Content Squared – Leveraging Content Across Digital Marketing

Working with technology marketers on a daily basis, I hear much about the need to develop more relevant content based upon a solid knowledge of your target customer segments and their needs at different stages of the buying cycle. In fact, in our 2009 Tech Marketing Barometer study (results to be announced in the next week or two) marketers identified “content development” as one of the highest priority areas for improving sales enablement. However, are we as marketers getting the “biggest bang” from our content development investment?. . . . leveraging this content across multiple delivery vehicles and channels? With this in mind, I thought it would be valuable to hear a bit more about how to best leverage content from IDC’s VP of Go-to-Market services, Laura Nurzynski. Take it away Laura. . . .

My colleagues from IDC’s CMO Advisory Practice expect digital marketing investment to rapidly outpace investment in much of the more traditional marketing vehicles. (IDC includes the following in digital marketing: display ads, search ads, your company website, SEO, digital events (including virtual events, Webcasts, online forums, etc), email marketing/electronic outreach, and social networks.

How can you optimize your investment in this area and reduce your learning curve? Are there lessons you can learn from you peers about leveraging digital marketing to your advantage –especially in these challenging economic times, when you need to carefully place your marketing investments and efforts for optimal results?

A majority of the programs that I work on with my clients, involve digital marketing. Our clients use written content such as white papers, briefs, Q&A style articles, and newsletters—delivered online as PDF or web content—as offers for direct email campaigns, banner ad placements, and other PR or advertising outreach. They also utilize the same content in more than one communication channel, not only using written content as offers, but giving it to their sales force, posting it in a resource library, and handing out content at events their prospects are attending (very often in a digital format such as a link to a website or on flash drive.) Over the past 2-3 years, I have also been observing more and more use of audio, video, and interactive content on my clients’ websites and as offers for email campaigns. Alternate formats are not only attractive because they are a “flashier” and innovative communications approach, but also because they provide a choice to your audience in how they engage with you. Keep in mind, that individuals consume and comprehend information in different ways: some people are very visual; others need to hear information; and still others need to read lots of details, absorb the information, and then make sense out of it after they’ve had some time to digest and assimilate all the info they’ve gathered. This approach gives you the opportunity to package your message in varied formats to reach and appeal to a wider audience.

Here are a few best practices and innovative approaches I’ve seen in the last few months:

A smaller emerging vendor, launching new products into the marketplace, licensed content from IDC (as market and technology validation from an independent party) then distributed and leveraged this content in multiple formats online:

  • They referenced an IDC analyst Q&A article in their blog
  • They incorporated an independent analyst speaker into a Webcast program, promoted the Webcast via Facebook, on their website, and via media reach programs.
  • They used a multi-touch approach to offer varying levels of detail in the content assets they incorporated into the program, including Q&A style articles with an industry expert, a view of where they fit into the marketplace, as well as a workbook their sales staff could use to engage in a conversation with their prospects, and a Webcast that allowed their prospects to hear from and interact with both their subject matter experts as well as an independent analyst.
  • At last report, they generated 800 leads and 250 attendees to their live webast from these activities over a 3-4 month period.
  • Follow these links to see the use of third-party content in action:
    · Marketo Vendor Spotlight
    · Marketo Blog

A well-know telecommunications company leveraged an analyst video podcast and a white paper based on primary research to generate media awareness and buzz in the marketplace. They broadcast the IDC video podcast live during their launch event and in 7 days generated $500K+ in equivalent media placement from the video, white paper and PR activities.

Several companies are expanding the reach of their face-to-face events by wrapping additional outreach around pre-and post-event promotion activities:

  • A large software company is utilizing an online audio Webcast to generate buzz for new product announcements while also building awareness for an upcoming events series. The online webcasts will expand their potential reach to prospects, given restrictions on travel but will also start to build a pipeline of prospects. During the series of events, audience members will be polled regarding their adoption plans in the technology area. The poll results will be fodder for a follow-up Webcast post event, where the company can share peer information with targets who attended the event, attend a pre-event Webcast or are hearing about the solutions announcements for the first time.

I’m sure you’re incorporating a plethora of digital marketing activities into your current campaigns. As you do so, consider how various content elements can be leveraged in multiple ways and don’t forget to consider your target audience and ensure that you have various messages in different media for consumption by myriad target audiences who learn and consume information in different ways. [Laura Nurzynski, Group VP, IDC’s Go-to-Market Services,]

Is Database Marketing on Your Marketing Operations Radar?

How many times have we heard in the B-to-B marketing press the past several months about the importance of increasing content relevance to our prospects and customers, better engaging them through digital marketing vehicles and improving our ability to generate and qualify marketing leads? Yes, all extremely important priorities for us as marketers, however, if you’re a $100M+ company none of this can be accomplished in an efficient and effective manner without the back-office infrastructure to support it. And we all know how difficult an infrastructure conversation is in this economic downturn. For the purposes of this conversation, let’s focus on the area of database marketing.

Even the best marketing organizations struggle with consistency in database marketing processes; consolidation of prospect and customer data across the multitude of databases in use across the world; cleansing of data to prevent a “bad data in = bad data out” scenario; and overcoming the complexity of data analysis and list pulls, especially with the increased data flow from digital marketing activities. In a recent best practices study, we spoke with (12) multi-billion $, complex organizations representing in total over $250B in revenue. When asked to indicate their marketing organization’s satisfaction with the components of database marketing, some of the most fundamental elements of this area were identified as being the weakest. . . . including data cleansing, digital data integration and contact management.

So enough about the problems out there: that’s the easy part to identify. What are a couple concrete things that you can do to help improve marketing’s “back-office”, especially in these difficult economic times when “throwing money” at the problem is not even a possibility?. . .

  1. Establish a global database marketing council or team to set standards and govern processes and technology. (yes, virtual if need be and it will take more time out of your day . . . but this will pay off in the long-term)
  2. Leverage third party partnerships for external expertise and best practices (e.g., data cleansing). Establish an approved vendor supply list to achieve economies of scale and better govern data standards.
  3. Develop a process to enable the average marketer to obtain a highly targeted list for their activities or campaigns. A 100% self-service model will lead to supplier proliferation, poor leverage of scare marketing resources and an inability to leverage the power of your data. Ideas include: establish a relationship marketing team, deploy a shared services model to get dbse. marketing experts closer to the field (more on shared services to come in future blogs), create an expert analytics team that can do some of the “heavy lifting” for your team’s larger projects (e.g., predictive modeling).
  4. Reduce and consolidate disparate data sources. If you’re lucky enough to have or pursue a universal data mart or EDW then great. For the rest of us, another option may be deploying an application that serves as the front-end for multiple databases. This option is available through several marketing automation vendors.
  5. Ensure your database marketing and lead management teams are working together if not part of the same group. This is particularly important for establishing a closed-loop lead management process.
  6. And last but certainly not least, establish metrics and targets to measure the performance of your database marketing capabilities. (e.g., data quality indicators, lead generation data to track the success of list pull activities, response times and internal customer satisfaction if you’re leveraging a shared services model)

If you’re fortunate enough to have a marketing operations individual or team, then turn to these folks for help in deploying the process rigor needed to initiate these actions.