brand on their own platforms.
Marketing/communications: Marketing and communications should be integrated to bring people, processes, and products together to deliver content marketing. Together, these departments should aim to create original content so as to gain credibility among the industry.
Here are some practical steps businesses can take to boost content marketing:
- Craft a content strategy by first defining whom the customers are, where they are and what they’re seeking.
- Engage audiences, from employees and future employees to partners and influencers.
- Build a content hub, at least regionally.
- Create quality content instead of adding to the noise.
- Build a team both internally and externally to source and generate content.
- Use tools that simplify processes for your employees.
- Engage employees and unlock their potential to be brand ambassadors.
- Reward and celebrate employees who champion your brand.
Outbrain experts can help you align yourself within the content journey, so feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have, or arrange a demo.