Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Inform and Guide Customers with Crossmedia Content


Today's technology-centric business success often hinges on the ability to inform and guide prospective customers who are entering the buying-cycle for complex products and services. However, few marketers have mastered this essential skill -- informing and guiding via digital multimedia content -- in a meaningful way.

That said, eMarketer reports that findings from Focus Research indicate business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers are more likely to direct their attention to improving client understanding and retention this year than their business-to-business (B2B) counterparts, who are placing a higher emphasis on filling the sales pipeline.

Among B2B marketers, lead acquisition was the top priority for 55 percent of respondents, followed by lead conversion (45 percent). Both B2B and B2C marketers were equally focused on building brand awareness.

The inherent complexity of the B2B buying process often requires better sales support tools -- that facilitate and accelerate the buying process. Because of the longer B2B sales cycle, marketers must keep prospects engaged with their company through the use of multiple touchpoints, utilizing crossmedia content assets.

Mastering Crossmedia Content Marketing

Marketers have an endless array of digital channels and choices for uncovering prospects and starting a dialogue. MarketingProfs and Junta42 found that 63 percent of B2B marketers in North America turn to content marketing as a key business development strategy.

More specifically, North American B2B marketers used articles (78 percent) and e-newsletters (61 percent) for their content marketing efforts. More educational and instructional forms of content, such as case studies (55 percent), white papers (43 percent) and webinars (42 percent), were also used by survey respondents.

These types of educational and instructional content were rated the most valuable for directly supporting a B2B marketer's objectives, according to Focus Research.

Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) and RainToday.com also highlighted the effectiveness of white papers and educational references as B2B marketer tools. According to their assessment, effective content types included case studies, best practices, insight into emerging markets, business trends, and how-to advice.

Why Domain Knowledge and Experience Matters

Industry-specific content that provides actionable insight and sound business knowledge is most valued among executive decision makers, but creating this type of content often requires greater production time and access to savvy talent with deep-domain experience. Perhaps that's why this powerful content asset is so rare.

eMarketer says that webinars and white papers tend to have greater longevity than articles or blog posts. They're an in-depth form of content, and are often effective at attracting prospects within the more research-oriented beginning stages of the buying process.

The challenge, in my opinion, is to map the required procurement-oriented information and guidance with the most effective communications medium. Creating useful multimedia content assets, such as short-form video, is only part of the solution. Knowing precisely when and how to apply a particular content asset in the buying cycle can make all the difference.