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Date posted: January 24, 2017

 

Spear Marketing Group recently published an infographic on the top types of demand generation content that caught our eye. A key point: there’s no one type of content indicated for every demand generation situation, so it’s good to have a portfolio to draw from to play specialized roles, depending on the audience and objective. This is underscored by the fact that 60% of B2B marketers cite producing engaging content as their biggest challenge.

Here are the top ten types of content according to the infographic:

  1. Infographics
    These are great for engagement— eye catching, easy-to-share— but typically are ungated, so they’re better employed when views are more important than leads.
  2. Free Trials
    Because they require a higher level of commitment than other offers, response rates to free trials will typically be lower, but the respondents tend to be serious prospects. This makes free trials ideal for late-stage offers or situations where lead quality is critical.
  3. Free Consultations
    Designed to create dialogue between your sales team and prospects, free consultations are also likely only to appeal to serious or committed prospects, so may be best utilized as secondary or optional content offers.
  4. White Papers/eBooks
    Ideal for establishing thought leadership or providing information to a very specific part of the sales cycle, these are versatile demand generation tools. Nearly 60% of B2B marketers say they are their top lead generators.
  5. Webinars
    Ideal as “next step” offers designed to re-engage existing leads and move them forward, webinars tend to produce fewer, but more qualified, leads than similar downloadable content. As they can be re-purposed for viewing on demand, they have a long shelf life. Today more than 60% of B2B marketers are employing webinars are part of their content strategy.
  6. Case Studies
    Ideal as mid-to-late stage content offers, case studies can powerfully illustrate a product or service’s real-life value. They’re the only content type B2B marketers rate highly for both popularity and effectiveness.
  7. Videos
    The fast riser in B2B content, videos are best used to engage early-stage leads or increase “stickiness” on landing pages and websites. Some studies now name video as the content most essential to B2B marketers.
  8. Surveys
    Surveys generate engagement at the same time they produce data that can be leveraged for other content.
  9. Buyer’s Guides
    A powerful late-stage tool, these guides appeal to prospects actively evaluating products in a specific category, as well as existing leads looking to take the next step in the process.
  10. ROI Calculators
    These provide the hard data and business case to move forward with your product— and as such, appeal to qualified late stage prospects.

One type of content not listed in the infographic that we believe is important is Blog Posts. These posts both retain a prospects interest over time, and also provide the B2B marketer a good means to stay “on-topic” with his or her product or market as changing forces (e.g., technology, politics, etc.) impact the business environment. And to the extent that the blog is well written, readership tends to come from prospects at all stages.

What do you think? What are your top choices for demand generation content? We’d love to hear from you.

 

Date posted: January 19, 2017

According to a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute, 81% of business-to-business (B2B) manufacturers in North America are using content marketing in some shape or form. What’s interesting is that while the usage of content marketing continues to rise, its effectiveness appears not to be. That same study shows only 18% of those manufacturers reporting that their content marketing was effective in meeting overall marketing objectives, a figure that has fallen from 26% and 30% in the two years prior!

Despite this, B2B organizations continue to increase their investment in content marketing, with only 3% indicating plans to reduce budgets in the discipline.

A post by Achinta Mitra on Industrial Marketing Today may provide some rationale behind the consistent support of content marketing.  Mitra points to six ways that manufacturing content marketing sets the table for B2B industrial sales:

  1. Visibility
    53% of engineers and industrial buyers spend six or more hours per week on the Internet to find components, equipment, services and suppliers (77%); obtain product specifications (73%); find product availability information (70%); perform research (67%); and compare products across suppliers (66%). Digital marketing with content aligns perfectly with how your target audience finds information.

  2. Capability
    Just publishing more content is not going to help you rise above the noise. The key is to identify and understand the challenges your customers are facing. Create content written by your in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to address these issues. This will get your knowledge and expertise to the forefront and set you apart from the competition.

  3. Credibility
    Engineers are impressed by credentials, standards, and professional certifications. Provide them the confidence to specify your industrial products because they meet their design parameters and/or to retain your engineering services.

  4. Reliability
    This goes beyond product warranties. Industrial professionals want reliable sources of technical content, not more marketing fluff. End-users and field people want easy and quick access to your knowledgebase. These people may not have much influence on the initial buy but can make or break your repeat orders.
  5. Expandability
    Increase the impact of your trade show investments by providing additional helpful content. Trade shows continue to be effective in industrial marketing, as multiple research studies have shown. You know those visitors to your booth are going to check out your website when they get back to their office. Make sure the content builds on the initial impression about your company.

  6. Visibility
    Product specifications and online design tools are valuable content assets because they save time for design engineers— helping them make quick decisions on the viability and suitability of your products and services.

As Mitra notes, companies build stronger relationships based on trust when content marketing helps meet these six objectives; and trust is key for facilitating and motivating conversation from prospects to the sales organization.

Justice Holmes once said, “Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.” That’s what B2B marketers appear to be doing with content marketing. What do you think?

 

 

 

Date posted: January 16, 2017

Software Advice, a warehouse management system consultancy, recently released its 2016 Supply Chain Management Buyer Report, with results particularly interesting in the warehouse management arena.

 “More businesses in our sample are looking to improve warehouse management than any other area of supply chain management, with 36 percent citing this goal as a motive for software purchases,” notes Daniel Harris, research associate for warehouse management system consultancy at the Gartner-owned Software Advice. “For comparison, supplier management came in second at 10 percent. This suggests that businesses are still struggling to escape the inefficiencies created by the use of manual methods in the warehouse (28 percent of our sample relies on pen & paper, and 18 percent relies on Excel).”

Among the key drivers of new software implementation— the desire to automate systems and improve integration, and the need to better accommodate and manage rapid business growth.

While 46 percent of businesses surveyed already are using some sort of commercial SCM software, respondents indicated a number of reasons they’re looking to replace it, including:

  • Overkill
    Having bought into an expensive ERP suite with many features they neither need nor use, many companies are looking to cut IT costs by implementing more modern, streamlined, and user-friendly software with the functionality they need (i.e., no superfluous functionality).
  • Underkill
    Companies using “light” enterprise supply chain software (e.g., basic accounting with inventory and warehouse management modules) no longer sustainable for their growing businesses are turning to new solutions.
  • Lack of support
    Unresponsive customer support can be a motivating factor in driving companies to look to new software vendors.

Growth Is Demanding Change

Nearly 20 percent of companies surveyed indicated enterprise growth at a level that was straining their current tools and processes. According to the authors, “In many cases, business growth has meant adding more warehouses or more vehicles to the fleet. While their current solutions can handle a single warehouse or a small (fewer than 10 vehicles) fleet, that growth means there are now more cogs in the machine to be mindful of… What this means is that more growing businesses are starting to tie their growth to improving their IT infrastructure—and as such, are positioning themselves for sustained growth over time.”

A Note on Survey Demographics

The survey sample was comprised primarily of manufacturers (60 percent), 3PL firms (32 percent) and other specialty distributors (8 percent). Eighty-three percent of the businesses were small (under 500 employees) or midsize (between 501 and 1,000 employees); seventeen percent were large businesses (more than 1,000 employees).

For a full copy of this B2B Software Advice study, you can go here.

 

Date posted: January 12, 2017

Oracle has recently released its third B2B Enterprise Demand Generation study, and the results point to the fact that companies have a ways to go to begin mastering this marketing discipline. In a post on the Oracle Marketing Cloud, Carlos Hidalgo speaks to the numbers coming out of the study and what they mean:

  • Only 20% of organizations are “highly effective” in realizing their B2B Enterprise demand generation goals. According to Hidalgo, this points to marketers still being ill-equipped to execute demand generation programs. The study shows that more than 40% of respondents received no training or marketing enablement and only 26.5% stated that their team skill set is highly effective. The upshot: the need to increase budget allocation to training and skills development.
  • Metrics and goals are not aligned. While the number one goal for demand generation is generating qualified leads (92%), only 15% of organizations are measuring against this goal. Without measurements in place, organizations are flying blind in terms of determining success. When goals are established, not only is it necessary to determine the definition of a qualified lead, it is vital that this goal be measured.
  • Buyer personas are problematic. When asked who is responsible for the development of buyer personas only 28% stated that the demand generation team fills this role. However, over 40% stated it is the responsibility of product marketing.  While buyer personas are certainly needed for product marketing, it is not feasible that a product marketing persona (usually a description of the end user of a product or service) is going to be the best fit for demand generation purposes. There’s a disjoint that needs to be fixed. For demand generation, it is essential to understand a buyer’s content consumption patterns and channel preferences. The role they play on the buying committee and in their buying journey must be understood.
  • Consensus buying needs to be better grasped. Less than half of those surveyed stated that they take into account a buying committee when creating their buyer personas. According to CEB, there are on average 6.8 buyers involved in the typical B2B buying process; given that, demand generation marketers must have insight into all of these individuals and their key roles. If this insight is lacking, it follows that the content that is developed to speak to the buyer will be as well.
  • Increasing content without strategy makes little sense. While organizations are spending time and money on creating more content, less than two-thirds of those surveyed stated they had a documented content strategy. The lack of buyer insight— which is the foundation for any effective demand generation content strategy— certainly contributes to this issue.  As Hidalgo says, “You cannot create relevant content if you do not know to whom or to what you are writing.” And until you know that, investing on content creation will not provide a good return on investment.

With B2B enterprise demand generation being so central to marketing efforts, it’s important to take a good look at where and how it needs to mature. The Oracle study points us in that direction.

Date posted: January 9, 2017

Continuing B2B Marketing Education

According to Albert Einstein, “education is the progressive realization of our ignorance.”

That observation seems to us more cogent as each year passes— and so, with the clear understanding that we don’t (and never will) know it all, we turn each January to see what marketing conferences are scheduled for the year ahead to see where we might best listen to those at the head of their marketing classes, and hopefully learn a few things to help us and our clients. Micheal Brenner, CEO of the Marketing Insider Group, recently made that task easier with a post on the best B2B marketing conferences of 2017, and we’ve drawn our calendar of the conferences that seem most important to us from the list he provides.

 

FEBRUARY

  • B2B Content 2 Conversion conference
    • February 20-22 in Scottsdale, AZ
  • iMedia Brand Summit: Partnerships
    • February 12-15 in Amelia Island, FL

MARCH

      APRIL

MAY

JUNE

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

To Be Determined