When I see “B2B,” “tech,” “marketing” and “ahead of the curve” in a news headline, my eyes light up and I do a little happy dance at my desk. I admit it, I am a tiny [big] content marketing enthusiast [dare I say, nerd], and I cannot help but be excited by brands that just get how to effectively integrate compelling content into their long-term strategic planning. Needless to say, this post from Elana Varon on the current state of content marketing for CMO.com piqued my interest.
Varon cites high-tech marketers as the early adopters and agenda setters in the content marketing arena. From a Brightcove perspective, this is an interesting point-of-view for many reasons. Of course, we are a technology company ourselves. Additionally, we help many tech companies, amongst other brand marketers, to publish and distribute their digital content to audiences on every screen.
So, what did I learn from Varon?
Content is King
Varon notes that B2B technology companies are faced with a lengthy sales cycle. Frequently, B2B tech prospects will complete detailed research before narrowing down their vendor field--counting some out before ever submitting an inquiry or requesting a demo. This means that potential, valuable customers are perusing your website to check out product pages, watching videos, reading your blog and reviewing your PR hits. And, you will unfortunately be unaware that this is happening unless these prospects yield to lead capture.
This detachment from prospects at the earliest stages of the sales period means that you must invest--and heavily--in tutorials, eBooks and whitepapers, thought leadership dialogue and video materials so that future customers understand your value, industry voice and place within the market. Content is the “be all, end all.” You can never have too much, and it must be consistently updated and refreshed. Video is often the content type that can remain “evergreen;” the very basics of your product won’t be changing frequently and a simple, explanatory video can have a tremendous lifespan.
Social’s Value Continues to Rise
Referencing a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs and Brightcove, Valon discusses social media’s prominent position in B2B tech’s content marketing plans. In fact, 87% of B2B tech marketers report that social media is their most popular content marketing tactic. This makes sense, since customers and prospects alike turn to social media for company information and insights, underscoring that its place in the value chain is well deserved.
Social media investment can be relatively minimal when relying upon internal resources, yet its return can be massive. Not only does it precipitate sharing, increasing your online reach and showcasing your attributes to new audiences, it also allows you to insert your brand personality into real-time conversations. In essence, social media simulates high-touch, 1:1 engagement in a low-cost, virtual setting. And don’t forget the viral power of visuals such as infographics, photos and video in the social sphere.
Offline Matters, Too
The B2B tech marketers Valon interviewed for this article also stress that personal interaction in offline settings (tradeshows, webinars, user meet-ups, speaking engagements, etc.) still makes all the difference in closing the deal and forming solid, continuous relationships with your customers. While this is ideal, attending or participating in all of the offline events on your wish list can be cost-prohibitive as you work to stick to your budget. Valon and her subjects for this piece also highlight the value of personalization--really getting to know your prospects and ensuring that the content you direct to them is relevant and useful. This targeted digital marketing, with a reliance on social media engagement, can help to bridge any gap between online and offline “sell” environments.
Do you agree that tech is on the cutting-edge of B2B marketing? Are any other industries at tech’s heels? It will be interesting to watch the space in 2013, as digital marketing continues to transform and reinvent itself at such a rapid clip. I, for one, will stay tuned.
Also, have you read any 2013 content marketing predictions articles or blog posts that you would recommend? If so, please share a link in our comments section.