Content marketing has come a long way since the days of overly stuffy whitepapers loaded onto supermarket-like websites offering a little bit of everything to everyone. We have witnessed the blossoming of entirely new content vehicles, such as short video infomercials, folksy video livestreams, and self-published books from celebrity CMOs on technology and business innovation. Through it all, marketers are still saddled with the nagging concern that higher conversion rates may not be attained just because prospects now know what their spokespeople look like from the waist up.
In an effort to capture the voice of today’s market, InsideUp conducted a study regarding the operation of buying committees in selecting new cloud-based technology. To distill some insights from those study results (that can be turned into action by technology marketers), InsideUp recently published a whitepaper, entitled “Beyond the Hype: How Mature Demand Generation Teams Build Reliable Revenue Streams. It contains some implications of the study findings that are worth reviewing here. In particular, while email and social media posts are still favored mechanisms for customers and prospects to obtain news and information on innovative technology, their patience appears to be wearing thin for so-called “descriptive” content.
Customer personas that were once marketed to have profoundly changed and are continuing to change. Audience demands for “prescriptive” engagement rather than “descriptive” engagement have become both pervasive and deafening. Prospects and customers are bringing behaviors learned from their own B2C interactions into B2B engagements and insisting on greater degrees of personalization and prescriptive content for B2B marketing solutions. What then, is meant by “prescriptive” content?
Referral marketing, regardless of the communication form it takes, carries a lot of weight in the deliberations of buying committees because members don’t want to appear foolish or ill-informed in front of their peers when it comes to the implementation of new technology. Information, therefore, that shows how a particular customer implemented a technology (that a buying committee is in the process of reviewing) was seen as much more valuable than a simple comparative review of feature sets. In fact, review sites that hold step-by-step journals of implementation fits and starts, or YouTube posts of an “off the record” customer interview, trumped other information outlets that contained full-color feature comparison charts.
Implications for Vendors
By all means explore new types of communication vehicles and B2B marketing solutions because audiences are looking for storytelling in new forms that mimic what they have been consuming during their forced exile from in-person events and activities. However, boastful descriptions of new capabilities and projected cost savings will tend to result in glazed over reactions. Focus instead on interviewing members of your Customer Success team to capture implementation stories that represent authenticity and good product fit. Make sure that social media commentary is tracked and, where appropriate, responded to with empathy. Not every customer’s journey will match the paths you have designed and the ways that customers come to adopt your technology may be different than what you expect. Look for opportunities to feature case studies in which customers can describe the steps that they went through to bring their respective organizations to fully embrace the promise of your technology to transform business operations.
In this way, your marketing efforts can bring forth the kind of “prescriptive” content that creates greater engagement, regardless of the form in which it is presented. Be mindful of the different perspectives (IT, user community, operations, management) represented on a typical buying committee and strive to create material that addresses those various perspectives.
For more information on this study, and to access articles summarizing interviews with marketing leaders and CMOs of cloud technology providers, click here.
InsideUp, a leading demand generation agency, has over a decade of experience assisting technology clients, that target mid-market and enterprise businesses, by meeting and exceeding their key marketing campaign metrics. Our clients augment their in-house demand generation campaigns (including ABM) by partnering with us to build large sales pipelines. Please contact us to learn more.