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Heidi Bullock of Marketo Helps Uncover Ways to Engage Self-Directed Buyers

heidi-bullock-marketo

Last week at the Content2Conversion conference, Heidi Bullock, VP of Demand Generation at Marketo took the stage and covered a topic that is top of mind for all marketers. That is, how to create the right message at the right time to meet the needs of customers.

Today’s self-directed buyers typically go through up to 90% of their purchasing journey on their own. Which means that marketers need to find a way to build credibility, without even speaking with customers directly. Below we’ll discover some best practices for creating engaging to better meet the needs of self-directed buyers.

Content Marketing for Self-Directed Buyers

According to a 2016 report from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers list “producing engaging content” as their top challenge, followed closely by “measuring content effectiveness” and “producing content consistently”. To help with this top need, Heidi provided a formula for creating engaging content:

E = Relevant Content + Right Time +Personal

Let’s break down the different elements of that formula to see what changes can be made to your program to begin creating more engaging content.

Create Relevant Content

In the example Heidi provided, you’ll see how the team at Marketo creates different content for their different customer groups. That means, when someone in higher education is searching for a solution, they won’t find a generic message that is meant to apply to a bunch of different prospects across the board.

Create-Relevant-Content-Marketo

Additionally, you can follow these tips for creating more relevant and engaging content:

  • Address a Need: Create content that shows you understand what readers care about.
  • Be Relatable: Know your audience and speak in a language that they can connect with.
  • Make a Point: Use content to make a point, and get to it quickly.
  • Standout: Create content that differentiates you from your competition.
  • Listen to Input: Information can be gathered from sales teams, social media websites and customers to create more engaging content.

You can also create a better experience for your customers by providing them different content types to consume and share such as:

  • Webinars
  • SlideShare Presentations
  • Videos
  • Blog Posts
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Activity Books/Worksheets
  • Articles

Present Content at the Right Time

Different content types and whether they are gated or un-gated should be mapped to the customer journey. Below are examples of early, middle and late stage content types and whether they should be gated or not:

gated-and-un-gated-content-marketo

Marketers can implement lead scoring systems to rank leads in a way that helps determine sales-readiness. So, the type of content that your prospects are accessing can help shine a light on which stage of the buying cycle they are currently in.

Personalize the Content Experience

True execution and measurement of personalized content is still something that is very new to most marketers. However, a recent study from HubSpot found that personalized calls-to-action have a 42% higher conversion rate than those that are the same for all visitors.

Opportunities to personalize content exist in many places such as your website, video, social media, email and mobile. Other tactics such as retargeting have become increasingly popular, but results can be improved with the use of personalized retargeting as shown below.

personalized-retargeting-marketo

With the amount of information available, marketers can now begin to leverage the behaviors and profiles of both professionals and consumers by uncovering and incorporating the following information:

Professionals:

  • Industry
  • Organization
  • Target Account
  • Revenue/Size
  • Region
  • Persona
  • Buying Stage
  • Products Owned

Consumers:

  • Geo-location
  • Price Sensitivity
  • Purchase History
  • Buying Intent
  • Engagement
  • Customer Profile
  • Offers Accepted

The Importance of Measuring Marketing ROI

While anyone will tell you measuring conversions from your marketing efforts is key, many marketers still overlook the importance of measuring the multiple touch points that customers Go through before finally converting. It’s very rare that a prospect will see one piece of content and then immediately hire a company. There is credibility and trust that is built up over time, from multiple sources that typically encourages that type of action.

Below is an example of a conversion that could happen over 3 months, and many touch points:

multiple-content-touch-points-marketo

Each of these different steps should have a value attached to them so that marketers can track the potential in revenue for each piece of marketing material.

You can view Heidi’s full presentation below:

What Did We Learn?

In order for content marketing to be successful, you have to develop messages that are relevant to your audience, at the right time and in a way that is personalized to their needs. Using the tools available to listen across departments and directly with customers MUST inform your content strategy.

What have you found to be your biggest challenges in creating relevant engaging content for your audience?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
Heidi Bullock of Marketo Helps Uncover Ways to Engage Self-Directed Buyers | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Heidi Bullock of Marketo Helps Uncover Ways to Engage Self-Directed Buyers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

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Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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