Top Five Ways to Make the Most of Your B2B Content Marketing Investments
They say that content is king. If anyone can appreciate this, it’s marketing executives. Business-to-business (B2B) marketing teams struggle every day to find impactful and inspiring content for their web sites, newsletters, social media networks, and event programs. Messaging that connects with the market at the right time and in the right place can help companies build strong relationships with customers and ultimately generate actionable leads for sales teams.
Results from IDC’s global Tech Marketing Benchmark study, an annual survey of marketing executives from nearly 80 global information technology (IT) vendors, confirms that investments in content marketing are increasing. In 2017, content marketing overtook direct marketing as the third-most allocated program category for marketing budgets, following more conventional advertising and events investments.
The numbers are not surprising. Parallel research conducted by IDC has found that 40-50% of IT buyers decide to invest in an IT product or solution before speaking directly with sales representatives at a vendor. This means that the battle for the customer has shifted from the conference room to the internet.
In such a challenging environment, the heat is on for B2B marketing teams to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) that executive management expects from their content investments. With this in mind, IDC has identified five critical success factors to safeguard investments in B2B marketing content and to ensure that digital campaign strategies can generate leads, inspire customers, and build mindshare among decision makers and budget holders.
1. Include Customer Insights in Digital Campaign Assets
B2B content can be more impactful if it includes customer insights garnered directly from customer surveys and polls. Proving that you have invested in understanding market conditions through local research, and know first-hand the business and IT challenges that buyers face, can go a long way to gaining trust.
Recommended Tools: End-user surveys, feedback forms at events, and even quick online polls can provide a wealth of original, localized, and current content that can be packaged into digital assets such as infographics, blog entries, and newsletters.
2. Prove Your Value Proposition
Show a direct connection between your solution and how it can not only help your customers solve IT problems, but also support the broader business objectives of their organizations and responsibilities of their LoBs.
Recommended Tools: Customer testimonials and case studies that measure the ROI of an IT investment are critical to proving a solution’s value proposition. But ROI indicators do not necessarily have to relate to financial returns. Important indicators related to operational KPIs, improvements in customer care, and other performance measurements can catch the attention of potential IT buyers.
3. Generate Leads Through Premium Content
Premium content hosted on landing pages and corporate web sites can be an incentive for business customers to register their contact information in order to access and download the content. Premium content typically includes actionable business and technology advice that customers can use to justify an investment in an IT solution to executive management.
Recommended Tools: White Papers and technology spotlights that include customer case studies, high-level technical guidance on an IT solution, digital transformation (DX) roadmaps, and other indicators can be a useful template for premium content.
4. Target Content at Priority Customer Segments
Content that is fragmented and customized to specific customer segments by size of business, size of IT budget, level of IT maturity, location, or line of business needs can ensure the message reaches whichever customer segments that are priority targets in sales campaigns.
Recommended Tools: Interactive, online benchmarking tools that allow business customers to compare their organizations to peers in their industry can help with this. Such tools require readers to provide basic screening details related to their size of business, location, potential IT budget, business unit responsibilities, and level of IT maturity. Customers who register for the content become leads that can be sorted and screened into specific customer segments before being handed over to the appropriate sales representatives.
5. Be Visionary
It sounds like a tall order, but showing customers that you understand the direction that their businesses are headed can go a long way when trying to build a relationship. Proving that you can guide them through a challenging business landscape and competitive environment and know the key strategic initiatives that they are trying to achieve is critical for establishing trust.
Recommended Tools: Keep an eye out for innovative and pioneering customers who can be profiled in online campaigns. Highlighting customer success stories, particularly those that feature cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, can prove to be a valuable tool for inspiring other customers and setting a benchmark to which market players can aspire.
For examples of how IDC can help you achieve your B2B marketing goals, please see IDC’s Integrated Marketing Showcase resource center.