Content Mapping Sun, 16 Jun 2019 08:54:20 -0400 en-gb New Approaches For Nurturing Debut At SiriusDecisions Summit; Alternative Approaches Address Changing Capabilities & Realities Source: SiriusDecisions

When SiriusDecisions introduced its Demand Unit Waterfall at its 2017 Summit, the new framework generated buzz and interest as a model for planning and tracking account-based strategies. It also created immediate questions and some concern over how brands could operationalize and apply campaigns around demand units, as opposed to leads.

At the 2018 Summit in Las Vegas this week, SiriusDecisions analysts Laura Cross and Erin Bohlin provided attendees with an alternative approach to using signals and buyer context for nurture program design, as well as a plan for evolving nurture capabilities using process, data and technology.

The analysts stressed that, while technologies gave demand gen marketers the ability to build sequenced campaigns designed to guide individual buyers through topics that would ultimately prepare individual leads for sales conversations, this approach has become overplayed and ineffective. “In reality, we are seeing engagement rates continuously decline; buyers tell us our content is over-rotated, we neglect our websites and over-rely on email,” Cross said. “Our buyers are frozen from being blasted with too much, low-relevant information, delivered to them using the wrong delivery channel.”

Bohlin added that traditional nurture strategies and tracking models were not able to address buying groups. “The fact is that we are ignoring the complexity of the buying process and nurturing leads rather than focusing on how buyers make decisions, which is in groups,” Bohlin said. “We are creating nurture flows in isolation of the overall program objectives, so nurture doesn’t have accepted success metrics other than to engage.”

The bigger issue with traditional nurture programs, the analysts pointed out, is that conventional nurture programs were designed to control buying behavior, rather than address the behaviors and needs of accounts. “We spend so much time on programmatic configuration in systems, using the flow to control the buyer, rather than supporting a buyer-led experience,” Bohlin added.

New Approach Align With Demand Unit Waterfall

To help demand marketers address these realities and build nurtures that work within the new Demand Unit Waterfall, SiriusDecisions introduced a new approach which called for using new capabilities around AI and intent data to incorporate insights into buying behavior.

The three-pronged approach addresses three key areas: signal, response and next action. To better align with the Demand Unit Waterfall, the new approach is built on the three key phases:

  1. Activate;
  2. Validate; and
  3. Accelerate.

The presenters also detailed a real-world case study applying this approach from Snowflake Computing, a high-growth company that applied a new nurture approach to support aggressive demand gen goals. Snowflake used data to understand the individual, account and buying group context to determine how buyer needs would map to their solution.

The company created integrated programs and developed plays addressing the needs of different buyers. They also built buyer-led nurture programs utilizing machine-learning to tie together rich account information, as well as retargeting tools and custom microsites for target accounts that could adjust the messaging and offer based on buying signals and data.


]]> (Andrew Gaffney) Industry Insights Fri, 11 May 2018 12:43:11 -0400
Top Priorities For 2018 Marketing Strategies Emerge As Leaders Address AI, ABM, Localization & Attribution Top Priorities For 2018 Marketing Strategies Emerge As Leaders Address AI, ABM, Localization & Attribution

For many marketers, the Fall brings a mixed bag of analyzing and fine-tuning their current campaigns to try and close out the year as strong as possible, while also building budgets and identifying new plans and programs for when the calendar flips to 2018.

To better understand which tools and tactics leading B2B marketers are planning to prioritize for the coming year, we got a sneak peek at the content and presentations from our upcoming Strategy & Planning Series. The week-long series (Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 2017), will feature 12 sessions with industry leading speakers from Heinz Marketing, Ingram Micro, The MX Group and Sage Software, who will review their top successes so far in 2017 and also share new models, tools and tactics they are planning to roll out in 2018.

The series will provide hands-on and tactical tips and guidance to help companies actually apply the hotter buzzwords, acronyms and trends — including ABM, AI, interactive content, localization, as well as marketing and attribution.

Operationalizing ABM

Account-based marketing (ABM) continues to become part of the foundational approach for many B2B organizations. According to SiriusDecisions, 92% of marketers call ABM a B2B must-have. With that in mind, several sessions during the series will help marketers with justifying spend and allocating budget effectively to maximize the overall impact of your ABM efforts. John Dering, Director of ABM Technology & Strategy for Demandbase will share tips on the company’s own ABM approach, including optimizing its program mix and creative ways to find budget dollars for target account initiatives.

In another ABM session, The Mx Group’s Tim Cook will outline a seven-step process to operationalizing ABM that is also refined based on practitioners’ current levels of ABM proficiency. Cook will share a playbook to address every stage of rolling out an account-based strategy and measuring its success.  

Adding Intent & AI

As the latest buzzword in B2B, artificial intelligence (AI) is being assessed as marketers look for the best business case to apply these advanced applications across their existing teams and tech stacks.

In a session on Making The Case for AI, Deborah Holstein, CMO at EverString, will share real-world models and formulas for getting budget and buy-in from key stakeholders, with specific formulas tied to the number of sales reps and quota attainment.

In another session focused on real-world applications of AI, Miguel Gernaey, VP of Global Demand Generation with Sage Software will share use case examples to highlight how the company used AI-powered applications to achieve 6x higher opportunity conversions and 12x higher customer revenue.

Author and industry blogger Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, will also be sharing models and guidance on how to use AI and intent data to be more buyer-centric and relevant by using a mix of buying signals and intelligence in a session titled Right Person, Right Time, Right Message.

Making Content A Competitive Differentiator

Creating unique content experiences and delivering them across a mix of channels will also be a key thread throughout the series. In a session titled Content Hit-Makers, Dana Harder, VP of Strategy for Content4Demand, will share examples of how B2B brands are using new formats to engage different audiences at different stages of the buying cycle.

In a session titled 6 Steps to Building The Ultimate 2018 Marketing Plan, Paige Musto, VP of Corporate Marketing at Act-On Software, will share models for how to build a buyer-centric marketing roadmap, incorporating themes, topics, tools and championing a big idea for the new year.

To help marketers tackle how to use their content to engage content across channels, Radius’ John Hurley will provide a variety of use case examples of how B2B marketers can take omnichannel strategies from their B2C peers by putting intelligence into play across multiple channels.

Another area top of mind for content marketers is whether or not their programs are positioned to scale as their companies expand into new markets. Smartling’s Head of Marketing, Juliana Pereira, will discuss the latest results from new research in her session, which illustrates the scope and momentum of content localization. Juliana will provide actionable steps for how to develop your own future-proof localization strategy, as well as use case examples of practitioners finding success in their localization efforts.

Addressing Measurement & Attribution

Since tracking how campaigns are performing and influencing pipeline remain top priorities for most B2B marketers, there are several sessions planned that will address measurement and attribution.

During a webinar session titled Why You Can’t Afford To Keep Measuring Marketing The Same Way, LookbookHQ’s Elle Woulfe and Chris Vandermarel will share new solutions to traditional metric problems, including:

  • Making every click the start of a journey, not a dead end;
  • Zeroing in on your most engaged, sales-ready buyers;
  • Determining what channels are working; and
  • Knowing how your content is being consumed.

During another session, Feng Hong, Full Circle Insights’ Sr. Product Marketing Manager, will share a step-by-step, metrics-driven presentation on how to evaluate performance along the 3Cs (campaign, channel and content), utilize attribution metrics to optimize your marketing mix in 2018 and much more.

Attendees will walk away with actionable takeaways including:

  • A guide to create not one but two marketing plans; and
  • The keys to using those plans to get smarter over time.  

There’s plenty more where that came from. Click here to see the complete lineup and schedule. We hope to see you at #SPS17 on Oct. 20-Nov. 3! 

]]> (the DGR Edit Team) Industry Insights Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:58:56 -0400
LookBookHQ Launches Intelligent Content Platform LookBookHQ Launches Intelligent Content Platform

The LookBookHQ Intelligent Content Platform is designed to help marketers maintain buyer attention by recommending relevant content based on past behavior while tracking how much content is being consumed to gain better insights into buyer intent.


The LookBookHQ Intelligent Content Platform features:

  • Buyer-centric content experiences, developed via artificial intelligence, aimed to help identify the next best content and encourage buyers to self-nurture at their own pace;
  • Analytics that show what happened on the destination side of the click or form fill;
  • A content library that houses existing content, which users can deploy and track across channels including email, social, ads, websites and resource centers; and
  • LookBookHQ Webhooks integrations with marketing automation platforms that alert sales teams when prospects self-nurture on multiple content assets.


LookBookHQ serves demand generation marketing leaders at enterprise technology companies who want to understand how campaigns are performing to increase conversion rates, accelerate buying cycles and identify better-qualified prospects.


LookBookHQ’s Webhooks integrate with marketing automation platforms such as Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, and Pardot to make content engagement data actionable by alerting sales when prospects self-nurture on multiple content assets. LookBookHQ also integrates with third-party data platforms to de-anonymize traffic and enhance customers’ account-based marketing capabilities.  


LookBookHQ customers can choose from a range of annual subscription packages that best align with their needs. Pricing for LookBookHQ’s SaaS platform is determined by which content delivery features, analytics, integrations, service level and add-ons are included in each package.


LookBookHQ customers include Cisco, Rockwell Automation, Thomson Reuters, TIBCO Software, Kareo, Qvidian and Appian Corporation.


The LookBookHQ Intelligent Content Platform is designed to deliver content engagement analytics that show B2B marketers what happened on the destination side of the click or form fill. It’s also content agnostic, omnichannel and powered by artificial intelligence. 


174 Spadina Ave
Toronto, ON M5T 2C2, Canada
]]> (Matt Halchak, Contributing Writer) Solution Spotlight Mon, 03 Jul 2017 08:44:00 -0400
Customer Journey Mapping Emerging As Top Priority Among B2B Marketers Customer Journey Mapping Emerging As Top Priority Among B2B Marketers

Expanding on the foundational step of buyer personas, many marketers are now going a step deeper by creating customer journey maps. These visual frameworks help companies understand buyer needs and preferences throughout all points of engagement.

Journey mapping isn’t new, but the process for creating these maps has come to the fore in the past year, and analysts predict that will increase in 2017.

“It’s been gaining momentum over the last year,” said Carrie Rediker, Research Director for Demand Creation Strategies at SiriusDecisions. “I think of it almost like a road map, especially from a demand gen perspective. You need to understand your audiences’ perspective: Are they a decision-maker or a technical influencer? You need to adapt messaging, content and the delivery channels.”

SiriusDecisions has a Buyer Journey Mapping Framework for clients that includes:

  • Interaction mapping (both human and “non-human” interaction with a marketer’s brand);
  • Content mapping (what types of assets are shared at various buying stages); and
  • Engagement mapping.

“[This] really helps marketers, from a messaging and programming perspective, so they can leverage the behavioral information,” Rediker said.

Mapping At The Account Level

The surge in popularity of account-based marketing (ABM) and its focus on individuals within accounts is another factor driving journey mapping adoption.

“ABM is pushing people to do this,” said Cari Baldwin, President at BlueBird Strategies. “Everyone is making an effort to understand the customer better.”

Baldwin said better insights through the current technology, especially in tracking content performance, has been powerful for marketers. “In the last 18 months, it has been at the top of people’s efforts, and it’s definitely a priority going into 2017.”

One of the precursors to success with ABM — and one of the challenges — is the ability to understand the customer journey of each prospect within an account.

“The biggest challenge for organizations is getting into a truly buyer-centric mindset and execution around that,” said Jeff Freund, CEO of Akoonu. He agreed that technology and ABM have been catalysts for more marketers adopting journey mapping, and he believes one other factor is at play. “What marketers are being measured by [has changed],” he said. “It used to be leads and top-of-funnel pipeline. More marketers are now being held to revenue generation. It’s being able to make that shift within marketing organizations to think about the entire journey and how you enable a late-stage opportunity. That’s where mapping the value of the buyers’ journey can really be leveraged and applied.”

Freund also said it is the next step in aligning account-based selling and ABM “and how the teams work together to enable the buyers’ journey. The priorities and resourcing applied to mapping the customer journey will accelerate,” he said.

Long-Term Impact On Revenue

One SaaS company that supplies HR and finance tools went through buyer journey mapping to increase renewal and retention rates, which had plateaued. The organization transformed its operations in the process.

The project entailed mapping current customer journeys from the top of the funnel through to renewal for each of its products. “It involved a lot of collaboration from marketing, sales, customer success, finance and billing. “We got every stakeholder involved,” the CMO said.

The next step was getting in-depth feedback from customers through interviews, which it accomplished by retaining consultant Christine Crandell, President of New Business Strategies. The insights helped the company re-envision how they handled the customer from new business through the renewal process.

“The final deliverable was a 25-page guide that documented the entire customer journey,” the CMO said. “It helped flip the corporate mindset to be customer focused, which was a big deal for us.”

That new mindset was then carried over to how the company engaged with customers and prospects (by channel), what messages were communicated to the customer at different stages of the journey, as well as new and re-purposed content assets.

“It was a lot of work, but it got us going directionally where we needed to go,” he said.

Crandell said journey mapping is much broader than marketing. “It impacts sales, finance, operations, strategic planning and M&A,” she said. “It’s a company-wide strategic initiative,” and it can uncover multiple insights beyond aligning campaigns to optimize marketing.

“You may discover a pattern of problems with a particular set of touch points, or learn customers are delighted with your brand,” Crandell said.

Companies can also identify whether data in the system is incomplete, according to Crandell, and can find behavioral patterns in the data. “It’s about understanding behavior intent and emotion, not just about what they clicked on, but why.”

“The value of journey mapping is seeing things through the eyes of the buyer,” she concluded. 

]]> (Carol Krol) Industry Insights Wed, 14 Dec 2016 13:13:05 -0500
Planning Ahead: 4 B2B Trends To Master For 2017 Planning Ahead: 4 B2B Trends To Master For 2017

As 2016 comes to a close, you’re probably already having conversations with your team about how you are going to revamp your marketing and sales initiatives to surpass goals, meet quotas and drive pipeline in the new year.

In preparation for our upcoming Strategy & Planning Series, a week-long event that will cover the tactics and strategies necessary to better your marketing and sales initiatives in 2017, here are four of the big B2B trends that you will need to pay attention to in 2017. Check out the list below.

1. ABM Rollout & Success Priorities

The surge in account-based marketing (ABM) has not gone unnoticed; our research shows that close to half (47%) of B2B companies have an ABM strategy in place, while 32% plan to launch one within the next 18 months. It picked up so much steam that we dedicated a new digital magazine to spotlighting successful ABM practitioners.

Your entire organization — from marketing to sales and the C-suite — must be aligned to maximize the overall success of ABM. So much so that EverString will focus primarily on the topic during their session next week. Beyond that, your entire organization must agree on target accounts and formulate a rollout strategy. Madison Logic will discuss the strategy B2B organizations can take to build an ABM program that is right for them.

2. Advances In Measurement & Reporting

The only way you can implement new strategies and campaigns is by effectively measuring the effectiveness of those campaigns. A variety of solution vendors in the space understand this, and have tailored their offerings to provide reporting capabilities that deliver deeper insight.

However, many marketers continue to struggle with the inundation of data, which can hamstring many marketing managers when they go to their senior reps to request budgets or suggest new ways to market. Identifying the metrics that matter in order to effectively analyze your marketing campaigns is crucial. Multiple sessions, including those hosted by Demandbase and Full Circle Insights, will help spotlight metrics that can prove marketing effectiveness and impact on bottom line.

Being able to relay this data and insight to your managers is just as crucial as effectively measuring success. Domo will be covering how closed-loop marketing and data visualization can help tell that story and prove the worth of your marketing campaigns.

3. Expansions In AI & Predictive

Further advancements in analytics technology have unveiled the future of B2B measurement and reporting: artificial intelligence (AI). Announcements from vendors such as Salesforce and Oracle highlight that the marketplace is looking to offer more recommendation-based analytics to further enhance marketing initiatives.

This isn’t a revolution, however. AI is designed to be an evolution of your current analytical capabilities. In a session hosted by Radius, attendees will gain use case examples of how predictive analytics is the natural progression to AI. These predictive and AI capabilities will only enhance ABM initiatives as they continue to grow and develop. Lattice Engines will be spotlighting how Hootsuite is leveraging predictive to boost content engagement and account targeting.

4. Enhanced Content Mapping, Targeting

It’s interesting to see how much these trends play off one another. Enhancing content engagement isn’t possible without analyzing the right data and having a clear understanding of your target audience. Leveraging this insight positions marketers to create top-quality content that accelerates sales funnels and increases opportunities.

Engagement data from past marketing campaigns is a strong starting point. Companies such as ON24 and Content4Demand will be analyzing the best ways to measure buyer behavior and leverage it in future content creation — as well as repurposing existing assets. This engagement also helps map out buyer journeys. MX Group is hosting a session that will provide practical steps to map out these journeys and get strategic marketing assets in place.

Want to learn more targeted approaches to demand generation in 2017? Join us next week for one (or all) of the  twelve webinar sessions taking place during our 2016 Strategy & Planning Series! Check out the agenda to see what we’ll be covering throughout the week.

]]> (Brian Anderson) Blog Wed, 09 Nov 2016 10:40:51 -0500
Sales Enablement Revolution: How Designing For Usability Drives 10x Value Sales Enablement Revolution: How Designing For Usability Drives 10x Value

/A revolution is happening in sales enablement, breaking the logjams of the past to help organizations achieve double-digit improvement in sales conversion rates and revenue growth.

The driver? Technology designed for usability.

In form and function, modern sales enablement solutions focus on the role of the sales rep and how to reduce friction and make sales more effective by moving them closer to their customers.

v.1 To v.Now

Anyone who has struggled with content repositories built around rigid, nested-folder file systems knows the drawbacks of first-generation sales enablement: Content that’s difficult — or impossible — to find, lack of actionable reporting, poor scalability and frustrating, clunky user interfaces.

These early systems gave sales enablement a bad name. However, advances in cloud technology, broader end-to-end sales productivity features, and an emphasis on user experience have reignited interest in its ability to make sales teams more efficient.

Here are three key categories for increased productivity:

Sales Content Management

No sales rep or marketing publisher should have to settle for nested folder content management anymore.

Based on research presented at this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit, 79% of buyers say that content is “very to extremely impactful” in their buying process. And yet, 65% of the content produced for sales is never used. Such a gap between the value of content in the sales process and the supply of quality content is driving the demand for better sales content management solutions.

We commonly hear about three dysfunctional situations:

  1. “We have multiple sales content solutions and I never know where to look for the most up- to-date, ‘right’ content.” Multiple content solutions make it difficult, and confusing, for sales teams to know where to find the latest content.
  2. “We have a sales enablement solution, but it’s clunky and I can never find the content I want.” The common culprit here is rigidity of the classic nested-folder file system design. It forces sales reps to read the minds of the publishers to understand how the content is organized.
  3. “We, in marketing, have no insight into what content the sales teams are using, what is engaging the customers, what is driving sales conversions and what isn’t working, so we can’t improve the quality of content.” In order for a marketing team to consistently create valuable content, they need to be able to measure what is working.

Taking lessons learned from consumer technology such as Amazon, iTunes, Facebook, and Pinterest, modern sales enablement has transformed sales content management “findability,” making it intuitive and fast to find the right content for each selling situation. Like in Amazon and iTunes, content is recommended to sales reps based on content performance and sales opportunity parameters. Content organization is very flexible with playlist-like approaches — not rigid file-folder structures — and organized by sales teams, so it is intuitive to each unique field team. 

Content solutions designed for sales team usability means sales teams will use it, which, of course, is everything.  No solution can provide value if it isn’t used.

Customer Engagement

Connect with customers throughout their buying journey.

Sales content management systems as stand-alone solutions can only go so far in making sales reps more effective. 

By seamlessly integrating email, online presentation options and customer content portals, modern solutions streamline how reps engage customers by removing the need to access multiple specialized applications to deliver content to customers. According to research from Highspot, more than 50% of companies that have committed to sales enablement see increased sales conversion rates of at least 10%, and 23% of companies have increased conversion rates by more than 20%. 


Drive performance improvement based on data, not intuition.

As anyone who has studied total quality management (TQM) knows, a closed-loop process is critical to driving ongoing quality improvement in processes and content.

Modern sales enablement platforms offer businesses comprehensive and deep-dive analytics on content, sales and sales enablement performance in order to improve quality and sales productivity. Through analytics on content usage, customer engagement, pitch performance and impact of revenue, organizations now have a closed-loop process in sales enablement to continuously improve performance.

Building On The Past For A Better Future

Many industries wouldn’t be where they are today without having progressed through years of iterative improvements. Like the Rio player preceding the iPod or VHS before Netflix, each generation of an idea contributes to an eventual breakthrough. A breakthrough has emerged in sales enablement, and companies taking advantage of it have realized a remarkable increase in sales conversion rates, sales-marketing alignment and revenue growth.

For more information on modern sales enablement, including a discussion on capabilities, best practices on implementing and optimizing, and analyst recommendations, read the Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement

Jeff Day is the VP of Marketing at Highspot and a 15-year veteran of sales enablement. As a marketing leader for companies including Apptio, HP, Sun and PolyServe and the VP of Sales for DomainTools, Jeff understands the potential of a well-trained, empowered and enabled sales force.

]]> (Jeff Day, Highspot) Demanding Views Fri, 05 Aug 2016 12:26:02 -0400
Demandbase Sees 300% Increase In Influenced Pipeline With Automated Content Journeys Demandbase Sees 300% Increase In Influenced Pipeline With Automated Content Journeys

/Account-based marketing (ABM) technology provider Demandbase leveraged LookBookHQ, a content marketing automation platform, to help create bundled content intended to educate its target account audience on ABM.


Demandbase wanted to engage with its target account audience and provide them with access to information about ABM that they could ingest at their own pace. While the company has historically done a good job of developing content, said John Dering, ABM Thought Leader & Director of Marketing Programs at Demandbase, they “weren’t merchandising it to the best of their abilities.” Demandbase simply posted the content on their site and hoped that visitors would find it or sales would send it to prospects and customers.

“We were looking for ways to start to extend and understand the impact that our collateral was having on our targeted accounts and to our sales processes,” Dering said “We wanted to find a way where we could merchandise that content to them and allow them to consume as much as they’d like on their own terms. Traditionally in nurturing we would deliver one piece of content a week, or every other week, and unfortunately it would take six to eight weeks to get all that content though. LookBookHQ provided a great opportunity for us to provide that info all in one sitting, if [visitors] chose to consume it.”


The company incorporated LookBookHQ into its content strategy, instead of posting content directly to its website, which allowed visitors to consume multiple pieces in one sitting. Demandbase was also able to remove friction in conversions because, Dering said, “historically when we were doing these tests, we were sending people to the landing page to fill out a form to access the content.”

“We already had all of these people in our database so capturing their pedigree information — names, titles, phone numbers — wasn’t necessary for us,” he added. “We wanted to extend the reach of our content to more people, so we found some ways using LookBookHQ and our marketing automation system, Oracle Eloqua, to track the attribution the same way we would a download (as if someone filled out a form) without requiring them to do that.”


The first thing that Demandbase gained from leveraging LookBookHQ was an increase in “downloads,” which the company defines as “getting access to the content,” Dering said.

The company was also able to track engagement using the solution. “LookBookHQ tells you when someone is engaged with that content, how much time they spend on it and how many pieces of content they consume,” he said. “[This] lets you start to ingest that information, incorporate it into your marketing automation, use it for scoring and understand what’s really going on.”

Shortly after incorporating LookBookHQ, Demandbase saw:

  • A 2x increase in responses to content promotions; and
  • A 3x boost in time visitors spent consuming content on the website.

After conducting an analysis of the numbers a few months later, Demandbase found that the content automation platform led to:

  • A 300% increase in influenced pipeline;
  • A 13% boost in annual contract values; and
  • A 50% increase in deal velocity.

“If you know the people who are consuming one piece of content versus people who are consuming four pieces of content — like an average person looking at some content or a fast-moving buyer — that’s really great intelligence for your sales team, especially when you’re focusing on target accounts,” said Dering. “You can capture that behavior and create alerts for your sales team, and when you can follow up with those people in that moment, you have a much higher chance of turning that behavior into sales activity.”

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Case In Point Tue, 28 Jun 2016 13:33:14 -0400
Content Inventories And Audits: Two Components Of Successful Gap Analysis Content Inventories And Audits: Two Components Of Successful Gap Analysis

As B2B companies continue to invest more and more resources, time and energy into content, many are starting to realize that they’ve got to understand their own content first, including how it is working for them. B2B companies such as New Pig are finding value in analyzing their content offerings — and filling gaps in their content inventory.

Industry experts within the B2B marketplace note that gaining a firm grasp of content inventory is a crucial component of content gap analysis.

“One of the biggest trends is that companies are taking initiative to understand their content and how their content is working for them,” said Jeff Freund, CEO and Founder of Akoonu, an account-based marketing and selling platform. “Companies have realized that they have a ton of content out there and don’t necessarily understand what it all is, or how its being used. And that’s something that’s critical for content marketing teams.” 

New Pig Gains Deeper Understanding Of Buyer Needs

New Pig, a manufacturer of industrial spill cleanup materials, realized their “big pile of legacy content” was not driving the thought leadership and demand generation it wanted. The company teamed up with Akoonu to help them understand their audience, look at their content process and align it with the buyer’s journey.

“By understanding their personas better, [New Pig] realized [they had] a huge gap in their content,” said Jeff Freund, CEO and Founder of Akoonu. “They had a [specific] buyer that, as a marketing team, they never focused on and weren’t aware of their influence and needs in terms of content. So when they were able to distinguish that this persona had high relevance to the buying journey, they were able to really understand that persona, understand the role in the buyer’s journey and craft content to deliver in that gap that they didn’t identify going in.”

After conducting a gap analysis, New Pig gained a deeper understanding of what their customers wanted. For example, they realized their customers didn’t want to read their blog, but preferred a learning center. Now, “much of the content is the same but it’s re-crafted to a presentation that is more aligned with the buyer,” said Freund. 

The mentality of “the more content, the better” no longer resonates in the industry. Research from Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report shows that 83% of buyers remain overwhelmed by the amount of content available. This highlights the importance of focusing on quality over quantity, which is why conducting a content inventory and audit is crucial to a successful content gap analysis.  

Content strategy agencies such as Content4Demand and Content Strategy Inc. both emphasize the importance of conducting content inventories and audits to get a clear picture of where the gaps in content lie.

“Gap analysis is part of a process,” said Dana Harder, VP of Client Strategy at Content4Demand. “Very seldom do we have someone come in asking for a gap analysis. Our clients know they have existing content, but don’t know what that is or how to break it up. A lot of times the gap analysis discussion happens when we’re talking about repurposing content or auditing content. Once you audit the content, then we can determine your gap.”

First, Define The Buyer’s Journey And Conduct Inventory

Before marketers can identify gaps in their content, first they must understand the buyer’s journey. It’s imperative to identify how the buyer consumes information and content, said Kathy Wagner, Co-Founder of Content Strategy Inc.

“Typically, we start by defining the customer journey and mapping the content to each particular journey in a particular audience segment that we’re focusing on,” she said. “We’ll look at things like what topics are important, what formats people want to see, what messaging resonates with them and what content types are important at that stage.”

The inventory begins once there is a complete understanding of the journey. Conducting inventory — which essentially means pulling together a list of the content assets — will provide insight into how much and what kind of content a company has on hand.

“It needs to be done, because, for example, if you’re going to have somebody else audit your content, you have to provide them with an inventory list at some point, otherwise they can’t get to the content,” said Content4Demand’s Harder. “Getting that content in a central place is going to be necessary in order to do the audit in any sort of efficient manner.”

Next, Content Audit 101

Before conducting an audit, marketers must identify clear buyer personas and correlating messages for their content, Harder added.

Once there is a clear picture of the persona and messaging, the audit — or analysis — of the content inventory can begin. This is where marketers must answer questions regarding their content, including:

  • Is this content current?
  • Is it on brand?
  • Is it relevant to the buyer?
  • Are there statistics in this content that can become outdated?
  • What is the repurposing potential?

After conducting the audit, many marketers realize they didn’t have as much relevant content as they thought they did.

“What we often see is marketing groups that want to shift to buyer-focused marketing, said Matt McKenzie, Chief Content Officer at Content4Demand. “They want to begin using content to engage in conversation with their buyers, and to generate content for better engagement and better results. What they find is they have this body of existing content, some of which is suitable for this purpose and some that isn’t.”

“[Many marketers] think they have a lot of content but they don’t,” said Harder. That’s because  “they don’t have a lot of the right content, which is always the hard part to tell them. The foundational strategy of a content marketing program is that it needs to be buyer-focused, and often their content is not buyer-focused. It’s very product-heavy. Nine out of 10 times that’s what we’ll find.”

Another common challenge for marketers is not having enough content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. In many occasions, companies tend to have a plethora of top-of-funnel content, but not as much middle- and late-stage content, Harder said. This is where gaps become more prominent.

“When we get to the gap analysis we say, ‘Here’s the messaging we need to reach, now which content assets of the audit do you have that are existing?’ We’ll pull those assets and plug it into the six-stage buyers journey and customize it if a client has a different need. Then we will go through the gap [analysis] and see, ‘You have a lot of content at stage one, two and three, but you have nothing at four and five.’ And then, ‘You have something at stage six, but it has to be repurposed.’”

However, a content gap analysis doesn’t have to be a “big, nasty, complex project,” said Content4Demand’s McKenzie.

“If you’re just accomplishing two things — [identifying the] buying stage and target persona — you’ve done a lot of the work you need to do for a gap analysis. If you’re pressed for time and resources, you can stop right there and do a pretty good job of knowing what you’ve got in your content library for a campaign and where your gaps are.”

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Industry Insights Wed, 22 Jun 2016 09:24:24 -0400
From Funnel Cake To Microfunnels: Describing The Modern Buying Journey From Funnel Cake To Microfunnels: Describing The Modern Buying Journey

1funnelcakeDuring my time at the recent Forrester Forum For Marketing Leaders, I overheard the “f” word quite a bit. No, not that one. The one that’s described the traditional buying journey in B2B marketing for more than a century: Funnel.

These days, it seems like everyone has a different take on the tried-and-true funnel-style approach to lead generation.

Some marketers are talking about flipping the funnel.

Some are talking about “microfunnels.”

During a presentation on contextual engagement at the Forrester event, GoDaddy CMO Phil Bienert used the term to describe hundreds of unique buying journeys for specific, highly segmented prospects. The idea came about when the company realized many of its small and mid-sized business users had vastly different interests: Some wanted information and products to help scale their business; some were content simply to maintain the status quo.

In a separate B2B-focused presentation at the event, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo suggested re-thinking the funnel model altogether. Rather than inverted pyramid, think funnel cake.

Why is the traditional funnel facing so much scrutiny? Thanks to the advent of digital marketing and social media, B2B buyers are interacting with brands through multiple channels throughout the sales process. In fact, more than 10 channels influence buyers at each stage of the journey, Wizdo noted in her presentation.

That means B2B marketers should shift their focus away from campaigns that simply hand leads to sales.

“Instead of the funnel, marketers should think of the buying journey in terms of the customer life cycle,” she described in an interview with Demand Gen Report.  In today’s customer-centric marketing world, Wizdo said the traditional funnel fails in three key ways:

  1. It promotes a numbers game theory of sales and marketing.Marketers tend to think the more leads you put into the top of the funnel, the more deals that will come out. However, there’s a danger in overemphasizing volume at the top of the funnel, because in practice, the funnel is not a high-performance engine, Wizdo said. “When we recently surveyed B2B marketers about the conversion ratios in their lead funnels, respondents on average cited an end-to-end conversion ratio of 0.75% — less than 1%,” she said.
  2. It’s a passive model. The lead funnel is devoid of process, she explained, “as if there were a natural phenomenon (gravity?) that controlled the physics of the funnel.” Instead, she suggested B2B marketers “build an active engagement strategy that helps to accelerate a buyer on their path to a decision.”
  3. It masks attribution complexities. “With its inherent focus on lead volume, the funnel overemphasizes ‘first touch’ or ‘initial source’ in attribution,” she added. Buyers of business technology products report that more than 28 vehicles have an impact on their buying decisions. However, “lead-to-revenue marketers can no longer shy away from the difficult challenge of attribution, because the ‘peanut butter allocation method’ cannot effectively spread the marketing budget across an ever-increasing set of vehicles.”

Instead of focusing on the funnel, Wizdo believes marketers should concentrate on the customer. Who is it? And more importantly: What does she need? This is where developing detailed buyer personas, as in the GoDaddy example above, is crucial. Here Wizdo has advice, as well: “B2B marketers use personas to understand their buyers’ priorities and motivations. Most do a good job of that. Where many fall short is in defining how the value propositions of the company and its products and services are relevant to the buyer.”

In other words, it’s not about what buyers can do for you; it’s about what you can do for buyers.

It’s not a unique concept in the B2B marketing world, but what’s new is it’s being applied at all stages of the sales process. (Dare I say funnel?) Thanks to today’s proliferation of data, marketers can identify prospects and deliver highly relevant content at first touch. Plus, marketers can pinpoint the prospects that are most likely to actually complete a purchase. This in turn allows them to “better allocate market spending and sales efforts on audiences that best match these patterns,” Wizdo noted. In other words, the approach can potentially save big bucks.

That’s why she calls the process “lead-to-revenue management.”

It’s not quite as tasty a term as funnel cake, but it may be a pretty accurate description of today’s marketing and sales cycle.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the funnel? How would you describe today’s buying journey? Let us know below.

]]> (Audrey Goodson Kingo) Blog Tue, 10 May 2016 17:15:00 -0400
Salesforce Updates Further Blur The Line Between Marketing And Sales Salesforce Updates Further Blur The Line Between Marketing And Sales

The convergence of marketing and sales for a holistic view of the customer was the key theme at Salesforce Connections 2016, where Salesforce executives unveiled that its Marketing Cloud has received the Lightning update to provide a consistent user experience across all of its cloud solutions.

Released last year as an update for the Sales and Service Cloud offerings, Salesforce Lightning provides a simple, drag-and-drop user interface designed to simplify the execution of campaigns, while also providing deeper insight into how customers are engaging with the user’s brand. New Lightning components allow users from every aspect of the business — marketing, sales and service — to view the complete customer journey.

“The always-connected customer doesn't care if they are talking to a marketer, sales or service rep,” said Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, during his opening keynote at the event. “They want to make sure their questions and needs are met when and where they want it.”

Salesforce Pardot also launched the new features to its Salesforce Lightning components, enabling B2B sales teams to gain better visibility into their company’s marketing campaigns and better engage with prospective customers in a relevant and contextual way.

To further enable sales reps, prospect engagement data (such as a whitepaper download or email open) will be viewable through a Lightning component to provide deeper insight into what prospective customers have engaged with in the past. This can enhance further engagement by arming sales reps with relevant and contextual information.

The new features also provide prospect engagement alerts that automatically notify a salesperson when one of their prospects is showing interest. This enables sales reps to have more control over the leads they are receiving, while also providing tools to allow sales teams to nurture prospects with marketing-approved content and report on the impact directly within Salesforce or their email client.

“This positions sales reps to control the process of pushing leads into nurture tracks,” said Shannon Duffy, CMO of Salesforce Pardot, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. She added that this can help users “bridge the gaps between marketing and sales to work in tandem to give the ultimate customer experience.”

Other new features announced during the event include:

  • Marketing Cloud for Google Customer Match: A new integration with Google’s Customer Match API designed to help marketers deploy CRM-powered advertising across Google Search, YouTube and Gmail.
  • Email Studio: This new email marketing solution enables marketers to accelerate email campaign creation and leverage predictive intelligence content blocks to maximize email relevancy and boost ROI.
  • Multiple-Product Scoring: Companies can now score leads for each individual product they offer, allowing marketing and sales teams to anticipate what the prospect needs next, deliver relevant offers to every prospect and identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
]]> (Brian Anderson) News Briefs Wed, 11 May 2016 10:23:21 -0400