Top B2B marketers are using improved analytic tools to get a better handle on how buyers are engaging with their content. That was one of the themes of the presentations at The New Rules of Marketing, a recent Marketo online event.
“Your customer engagement score is like your FICO credit score,” said Sanjay Dholakia, CMO of Marketo, during his opening remarks. “We are now able to apply science to content based on a number of factors, including open, click and conversion rates. It doesn’t take a lot of mental gymnastics to do this, as it has in the past.”
Measuring the ROI of content is complex due to the number of touches and influencers involved in each decision, Dholakia noted. There are typically seven touches needed to convert to a sale and five to 21 people involved in the buying process.
Dholakia said that marketers are moving toward segmenting customers based on behavior rather than demographics. “I get offers for Indian restaurants all of the time based on my name, but the funny thing is that I am a waste of an Indian palate because I was born without the gene to appreciate all of the Indian spices.”
Developing content that ensures durable relationships is another new rule of marketing, Dholakia explained. “It is no longer just about the point-in-time email blast. You want to share content during the early stages of the process so that when buyers go into active mode, they are predisposed to you and your company.”
More marketers are using content to help customers discover their products and services, rather than sending email blasts in hopes of being found, according to Dholakia.
“In the end, you don’t find people, people find you,” said Dholakia. “People are bombarded with 29,000 media messages every day — they pay attention to 50 and remember four of them positively. He or she with the best content will draw more people and get their messages in front of those people.”
Dholakia said that in the past, the reaction has been to “shout louder, send them more emails and media messages.” He acknowledged that marketers are getting better at targeted messaging, but “there is still an excess of content. Developing just any kind of content is not going to do us any good. It has to be valuable, compelling and useful.”
Customers’ behaviors on social network are also influencing content development, Dholakia said. “You may notice you have customers who actively share on social but haven’t opened an email. You need to present them with a different type of content.”
Measuring The Value Of Social
Marketers must develop a framework for measuring the success of social content, Andrew Spoeth, Head of Social Media Marketing for CA Technologies, a provider of IT management software, noted during his presentation. “It is important the framework is easy to explain, consistent over time and can be applied different areas of the business.”
Marketers should hone in on a few key measurements of their social content, Spoeth said. “The problem is not that marketers don’t have enough data. The problem is a lack of focus in analyzing the data.”
The framework for measuring the value of social content varies by industry and organization, Spoeth explained. “You have to build your own dashboard, based on what your business is aligned to and what will deliver value to the C-suite. Social media leadership needs to move from being reactive to proactive.”
Spoeth discussed a pyramid approach to identifying which metrics to track. At the base of the pyramid is the audience. “It all starts with acquiring connections and followers,” he said, adding that marketers should not treat all social channels the same.
Leads — direct, indirect and search — are at the top of the pyramid. That is followed by amplifications, including “re-tweets,” “shares,” and “likes.” Engagement is further down the pyramid and includes blog posts and video views.
Going forward, observers expect social to play a more vital role in the funnel and post-sale interactions with buyers — especially as the role of social data evolves.
“When social data is siloed — relegated to a marketing analyst in the marketing department — the data doesn’t boil up,” explained Andy Johnson, VP Business Development and Alliances for NetBase, a social media engagement platform vendor.
Top-of-funnel content marketing, including social media, has to be vendor agnostic, according to Toby Murdock, CEO and Founder of Kapost. He pointed to the example of New Relic, an application performance monitoring software vendor. “They’ve got a gigantic library of all kinds of content — webinars, video, blogs, and E-books. Buyers come to New Relic for the content and they stick around to learn about the product.”
Using Content To Engage Advocates
Howard Sewell, President of Spear Marketing Group, said that it is important to create content that people feel confident in sharing. He discussed a campaign his company developed for MobileIron, a mobile device management solution. Instead of targeting IT professionals, the campaign focused on users who want to use their personal mobile devices for work, a trend known as bring your own device (BYOD).
Users clicked on a banner ad, were directed to fill out a short form and received an email that they could then forward to their IT department to make the case for BYOD. The email encouraged the IT department to download the free “BYOD Strategy Tool Kit,” which was primarily white papers and other information with little mention of the company, Sewell noted.
“We intentionally didn’t make the email too ‘market-y’ — if that is a word — but more like a personal email so that people would feel comfortable forwarding it,” Sewell said.
While the banner ad got a fairly typical response rate of 0.1%, he noted that 7% of end-user response converted to IT leads and the campaign was associated with $141,000 in opportunities and more than $90,000 in closed business.
Marketers have to consider the message before the channel, explained Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs. “You need to think about the ‘why’ before the ‘what,’” she said. “A lot of marketers start out thinking they need to create a Facebook page, a mobile app or a blog. But it is important not to think about the ‘what’ first.”
This strategy forces you to carefully consider your core content mission, Handley said. “The mission should be baked into your content, not bolted on.”