Five 2015 B2B Demand Generation and Content Marketing Resolutions
As we start 2015, the one thing that B2B marketers can be assured of is that our market and the approach our buyers take to purchase will continue to change and become all the more sophisticated. Marketers will again be challenged to keep pace with these advancements and will need to do more in order to connect with their buyers and show demonstrable ROI as a result of their Demand Generation and Content Marketing Strategies.
As we kick-off 2015, here are some key areas that B2B marketing leaders should focus on in order to ensure they have maximum results from their Demand Generation and better align with their buyers:
Move from Campaigns to Programs-
In the ANNUITAS B2B Enterprise Demand Generation study, more than 60% of respondents stated that they ran over 15+ campaigns on an annual basis. Typically these campaigns promote a singular asset or event like a white paper, webinar, or an eBook. The real question however, is what is next? Generally it is another campaign that is focused on an asset or event and lacks continuity to the action the buyer took before. This campaign approach leads to a very convoluted buying experience for the buyers.
When an organization moves to a program-based approach, there is a buyer-centric approach to how content is delivered. Additionally, programs are perpetual (always on and ready for the buyer’s next step).This means that every interaction from the buyer is met with a response from the vendor, digitally or a via live interaction. This program-based approach can only be accomplished when vendors understand the buying patterns of their buyer(s) and can then align content accordingly giving buyers continuity through every stage of their buying process. The best news? This approach leads to higher conversion rates.
Don’t Treat All Content The Same-
Not all Demand Generation content is created as equal. When a buyer first engages with your brand, they are not necessarily looking to find the latest enhancements to a vendor’s product. They may be looking to simply solve a problem and finding a vendor who can write about that issue and address it in a way that speaks to the buyer and a “day-in-their life” will go a long way to build trust.
When developing content for Demand Generation programs, think about the kind of content that will Engage buyers and build that trust while educating. As a buyer engages, the “next step” is to Nurture. This is also a different kind of content that begins to map problems to overall solutions and enables the buyer to learn more about how vendors can and will address their problems.
Lastly is Conversion content that can be used by sales. This necessitates that marketing educate sales on all of the various content that has been developed as part of the Demand Generation program again, with the aim of providing a seamless experience for the buyers.
Ensuring that specific content is created to Engage, Nurture and Convert along the buyers purchase path (currently only 28.3% of organizations do this consistently) not only allows for a better conversation with the buyer, but when mapped to the buying process, enables the buyer to self-select the content they want and signifies where they are in the buying process.
Don’t Start With Technology-
I read an article over the holiday break that spoke about how marketing automation is advancing with features, the ability to integrate and how these vendors are improving training. The author of the article made the connection between these improvements to a forecast of better Demand Generation results in 2015. Oh how I wish it was as simple as this.
According to the ANNUITAS study, less than 30% of B2B enterprise organizations are experiencing effectiveness with their marketing automation solution. One of the biggest reasons is that the technology is the starting point for many organizations when it should all start with the buyer.
While marketing technologies, like automation are important, they cannot be the focal point for companies that want to succeed with sophisticated, contemporary Demand Generation. These are tools to enable strategy and without a solid strategy, there will be very little improvement no matter what tool is selected and implemented.
Invest in Skills Development-
In Forrester’s 2013 report B2B CMOs Must Evolve or Move On, 97% of CMOs either strongly agreed or agreed “Marketing must do things it hasn’t done before in order to be successful.” Yet so few marketing budgets include training for these skills that are needed.
The ANNUITAS Demand Generation study asked participants to rate the skill set of those who are responsible for Demand Generation and only 7.5% rated themselves as highly skilled. Buyer-centric Demand Generation is surely one of the areas that “marketing must do,” yet the vast majority lack the skills to do it effectively. The education and enablement of personnel is key to any success organizations want to have in Demand Generation.
Commit to Change-
Adopting the advice that is listed above will necessitate change within the marketing organization. However, if B2B marketing departments are going to deliver on the promise of Demand Generation, this is not something that can be done half heartedly, it requires a commitment to change within the organization. This change, while at times uncomfortable, will lead to marketing being a strategic role in the organization and ensure the dollars that are invested in Demand Generation in 2015 deliver revenue and maximize Customer Lifetime Value, something that any B2B marketer should aspire to.
Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalo is CEO/Principal of ANNUITAS