The attendees of last week’s event on Content Marketing for the Technology Sector had the pleasure of hearing from two of the heavyweights in the content space. Bobbi Mahlab (MD and Founder of Mahlab) and Matt Tindale (Head of Enterprise APAC, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions) managed to provide a welcome distraction from the supposed end of days (The US election results) going on around us with some key insights into the state of content marketing and how Tech brands could be doing better.
From the content perspective, Bobbi (who started off her career as a journalist) kicked things off to highlight the fact that all good content relates back to knowing your audience and their world. Too often we see brands starting off content programs more for the sake of producing content and they end up talking about themselves or their products, rather than focussing on what their audiences wants. She backed this up further by stating that the key to content marketing success is having a defined and documented strategy in place and then providing relevant and quality content along the whole buyer’s journey.
As an example of who is doing this well in the tech industry, she alluded back to a recent case study on Autodesk and how they’ve managed to evolve from a simple standalone blog (Line//Shape//Space) through to a fully fledged media property (Redshift) that aims to emulate the likes of CMO.com from Adobe or GE Reports from GE.
Two of the key ways that Autodesk seem to have achieved this success is through personalisation and creating a culture of content. As their content universe expanded, they realised the need to bring in technology to provide a unique content experience for their users and serve them relevant content each time they returned to the site. The second factor driving their success comes from greater involvement from executives with their content and including many of these executives in the content creation process.
This last aspect speaks nicely to Bobbi’s next point around the convergence of sales and marketing teams and how these teams need to be aligned closely together as part of the content creation process. Having these two teams working in silos will lead to a disconnect in the business and can mean that your prospects and clients can be given two completely different experiences. Bobbi mentioned a great stat in that 74% of tech buyers are more likely to choose the company that is the first to add to their buying vision, so you really need your sales and marketing teams working together to articulate in unison the purpose of your business.
On the social side of things, Matt was quick to point out that great content is amazing, but if no one sees, reads or listens to it then it becomes useless. LinkedIn is clearly seen as the key channel for B2B content distribution and the tech sector has been one of the most active players on their platform. It really speaks volumes about how content distribution is evolving considering that LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content tool has been the fastest growing product in LinkedIn’s history.
The trouble though, as Matt stated, is that brands have an over-obsession with lead generation at the expense of nurturing prospects and clients through the buying journey. The real beauty of content marketing is that you have the ability to nurture your audience along a logical and relevant path that can lead to higher purchase amounts and a longer term relationships.
However, the success of your nurture programs comes back to the deep understanding of your audience and the way they make buying decisions. Matt again highlighted another obsession that he has seen many times within IT firms: the need for reaching the IT decision maker (ITDM). Sure, it is key to reach these people with relevant content, but you also need to consider other influencers around the business that contribute to the decision making process. Ultimately, you need to understand who is involved in actually making the decision, who will be able to influence that and what their needs are.
To round all of this off, you need to have a solid measurement process in place. Yes, the usual vanity metrics (traffic, engagement, clicks, etc) are helpful but, as Matt suggested, you need to look at upper funnel engagement levels and how content marketing is moving brand metrics. In this he mentioned four key aspects to monitor and see if they are increasing as a result of your content marketing efforts: brand awareness, unaided brand awareness, consideration over your competitors and NPS (net promoter score). The combination of these, plus the usual metrics used for content marketing, should give you a much better idea of the impact that your content is having.