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Using interactive tools for SMB lead gen

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How do interactive tools compare to other content formats for SMB lead generation and conversion? Where in the sales cycle are they most effective? Do SMBs see their use of interactive tools increasing or decreasing? What kinds of interactive tools – for example calculators, pricing tools, self-assessments, quizzes or benchmarking tools – do SMBs like best? From which vendor categories do SMBs want interactive tools, and on what topics? How much contact information will they provide?

To answer these questions – and more – we recently surveyed 500 U.S. SMB principals. There are some great learnings on how to engage SMBs via interactive tools, and as a result to boost awareness, lead generation and purchase.

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Using interactive tools for SMB lead gen

  1. 1. September 27, 2018 Using Interactive Tools for SMB Lead Gen
  2. 2. 2 ORIGINAL RESEARCH  CUSTOM CONTENT INCREASING SALES TO SMBS
  3. 3. ORIGINAL RESEARCH  CUSTOM CONTENT INCREASING SALES TO SMBS 3 Qualitative • Live / online focus groups • Workshops • In-depth interviews Quantitative • Custom phone / online • SMB Pulse omnibus • SMB Finance, HR, IT and Marketing Pulses Methods • Message / positioning testing • Attitudes and usage • Brand awareness / perception • Buyer identification • Competitive perceptions • Customer satisfaction / loyalty • Market segmentation • Media behaviors / preferences • New product testing • Persona / buyer journey • Purchase intent, behaviors, channels and preferences Topics OutputsOutputs Internal: Deep insight for CE / product / marketing strategy External: High-value data for PR / content / social / collateral
  4. 4. 4 ORIGINAL RESEARCH  CUSTOM CONTENT INCREASING SALES TO SMBS Video Email Newsletters Checklists / Worksheets Case StudiesArticles Blog Posts White Papers Podcasts eBooks PR Surveys Social Media Handbooks / Guides Webcasts Slideshows Infographics Interactive Tools • Survey data • Creative brief • Editorial calendar • Content development • Content audit • Analytics • New SMB Content Marketing Roundtable Contribution • Expert • Actionable • Relevant • Easy to understand • Professional • Brand-building • Custom Principles Direct Mail Event Collateral Brochures / Sell Sheets Custom Pubs New SMB Content Marketing Roundtable
  5. 5. 5 WHAT WE’LL COVER Interactive tool usage preferences Format usage: current and outlook What interactivity is – and isn’t Benefits of interactive tools
  6. 6. 6 METHODOLOGY 1 2 HOW WHO Online survey via the Bredin.com/SMBPulse 500 principals of U.S. companies with ≤500 employees (4% +/- CI) 250 VSB <20 employees (97.7% weighting) 150 SB 20-99 employees (2.0% weighting) 100 MB 100-500 employees (0.3% weighting) 3 WHEN June 18-27, 2018 Charts present weighted data unless noted
  7. 7. 48% 52% Female Male Professional Services 27% Computer Software/Internet 6% Financial Services/Accounting/Bookkeeping 5% Advertising/Consulting/Design/Marketing Services 3% Computer Services/Consulting 3% Medical 3% Architect/Engineering 2% Banking/Insurance/Mortgage 2% Legal 2% Retail/Wholesale 29% Retail 15% Wholesale 6% Real Estate 4% Food/Beverage/Restaurants 3% Entertainment/Recreation 1% Travel/Hotel/Hospitality 1% Manufacturing 28% Construction/Mining/Contracting/Electrical/Landscape/Plumbing/etc. 14% Manufacturing/Transportation & Warehousing 5% Computer Hardware/Electronic Equipment 3% Automotive 2% Telecommunications 2% Pharmaceutical/Medical Devices/Biotechnology 1% Energy/Utilities 1% Other 15% Personal Services 12% Education/Training 4% Title 45% 29% 26% 50+ 35-49 18-34 Age Gender RESPONDENT CHARACTERISTICS 7 n=500 100% Principal (e.g., owner, founder, partner, CEO, president, etc.) Industry 44% 15% 23% 17% Less than $500k $500k to $999k $1M to $4.9M $5M+ 2017 Revenue Millennial Gen X Boomer
  8. 8. 14% 29% 27% 30% Less than 4 years 4 to 9 years 10 to 19 years 20 or more years 2% 4% 23% 25% 36% 9% Down more than 10% Down by less than 10% Same as 2017 Up by less than 10% Up 10% to 100% Up by more than 100% Years in Business Geography 2018 Revenue Outlook Northeast 20% South 37% West 23% Midwest 21% RESPONDENT CHARACTERISTICS 8 17% 43% 40% Population Density n=500 50% 30% 20% 1 to 19 Employees 20 to 99 Employees 100 to 500 Employees Headcount
  9. 9. DETAILED FINDINGS
  10. 10. Interactivity is what happens when users control some element of content display 10 DEFINING INTERACTIVITY Presenting business management advice… …complex data… …product payback / ROI…
  11. 11. Interactivity is what happens when users control some element of content display 11 DEFINING INTERACTIVITY …product options… …or pricing. Interactivity is NOT: Navigation Static content A lead capture form
  12. 12. 3% 3% 3% 4% 4% 4% 4% 6% 6% 6% 6% 7% 7% 10% 27% Infographic Webinar / webcast Interactive tool Video Podcast Peer forum or discussion board Case study Analyst report Research report Online eBook / guide / handbook Blog post Checklist / worksheet White paper Article Email newsletter Interactive tools aren’t currently the most popular format… 12 N=417 In each column, please select the one format you are most likely to use - whether to first learn about products and services for your business, to research them, or to make a final purchase decision. CONTENT FORMAT PREFERENCES IN THE SALES CYCLE 2% 4% 4% 5% 4% 7% 5% 5% 16% 8% 3% 6% 9% 8% 14% 2% 6% 4% 3% 2% 7% 9% 9% 7% 5% 3% 15% 8% 5% 15% Awareness Research Purchase
  13. 13. …but usage intent is growing strongly 13 n=500 Thinking about the business management advice you might get from your vendors like banks or credit card companies, how do you expect your use of each of these content formats will change over the next 12 months? CONTENT FORMAT USAGE OUTLOOK -2% -6% -4% -6% -5% -5% -8% -6% -4% -4% -5% -3% -4% -4% -2% -3% -3% -1% -2% -2% -2% -2% -4% -3% 0% -1% -2% -4% -1% -1% 10% 11% 12% 13% 15% 14% 14% 14% 14% 15% 15% 17% 18% 20% 24% 4% 5% 4% 6% 4% 5% 6% 6% 7% 6% 7% 6% 5% 6% 5% Analyst report Peer forum or discussion board Article Blog post Online eBook / guide / handbook Infographic White paper Podcast Webinar / webcast Case study Research report Checklist / worksheet Video Interactive tool Email newsletter 45% of young SMBs (<4 years old) plan to increase use of interactive tools vs. 22% 10-19 year old SMBs and 14% of 20+ year old SMBs
  14. 14. 12% 12% 13% 14% 15% 15% 15% 16% 17% 17% 17% 17% 19% 19% 22% Podcast Blog post White paper Infographic Peer forum or discussion board Webinar / webcast Video Online eBook / guide / handbook Interactive tool Checklist / worksheet Case study Analyst report Article Email newsletter Research report SMBs are most likely to share research reports, followed by email newsletters and articles 14 n=500 % rated very likely On a scale of 1 (not at all likely) to 3 (very likely), how likely are you to forward or share each of these content formats, either within your company or to people outside of it? CONTENT SHARING BY FORMAT Millennials are more than twice (46%) as likely to share research reports compared to respondents ages 35-49 (18%) and 50+ (18%). SMBs with revenue $5M+ are the most likely to share a research report at 51% Respondents at SMBs in the professional services (28%) industry were more likely to share articles than their peers in the retail / wholesale (15%) space Despite being the format least likely to be shared by SMBs, 35% of Millennials say they’re very likely to share a podcast compared to only 6% of Boomers
  15. 15. 64% 0% 6% 7% 8% 14% 20% 21% N/A - I've haven't used any Other Configurator Benchmarking tool Quiz Self-assessment Pricing tool Calculator Larger SMBs (20+ employees) are much more likely to have used an interactive tool 15 n=500 Thinking specifically of the kinds of vendors you might use for products and services for your business – such as banks, office supply stores, insurance companies, telecoms / Internet companies, tech / software companies, etc. – what kinds of interactive tools have you used on the websites of your current, or potential, vendors? (Select all that apply.) POPULARITY OF INTERACTIVE TOOLS VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 21% 42% 48% 20% 41% 45% 14% 27% 40% 8% 19% 22% 6% 26% 29% 6% 25% 39% 0% 1% 0% 64% 28% 12% Women are more than twice as likely than their male peers to have used a self- assessment tool (19% vs. 8%) Pricing tools are most popular in Retail / Wholesale (28%) and Professional services (22%), ranking first for both segments. Only 29% of Millennial SBOs have never used an interactive tool before, compared to 59% of 35-49 and 71% of 50+ 78% of no-growth SMBs have never used a tool, compared to 44% of fast growth and 31% of Hypergrowth
  16. 16. MBs most prefer tools during the product discovery process 16 n=285 What do you find interactive tools most useful for? PREFERRED USES 14% 31% 39% 16% Making a final purchase decision on products and services for your business Conducting research on products or services for your business First learning about specific products or services for your business Becoming aware of companies I hadn't heard of before VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 16% 29% 44% 39% 28% 25% 31% 25% 15% 13% 19% 16%
  17. 17. 12% 14% 16% 18% 40% Comparing your business to other businesses Testing your skills / business knowledge Providing customized advice or instructions to help me solve business challenges Understanding product costs and (where appropriate) delivery timing Better understanding the potential benefits of a product or service (e.g. productivity gains, cost savings) SMBs prefer to use tools to understand product benefits 17 n=500 Of the options below, which would you say interactive tools are best at? INTERACTIVE TOOLS ARE BEST AT… VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 40% 27% 35% 18% 16% 15% 16% 19% 19% 14% 17% 19% 12% 21% 12% Millennial SBOs are more interested in seeing how they compare to other businesses (24%) than Gen X (11%) and Boomers (10%)
  18. 18. 11% 13% 13% 15% 15% 16% 18% 18% 19% 21% 21% 24% 27% 30% Blog post Press release Forum / discussion board My employees Vendor sales rep. Social media Business news sites Event / tradeshow My external team Online review Vendor website Email newsletter Search Peers / colleagues SMBs are most likely to learn about interactive tools from peers 18 n=500 % rated very likely On a scale of 1 (not at all likely) to 3 (very likely), please rate how likely you are to first become aware of an interactive tool via each of these options. INTERACTIVE TOOL DISCOVERY VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 29% 45% 52% 26% 45% 57% 24% 39% 44% 21% 41% 49% 20% 43% 53% 18% 43% 45% 17% 44% 43% 17% 37% 42% 16% 34% 46% 15% 41% 52% 15% 39% 60% 13% 37% 47% 13% 33% 45% 10% 30% 47% Millennials (54%) and Boomers (26%) are most likely to find an interactive tool from their peers / colleagues Gen Xers are most likely to find an interactive tool from an online review (36%) Millennials (40%) are 8x more likely to find an interactive tool on a blog than Boomers (5%)
  19. 19. 19 n=500 Of the options below, what do you find interactive tools most useful for? HOW THEY’RE USED 13% 24% 63% I mostly forward them to my team I both use them myself and share them with my team I mostly use them myself VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 64% 47% 62% 23% 43% 31% 13% 11% 7% The majority of SMBs use interactive tools themselves Gen Xers (44%) are the most likely to share interactive tools with their team, versus Millennials (30%) and Boomers (16%)
  20. 20. 12% 12% 13% 14% 14% 15% 16% 16% 16% 17% 17% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 19% 19% 19% 19% 20% 20% 20% 21% 22% Social media companies Local business directories Payroll service providers Employee recruiting services / temp agencies Alternative / online lenders Local / long distance (i.e. landline) phone company/ies Hotels Energy (e.g. gas, electricity) companies Airlines Cellphone / smartphone handset manufacturers Local technology solution providers Rental car companies Software companies Mutual fund companies Cellphone (wireless) service providers Overnight package delivery companies National / regional banks Retirement plan providers Marketing services Credit unions Internet access providers / website hosts Insurance companies Your CPA Credit card companies Technology hardware manufacturers Local / community banks Office supply stores / print centers SMBs most want interactive tools from office supply stores / print centers 20 n=500 % rated want very much On a scale of 1 (do not want at all) to 3 (want very much), please rate how much you want interactive tools from each of these kinds of vendors. INTERACTIVE TOOL DEMAND BY INDUSTRY Demand for content from all industries is higher from Millennials than their older peers MBs have higher demand from all of the industries compared to VSBs and higher demand from 25 out of the 27 industries compared to SBs
  21. 21. 7% 11% 20% 22% 25% 25% 26% 31% 33% Import / export Human resources Leadership and management Operations Law and taxes Industry news and trends Technology Business development / sales and marketing Financial planning / money management VSBs prefer financial management; SBs, BD and tech; MBs, tech tools 21 n=500 % ranked 1st or 2nd Please rank-order these topics on which you would like interactive tools, from most useful / desirable (top) to least useful / desirable (bottom) PREFERRED TOPICS VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 33% 29% 24% 31% 30% 26% 26% 30% 33% 26% 18% 25% 25% 16% 13% 22% 19% 26% 20% 21% 18% 11% 25% 17% 7% 12% 18%
  22. 22. 71% 3% 4% 13% 9% No - we do not offer interactive tools Yes, but they're very ineffective Yes, but they're somewhat ineffective Yes, and they're somewhat effective Yes, and they're very effective Interactive tool use increases sharply with company size 22 n=500 Does your own company provide interactive tools on your website and if so, how effective are they? VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 9% 32% 54% 13% 19% 15% 4% 4% 7% 2% 10% 11% 72% 35% 13% Of the SMBs using interactive tools, 33% describe them as very effective and only 9% describe them as very ineffective SMB’S OWN USE OF INTERACTIVE TOOLS
  23. 23. IMPACT OF INTERACTIVE
  24. 24. Interactive tools can help with brand perception, as well as customer acquisition and retention 24 THE IMPACT OF INTERACTIVE TOOLS 47% Of SMBs say they are more likely to become a customer 56% Of SMBs are more likely to remain a customer 57% SMBs think more favorably of the sponsoring company Favorability Acquisition Retention n=500 The younger the business / respondent the more likely they are to think more favorably of a company that sponsors Interactive tools. 77% of MBs and 72% of SBs say a company having interactive tools make them more likely to become a customer compared to 47% of VSBs Interactive tools are especially effective at retaining growing companies with 69% of fast growth and 61% of slow growth more likely to remain a customer of the sponsoring company VSB (<20 employees) SB (20-99 employees) MB (100-500 employees)
  25. 25. Despite the increasing prevalence of tools only 16% of SMBs have made a purchase as a result 25 n=500 Would you say that you have made a product or service purchase because of an interactive tool? MAKING A PURCHASE AS A RESULT OF A TOOL 16% of SMBs have made a purchase because of an interactive tool 45% of Millennials say they’ve made a purchase as a result of an interactive tool compared to 22% of 35-49 years olds and 8% of 50+. 35% of hypergrowth SMBs and 25% of fast growth have made a purchase as result of an interactive tool compared to 16% of slow growth and 9% of no growth. VSB (<20 employees) SB (20-99 employees) MB (100-500 employees)
  26. 26. 25% 9% 7% 7% 17% 24% 11% 11% 27% 34% 53% 53% 16% 17% 13% 13% 15% 15% 16% 16% MBs (100-500) SBs (20-99) VSBs (<20) Total MBs prefer an interactive tool over from a sales rep. 26 n=500 Would you rather use an interactive tool to get customized business management advice / product information, or would you rather get that information by talking to a vendor sales representative? INTERACTIVE TOOLS VS. SALES REP. Significantly prefer an interactive tool Neutral / no preference Significantly prefer a sales rep. 31%42%
  27. 27. Almost a quarter of SMBs have provided at least their email as a result of an interactive tool 27 PROVIDING CONTACT INFORMATION 23% of SMBs have provided their email address to get information from an interactive tool n=500 Email 47% 16% 16% 17% 37% I wouldn't provide my email address under any circumstances For additional, high-value content like benchmarking data or custom recommendations To get a PDF version of the tool results (such as a project checklist, or my scores) To be entered into a contest or sweepstakes For a free product trial or some kind of discount 28% 29% 29% 31% 35% 41% 43% 54% Revenue Number of employees Industry Fax number Title/position Business phone Cell number Mailing address Under what circumstances would you be willing to provide your email address to get information from an interactive tool? If so, what information did you provide? n=73 n=384 63% of SMBs have provided more than just an email address n=116
  28. 28. SMBs are fairly willing to provide additional contact information 28 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PROVIDED Total n=214 (of those who have provided their email address) Have you provided more information than just your email address for an interactive tool? 28% 29% 29% 31% 35% 41% 43% 54% Revenue Number of employees Industry Fax number Title/position Business phone Cell number Mailing address 25% 28% 41% 21% 46% 56% 36% 51% 29% 29% 29% 31% 34% 40% 43% 54% 25% 42% 27% 28% 35% 43% 50% 50% VSBs SBs MBs
  29. 29. 29 HOW BREDIN CAN HELP Stu Richards, CEO stu@bredin.com • Content strategy • Creative brief / ed cal Strategy • Original content development • Exclusive SMB focus Content • Product / go-to-market strategy • Persona / buyer journey • Original data for standout content and PR Research Work with the experts in SMB insight and engagement
  30. 30. THANK YOU Want to watch the original Fastcast? Watch it here. Want the full deck as a PDF? Email us at: info@bredin.com

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