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2016 B2B Benchmark Report Summary Header

10 Takeaways from the B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Report 2016

By | Content Marketing, Industry News | No Comments

For the last six years, Content Marketing Institute has teamed up with MarketingProfs to bring content marketers a yearly benchmark report regarding the state of content marketing with B2B businesses. If you haven’t read the 2016 B2B report, or you don’t have time read through the whole thing, here are the key takeaways you should be aware of.

1. Effective content marketers do things differently.

This was the key theme of this year’s B2B research, and the four things we content marketers do differently are:

  1. Understand how successful content marketing looks.
  2. Document content marketing strategies.
  3. Record editorial mission statements.
  4. Communicate with team members.

2. Organizations’ effectiveness at content marketing is down from last year.

In 2015, 38 percent of B2B marketers surveyed said their organizations were effective. This year, that number dropped to 30 percent. Respondents who document, are good communicators and have experience had higher effectiveness levels.

3. More B2B marketers aren’t sure what success or effectiveness looks like with their organization.

Fifty-five percent said they’re unclear or unsure about success or effectiveness within their organization, while only 44 percent are clear.

4. The more marketers meet, the more effective they are.

Forty-four percent meet every day or every week, be that in person or virtually, to go over their content marketing program’s progress. Sixty-one percent of the most effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly.

5. Organizations are more effective when they document their strategy.

Research unfailingly tells us that documenting our strategy makes us more effective in every area of content marketing. Yet, fewer B2B marketers have a documented strategy, 32 percent this year compared to 35 percent last year.

6. Content marketing maturity levels are equally apportioned.

The content marketing maturity levels of respondents surveyed show nearly one-third were in the early stage, one-third in the adolescent stage and one-third in the mature stage. And as you’d expect, findings prove that the more experience marketers have, the more effective they are.

7. Total marketing budget allocated to content marketing is the same as last year.

Twenty-eight percent of B2B marketers distribute their budget to content marketing efforts. But the most effective distribute 42 percent, while the most mature divvy out 46 percent.

8. Two goals should be on content marketers’ radar this year.

During the next 12 months, lead gen and sales are the most important goals for B2B content marketers.

9. Website traffic is no longer the only significantly used metric.

B2B marketers rated metrics by importance this year, and the results were that sales lead quality, sales and higher conversion rates, in that order, also matter.

10. The top priority for internal content creators remains the same.

Like in past reports, the biggest focus for the coming year is producing engaging content.

STRYDE | Why Video Marketing & B2B are the Perfect Match 1

Why Video Marketing & B2B are the Perfect Match

By | Video | No Comments

A picture is worth a thousand words, but can you guess the worth of a one-minute video? It’s worth 1.8 million words.

That’s enough to write a few books and still have some left over!

People love video. Perhaps it’s because they can play an observer to someone else’s story. Video has been popular online since YouTube launched and other social networks have noticed. They offer marketers analytics to help understand the performance of videos. Many have added an auto-play feature to drive more views and keep people on pages longer. In social media feeds that are filled with text and pictures, a video that plays immediately is sure to catch an eye.

Video’s Wildfire-Like Growth

Some predict that by 2017, 74% of all Internet traffic will be video. If your business hasn’t already started incorporating video into your marketing plans, it’s not too late to get started.

For B2B marketers, hearing that video marketing is on the rise may cause them to shrug and say that they don’t need it. Others look at their meager budget and wonder how they can manage it. With 90% of all B2B purchase process happening before a sales rep is involved, getting the right information to buyers is critical for success.

Customer Journey with Video

Every marketer knows how important it is to keep the attention of a customer. With only a few seconds, it’s hard to explain the best features or benefits of your product in written format. Videos can be your chance to show off your product or service visually and keeping the viewer’s attention. If given the choice of watching a video or reading an article on the same topic, a majority will choose video. This doesn’t just apply to the regular consumer, but also to business executives. Over half of business executives will visit a vendor’s website after seeing a video.

Video’s Place in the Buying Cycle

Video is most effective when your potential customer is identifying the vendors and considering what they can offer. In one survey, 96% of all respondents said that videos were helpful when making purchase decisions. This is because videos are where solutions are provided. Buyers can see the product in action and begin to visual themselves using it.

Without ever leaving the comfort of their office, customers can get a great look at the product minus the pushy sales representative looking over their shoulder trying to sell them a product. They can spend their time considering each of their options.

Besides demonstrations, businesses can use video to share testimonials. Let one of your most loyal customers talk about how amazing your product, service, or business is and share what they like best. People rely on reviews to help them purchase everything from clothes to cars. A video helps your potential customers hear how others have success and relate to others’ experience. It can also benefit your clients and help their business gain visibility.

Online video platforms allow for clickable links. You can lead customers further into the sales cycle with clear calls-to-action that happen while you still have their attention. Every video should link to relevant content on your website not only to give your customers somewhere to go, but also to improve your SEO.

Resources Needed to Get Started with Video

While some may worry about the cost of creating videos, technology has helped make it easy and more cost-effective. Slowly build your business’ video library and spread the cost over time. You don’t need to start with thousands of videos. You just need a few. You can also use the analytics from past videos to help make new videos perform better for your audience.

Filming for video marketing

Videos don’t have to be created from scratch. Consider repurposing videos from other events, when a business executive speaks at a conference or events that your business participates. Make sure every video ties to your brand and your business.

Businesses are talking about video because social networks have recognized how important the messaging tool is to users. Investing in this partnership can only help you find more customers and connect them to your products and services now and in the future.

STRYDE | The Best Content Types for Each Stage of the B2B Sales Cycle 2

The Best Content Types for Each Stage of the B2B Sales Cycle

By | Business, Content Marketing | No Comments

As content marketing moves from an industry-specific jargon to a widely-accepted business tactic, we’re privileged and excited to be on the forefront of a new frontier. More firms dipping their toes into the content marketing pool means even more brilliant minds taking stock of the landscape.

One firm doing just that is Eccolo Media. Eccolo recently published results from an extensive survey among technology buyers. The firm surveyed over 100 individuals who influence or make technology buying decisions.

Respondents ran the gamut from engineers to C-level executives. Here’s a breakdown of the respondents demographics:

B2B Content Survey Respondent Demographics

Eccolo’s survey sample size is minimal, but the breadth of job roles and industries gives an excellent snapshot of what business-to-business buyers are looking for when it comes to content consumption.

Eccolo Media’s 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report Findings

The goal of Eccolo’s survey was to determine what content is most helpful in each of the four sales cycle phases: pre-sales, initial sales, mid-sales, and final sales.

Here is the Eccolo Media 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report, Eccolo Media Inc. infographic. After the infographic, we’ll really dig into the survey findings and what they mean for your firm.

eccolo_buying_cycle_infographic-FINAL

Digging into the Infographic

Creating content is a common content marketing stumbling block for organizations. The best way to overcome it is to totally understand your consumers buying journey. After you understand their journey and questions that guide the search, you can create content based on the Content Marketing Pyramid.

The buyer’s core questions along her journey create the crux of the sales process. These questions then help to form what content customers crave and consume at each stage.

Now, let’s really dig into Eccolo’s findings on content types for each stage of the B2B sales cycle.

Phase One – Unaware of the Problem

Before the consumer enters the buying process, she is understandably unaware of the problem at hand. The most effective way to spark a problem recognition is through visually-focused and succinct methods of communication.

E-newsletters – Email is an essential content type in your overall content marketing strategy. Through an email newsletter, consumers are able to quickly identify a problem they’re facing. With short copy and a clear call-to-action, consumers can easily identify the gaps they need filled.

Blogs – As with email, blogs provide a perfect stage to communicate a concise message. Unless consumers are subscribers to your blog, they will most likely end up at your blog through social channels or search results. This is the perfect place to herd customers into your funnel, since these channels are built for first-touch interactions.

Brochures/Data Sheets – Again, the common theme with stage one content consumption is visually appealing and succinct. Brochures and data sheets are the perfect way to quickly communicate an overview of a problem to consumers.

Phase Two – Understand the Problem

In the second phase of the buying process, the customer is full-on understanding mode. Here, she’s trying to collect and synthesize as much information on her specific problem as possible. Not surprisingly, consumers crave content that is very detailed and descriptive in this stage.

White Paper – White papers are a great content choice in the second stage of the sales process because they are lengthy, detailed, unbiased, and informative. White papers provide objective and thorough information that customers love to read at this phase.

Case Studies – Similarly to white papers, case studies are detailed and informative. The customer here is looking for similarities between firms you have already served, and the subsequent successes in that interaction. Remember, at this phase, consumers WANT lengthy and detailed content.

Phase Three – Identify Solutions, Consider Vendors

Now that the consumer fully understands every element of her problem, she will begin to consider solutions and vendors that provide those solutions. Here is where your firm should shift from complete objectivity to really showcasing what sets your firm’s solution apart from your competitors.

Detailed Tech Guides – Technical guides go much more in-depth into problem-solution scenarios than white papers or case studies. With tech guides, the problem and solution are described in meticulous detail. This is precisely what consumers crave here, so give it to them!

Videos – We all know that images are processed faster than text. In fact, 50% of our brain is dedicated to visual functions. Cater to your consumers preferences here by describing more complicated solutions through a video. Videos provide a great opportunity to speak directly to your customers and explain more complicated concepts through voice rather than text.

Webinars – Webinars provide a one-two punch to customers in the third phase of the sales process. Not only can you provide crazy-detailed information, but you provide it in a visually appealing manner. What’s also great about webinars is that they allow you to communicate in real-time with your consumers and answer questions directly.

Phase Four – Finalizing vendor, purchasing solution

As the infographic points out, fewer consumers digest content in the final phase of the sales cycle. Nearly 50% of consumers utilized content in the second and third stage, but by the fourth stage that drops to just under 20%. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create content for that 20%. Quite the opposite, actually. By providing useful content at the final stage, you could greatly increase your firm’s chances of being selected.

EBooks – B2B consumers utilize eBooks in the final phase of purchasing. Quite separate from white papers, eBooks are conversational, highly visual, and easy-to-read. EBooks highlight what kind of firm is providing the solution, and how the firm itself views the solution options.

The Sales Cycle, The Buying Process, & Your Firm’s Content

What we loved most about Eccolo’s survey findings was that it reinforced the concept of consumer-driven content at each stage of the sales cycle. For B2B companies, it can be easy to dismiss content creation as a strictly B2C endeavor.

But, that could not be further from the truth! Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you’re always talking to people.

Let these people dictate what they do and do not want to see at each step in their buying process, and adjust your sales cycle around that. By simply putting yourself in the shoes of your consumer and answering each question that could arise along her journey, you’ll effectively create content for every stage of the sales cycle.

What the 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Report Tells Us

By | Business, Digital Marketing, Industry News | No Comments

Last year I wrote a post recapping the findings from Software Advice’s 2013 Online B2B Buyer Behavior Report. This year marketing technology advisor Software Advice is at it again, but this time around they put together a 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Report.

Demand generation, which I’m sure most of you already know, is using targeted marketing programs to help drive more awareness of and interest in your company’s products or services. In this report, Software Advice surveyed 200 B2B marketing professionals, mostly senior-level marketers, and discovered what channels, offers, content types and technologies they used to power their demand gen programs, as well as which ones worked the most effectively for them. Three key takeaways stood out from this report:

  1. The best channels that brought in large numbers of high-quality leads were trade shows, referral marketing and in-house email marketing.
  2. Videos were the most used content type, used by 92% of those surveyed, and videos produced a large quantity of leads.
  3. 79% of the B2B marketers use at least 11 marketing software applications, and 97% use email marketing software.

Best Channels for Generating Leads

The B2B marketers surveyed were asked to rate channels based on the relative quantity and quality of leads generated by said channels. Trade shows and events were picked as generating the most leads and the best leads, which Michele Linn, content development director at CMI, credited to in-person events being meaningful and powerful today when basically everything we do is online.

SA graph

Other channels that did well were search engine advertising, in-house email marketing and TV, radio and print advertisements. If you want to run programs that focus on quantity, these are options you should look into if you aren’t already doing them. But steer clear of direct mail and display advertising, as these 2 finished last.

While trade shows and events brought in large amounts of promising leads, they were also picked as being the channels that had a high cost-per-lead. Low-cost channels included in-house email marketing, organic search and social media. Social media marketing, the campaigns and programs excluding ads, made the top of the list at being the lowest cost-per-lead.

Content Types and Number of Leads They Produce

Next, the marketers were asked to rank content types by their effectiveness with demand generation and lead generation. Of all surveyed, 92% said video was the most commonly used content type for demand gen programs. Videos ranked just ahead of surveys, white papers and case studies.

SA graph 2

Videos and surveys also ranked as the top-2 ways for generating the most quantity of leads. Videos have been most thought of as content that helps brands build trust with their consumers and is used to simply entertain them. But as this report shows, companies must be producing more actionable videos that are generating more and more quality leads.

Rounding out the list of content types given, e-books and case studies finished at the bottom.

Software Applications Used for Demand Generation Efforts

SA graph 3

Software Advice then provided 11 software systems and asked the marketers to select which ones they used to assist with their demand gen efforts. Almost all surveyed, 97%, use email marketing software. Following closing behind were CRM and marketing automation systems. But what should be noted is that 79% of those surveyed use all of the 11 software solutions they were shown, and more than 70% said all 11 were reasonably important with their demand gen efforts. This proves that B2B marketing departments rely heavily on information technology.

Demand Generation Expectations and Spending

The last two questions Software Advice asked were how the marketers’ demand gen programs were performing compared to their expectations and what their plans for demand gen spending were for 2015. Forty-four percent of small businesses, those with less than 100 employees, said their efforts performed below what they anticipated, while 27% of midsized companies and 29% of large companies said the same.

Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, believes these results are because many marketers set foolish expectations. Marketers want things right now, but they forget their prospects don’t function exactly how they want.

“Across the board, we too often expect marketing programs to work immediately,” he said. “We want qualified leads, now! But our prospects don’t work that way.”

As for spending with demand gen efforts, 41% of the marketers surveyed said they were going to increase their yearly spending, 43% said they were going to spend the same amount and 17% said they were going to decrease spending for the upcoming year.

SA graph 4

Linn said it’s no surprise at all that more marketers are planning to spend more for 2015.

“People realize now that having a demand generation strategy is so critical,” she said. “They need to plan content along the entire customer lifecycle. And it can be very time-intensive and resource-intensive. So, from that perspective, it’s not surprising that people are increasing spend at all. It’s an engine that constantly needs to be fed.”