The value of content marketing extends beyond just a top-of-funnel activity. When leveraged correctly, content insights can provide critical intent and account data that can be used throughout the funnel to move buyers towards a sale. B2B companies such as SAP, IHS Markit and Blackbaud are investing their marketing dollars towards interactive content and content syndication networks to extend content reach, garner greater insights and refine their go-to-market strategies. The results are higher engagement, improved lead generation and better data on prospective buyers.
“Our research shows that businesses are putting a priority on the idea of intelligence as part of the budget/tech stack,” said Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor at the Content Marketing Institute, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “[They] would do well to put the same kind of attention and effort into understanding how content is generating audiences, and the first-party data and insight that can be gleaned from the acquisition of that asset.”
Indeed, research shows that 93% of the most successful B2B companies say their organization is extremely or very committed to content marketing and 73% of the top content creators use technology to gain better insights into audience behaviors and preferences.
“It’s exciting to be in B2B marketing right now,” said Nick Robinson, Head of Digital Marketing, North America at SAP, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “There was a time maybe five years ago where we didn’t have the data that we do now. B2B marketers were kind of flying blind, but now I’m starting to see sales teams and other parts of the business come to us because we’re sitting on a treasure trove of data that honestly, we haven’t really started to unleash until now."
Interactive Content Delivers Next-Level Intelligence
Static content may drive lead generation and signal buyer interests, but interactive content provides a whole new world of insights. Marketers who leverage interactive content can glean engagement data, as well as critical information into the particular needs or wants of a prospective customer.
According to the 2018 Content Preferences Survey, 51% of buyers say interactive content is helpful in tackling business challenges and 43% say it is valuable at the mid-stage of the funnel.
The company uses SnappApp to create interactive content, which is then housed in content hubs on Uberflip. Each resource is given its own Uberflip and Marketo ID, so Blackbaud is able to track content performance, as well as who has engaged with it.
Lisa Kenney, Principal Demand Generation Marketing Manager at Blackbaud, says the company offers two fundraising solutions. To help prospects determine which solution is best suited for their organization, Blackbaud revamped its solution demo and introduced an interactive component that walks prospects through 10 questions, including how happy are you with your current solution, what features/functionalities are most important to you and what is your time to buy?
“[Our interactive content] goes through all the questions that you would actually ask on the phone if you were a sales rep or BDR,” said Kenney in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “But it cuts to the chase and we’re able to record all the ways they answer the question.”
According to Kenney, the interactive component has escalated the campaign beyond just a demo. “We find that people are using the tool, and our sales team loves it because they are able to see the exact response and start the conversation deeper than they would initially when they would have to ask all those questions up front,” she added.
Other interactive content assets Blackbaud has created include a website scorecard where buyers can assess whether their website is refreshed for 2019 or could use some updating, and a ROI calculator that demonstrates how much users can save if they use the credit card updater solution. The interactive tools have helped Blackbaud better nurture leads and equip its sales team with key insights.
Nevertheless, Kenney believes “We’ve only scratched the surface with interactive. There’s so much you can do and so much data to gain.”
Extending Content Reach, Buyer Insights Through Syndication Networks
In addition to using interactive content, B2B marketers are looking at content syndication to drive content engagement and gather more data on prospective buyers.
Research from Demand Gen Report shows that content syndication is on the rise, with 30% of respondents to this year’s Demand Generation Benchmark Survey rating it as a successful tactic, up from 24% in 2018.
IHS Markit, a global information provider, is no stranger to content intelligence and uses intent data to personalize content for target accounts across different industries and roles. According to Byron O’Dell, Executive Director and Head of Corporate Marketing, the company is beginning to dip its toes into content syndication.
“Content marketing at its purest is marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing,” said O’Dell in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “We’re excited about a future where we say we’ve met this person before, they’ve spent time on the IHS Markit website and as a result of that, we have a good guess about the topics that this person is interested in. Then, we can use content syndication to push articles and display ads for wherever they travel.”
SAP also has a history of investing heavily in content syndication and plans to maintain, if not increase, this investment in 2019. According to Robinson, SAP has seen high success rates from using content syndication to reach net-new accounts — a top priority for the company’s North America division.
“We know that in reality, a lot of the research does not happen on our website,” said Robinson in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “That’s why we invest in content syndication, because we’re relying on our content syndication partners’ brand affinity with these audiences.”
Robinson said the company views content syndication as an “engagement activator.” Using True Influence and a network of publisher partners, SAP can send relevant display ads and content to target accounts.
According to Robinson, content syndication enables the company to deliver targeted engagement at scale. When analyzing the funnel, SAP found that content syndication was responsible for getting 90% of its net-new accounts in North America to raise their hand.
“That was a big aha moment for our head of marketing in North America,” said Robinson. “We realized that if we were to dial down content syndication in North America, we’d basically be cutting down an entire supply of audience attention that we wouldn’t get if we were to just rely on our database to market to people.”