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Here is what Vonn Weisenberger and I did with the thesis that I wrote at Kalamazoo College based on my experiences at TechValidate Software and what I’ve learned about content marketing from ...

Here is what Vonn Weisenberger and I did with the thesis that I wrote at Kalamazoo College based on my experiences at TechValidate Software and what I’ve learned about content marketing from Kapost's content! We made our own content in the name of “personal branding” and hiring differentiation. Check out the blog! → http://bit.ly/1hKJEBC

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Content Marketing: An Introduction to B2B Marketing Content Marketing: An Introduction to B2B Marketing Document Transcript

  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 1 CONTENT MARKETING: An Introduction to B2B Marketing Alex Burkholder
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing CONTENTS Introduction B2B vs. B2C Content Marketing The Empowered Buyer Outbound Marketing One-Touch Outbound Email Campaign Inbound Marketing Marketing Automation Lead Scoring + Lead Qualification Lead Nurturing One-Touch Inbound Email Nurture Asset: Inbound Marketing Explained Leveraging Content Gating Sales + Marketing Alignment Asset: Customer Content 3 3 4 5 5 6 7 8 10 11 11 13 15 13 15 14 Conclusion 16 Content 12 About the Authors 18
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing The inspiration for the creation of this eBook came from Kapost’s, “Blueprint of a Modern Marketing Campaign eBook,” which discussed something called a content pillar. A content pillar is a significant and comprehensive content asset, such as an eBook, guide, or report, that supports marketing initiatives. A single pillar can then be broken into many derivative content assets to fill an editorial calendar and fuel distribution channels. This eBook is a “content pillar” based on the contents of my Senior Individualized Project (SIP) at Kalamazoo College which I completed in the fall of 2013. Its been broken into derivative assets that fill an editorial calendar and fuel distribution channels. The SIP was an inbound marketing automation plan for TechValidate Software and is titled “TechValidate Software: Measuring Effectiveness of Inbound Marketing on Sales Efficiency.” It has been repurposed into content; content that an actual b2b organization could hypothetically leverage in their own marketing efforts. INTRODUCTION A content pillar is a significant and comprehensive content asset, such as an eBook, guide, or report, that supports marketing initiatives. Business-to-business (b2b) refers to an organization who sells primarily to other businesses (Marketo, Salesforce, Kapost, TechValidate, Drobo, etc.) while business-to- consumer (b2c) refers to an organization that sells directly to customers (Apple, Target, Walmart, J. Crew, etc.). The difference may seem trivial, but the behavior of a b2b consumer is dramatically different than b2c consumer. The distinction between the two is “the path to purchase.” For a b2b consumer it might look something like this: Start Finish B2B VS. B2C
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 4 Whereas a b2c consumer might look something like this: The path to purchase for a b2b consumer is indirect and often takes a substantial amount of time to complete their journey because of chain of command and return on investment (ROI) considerations. For the b2c consumer, it’s more direct as they don’t have chain-of-command and return on investment issues for consideration. This difference in behavior has given rise to content marketing which leverages “content” to educate and nurture b2b consumers along their path to purchase, making it an easier journey with the hope they’ll become real customers. Start Finish Content marketing is the process of developing, publishing, and distributing useful, relevant content that engages prospective customers and propels them toward purchase. It’s the most effective marketing strategy with more than 82% of companies planning to increase content production over the next 12 months (Content Marketing Report, 2013). B2b marketers need to gather, collect, and create relevant content to fuel content marketing campaigns. Most organizations have a few assets available on their website, but they’re typically old materials. Existing assets provide a good starting place for new content creation and future content ideas. It’s easy to begin creating content by re-using old blog posts or newsletters in smaller chunks, and over time organizations can grow their content libraries. Eventually, however, companies are going to need to come up with new and compelling content to fuel future sales and marketing campaigns. Content marketing is especially relevant in the digital age as customers have the freedom to educate themselves before engaging with a sales representative. CONTENT MARKETING Content marketing is the process of developing, publishing, and distributing useful, relevant content that engages prospective customers and propels them toward purchase.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 5 B2b consumers don’t always know what they want or need, so marketers must understand their research process and react in a relevant and timely manner. To develop meaningful relationships with potential customers (leads), companies tailor marketing and sales materials (collateral or content) with a one-on-one relevance to the leads and engage at specific times throughout the research process to address pertinent issues. The rise of the empowered buyer has created the need for content marketing as a supplement to traditional outbound marketing. agree that price and amount of research are directly correlated. Outbound marketing encompasses traditional sales and marketing techniques such as cold calls, events and purchased print, radio, and television advertising. Prospective buyers can afford to ignore outbound marketing because they’re empowered and can educate themselves before engaging with sales or marketing. The outbound approach is extremely inefficient and unscientific because the audience is largely anonymous. It’s Information is, quite literally, at our fingertips at all times; therefore, people can choose what they want to engage with at all times. The rise of the empowered buyer has created the need for content marketing as a supplement to traditional outbound marketing. With the aid of the Internet, a shift towards “the empowered buyer” has occurred. Information is, quite literally, at our fingertips at all times; therefore, people can choose what they want to engage with at all times. B2b consumers are in control and according to the State of Demand (2013): THE EMPOWERED BUYER of b2b buyers start their searches on Google. of them agree that as their research deepens on a subject, their search terms become more refined. 96% 99% 91% OUTBOUND MARKETING
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 6 difficult to target or tailor relevant messages. The logic is that if enough cold calls are made, or enough email campaigns are sent out, eventually someone of relevance will receive the message. Companies that do email outreach with an outbound mentality typically are trying to set up a call and connect with someone right away. This type of outreach is viewed as “noise” and “interruptive,” which most people actively avoid. Companies that do email outreach with an outbound mentality typically are trying to set up a call and connect with someone right away. Using a content generation company as the context, here is a hypothetical example of what an outbound marketing email might look like: Hi Sam, Checking to see if creating a magnitude of marketing content for your marketing and sales programs is worth discussing. Looking to have a quick chat. For some context: https://bit.ly/4815162342 I’m out of the office during the day, but I can be reached this evening. If this is relevant, let me know if you’re interested in learning more. Best, Bill From: William Compton To: Sam Merlotte ONE-TOUCH OUTBOUND EMAIL CAMPAIGN The Internet allows consumers to research options without the annoyance of a hard sales pitch. In fact, 90% of business buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you (Content Marketing Report, 2013). Here, Bill is trying to set-up a call with Sam right away and if Sam is within the 90% of b2b buyers then he’ll most likely ignore this sales attempt by Bill. Marketing and sales must find new ways to engage with buyers that isn’t disruptive. 90% of business buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 7 INBOUND MARKETING Inbound marketing is gaining traction as more customers engage less with the traditional outbound marketing and sales tactics. Inbound marketing helps potential customers discover products or services, often before they are looking to purchase, and turns early awareness into brand preference that ultimately leads to revenue. Inbound marketing is content marketing designed to nurture and educate buyers with a sales message and is more common than often realized. If a person ever downloaded an eBook to learn more about something, or if a person has ever “+1” a brand on Google+ or followed it on Twitter, inbound marketing is at play. Through actions like this, the consumer is expressing empowerment, engaging with a brand because they identify with it. And in exchange, the consumer has given the brand information about their interest as a potential customer. Engaged leads are leads who elicit those behaviors and indicate that they’re closer to a sales conversion because they’re viewing and downloading content on a continuous and consistent basis. Guidelines put in place by marketing and sales often “score” leads based on this engagement. Once a lead reaches a specified score, they are deemed sales ready, or a sales qualified lead (SQL). SQLs are then subject to receive communication from sales, as they are closer to conversion. The result of inbound marketing and content generation is better lead qualification. Thus, by the time the sales team accepts leads, they have a much higher probability of becoming closable leads when compared to traditional outbound marketing. Educational offers and quality content are at the core of successful inbound marketing efforts. Content that is available to leads should be useful even if that lead never becomes a customer of the company that is leveraging said content. B2b buyers are empowered, but do not always know their “pain,” so marketers must react in a relevant and timely manner by “gating” the content available. Pain refers to an obstacle or problem an organization or individual is facing to accomplish its or his goals while gating refers to the restriction of complex collateral for less engaged leads and the availability of complex collateral for more engaged leads. Inbound marketing, however, ultimately fails if executed alone because it’s hard to target specific audiences with inbound Consumers engage with a brand because they identify with it. In exchange, the consumer has given the brand information about their interest in it as a potential customer. Inbound marketing turns early awareness into brand preference that ultimately leads to revenue. Quality content are at the core of successful inbound marketing efforts. Content that is sent out or available to leads should be useful even if that lead never becomes a customer.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 8 marketing and it doesn’t itself motivate people to act. Because of these limitations, a complete marketing strategy needs to incorporate a full portfolio of approaches including events, webinars, email, and advertising, as well as outbound tactics. To maximize the value from inbound marketing, it needs to be combined with marketing automation processes and software. Inbound marketing conducted through marketing automation software can provide insight about leads and nurture leads into the buying cycle, discover the right people to connect with and educate leads. Following nurturing, leads can be transferred from marketing to sales. Organizations can then conduct outbound outreach to nurtured, relevant and qualified leads as they would be ready to receive a sales message. The result of inbound marketing and content generation is better lead qualification. Thus, by the time the sales team accepts leads, they have a much higher probability of becoming closable leads. MARKETING AUTOMATION Marketing automation is the technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows so they can increase operational efficiency and increase revenue faster. It manages and automates inbound marketing efforts, converting prospective buyers into actual consumers by engaging with leads in a relevant and timely manner. Marketing automation tracks data including, web page visits, collateral viewed/downloaded, and other information that leads viewed/downloaded on company websites. Marketing automation also diminishes the communication silos that can exist between sales and marketing by using a common language, sharing metrics, and integrating all necessary data into one location. Marketing automation automates the various tasks and workflows involved in demand generation, lead management, and sales and marketing alignment. Demand generation refers to targeted marketing programs that drive awareness and interest in a company’s products and/or services. Lead management refers to a business’s connection between outgoing consumer advertising and response to that advertising. Marketing automation automates the various tasks and workflows involved in demand generation, lead management, and sales and marketing alignment.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 9 Marketing automation accomplishes this by creating one-on-one relationships with leads through relevant collateral and conversations determined by the marketer. • Names • Email addresses • Psychographic attributes • Firmographic attributes (company size, role, industry, etc.) Marketing automation contributes to shorter sales cycles, increased revenue, and better marketing ROI. This type of software accomplishes this by creating one-on-one relationships with leads through relevant collateral and conversations determined by the marketer. Execution of these relationships is a product lead generation, which is the combination and optimization of data that consists of: It also includes but is not limited to: Marketing automation creates more in-depth relationships with leads from the first time they enter the database until they are longtime customers, and it targets the right prospect with the right content to improve sales conversion. Data capture throughout the process can be measured and analyzed to enable continuous marketing process improvement through calculated modification to the initial intent. Any implementation of marketing automation should have a measurable impact on the financial performance of the company. It’s essential to identify new metrics to measure performance of marketing automation. Metrics include return on marketing investment, customer satisfaction, customer retention rate, cost per lead, press mentions, customer acquisition, customer profitability, market share, campaign response rates, budget adherence, and brand awareness. As a result of the rise of the empowered buyer, marketers are being pushed to fundamentally change how they engage with customers across online and offline channels • Demographic attributes • Budget, authority, need, and timeline information • Lead source or origin (trade show, webinar, website form, etc.) • The completeness of their data profile • Behavioral attributes (number of responses, overall engagement with content, etc.) Marketing automation creates more in-depth relationships with leads from the first time they enter the database until they are longtime customers. The rise of the empowered buyer requires marketers to create relevant and personalized content across multiple channels to provide information that buyers seek and expect in their decision- making.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 10 and throughout the entire customer lifecycle. These changes require marketers to create and publish relevant and personalized content across multiple channels (search engines, email, social media, online videos, and content assets) to provide information that buyers seek and expect in their decision-making. Scoring a lead isn’t the same as qualifying it. LEAD SCORING + LEAD QUALIFICATION Although the changes in b2b behavior require marketers engage with leads in a personalized manner across multiple channels to create relationships, not all leads are created equal. Who’s really to say that the person requesting your eBook isn’t a student gathering research for their SIP? Scoring a lead isn’t the same as qualifying it. Lead scoring refers to guidelines put in place by marketing and sales to “score” leads based on engagement. Once a lead reaches a specified score, they are deemed sales ready, or a sales qualified lead (SQL). Thus, by the time the sales team accepts leads, they have a much higher probability of becoming closable leads when compared to traditional outbound marketing. At this point, the lead is deemed “qualified” and is subject to sales outreach like the previously mentioned outbound tactic. The way lead scoring and lead qualification can occur is through lead nurturing tactics which helps push leads through the sales and marketing funnels. The way lead scoring and lead qualification can occur is through lead nurturing tactics which helps push leads through the sales and marketing funnels.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 11 Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with leads even if they’re not currently looking to buy. It’s intended to raise a company’s profile in the lead’s mind, thus making it more likely that the lead will purchase the company’s product or service when it’s time to buy. Again, using a content generation company as the context, here is a hypothetical example of an inbound nurturing email leveraged through marketing automation: LEAD NURTURING Hi Andy, You’ve probably heard the term “inbound marketing” many times, but if someone asked you to define it, could you? In our discussions with clients and prospects, we found a widespread uncertainty about what inbound marketing is, how it’s different from outbound, why companies should care, and what companies are doing about it. That’s why we put together this complimentary download: Inbound Marketing Explained. In it, you’ll learn: • The difference between inbound and outbound marketing • How inbound marketing benefits both the buyer and the seller • Effective content to leverage in your inbound collateral Once you have a firm grasp on how inbound marketing works, you can start integrating it into your company’s marketing strategy – and take your prospect engagement to the next level. Hope this helps! Thank you, Andy! Cheers, Bill From: William Compton To: Andy Bellefleur Lead nurturing is intended to raise a company’s profile in the lead’s mind, thus making it more likely that the lead will purchase the company’s product or service when it’s time to buy. ONE-TOUCH INBOUND EMAIL NURTURE Notice the difference between this email and the outbound email. This one is simply educating the lead about inbound marketing and in the process is nurturing the idea of utilizing
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 12 inbound marketing at their organization. Too, based on this email you cannot tell what the company is trying to sell, or what they do exactly, rather they’re informing you about inbound marketing. This method is consistent with the trends of the self-directed buyer and is an extremely powerful marketing technique. This asset highlights the general topic of inbound marketing, but within it there are more specific topics (e.g. effective content to leverage). If this email is relevant to the lead, they’ll engage. If not, they won’t. Either way the marketer is gathering information about this lead and is not asking to connect with them directly like in outbound marketing. Within “Inbound Marketing Explained” there are links to more specific topics about customer content. The content generation company would then be gating the higher-level content for a lead that chooses to engage with higher-level content. At that point, leads would be ready to digest more complex collateral as they were the ones who chose to obtain it. By them engaging in these behaviors, they’re indicating to the company their interests; therefore, the company can further engage with more specific content relevant to that lead all while nurturing their product solution. CONTENT Content is king in b2b marketing. B2b marketers need to gather, collect, and create relevant content to leverage in their inbound marketing campaigns before they can begin seeing success with content marketing. Ideally, this content should be based on a solid understanding of buyer personas so that content and messages resonate with the audience. Luckily, most organizations already have a few assets, but they’re typically old materials. It’s easy to begin creating content by re-using old content like blog posts, whitepapers, and infographics. That’s similar to the way this eBook was made after all. Too, ideas and material can come from a host of other sources such as reports, surveys, and even customer feedback. All together, these can be combined to create a large asset or broken down to make small “snackable” pieces of content. Content should be based on a solid understanding of buyer personas so that content and messages resonate with the audience.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 13 Once more, using a content generation company as the context, here is an asset that could hypothetically be leveraged in a lead nurturing campaign: Inbound Marketing Explained 1 INBOUND MARKETING Alex Burkholder Explained Inbound Marketing Explained 3 with a brand because they identify with it. In exchange, the consumer has given the brand information about their interest in it as a potential customer. Educational offers and quality content are at the core of successful inbound marketing efforts. Content that is sent out or available to leads should be useful even if that lead never becomes a customer of the company leveraging that content. Inbound marketing requires the use of multiple strategies across various channels including website design, social media marketing, and content marketing. QUALITY CONTENT Content that companies leverage are often created from their existing materials. Most organizations already have a few assets available on their website, but they’re typically old materials. Existing assets provide a good starting place for new content creation and future content ideas. Unfortunately, these existing assets are not relevant to customers in certain verticals as many companies have a broad customer base in different verticals, roles, or audiences. Customer content, on the other hand, permits marketers of b2b organizations to leverage compelling content from the voice of customers to power sales and marketing campaigns as content based on the feedback of verified real users. Customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) are considered to be the most effective pieces of content to leverage as sales collateral and marketing materials (Content Marketing Report, 2013). Content marketing is going mainstream and has become more sophisticated to help marketers generate more leads. Gathering customer content, however, is no simple task. Current methods for creating content are ineffective as 93% of b2b marketers creating content from scratch (Content Marketing Report, 2013). Marketing teams are under immense pressure to generate relevant content for both marketing and sales collateral. Sales have demand for case studies or testimonials and their prospects desire for credible content to support sales’ claims. Even when companies gather and leverage content from the voice of their customers, credibility of the data is in jeopardy. More than 93% of companies create content from scratch (Content Marketing Report, 2013) and have in-house content generation demands. They could use a survey software tool, such as SurveyMonkey, to collect customer data, but this lacks third-party validation. Inbound Marketing Explained 2 INTRODUCTION OUTBOUND VS. INBOUND MARKETING HOW INBOUND IS MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL You’ve probably heard the term “inbound marketing” many times, but if someone asked you to define it, could you? In our discussions with clients and prospects, we found a widespread uncertainty about what inbound marketing is, how it’s different from outbound, why companies should care, and what companies are doing about it. The distinction between outbound and inbound marketing is that outbound marketing actively attempts to find buyers while inbound marketing is passively absorbed by potential customers. The outbound approach is extremely inefficient and unscientific because the audience is largely anonymous, it’s difficult to target or tailor relevant messages, and the logic is that if enough cold calls are made, or enough email campaigns are sent out, eventually someone of relevance will receive the message. Outbound marketing encompasses traditional sales and marketing techniques such as cold calls, events and purchased print, radio, and television advertising. Prospective buyers often ignore outbound marketing reach because buyers can educate themselves on their own before engaging with sales or marketing. The Internet allows consumers to research options without the annoyance of a hard sales pitch. In fact, 90% of business buyers say when they’re ready to buy; they’ll find you (Content Marketing Report, 2013). However, leads do not always know that they have pain (so they aren’t looking) and it is the marketer’s job to expose pain and nurture their solutions. Inbound marketing is gaining traction as more customers engage less with the traditional outbound marketing and sales tactics. Inbound marketing helps potential customers discover products or services, often before they are looking to purchase, and turns early awareness into brand preference that ultimately leads to revenue. Inbound marketing is content marketing designed to nurture and educate buyers with a sales message and is more common than people realize. For example, if someone ever downloads content to learn more about something, or if a person followed a company on Twitter, inbound marketing is at play. Through actions like this, the consumer becomes empowered, engaging Inbound Marketing Explained 4 CUSTOMER CONTENT SOFTWARE CONCLUSION Customer content software permits marketers of b2b organizations to generate new, fresh, and compelling content from the voice of customers to power sales and marketing campaigns, all in a cost and time effective manner, and third-party verified. Types of customer content to leverage as sales and marketing collateral include: Customer content software enables organizations to more efficiently and effectively acquire customer content thereby improving sales effectiveness and generating faster revenue growth. • Customer testimonials • Charts and graphs • Case studies • Customer reviews • Customer proof points • Performance and ROI metrics Now that you have learned the difference between inbound and outbound marketing and have become an expert on how inbound marketing is beneficial to both the buyer and seller, let’s focus more on this customer content aspect. It sounds complicated. Shoot, it is complicated. Who are we kidding? To learn more about Customer Content Software feel free to download our “Introduction to Customer Content Software” eBook. Or don’t! It is truly up to YOU. You’re the empowered buyer that has the freedom to engage with whatever content you want, whenever you want. Remember? We’d like it if you did though; it’s pretty rad. Alex Burkholder: Author Vonn Weisenberger: Designer CHECK IT OUT! WE’RE ON THE INTERNET. DOWNLOAD THE ASSET Because B2b buyers are empowered, but do not always know their pain, marketers must react in a relevant and timely manner by gating the content available. To reiterate, GATING
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 14 gating refers to the restriction of complex collateral for less engaged leads and the availability of complex collateral for more engaged leads. In “Inbound Marketing Explained,” a more complex piece of collateral is leveraged towards the end of the piece. The logic here being that when the lead has read about the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, they’ll be able to “handle” a more complex piece of content. Below is the asset gated in Inbound Marketing Explained: Gating refers to the restriction of complex collateral for less engaged leads and the availability of complex collateral for more engaged leads. Inbound Marketing Explained 1 An Introduction to CUSTOMER CONTENT SOFTWARE Alex Burkholder Inbound Marketing Explained 4 CUSTOMER CONTENT B2b marketers gather, collect and create relevant content to leverage in their inbound marketing campaigns before they can begin seeing success with inbound content marketing campaigns. Ideally, this content should be based on a solid understanding of buyer personas, so that content and messages resonate with the audience. Fortunately, most organizations already have a few assets available on their website, but they’re typically old materials. Existing assets provide a good starting place for new content creation and future content ideas. Unfortunately, these existing assets are not always relevant to customers in certain verticals as many companies have a broad customer base in different verticals, roles, or audiences. Customer content, on the other hand, permits marketers of b2b organizations to leverage compelling content from the voice of customers to power sales and marketing campaigns as content is based on the feedback of verified real users. Ideally, this content should be based on a solid understanding of buyer personas, so that content and messages resonate with the audience. Gathering customer content, however, is no simple task. Current methods for creating content are ineffective as 93% of b2b marketers create content from scratch (Content Marketing Report, 2013). Marketing teams are under immense pressure to generate relevant content for both marketing and sales collateral. Sales have demand for case studies or testimonials and their prospects desire credible content to support sales’ claims. GATHERING CUSTOMER CONTENT Current methods for creating content are ineffective as 93% of b2b marketers create content from scratch. Customer data is extremely important when leveraging your product or services against that of other products and services (Content Marketing Report, 2013). In the b2b marketplace, however, customers are sensitive to sharing success stories publicly because of legal or PR approval obstacles. Too, there is long approval processes for case studies with 55% of b2b marketers claiming content creation takes too much time to generate (Content Marketing Report, 2013). CREDIBLE CONTENT Customer data is extremely important when leveraging your product or services against that of other products and services. Inbound Marketing Explained 2 CONTENTS Introduction Self-Directed Buyer Content Marketing Customer Content Credible Content Customer Content Software Leveraging Customer Content Conclusion 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 6 Inbound Marketing Explained 3 INTRODUCTION SELF-DIRECTED BUYER The manner in which people obtain information and make decisions about the purchase of goods and services is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Buyers today are increasingly self-directed in their purchase decisions. They spend more time gathering information across a number of digital channels including search engines, company websites, blogs, online product reviews and social networks. As a result, buyers today often form brand perceptions and make significant purchasing decisions based on online research prior to any direct contact with a salesperson. Marketers are being pushed to fundamentally change how they engage with customers across online and offline channels and throughout the entire customer lifecycle. These changes require marketers to create and publish relevant and personalized content across multiple channels (search engines, email, social media, online videos and buying guides) to provide the information that buyers seek and expect in their decision-making. Buyers today are increasingly self-directed in their purchase decisions. They spend more time gathering information across a number of digital channels including search engines, company websites, blogs, online product reviews and social networks. These changes require marketers to create and publish relevant and personalized content across multiple channels. CONTENT MARKETING Content marketing is going mainstream and has become more sophisticated to help marketers generate more leads and enable thought leadership, which is authority in a field whose expertise is sought out (Content Marketing Report, 2013). B2b content marketing is the most effective marketing strategy, and more than 82% of companies plan to increase content production over the next 12 months (Content Marketing Report, 2013). Customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) are considered to be the most effective pieces of content to leverage as sales collateral and marketing materials (Content Marketing Report, 2013). Customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) are considered to be the most effective pieces of content to leverage as sales collateral and marketing materials. Inbound Marketing Explained 5 Even when companies gather and leverage content from the voice of their customers, credibility of the data is in jeopardy. More than 93% of companies create content from scratch (Content Marketing Report, 2013) and have in-house content generation demands. They could use a survey software tool, such as SurveyMonkey, to collect customer data, but this lacks third-party verification. There is long approval processes for case studies with 55% of b2b marketers claiming content creation takes too much time to generate. CUSTOMER CONTENT SOFTWARE Customer content software permits marketers of b2b organizations to generate new, fresh, and compelling content from the voice of customers to power sales and marketing campaigns, all in a cost and time effective manner and third-party verified. Types of customer content to leverage as sales and marketing collateral include: Customer content software enables organizations to more efficiently and effectively acquire customer content thereby improving sales effectiveness and generating faster revenue growth. • Customer testimonials • Charts and graphs • Case studies • Customer reviews • Customer proof points • Performance and ROI metrics Content generated through customer content software can be optimized for social sharing across popular social media channels (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+). Marketing teams could create social media campaigns that “drip out” a steady stream of fresh content in an automated way to cultivate awareness and keep their brand in the mind of potential customers. LEVERAGING CUSTOMER CONTENT Social media campaigns that “drip out” a steady stream of fresh content in an automated way cultivate awareness and keep their brand in the mind of potential customers. Customer content can be repurposed into blogs posts, microsites and landing pages. Third-party content offers credible proof of market direction and proof that products actually do deliver meaningful operational and financial results to customers. Content should be leveraged in lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns as customer testimonials and case studies can be highly segmented to fit the specific profile of the target. According the Content Marketing Report (2013) 71% of b2b marketers identify audience relevance among the most important elements of effective content. 71% of b2b marketers identify audience relevance among the most important elements of effective content. CONCLUSION Content marketing is going mainstream and has become more sophisticated to help marketers generate more leads and enable thought leadership. B2b content marketing is the most effective marketing strategy, and more than 82% of companies plan to increase content production over the next 12 months (Content Marketing Report, 2013). Customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) are considered to be the most effective pieces of content to leverage as sales collateral and marketing materials (Content Marketing Report, 2013), especially when they’re third-party validated as it offers credible proof that products actually do deliver meaningful operational and financial results to actual customers. Alex Burkholder: Author Vonn Weisenberger: Designer CHECK IT OUT! WE’RE ON THE INTERNET. Inbound Marketing Explained 6 DOWNLOAD THE ASSET
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 15 As 71% of b2b marketers identify audience relevance among the most important elements of effective content (Content Marketing Report, 2013), it’s paramount that the content leads receive is relevant to that individual lead and it’s the job of the marketer to determine this relevance and segment leads accordingly: The way leads are categorized is indicative of the nurturing method and content given to a lead, with the ultimate goal of having the content be relevant in a one-on-one context. Once leads have been nurtured, the sales team interacts with customers that elicit behavior indicative of a sale. Content marketing and marketing automation can drive the most results when a company uses it as an opportunity to realign its entire revenue engine around the modern customer’s new buying cycle. But before inbound marketing automation is implemented questions need to be answered about how the organization will handle leads and align sales and marketing. LEVERAGING CONTENT BY TARGETING + SEGMENTING LEADS SALES + MARKETING ALIGNMENT • Names • Email addresses • Psychographic attributes • Firmographic attributes (company size, role, industry, etc.) • Demographic attributes • Budget, authority, need, and timeline information (BANT) • Lead source or origin (trade show, webinar, website form, etc.) • Completeness of their data profile • Behavioral attributes (number of responses, overall engagement with content, etc.) • Customer status attributes (new customer, not using customer, high usage, low usage, etc.)
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 16 Questions include, but are not limited to: • What is considered a sales-ready lead? • How long is the sales cycle? • When is a lead considered qualified? • How to prioritize lead qualification and nurturing efforts and how to recycle leads? All facets of inbound marketing need to be consistent with a common end goal in mind to be successful, and to get everyone within the organization on board with marketing automation. People are typically resistant to change, so it is important to define, train, and create an environment to support learning of the new systems. The most important step organizations must take to implement inbound marketing is to communicate with the current employees about strategy, milestones, and how it will align with sales. From inbound marketing campaigns executed through marketing automation software, companies can qualify and nurture leads in order to increase the efficiency of their sales structure. In order for inbound marketing content to increase the efficiency of the sales system, content marketing teams must produce relevant, fresh, and engaging content. Too, they must reach across multiple mediums and use software to track lead behavior. The campaigns include modern marketing automation tools and practices including: email nurturing, landing pages, white paper generation and blog posts, social media marketing, and webinars. The leads that sales connect with should all be nurtured and qualified to receive a call. These leads have shown engagement with an organization’s content consistently and have viewed multiple forms of content. These qualified leads should consequently make it through the sales funnel more quickly and with higher conversion. All of this is possible through inbound content and marketing automation by connecting sales with the right leads at the right time. Content is king in respect to b2b marketing, especially in light of today’s b2b consumer. The amount of information that people engage with on a daily basis is infinite, just as is the amount of information that is searchable and available CONCLUSION In order for inbound marketing content to increase the efficiency of the sales system, content marketing teams must produce relevant, fresh, and engaging content. Qualified leads should consequently make it through the sales funnel more quickly and with higher conversion. The most important step organizations must take to implement inbound marketing is to communicate with the current employees about strategy, milestones, and how it will align with sales.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 17 for free on the Internet. Given this, modern marketers must provide consumers with the most reliable, relevant, and engaging content. This builds a relationship between the company and an individual that, if done correctly, will convert to revenue down the road.
  • An Introduction to Content Marketing 18 ABOUT THE AUTHORS Alex is a senior at Kalamazoo College graduating in June ‘14. He has a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Business. He’s also the former starting free safety for the Kalamazoo College Hornets football team. Broadly speaking, he’s pursuing a career in b2b marketing, and he enjoys TV shows, Ke$ha, working out, and was voted “Most Photogenic” in the eighth grade. Vonn is a multidisciplinary design student at Penn State graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture in 2015. He has held internships in graphic design, social media/advertising, and architecture. He enjoys coffee, whiskey, taco bell, and swearing (aka a real class act). Author ALEX BURKHOLDER Designer VONN WEISENBERGER
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