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B2B Technology Marketing Benchmarks

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Stories like Zendesk Alternative highlight something that B2B technology companies all know: marketers need creative content that tells delightful, human stories that connects the user to the product.
For B2B technology companies, compelling content is becoming an increasingly critical tool to continuously engage customers over longer buying cycles.
These marketers are not just in the business of promoting, they are in the business of educating customers too.
B2B tech marketers are being tasked to not only tell interesting, visual stories about their products that capture attention, but also provide a curriculum to educate prospective buyers.
In this report, we’ll take a look at the emerging content trends in the B2B technology industry, examine case studies of brands taking content to a whole new level, and analyze where the industry is headed in 2015.

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B2B Technology Marketing Benchmarks

  1. 1. B2BTechnology Marketing Benchmarks
  2. 2. 2014 has been a big year for business-to-business (B2B) content marketing in the technology industry. Some of the most interesting content marketing we’ve seen has come from more traditional household names like GE and Intel, but also fast-growing tech companies like Asana and Zendesk. ! Consider Zendesk, a customer relationship management software as a service (SaaS) platform. When the marketing team at Zendesk noticed the term “Zendesk alternative” was on the rise and search rank was dominated by competitors, instead of creating standard product literature describing how Zendesk differentiates itself from alternatives, the marketing team launched a creative experiment. ! Rather than boosting their SEM budget, Zendesk built a responsive website for a fictitious alternative rock band called Zendesk Alternative, complete with Facebook and Twitter pages and a short documentary-style video of the rockstars on the landing page. The tactic went viral within the tech community shortly after its creation, charming visitors and achieving a higher customer conversion rate than Zendesk’s actual website. Introduction
  3. 3. 35% Percentage of marketing budget spent on content marketing by most effective technology marketers 16 Number of content tactics used by most effective technology marketers Stories like Zendesk Alternative highlight something that B2B technology companies all know: marketers need creative content that tells delightful, human stories that connects the user to the product. ! For B2B technology companies, compelling content is becoming an increasingly critical tool to continuously engage customers over longer buying cycles. These marketers are not just in the business of promoting, they are in the business of educating customers too. B2B tech marketers are being tasked to not only tell interesting, visual stories about their products that capture attention, but also provide a curriculum to educate prospective buyers. ! In this report, we’ll take a look at the emerging content trends in the B2B technology industry, examine case studies of brands taking content to a whole new level, and analyze where the industry is headed in 2015.
  4. 4. Trend: Embrace the human experience.
  5. 5. Ultimately, the job of the marketer is to create stories that move people. Stories that inspire emotion and action, stories that help close business - stories that build a brand. Most B2B technology companies struggle to elevate conversations with customers above the product features and functions. In the fragmented technology landscape, it’s not enough to simply create a product that’s different. ! What has been missing from a lot of the product-speak and business jargon inundating B2B content marketing is a connection to the human experience. ! Recently, some of the oldest and most iconic technology companies like GE and Intel are reimagining themselves by using content and storytelling to forge human connections to their products. ! For example, in the commercial “The Boy Who Beeps,” GE imagines a child with an unusual handicap: instead of talking in human speech, he communicates in beeps which allows him to talk to machines like power grids and aircraft. This poignant advertisement tells the story of an extraordinary boy ultimately celebrated for gifts which bring the world closer together, with only minimal branding from GE. In just three weeks the “Boy Who Beeps” has already garnered over 700,000 views on YouTube, a milestone that few B2B companies ever achieve. ! Trend: Companies are embracing the human experience through original, creative stories that connect real people to the product - sometimes in unusual and surprising ways.
  6. 6. Trend: Show, don’t tell. The move to non-traditional mediums
  7. 7. B2B tech marketers are increasingly using non-traditional, visual mediums like videos, infographics, and online presentations to reach audiences. According to a 2014 report by the Content Marketing Institute, technology marketers say that webinars and videos are among the most effective tactics they use. One interesting stat to take note of: 71% of more effective B2B technology marketers use infographics to - a medium which was barely recognized in 2010. ! This summer, task-management software company Asana turned heads with a product video showcasing the release of their fully- native iPhone and iPad app. The video was sleek and had great production quality, but most importantly was able to integrate digital and physical with the human experience of the app at the center. ! During the video, a business owner plans a launch party with a business partner and chef. The app features just product shots with background noise - zero dialogue - as the team members move through bustling scenes of New York City. The commercial highlights the clean user interface of the native app and the ease in coordinating multiple project workflows on the go - without communicating in any way other than the product itself. A smart way to create quality top-of-funnel awareness of Asana and its newest features. ! Trend: B2B tech marketers are increasingly using highly visual mediums like video and online presentations, as well as non-traditional media like infographics to capture attention and tell memorable stories. Email Trade shows/conferences Social networks Online registration/opt-in Content Marketing Direct Mail Telemarketing Online directories PPC/Display Webinars DR print Live events Affiiate Marketing Retargeted ads Rented Lists Compiled data Other Percentage of B2B Marketers Planning or Using Channel 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 2013 2014 Chief Marketer 2014 Lead Gen Survey Channels Used/Planned for Lead Generation
  8. 8. Content Marketing Usage Among Technology Marketers (by Tactic) PercentageofMarketersReportingUsing Tactic 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 SocialMedia CaseStudies Videos Blogs eNewsletters In-PersonEvents ArticlesonYourWebsite Webinars/Webcasts Whitepapers ArticlesonOtherWebsites OnlinePresentations Infographics ResearchReports eBooks Microsites BrandedContentTools MobileContent Books Licensed/SyndicatedContent MobileApps Podcasts VirtualConferences PrintMagazines AnnualReports DigitalMagazines PrintNewsletters Games/Gamification B2B Tech Marketers Use 15 Tactics on Avg Content Marketing Institute | Mar 2014
  9. 9. Trend: 
 Balance content outsourcing and dedicated resources.
  10. 10. 73% B2B tech companies have someone to oversee content marketing strategy 57% Technology marketers outsource content creation, with 56% doing some combination of both In 2014, 57% of B2B tech marketers outsource their content creation. And while only 1% of tech marketers rely entirely on outsourced content, 56% of marketers are doing some combination of both in- house and outsourced content creation. ! Numbers like these make it evident that outsourcing content is an effective and cost-efficient approach to content strategy execution for technology marketers. However, the balance of knowing when to outsource content versus when to keep content creation in-house remains a hotly contested debate. With time and in-house expertise in short supply, more B2B companies are outsourcing design and writing work - and tech companies are no exception. Through technology platforms like Percolate, B2B marketers can directly submit content briefs and receive finished work from marketplaces like Scripted and Visually as an alternative to in-house production. In some aspects, content creation has become analogous to manufacturing for B2B tech marketing teams, with the marketer acting as product manager and the creator in the role of an engineer. ! The advantages of outsourcing content creation to marketplaces revolve around both cost and time. External vendors often have shorter creative project cycles, more variable capacity and lower rate cards. By comparison, the primary challenge for brands procuring external content is quality control and brand governance, making it important for marketers to implement standardized processes and checkpoints with their content vendors. In the enterprise, more and more agencies are relying on these third party marketplaces for spare creative capacity to keep their operating models more lean. ! Trend: Low costs and a booming freelancer economy is driving a growing number of tech marketers to embrace outsourced content.
  11. 11. Percentage of respondents that reported they outsourced a particular function Functions Tech Marketers Outsource Writing Design Content Distribution/Syndication Editing Buyer Persona Creation Content Planning and Strategy Measurement and Analytics Percentage of Respondents 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 2014 B2B Technology Trends— North America: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs | Mar 2014
  12. 12. Trend: Mobilizing Ambassadors
  13. 13. According to Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer, 41% of people think a company’s employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or Founder. Ambassador programs, or programs which provide systems and processes for supporting employee use of social media to talk about the brand, are quickly becoming the norm at B2B tech companies from established giants like Cisco, to rapidly growing companies like Evernote. ! Research from Zuberance points out that audiences trust their peers within the personal networks more than any form of advertising. 81% of shoppers say posts from friends on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook directly influence their shopping and purchasing decisions, and a social share of an online product will drive an average $2.04 in revenue. ! Consider Evernote, a brand which began as a simple note-taking app and has now built itself into a platform for organizing all kinds of information and collaborating with co-workers across devices in real-time. ! Evernote attributes its rise primarily through word-of-mouth, which is perhaps why the company hasn’t made traditional advertising a priority, and instead has focused on growing initiatives which harness user loyalty like its Evernote Ambassadors program. ! Evernote Ambassadors is a fresh take on the employee ambassador program. Instead of focusing on social conversations by employees to drive sales, Evernote identifies enthusiasts around the world who are experts in Evernote and uses the platform to improve a particular area of their lives. Users are experts in a wide array of issues - from healthy living and blogging, to parenting and home cooking. Ambassadors hold events and attend meetups that focus on how people can use Evernote to improve their personal and professional lives. In exchange, Evernote Ambassadors are seen as experts by their peers and join a network of 26 global ambassadors. ! Trend: Ambassador programs are becoming more common as companies catch on that potential customers find ambassador voices to be more trustworthy than official communications by senior leadership. “Not only have [Ambassadors] affected the user community, but we’ve also brought [it] into the products as a way to educate others. It’s a global campaign and one that’s impacting how the core products themselves function. — Andrew Sinkov, VP of Marketing at Evernote
  14. 14. Trend: Personalization is a B2B power play
  15. 15. Personalization is more than just inserting name, title, or company into email messages. Personalization is about giving content that is timely, relevant, and valuable to visitors with each brand interaction. ! Email is arguably the oldest form of communication on the web, and is a very solid foundation for a B2B marketing program. However, gone are the days that a marketer could insert subject line with a product pitch and expect to get the attention of a buyer. Buyers are getting savvier, and are making early assumptions about potential vendors from their own research or what they hear on their own social networks. Technology marketers have to give buyers something that helps them do their job better, and once they permission to have this relationship, the marketer needs to protect it. ! What personalization ultimately boils down to is knowing your audience. We are seeing a growing number of systems that help automate personalization efforts, collect buyer data, and manage the processes in an efficient, repeatable, and scalable way. But it’s important for technology marketers to not see these solutions as a standalone solution to personalization or, frankly, engage in marketing tactics that are downright creepy. ! One company that has both seamlessly blended automated personalization and timely content marketing is the marketing automation provider Marketo. Marketo takes great pains to nurture leads by tracking where a customer has visited on their website, and then send out automated email messages that are relevant to a particular viewed page, and are more explicitly personalized with the email coming from an account manager. Depending on the number of times a potential customer returns to the main website, and the places they visit (for example, the white papers section versus the pricing page), the cadence and aggressiveness of the personalized emails also increases. ! According to Monetate/Econsultancy, 94% of businesses stated that personalization is critical to current and future success, and 64% of companies are – or plan within the year – to deliver more personalized experiences on mobile devices. ! Ultimately, personalization is about customer empathy, and the seamless integration of relevant, timely content with technology that can deliver it at scale. ! Trend: Personalization has been around for years but we are increasingly seeing marketers procure technology to help scale personalization and take advantage of the large amounts of available customer data. Personalization is more than just inserting name, title, or company into email messages.
  16. 16. B2B technology marketers have been pushing the limits of content marketing, creating some of the most interesting content we’ve seen to elevate conversations above features and functionality, often using a variety of non-traditional mediums to accomplish their goals. They are embracing the value of outsourcing content creation while directing content strategy in-house, mobilizing ambassadors, and building scalable digital systems that can reach buyers on a more personal level. These benchmarks tell us that in order to capture a buyer’s attention and build relationships, B2B marketing is increasingly about telling personal, human stories. Conclusion
  17. 17. Percolate is the system of record for marketing. 
 Our technology helps the world's largest and fastest-growing brands at every step of the marketing process. ! Want to learn more? Contact learn@percolate.com for more information or request a demo today at percolate.com/request-demo

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