Recently the B2B Marketing Technology Community commissioned a study that yielded some interesting findings from our vantage point as a customer reference management services provider supporting customer reference programs (CRP).
When we think about content it is almost strictly in terms of customer reference content. We strongly believe that customers can tell a business value story in the most compelling, credible way; so why not completely leverage them in every conceivable way? This need not be entirely self-serving for marketers. Most customers see the value to them on a personal/professional level, and to their respective employers. What better way to share their achievements, their thought leadership all while bolstering their brand?
Not surprising, 84% of respondents anticipate an increase or a significant increase in content production. But is all this growth focused in the right way? Here’s a look at some of the more notable results as seen through our lens.
What are the goals of content marketing?
#1 Lead generation
#2 Thought leadership
#3 Brand awareness
#5 Customer acquisition
CRP Angle: Customer acquisition, which we read as using content to progress or close deals, should be higher on the list. It is the most direct correlation between content creation investment and pay-off.
What content marketing tactics do you use actively?
#1 Case studies
#8 Social content
CRP Angle: It surprised us that video was not in the top 3, and that social media was #8! Customer video and quotes are powerful validation of your messaging and ability to make customers successful.
What are the 3 most important elements of effective content?
#1 Engaging and compelling story telling
CRP Angle: There isn’t anything more compelling than hearing a peer tell his/her story from selection through results. So let customers do that in an unfettered, authentic way. Get rid of the script and notion that you (the vendor) are more important than your customer and his/her story.
What metrics do you use to measure the success of your content?
#1 Web traffic
#3 Lead quantity
#4 Lead quality
CRP Angle: Understandably there is a lot of emphasis on lead generation, and there always should be. But connecting content use to sales should be a higher priority. That helps secure and maintain executive support for the content marketing program.
What are the biggest content marketing challenges?
#1 Time/bandwidth to create content
#2 Producing truly engaging content
#3 Producing enough content
#4 Measuring results
CRP Angle: Every marketing program should set goals based on meeting the needs of the Sales team. Gap analysis should be mandatory and consider not just segments such as product and industry, but type of content as it is used in the sales cycle. Then they should have a plan to get it done..in-house or out-sourced. But get it done.
What seems to be missing in most marketing organizations is a sales-centric perspective, as well as a customer reference or advocate focus. A change in priorities makes content marketing more relevant and demonstrates to executives that marketing is in alignment with top company objectives. Revenue is always at the top of the list.