Need inspiration for new blog posts? When I struggle, I just remind myself of a great quote I heard a former colleague say once. The quote itself looks to be from Maya Angelou. The more you write blog posts the easier they will come.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Market research firm Yankelovich reports that we are seeing upwards of 5,000 ads a day. How many of these made an impact on you, how many do you remember seeing, how many did you engage with?
How do you make sure your branding efforts break through all that noise?
Let me use two personal experiences to highlight a good example of branding/display ads and a poor example.
A Bad Experience:
Last night I was working out, and enjoying what some might call “aggressive” music on Pandora. Then in-between songs an ad plays, and it’s for a Broadway album. I don’t ever listen to any Broadway style music (nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my thing); beyond that none of my 30+ stations even resemble a classic Broadway style.
Why is this so bad? Being a marketer I know what targeting capabilities exist. I will and do pass judgment on the publisher and the advertiser for failing to be smart enough to interrupt my experience with something relevant to me. Both publisher and advertiser are likely not going to get any type of positive engagement out of me as a result. In fact, the opposite has occurred; they both decrease their brand perception in my mind.
A Good Experience:
For those that don’t know me personally, I like bikes. I have a motorcycle, ride mountain bikes, and enjoy just about any 2 wheeled activities. I am pretty much always in the market for a bike relate product. About a month ago while I was reading some work related blogs, I notice some standard banner ads for JP Cycles appeared with motorcycle bars (something I had been searching for recently).
Why is this creepy level of targeting good? Because I know it’s possible, and I value any relevant content that is put in front of me. It was so effective and timely, that months later I still remember the ad, the site, and the product they promoted. YES, the banner got my click. I also have a positive perception of JP Cycles as being in tune with my current wants.
So while some think that branding and display ads are a medium which interrupts user experiences, I think that’s okay, as long as you are relevant and timely with what you present. Do this well, you will receive engagement, and leave a positive impression.
My Take Away:
Today’s shift in media consumption has proven that buyers expect relevant content, and just as importantly content that is personalized. If you fail to adapt to users expectations brand perceptions will be impacted.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
To follow up my recent Content Marketing blog post I recently read another interesting B2B buyer behavior report with some really interesting information. At least I thought it was interesting, and I hope you do too! This information is related to content marketing and lead nurturing.
Report Finding: The amount of content/thought leadership is a top 3 driving factor for buyers who are making a short list
What this means – continuing to add new content is critical, but beyond that focusing on thought leadership content to get user early in cycle and set the stage for the conversations to come. Better educated respondents will lead to better leads
Similarly - Checklist and Guides are cited by 47% of respondents as being a late stage driver – consider using these in all programs
Report Finding: when asked what was generally missing from solution provider web sites, a plurality of buyers (37%) cited issues with the relevance of the content they viewed, in terms of criteria like job role or industry vertical.
What this means – This just further highlights the value of using persona based content, and content streams to nurture each persona.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
“I only want green eyed, C level, decision makers, from Idaho.” Sadly I may have actually heard marketers with requests this limited before (no offense Idaho). While each of us have our targets or ideal customers, to run a program that rejects and filters out anything but this, is actually costing you. It’s costing you money, time, opportunity, reputation, influence, the list goes on…
How is it so costly to filter people out of a demand generation program you might ask?
Reputation - – As Forrester has reported here – there has been a “mobile mind shift”. What this theory says is that people now have the expectation that they can find the information they want at anytime, anyplace, on any device. If this need isn’t met, they will pass negative judgment. If you block users from getting content they might want, the user experience will be a negative one. As marketers we all know negative experiences are shared more frequently than good ones, so let’s Avoid the bad user experiences. Keep you content available to anyone looking to consume it.
Focus – instead of filtering people out that don’t make your tight list, produce targeted content based on industries and persona’s. This will let “natural selection” take over and will have better impacts – in response thereby avoiding bad experiences. As noted in this demand gen report 37% of buyers said personalized content was missing from their research experience, and 20% industry specific content was missing.
Opportunity – There have been several studies and reports about shifting sales funnels. Per Mckinsey & Company there is a new buyer’s journey shown here. The buyer journey is no longer linear, but instead it’s a circular. There are upsell opportunities, but beyond that, the IT buying world is small (relatively speaking). If and IT Architect has good experience with your brand early in their career (purchase or not), you could follow that buyer around for life as they move to new organizations and grow in their career. It’s about thinking of the Lifetime Value of a Buyer. If a user has a negative experience with your brand during their first interaction, you might miss these future opportunities.
Time – Another huge cost can be Time. If we invest time into following up based on demographic data rather than behavioral data, we will be spinning our wheels and likely not identifying the hottest opportunity when it presents itself. When filtering leads based on demographic data remember that users don’t always provide accurate info. Only 29% of buyers say they “always” provide accurate info. Are you missing opportunity by looking demographics rather than digital body language?
What to do?
So what do Opportunity, Reputation and Time all equal – Money. Don’t fall into this common trap. Instead produce content based on the buyer personas, and industries that are your targets. This will let the content marketing strategy act as a filter pro-actively. This will set the proper expectations with potential prospects, and keep good users experiences.
Monday, June 24, 2013
As humans we are all drawn to video, because of its easy ability to engage, draw us in and tell a story. This is why we all love a good movie, funny home video, or adrenalin pumping helmet camera footage. As Marketers – our job every day is to tell our story. This is why video can be such a powerful tool.
The recent explosion of video sharing tools like Vine and Instragram (now with video) have shown our love of video. While these video tools capture just 6 and 15 second videos, which I would argue isn't long enough for B2B Technology buyers to gain value; they do show proof in numbers for our love of video.
So how do we use videos effectively as B2B Technology Marketers?
Capture Users Attention:
In this Moz blog post it’s found that having video thumbnails appear in your search results can drive more views than even the #1 organic search results.
You've Capture them, Now Tell Your Story:
Using video is a powerful way to capture users that have reached your landing page or site. This is clearly seen in both of the 2 screen shots below which are sites of ours with video elements built in. The white hot sections are where video players live on the pages. (Client names/logos have been blurred out to protect the clients)
Now, before you critique the images and comment about the videos being above the fold, consider this blog post from Kissmetrics showing that ““The Fold” isn't That Important”. I could show additional heat maps from my own experience also supporting this finding that “the fold” isn't that important anymore, but that might be best for another blog post.
Need more video engagement proof? Consider these video results coming from campaigns including some of the above screen shots:
- Video were all of the Top 10 most viewed elements on the page
- 60% of the page visitors viewed Video
- Video increased page dwell time by 150%
Telling your Story: How long do you have?
One of the most frequently asked questions I get about videos is, “how long should my video be?” While the simple answer is, as long as it takes to tell your story – there is an ideal length based on research which has been published - Content Marketing Institute has a great post on this here. Bottom line, when producing video for B2B Technology buyers try to keep them limited to 2-5 minutes in length.
So in your content marketing plans for the back half of the year, where does video fall? If your goal as a marketer is to produce content that will engage, and drive organic value – video must be considered.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
In our marketing lives we will see lots of fads that come and go (think those billboard trucks for one example, all but gone today).
Yet there is one trend that has recently surged in popularly and is here to stay, Native Advertising. So why is Native Advertising here to stay?
- 64% of us are challenged with producing enough content. As Marketers we struggle to create enough (meaningful, relevant!) content.
- 58% of buyers value problem-solving info – not product info
- People look at native ads 53% more often than they look at traditional display ads
Bottom line – it’s a turn-key, effective way for us to put relevant content in front of potential prospects and increase engagement. What’s not to like? Need more proof, here are some performance metrics we saw a in a recent native advertising campaign we ran at TechTarget. These metrics came out of a 3rd party who survey the audience and compared exposed impact against viewers of a non-exposed control group.
People who viewed the native advertising messaging were strongly impacted:
- The articles are 324% more effective at generating purchase consideration
- IT Buyers who read the articles are 31% more likely to buy from the client
- After reading the articles buyers are less likely to buy from primary competitors by 4%-9%
Native Advertising is a hybrid of many of our favorite elements in marketing right now, content marketing, inbound marketing, branding, etc.
What are you doing to scale you content production to meet the demands of today’s content hungry buyers, have you considered Native Advertising?
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
There have been many blogs, articles, and reports published showing the dynamic shift in B2B marketing that has taken place. Marketers need to think like publishers to keep up with the content consumption demands of IT Buyers. IT Buyers are consuming content faster than ever, and waiting longer than ever before to engage with sales.
These changes in media/content consumption have not only changed the way we have to think before and during early prospect engagement, but also late in the sales funnel. In my experience many people are still using BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe) as qualification metrics/questions to pass leads to sales.
BANT is DEAD.
If you are using still BANT you are likely missing out on many opportunities and potential dollars. Here are 3 research findings and 1 case study to prove that BANT is dead:
o Less than ¼ of buyers have budget allocated in the beginning of the year
· More than 80% of buyers say the first contact with a sales rep was made when they contacted a solution provider directly
o Less than 10% were contacted cold by a solution provider
So what does this boil down to?
In another study (TechTarget Media Consumption) we found that IT Buyers and Marketers have very different opinions on when to be contacted by sales. We need to adapt and keep our communication relevant and on prospects terms. Otherwise as Seth Godin points out, it’s just spam. Yes, I am saying people will think of a poorly times teleprospecting call as SPAM. It will damage your potential relationship, and impact dollars.
Need more? Here are 3 more reasons I shared recently in a client presentation that BANT isn't working anymore:
The above research findings are good, but if you are looking for actual case studies with dollars being impacted – look no further than this - A client of mine changed their sales hand off process to utilize a Lead Nurturing and Scoring systems to pass leads to sales (rather than BANT) – the result, a 16% increase in sales.
Bottom line - Content has replaced the traditional sales role – we need to have a content stream/system to nurture (and score) leads and through buy cycle.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Tip 1 – Use Google Trends:
The first time I used this tool I was blown away by how simple yet effective it is. This tool will give you a better understanding of what phrases your audience is searching for. Recently I used this tool in a current campaign to learn that the Go-To-Market terminology being used wasn't yet an in industry accepted phrase. We then adjust copy to use industry accepted terms and are now working to shift minds to focus on these new terms. The below is the screen shot (minus the terms to protect the client). The red line is the client’s new terminology, and the blue is the industry accepted terminology. Using more of the terminology from the blue line extends the reach and engagement we will get.
Going Deeper - Use this to find the phrases that will resonate best in your copy. Make sure you are clearly addressing the impact your solution has against that phrase. Appeal to peoples pain points and keep your content focused on THEM, not your company. Remember it’s about their problems!
The Proof - Using Google Trends, a current campaign of mine saw 215% lift in response rates by using this strategy to adjust messaging
Tip 2 – Listen to your audience:
One of the big benefits of having TechTarget as a marketing partner is getting the access to an unparalleled audience, and the depth of knowledge about those audience members that comes with this. The single easiest and best way to make sure your content is addressing the primary pain points of your prospective buyers is by asking them. TechTarget does this through Purchase Intentions studies and can share this feedback to help tailor a marketing message better. Joe Pulizzi summed it up well in this MarketingProfs slideshare eBook “work to solve those challenges with helpful information that doesn’t just gloss over, but really answers their questions”
The Proof – In a recent campaign a client that adjusted their messaging to focus on the pain points expressed by users in purchase intentions studies (instead of talking about their products) saw response rates increase by 11 fold.
Tip 3 – Use the right Medium:
Relevant content needs to not only communicate the right message, but it needs to do so in the right medium to be most effective. When producing content take into consideration which stage of the buy cycle you want to reach users in, and consider using the below content types for the respective buy stages.
The Proof – I have expressed the need to clients on many occasions that vendor comparison assets are great content types to use for late stage buyers. They capture strong response rates from users, as well as provide users with something they are tasked with doing (comparing a short list of vendors). In a recent campaign I managed, a client using a 3rd Party vendor comparison assets saw response rates that were the strongest in the campaign, and performed at 3x our site average response rate.
Monday, June 17, 2013
What’s not to like, about a “Like”? As marketing strategies shift our measurements need to realign.
As the dynamics of marketing have shifted, and we (marketers) are more responsible for capturing longer engagement during the sales funnel, we need to adjust our marketing metrics to match. While it can be easy to focus on what some call vanity metrics (Likes, CPLs, Lead Goals, and even dare I say BANT - more on that coming soon) this isn't going to give actionable data to optimize and grow with.
Marketers have some of the toughest jobs out there as we are often viewed by our organizations as cost centers. By adjusting the measurement metrics we use, we can change perception to be revenue drivers and become more dynamic within our organizations. As eloquently put in this Marketo eBook “Focus on learning how to increase the payback, not how to spend less to get the same results”
What comes easy won’t last, what lasts won’t come easy:
It’s been my experience that many marketers measure effectiveness based on a single attribution (up to 45% as demonstrated in this Marketo infographic). While it’s great that more of us are focusing on measurements, is it the right measurement? It may be the easiest one, but is it the most accurate and best to base optimization off of?
Here are a couple of marketing metrics to focus on that can provide better direction for optimizations:
Attribution Modeling – There are many levels of attribution modeling Google has some definitions here. First and last touches are good metrics in a purchase process that doesn’t involve much research. However in B2B Tech buying our average buyer is viewing 6-10+ content pieces during their research process. ALL of these asset views have an impact on their decision. This should be considered and measured in a Full Marketing Mix Model. Marketo gives some great Pros/Cons and examples of these different models here
Additionally for more on attribution models check out this post from Marketing Sherpa, it has a great analogy.
Lifetime values – Lifetime value is another important metric to consider. Many new sales funnel models are now showing that post purchase experience can have just as heavy an impact on future sales. After all, keeping your current customers is equally important. This model from McKinsey & Company shows how the sale funnel isn’t linear anymore but now a circular process:
Understanding where customers with the most lifetime value are is a power metric to watch and optimize based on. Here is an excellent infographic from Kissmetrics showing how to calculate Lifetime Value of Customers.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – Many people get hung up on the Cost Per Lead they have to pay in their marketing efforts. This is a mindset that is out of date, as viewing this puts the emphasis on quantity not quality. CAC is a fundamental and baseline metric for any marketing efforts we should all be tracking. Tracking this at a marketing program level will get even deeper insights into what’s performing and what isn’t. HubSpot Defines this deeper and gives many other great metrics here.
As proven in this case study – using the right measurements and a proper nurturing funnel can have a profound impact. Our client here uses nurturing and was able to track revenue dollars all the way through the cycle to understand that her efforts in a particular program lead to a 16% increase in sales! Now that is how you shift perception from being a cost center to a revenue generator!
So – while a “Like” might make us feel good, does it give us actionable data to optimize with, does it turn marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator? Not likely. Consider deploying deeper levels of attribution modeling, tracking CAC and Lifetime Values to get a better sense of where marketing dollars are making the biggest impacts.
Friday, June 14, 2013
I like kittens, puppies, and cute kid pictures; so what does that have to do with B2B IT Buying?
The answer – Nothing. Nothing at all. Facebook and others in the Big 4 social sites are great tools for people to use when keeping in touch with friends and family, but not many people are using these channels for tough B2B Buying research or decision making. Simply put, it’s not the best venue for these types of conversations.
Yes, a social communication strategy is necessary in today’s marketing environment. However a critical element of that is choosing the right social channel to communicate with. Our research helps to demonstrate this by showing that 76% of IT buyers spend time using independent social communities during research, compared to just 41% of people using the Big 4. Beyond that those 41% that use the big 4 are mostly doing so to “engage with peers”, rather than get “answers to specific IT questions”:
So what is the punch line? As IT Marketers we need to understand where our IT buyers are active from a social media perspective and what their goals are to enable more relevant conversations. Find the audience and have the right conversations. Oh and of course, unless you are posting photos of kittens on your servers maybe avoid Facebook.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I was recently diving deeper into some content marketing best practices and came across some interesting findings I wanted to share as we all develop our content marketing strategies for the 2H of the year.
At this point it’s widely accepted that the IT buyers research habits have forever changed – buyers research times are compressed, and they are waiting longer than ever to engage sales. This has been proven out by in many studies from Forrester, Sirius Decisions, and of course TechTarget.
However for some additional insight into content marketing strategies and some enhanced considerations to keep in mind I listed some studies, findings and tips below:
In this DemandGen Buyer Behavior Survey – they also comment on the fundamental shift of buyers waiting longer to engage sales. This shift in buyer behavior requires a shift in the content strategy used to reach users. One conclusion in the survey found that the “volume of content/thought leadership” provided by a company is ranked as a top 3 factor for buyers in making a vendor short list.
What this means - Using turnkey custom 3rd party content opportunities in your marketing efforts can help provide more content and add to the thought leadership positioning.
-Forrester also has published recently a theory called “Mobile Mindshift” which says that with this shift in research patterns users expect to be able to find all the supporting content they need to do their research, on demand. If they don’t find exactly what they want ,when they want it, they will judge organizations negatively.
What this means - Using quick and easy content solutions like editorial sponsorship's can give you the ability to make sure potential users have ALL the content they will need during the research process. This is proven out in the response rates of some of my current campaigns. In one campaign I am running for a Major Technology Vendor (hint one of the top 3) a program with editorial alignment drove over 50% of the campaigns engagements. This alignment extend the reach into our audience and encouraged users to take further actions with more than 10% viewing multiple assets. As Leads360 shows these multiple engagements have a big impact and can convert 167% better!
· -During a recent Marketo Content Marketing World one of the key take aways was “Be Useful or Die - Create utility by creating something that people really want/need to use. It begs the question, can brands shift from being narcissistic to utilitarian?”
What this means – With this shift in buyer behavior we need to stop trying to control conversations with prospects, and instead guide those conversations with relevant content. It is critical to use content that is tightly plugged into the audience needs and pain points. Editorial sponsorship's are a great way to set the foundation to guide conversations toward the your solution set.
The above points build and support the need for a solid content marketing strategy, and heavy content volumes. What all this boils down to is that the clear change in buyer behavior requires us to adapt:
o New strategies require new measurements and KPIs – with users progressing up to 70% and 80% of the way through the buy cycle using sales calling feedback should be replaced with nurturing streams and lead scoring to rank number of MQL opportunities created
· Communication Strategy
o Volume of relevant content is key – turnkey editorial content is an easy way to add to this and has been proven to extend the reach, and enhance engagement. In a recent Healthcare campaign I managed our Editorial drove:
§ 187 Total Engagements
§ 123 Net New Contacts
§ 27 Highly engaged users with 2+ downloads of campaign content
o Success isn't going to be about Lead Generation, it’s about Lead Management. Lead Generation + Lead Nurturing/Scoring = Lead Management
o People don’t want to talk to sales – you must replace the phone call with content
o Editorial content is proven to extend the reach into the audience and engagement (getting multi-touch leads).
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
As you may recall in my last blog posting we addressed the value of "content streams". I want to expand on that and drill a bit deeper on the content streams concept and highlight the value of integrating Buyer Personas.
We have already identified that users are spending more time doing their own research and less time talking to sales. The content streams help to keep users engaged before they are ready to talk with sales, but using the "persona" approach gives marketing a more personalized and "intimate" conversation with the prospect. The prospect is more inclined to feel that they're being recognized and their pain points understood. The benefits here are clear:
To bring these benefits to life I want to showcase some results from a recent clients campaign featuring a well-integrated persona strategy:
- Personas Are Delivering Deeper Prospect Engagement
- 24% of users engaging with multiple campaign assets
- Personas Are Driving Accelerated Prospect Consideration
- 61% of the leads engaging with decision stage assets
- Personas Are Developing More Educated Buyers
- Driving well over 2x our average content click rates
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The dynamics of marketing have forever changed. Google, Sirius Decisions, and TechTarget Media Consumption reports have all published similar findings recently proving that our jobs as marketers are now harder than ever before. The reason for this is that the role of marketing has expended and we are now responsible for covering far more of the buy cycle education than ever before.
The best way for marketers to adapt to this challenge is to be super-prepared with relevant content streams. It's important that we offer relevant content to keep users engaged and educated on their problems for at least 50%-70% of the buy cycle decision process.
Here are some tips to engage the right people at the right time:Tip 1 – Remember that what you want to say (buy my product) might not be what your prospects need to hear AT THAT TIME. You must find a balance of what your prospect cares about, and align that back to what you want to say. Remember – "Great marketing is lessabout what the product is, and more about why it matters to the people who buyit"
Tip 2 – Be mindful of what content mediums work with your buyers at difference stages. IT buyers have proven year over year that there are some core content types that resonate best as they move through the buy cycle – focus content production on these five types, then, as budgets and time allow, expand to other mediums:
Bringing these elements together will help develop the content strategy for success. If you get this right, you will produce content that resonates with the right users at the right time. You will capture more prospect engagement, and develop leads faster.