Archive for the ‘content’ Tag

Top 5 2015 Content Marketing Trends from Alinean

I’m catching up on the end-of-year/beginning-of-year blogs and posts. There are some good ones out there including this one from Tom Pisello. Tom spells out 5 content marketing trends to keep in mind. Some of these aren’t new but all worth reviewing. Here are my thoughts on two of them:

Trend 2 – Marketing Overload

As a marketing executive, I get a LOT of email offers on anything related to marketing. I’m still amazed at email overloadhow many emails I get from so-called “marketing experts” trying to get me to look at some of their content. I’m not sure where Tom got this from – “with the average executive receiving over 50 offers each business day” – but I believe it. I delete about 200 emails a day from my work inbox. A very large portion are unsolicited offers. A sampling from this morning include whitepapers/ebooks on creating the perfect persona, database management, personalization, A/B email testing. The list goes on. And I get them every day.

As a marketer, I make a conscious effort NOT to email offers. I tend to roll up our “offers” into a bi-monthly enewsletter. But I make sure the newsletter is not just about my company and how great we are. I put in links to key industry articles and trends from the trade media. I invite partners to contribute articles. Anything I can think of that may add value to the reader. By doing this, I’ve just about done away with single email offers. And I’ve seen our newsletter readership both increase in database size and also in open rates and click-thrus.

Trend 3 – Buying by Committee

This has been happening for a long time. And marketers need to advance their techniques if they really want to address the challenges here and help sales win deals. I don’t think I can say it any better than Tom so I’m just going to paste two of his sentences which are keys to success:

“One size-fits-all content doesn’t cut it when there are so many different perspectives involved in the decision making process.

You have to develop, or better yet personalize content for each stakeholder in an environment where each buyer expects and requires personalization.”

So if you get a chance, glance through the rest of Tom’s trends. And keep them in mind as you plan and execute your marketing campaigns in 2015.

 

Is too much reliance on Marketing Automation a danger?

I recently read this article by Omar Akhtar on “The case against too much marketing automation” and it got me thinking. Although I am a firm believer in marketing automation, here are several points here where I agree. I am inundated daily from vendors trying to sell me the next best thing in identifying web visitors, automated what content people see based on digital footprint, augmenting my database; the list goes on and on. And some of these do intrigue me. But I do question their actual effectiveness.

I’ve been using marketing automation for over a decade now and I’m a believer. My very small team executes more programs and campaigns than I could ever dream of twenty years ago when I first started in marketing. But nothing replaces actually spending time with your prospects and customers. You need to know what drives them. What are their challenges, fears, hopes and dreams. And then how can you fit into their reality. You will never get this from any type of marketing automation.

You need to spend time with your customers. You need to talk to them. Do this whenever you can – at tradeshows and conferences, customer visits, industry events. Whenever you get a chance. How else will you learn about them – what truly drives them? And how else will you see if your value props and messaging resonates?

face to face

So I’m a firm believer in marketing automation but I also don’t see it as a panacea that solves all your marketing needs. And thank God for that or I’d be out of a job! You need to get face-to-face and talk. There is no automation or replacement for that.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

More on Content Marketing

You can’t look at any major marketing magazine, blog or website without seeing some talk about Content Marketing. Content creation takes up a good chunk of my time and I’m always interested in best practices and research findings.

Here’s a smattering of recent articles I found particularly interesting:

Here’s one of the charts I really liked from the Eloqua blog:

content marketing statistics

I’m sure we will continue to see content marketing as a discipline evolve and expand as we move into 2013 and beyond.

What’s in a Lead Gen team

Catching up on some reading. From the May 2012 B2B Magazine, there was an interesting article by Debbie Qaqish from Pedowitz Group.

I heard her speak last year at Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Summit in Boston and was impressed. And, in general, I like what she spells out in this article. The only problem is, if you are a small or medium sized business, there is no way you are going to have this many people in lead gen – let alone the whole marketing department! So how do you prioritize the roles? Here’s my take.

Firstly, you need to get to where you use some sort of marketing automation (MA) system. Nowadays, you can get low-end SaaS versions for very reasonable investments (notice my use of that word – investment, not a cost). This must be treated as an investment and you need to get a good return on it. I have several previous blog posts on both marketing automation and metrics if you are looking for more info.

If you have a MA solution, one of the top roles you need is, as Debbie phrased it, a “power user/marketing technologist.” If you are leveraging one of the SaaS solutions that has a more intuitive user interface, you need someone who is more on the power user side and less a technologist. This helps you not need the Marketing Ops person – yet. You can leverage your vendor for tech support when needed.

Another position Debbie mentions that I would have high on my list of “must-have’s” is the content manager. And this doesn’t have to be a marketing position. In fact, I would say this position in many SMBs is held jointly by many people – at least on the content creation side. It is nice to have someone who manages the strategy of what is needed and helps drive the creation process. Without quality content, your marketing efforts through your automation system and social media will be anemic.

The other position that Debbie mentions that I find critical at many points in a company’s growth is the “telequalifying role.” Even with MA, you can’t short-change the human touch. An actual conversation with a prospect gets you the chance to get into a conversation, open the door and possibly find the pain the customer may be experiencing.

Maximizing leads from events

I invest in several webcasts every year. For these, I leverage some of my media vendors who have my target audience as readers/subscribers. But these webcasts can be expensive. On the low end, I can do one for about $8k. This works for one of my target personas. On the high end, it can run as much as $20k. But this attracts prospects from the high end of my persona food chain.

webcast postcard eo/ir

Both have proven themselves as generating high quality (and a good quantity of) leads. Well worth the investment. Since I pay the same amount no matter how many people attend the webcast, this year I’m looking at innovative ways to increase the viewership. Here are a couple of things I’m doing (some of which I’ve been doing for a while but trying to expand the list):

  • Creating a landing page just for the webcast
  • Post webcast, continuing to promote the on-demand recording for six months or more – as long as the content is relevant
    • Statistics point out, and I’ve seen in my own experience, that live viewership of webcasts is declining. People just don’t have the time in the middle of their work day to join. But viewership of the archived webcast is increasing with people taking time to watch when it best fits their schedule.
  • Posting the event on relevant LinkedIn groups (and other social media outlets that makes sense)
  • When running print ads similar to the webcast topic, putting a call to action in the ad
  • Creating “post cards” that I can hand out at trade shows and conferences, give to the sales team to use on calls, leave in our lobby for visitors, and maybe even use as direct mail pieces.
  • Add a promo and link in signature files for company emails
  • Taking out banner ads on relevant sites and in their e-newsletters promoting the webcast and linking to the landing page.
  • Promoting it in our bi-monthly e-newsletter
  • Putting a QR code on everything we do in the list above to make it easy to get to the landing page

I’ve talked specifically about webcasts but I think many of these tactics can also work for other marketing activities. Anyone have some more ideas on how to creatively promote relatively high priced events to generate more leads? I’d love to hear some ideas!

MarketingSherpa B2B summit

I’ve been in B2B marketing for about 15 years. Ever since my MBA days, finding learning experiences that were relevant and applicable to me as a B2B marketer – well, there just weren’t many. I can count on one hand the number of conferences and “training” seminars I’ve been to that actually taught me enough to make it worth  my while. And my company’s money. This conference was four of the five fingers on that one hand. From the first session on day 1, I was engaged and learning. I’ve been on the bleeding edge of high-tech marketing for over a decade but, not only did I learn a substantial amount of new stuff, I also has the “slap in the face” moment of things I know better about but just haven’t spent the time on.

#1 from this conference – the VALUE PROP – the basis off of which almost everything you do depends. It needs to be a clear and succinct value proposition. It has to answer “why should I care about you?” and “how are you different/unique for your competitors?” Here’s a link to one of the many free pieces of content you can get on MarketingExperiments.com:

Do You Have the Right Value Proposition?

So much more to digest from this. Hopefully I’ll get time to spread some more in future posts.

Boost Email Engagement

Evidently, the September 19, 2011 issue of B2B Magazine is a lesson in re-using content! Most of the articles are recycled from earlier this year. But it works. And the content is still very relevant.

One of the articles, Using Email to Boost Customer Engagement, has some good points. I was very happy to see that I already do many of these things. But I do like the idea of segmenting by “engaged” versus “unengaged.” I do struggle with the unengaged part of my database.

And, to be truthful, that segment far outnumbers our “engaged” segment. So I’m going to try some of the ideas in this article – change up the subject and content for emails to the unengaged. And try to re-engage them. And if they don’t, cut them loose. They have no interest and I don’t want to bother them with email.

So I’m looking to use the unengaged list to see what the problem is. Is it the subject lines? Content? No match for what we offer? I’d like to know.

Interactive marketing

I read with interest an article in the latest B to B Magazine on “interactive marketing departments.” It took me a minute to figure out what they meant by interactive marketing. From what I see, it’s a combination of digital marketing, market segmentation and leveraging the tools many marketers now have thanks to marketing automation systems. These tools include not only metrics and reporting but get to the level of one-on-one interactions. I now use Eloqua’s Prospect Profiler to look at a single customer or prospect and see exactly what they have done (emails opened, links clicked, forms filled out, assets they viewed, etc.). This is especially powerful when I’m going after high level people at targeted customers. It provides me with insight as to what content is resonating with a micro-targeted group. In addition, we rolled it out to our sales team. It is a plug-in to Salesforce and now our Account Managers leverage it for better insight and understanding before making a phone call or sales visit.

I did find the Forrester finding that “interactive marketing” is siloed a bit interesting. For me, interactive marketing is not a new marketing discipline with a dedicated team. Yeah, you may have people in your organization who specialize or are experts in it, but looking at and understanding your customer’s and prospect’s online behavior is something I think any marketer would want to know.

And I don’t think “interactive marketing” should be considered in the realm of digital marketing only. To gather a true understanding of your audience, you should look at compiling customer intelligence from a variety of sources including

  • taking notes at trade shows and events
  • getting feedback and reports from sales after calls and visits
  • monitoring social media conversations and blogs
  • if applicable, input for customer service

And any other area where your customers are speaking.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has interactive marketing as a role in their organization and how it works. I see it as another tool to help companies with customer intimacy initiatives.

webcast guidelines

After reading several whitepapers, to-dos and watching webinars on best practices, I compiled the short list for those of you who have to do tactical marketing. This is an outline of what you should consider when you are planning webcasts. Please let me know any comments and/or edits. Much of this content I gathered from:

Sources:

The Definitive Webinar Marketing eGuide, December 2009, Quantum Leap Marketing (Sponsored by GoToMeeting

ON24 2010 Webcasting Report: Webcast Benchmarks and Best Practices for Lead Generation, January 2011, ON24

9 Management Practices for Exceptional Webinars: Proven strategies to build a lead-generation engine, MarketingProfs

Webcast Planning Guide

Summary and Goals

Overview of webcast and define the goals.

Target audience

Define the target audience (TDMi/job role) and goal of the webcast.

Topic, abstract and email invitation

When naming the webcast and developing the abstract and email invite, remember WIFM – “what’s in it for me” from the prospect’s point of view. As with whitepapers, titles such as those below resonate well.

  • 7 secrets to winning more business
  • Top 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them
  • New breakthroughs in …
  • How to evaluate and choose a …

Use compelling language such as:

  • In this fast-paced 45-minute webinar, discover…
  • Are you frustrated with/by…

Because webcasts are the promise of future benefit, consider offering something tangible and immediate like access to a whitepaper.

Promotion plan

Look to promote using both Mercury and 3rd party resources. Third parties can include co-sponsors, partners, guest speakers, etc.

Type Your company 3rd Party (media group, partner, etc.)
email blast
banner ad on website
enewsletter sponsorship/article
ROS promotions
blog postings
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn Groups

Leverage webcast for new content tidbits

Look to use registration questions to provide content for webinar. For example, for storage, asking what challenges are you facing – would make a good slide for attendees.

Plus, look to use registration questions and webcast poll questions for content (article, podcast, etc.).

Post Promotion

Promote the recording as long as the content is fresh and relevant.

Interesting Industry Statistics

  • Webcasts are a low cost-per-lead method with high prospect engagement
  • Average registrant-to-attendee conversion rate is 58%
  • Months of December, June and October have the highest registrant-to-attendee conversion rates (79%, 68% and 63% respectively)
  • Significant number of attendees participate in polls and surveys
  • Integration with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can augment participation and stimulate conversations
  • Recruiting an outside speaker or co-sponsors significantly increases attendance
  • Many attendees tend to join about 5 minutes after the start time – start a minute or two late
  • Attendance increases with reminders sent the day before and an hour or two before the webcast
  • Surprisingly, Mondays may be a good day since Tuesday through Thursday is crowded

Lead generation vs lead nuturing

For over ten years now, I’ve been a high tech B2B marketing manager responsible for both lead generation and lead nurturing – primarily because I am responsible for delivering revenue. However, during a recent webinar (“Driving Demand in the Demand Center” put on by BtoB Magazine and featuring speakers from SiriusDecisions and Eloqua; check out #BtoBWC on Twitter), one comment caught my attention and got me thinking. It was suggested that you have one person focus on lead gen and one on lead nurturing.

I don’t think you can really do this until your organization reaches a certain size but this structure does appeal to me. I know I (along with my colleagues) struggle with the time needed to develop and implement campaigns for both lead gen and nurturing. And the needs are different. With lead gen, you are investing budget, educating prospects, filling the funnel, qualifying leads and passing them to sales. With lead nurturing, you already have qualified leads – they just aren’t ready to buy yet so you need different content and marketing techniques to keep them engaged until they enter the buying cycle.

Lead nurturing is critical to driving a much higher marketing ROI. You already have invested budget in getting these leads into your system. Often, they have cleared all the requirements you have to be qualified sales leads – they just aren’t ready to buy yet (maybe no budget; maybe need to get management on board; etc.).  So you need different content and activities to keep them engaged and interested in you. Also, lead nurturing can be used for cross-sell/up-sell opportunities to existing customers. Again, this is another way to drive revenue with a much smaller budget than is needed for initial lead gen.

Anyway, I’d be interested in what others think about these two areas for marketing and how they handle them. Please feel free to comment here or shoot me an email at greg@dm2-consulting.com with your thoughts!

Have one person focus on lead gen and one person focus on lead nurturing