The Disconnect Between B2B Content Marketing and Customer Engagement

While B2B content marketing has many purposes, its primary goal is to engage with prospects and customers in order to build trust so that they will want to contact you in order to do business with your company. The majority of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) consider customer engagement as their top priority according to a recent study done by Forbes Insights and George P. Johnson (GPJ).

The New Rules of Engagement: CMOs Rethink Their Marketing Mix is based on a survey of 314 marketing executives at companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue. Fifty-six percent of the participants were primarily B2B marketers and the remaining 44% were B2C. Nearly 97% of the respondents viewed customer engagement as very (67%) or somewhat (30%) important.

Robert G. Vallee Jr., Chairman and CEO of GPJ said, “This report suggests that engagement is now a key dynamic that should be considered when designing big-idea campaigns; without engagement, the message is quickly lost, its power diminished.”

That was the good news part of the study. The bad news — more than a quarter (27%) have no specific strategy for customer engagement, and more than a third (34%) feel their companies do only a fair or poor job engaging their audiences. “They [CMOs] believe they can do a better job at engagement, but often don’t know how,” said Stuart Feil, editorial director of Forbes Insights. Read more

Is Content Curation an Easy Way for Content Marketers to Do More With Less?

Even though “content curation” is not a common phrase, there’s plenty of discussion to be found on the Internet. Heck, even MS Word kept flagging curation as a misspelled word.

Google News, aggregating content via RSS feeds and social bookmarking sites have been around for a while. Bloggers of all stripes have counted on the popularity of “list” posts whenever they’ve run out of fresh ideas for content. So curated content is not something new.

What is content curation?

I searched Wikipedia for information but couldn’t find an exact definition. Instead, I found something on Media Curation, which I thought was close enough:

Media Curation is the emerging trend toward creating media content using a mix of machine and human resources. The practice includes aggregation (gathering) and curation (sorting, categorizing, art directing, and presenting) such that material from multiple sources creates a unique editorial experience for readers/visitors.

Hmmm…not very satisfying. So I Googled “content curation” and lo and behold, it returned 77,600 results. I hit the mother lode!

Curation: Doing more with less is the topic of a video I found in a post by Steve Rosenbaum who is the CEO of Magnify.net, a video curation and publishing platform. Read more

How Relevant Marketing Content Helps B2B Branding

Branding is usually not a popular topic in B2B marketing, especially in the industrial sector. Most CEOs of manufacturing, engineering and technical companies do not believe in the value of brand building and consider it the domain of consumer marketing (B2C). Branding is an expense item like the rest of marketing.

That’s a shame and here’s why — among the top ten in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2009, IBM was listed at #2, Microsoft, GE and Intel at number 3, 4 and 9 respectively. Yes, GE and Microsoft sell directly to end-users but they are primarily B2B companies.

According to a study done by Professor John A. Quelch, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, the common characteristic shared by the top B2B Global Brands is that their “CEO is a willing brand cheerleader, loves the brand heritage, and is a great storyteller.” He suggests that B2B marketers take a cue from their B2C counterparts when it comes to increasing brand awareness.

One of the key findings from the study was that B2B marketers are realizing that developing brand awareness among their customers’ customers can capture a larger share of channel margins and build loyalty that can protect them against lower-priced competitors. Professor Quelch provides the example of Intel and its very successful advertising campaign “Intel Inside.”

He ends his post by asking, “Would Dupont’s shareholder value be the same today if it had not made consumers aware of nylon, Lycra, [Teflon], Stainmaster and linked these innovations to the Dupont name? Definitely not.” Read more

How to Use a B2B Blog to Win Customers and Influence Prospects

I admit my headline is a play on Dale Carnegie’s bestseller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This timeless classic, one of the first bestselling self-help books published in 1937 and sold over 15 million copies globally is still relevant today.

As a B2B marketer, we want to reach our ideal prospects and communicate with customers to maintain top-of-mind awareness throughout their buying cycle. A B2B blog is the perfect online tool to accomplish that.

If you are still not sure about the benefits of using a business blog, head over to HubSpot and read these articles:

Assuming you are now convinced and have your own B2B blog, here are six basic steps for making it the hub of your online presence to win customers and influence prospects. Read more

Survey Finds Growth in Pipelines and Sales Cycles for B2B Lead Generation

I recently read a news release put out by Infogroup on their SalesPulse Survey of B2B sales professionals conducted jointly with OneSource, an Infogroup company. Some of the findings match what I am hearing from my industrial clients and one really surprising result.

The top findings I got out of the release were:

  1. 47% of the sales professionals reported a slight increase in the size of their B2B pipelines this year as compared to last year. However, the sales cycles have also become longer, making it much harder to close deals.

    This agrees with what I am hearing from my engineering and industrial clients, they are seeing a lot more activity but the average sales cycle has grown by an additional 90 ~ 120 days. Because of longer sales cycles, more promising opportunities are being lost since business conditions change at the other end and projects are put on hold indefinitely or being eliminated.

  2. Read more

Using Content to Move Prospects Forward in the Sales Cycle

We often think of online content as the text on a web or blog page. The focus there is to optimize it for keywords or phrases for people to find your website when searching for relevant terms. That however is only part of the solution because if your content doesn’t engage the visitor s/he won’t take a desired action to move forward in the sales cycle.

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. said it best when she wrote, “Passive reading of your content is not going to help online marketing initiatives shorten buying cycles or increase customer acquisition and revenues.”

Your online content needs to play a much more active role in moving site visitors along in his/her buy decision. According to Bob Carrigan, CEO of International Data Group, “It [content] fulfills the promise of the Web, which is relationship marketing.”

Using content or Inbound Marketing, you are able to make that key connection with your prospects by delivering specific content needed in order to make an informed decision. Read more