So, you are a marketing manager for a B2B technology company. Congratulations! The work’s interesting, and the pay’s pretty good.
But you have a problem. How do you divvy up your (sometimes limited) budget into different marketing activities? There’s below the line, above the line, digital, print, PR, events, OOH, TVCs, sports sponsorship, referral programs, and the list goes on.
So many ways to spend your budget!
If you are like most B2B technology marketers, you’ve set a portion of your budget aside for digital marketing. But you are still left with a similar challenge: Which tactic to use? There’s SEO, SEM, social media, content marketing, programmatic campaigns, online reputation management, among others.
Here are some reasons you should invest in content marketing, courtesy Enterprise Content Marketing 2019 Benchmarks:
It Meets Your Top Priority:
63% of enterprise marketers say they have generated demand/leads with a content marketing strategy.
You’re Likely to Get More Budget:
34% of enterprise marketers say they expect a 1-9% increase in content marketing budget in 2019—and 13% say they expect a bump up of over 9%.
Your Boss Believes in It:
65% of enterprise marketers say content marketing already has buy-in from the highest levels in their organization.
Your Peers Leverage It:
72% of enterprises have a content marketing strategy.
According to the B2B Marketing Survey, content marketing is the most important marketing strategy for 2019.
But there’s another very important reason to invest in content marketing—one that could potentially solve marketing’s most intractable problems.
It’s a (Better) Way to Define a Lead
One of the reasons we all love digital marketing is because it’s more measurable. Whichever metric you choose, and there are a lot (many of them of the vanity variety), digital gives your organization a neat way to measure. Whether it’s pageviews, likes, clickthroughs, downloads, or
But let’s be honest. We’re still struggling to measure how close a lead is to the point of making a purchase—the point at which we hand over prospects to sales.
Content marketing has the highest ROI compared to other strategies. When B2B marketers were asked, which marketing channels provide the best ROI for your business?, the majority (51%) said content marketing.
Unless properly combined, many standalone digital marketing strategies aren’t helpful when it comes to lead qualification.
Let’s look at a few examples: SEO helps increase your ranking on a search engine. SEM helps get customers to download a whitepaper. A social media campaign could get you likes or maybe even new subscribers.
All of these digital tactics are great for increasing lead quantities.
But, by themselves, none of these strategies do a great job measuring the quality of a lead.
And that’s the cause for many of our clashes with sales, isn’t it? How many times have you heard, “The leads you are passing us aren’t relevant!”
Oh, the aggravation!
Sure, sales can be difficult. But it’s also true that a single download, a like, or a click, doesn’t an interested buyer make. The result? A whole bunch of lead qualification frameworks have been thrust on us including BANT, CHAMP, ANUM, MEDDIC, and GPCTBA/C&I (phew!).
Content marketing is different.
Done well, it’s the rare standalone digital marketing strategy which ensures you can grade a lead. Based on the reading pattern of prospects, it’s possible to figure out which stage of the buying cycle they are. Are they trying to find out how to fix a problem? Are they trying to assess the difference between your product and your competitors? Did your prospect land on your pricing page? Did they just read how one of their competitors used your product?
Content marketing is more effective than events.
Content marketing scores 2.73 out of 5 in effectiveness.
Tradeshows score 2.57
events / seminarsscore 2.49.
—2018 Technology Marketing Benchmarks & Trends Report
Each type of content tells you something about a prospect—and how close they are to the point where your sales team is comfortable talking to them.
That is why, as B2B technology marketing becomes ever-more ROI driven, content marketing’s importance will continue to rise.
Putting Content Marketing to the Test
What’s the B2B technology marketer’s tactic of choice? The one we like to deploy when it’s Q4 and our backs are to the wall?
B2B technology marketers love events…mainly because sales loves them. It gives sales the opportunity to meet customers, shake their hand, and shine. Simplistic, but true.
It’s also an easy way for sales to report that they met prospects, an important KPI for them.
For B2B technology marketers, events also address a growing (worryingly so) demand from sales: “Forget all these lead qualifications, just get my people a meeting with prospects. Get them in the same room.”
“In the software industry…the importance of conferences cannot be understated. All the major software platforms have long been using conference-type events in their marketing mix,” says, Sudhi Seshadri, dean and professor of marketing, MYRA School of Business, in Targetmarketingmag.
According to the State of IT Marketing, B2B technology marketers will spend the second largest tranche (of their budgets for 2019) on events. A full 22% of 2019’s B2B technology marketing investments will be directed to events.
Convinced that events are our tactic of choice?
But how do events measure up against content marketing in terms of real effectiveness?
According to the 2018 Technology Marketing Benchmarks & Trends Report, content marketing is more effective than events. Content marketing scores 2.73 out of 5 in effectiveness. Tradeshows score 2.57, and live events / seminars score 2.49.
Content marketing also has the highest ROI compared to other strategies. When B2B marketers were asked, which marketing channels provide the best ROI for your business?, the majority (51%) said content marketing. In comparison, only 30% said events.
Here’s a final reason to invest in content marketing: It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Events tend to be expensive, one-time affairs. Plus, repeated use of the same tactic results in diminishing returns because the list of attendees (your potential pool of prospects) tends to overlap across events. It’s a secret many seasoned marketers know, but aren’t always ready to admit. They know that companies setting up B2B technology events (publishers, event companies, etc) have a limited ability to pull in new attendees.
On the other hand, with a content marketing program, your investment tends to be front-loaded, but then only requires smaller investments to keep going. And it’ll give you a steady stream of leads for years to come!