Content Strategies Wed, 26 Jun 2019 08:13:31 -0400 en-gb Revisit Your Messaging Strategy For The New Buyer’s Journey Source: SiriusDecisions

It’s not your imagination. The B2B buyer’s journey has changed — and the changes aren’t making your job as a content marketer any easier. In truth, the buyer’s journey is becoming more complex with more people involved at every stage. According to SiriusDecisions research, half of B2B buying decisions today involve a group of people. And that percentage goes up the bigger and more complex the business.

When it comes to creating messages that resonate, you need to reassess your strategy and develop messaging not only for your primary personas, but also for the entire buying group.

At the SiriusDecisions 2019 Summit in Austin this May, Research Director of Portfolio Marketing Barbara Winters and Service Director of Portfolio Marketing Christina McKeon shared the results of their research, along with strategies for messaging amidst this new reality.

Their conference session, “The New Buyer’s Journey: Fortifying Your Messaging Strategy,” was jam-packed with information essential for B2B marketers involved in messaging strategy. Here are just a few particularly noteworthy highlights.

The B2B Buyer’s Journey Is Evolving

Winters and McKeon noted that as marketers, we often focus on the lead person only. That’s a strategy that won’t cut it anymore. We have to talk to the whole buying group and the individuals in the group. They presented three scenarios.

The first scenario is independent, where the purchase is less than $50,000, takes fewer than eight weeks and individuals from one or two buying centers make decisions. In the consensus scenario, multiple teams, functions and/or departments are involved with three to four buying centers. Typical purchase size is $50,000 to $500,000 and takes three to six months. In the largest scenario, committee, agreement at the executive level becomes a requirement, purchases are $500,000 to $1 million, can take three to six months or more and there are five or more buying centers involved with six or 10-plus people.


Here’s where it gets interesting. This year, two-thirds (66%) of buying scenarios fell into the consensus or committee scenario, up from 59% just two years ago. To add even more complexity, it takes an average of 17 interactions to complete a purchase with about half being non-human (i.e. digital) and half being human.


Adapt Your Messaging Strategy

Content4Demand follows the SiriusDecisions model for B2B content marketing. If you do too, you’re familiar with the Messaging Nautilus. In their presentation at the Summit, Winters and McKeon focused particularly on Arc 4 and Arc 8 and how they are affected by the new buyer’s journey.


Speak Both To Groups & Individuals

Our presenters emphasized that when you’re targeting a large buying group, you need to develop value propositions that bridge the individual personas. The buying group value proposition must address a need, the “desired outcome for the buying group and the associated value.”

How do you go about doing this? It starts by looking at the organizational, functional and individual needs for each persona in the group. Looking at the example presented by Winters and McKeon, we see that for the CMO, the organizational need revolves around leveraging customer data. At the functional level, it’s about demonstrating marketing’s contribution to revenue. Finally, at the individual level, the CMO wants to be able to influence business strategy more to improve the market position.

Once you identify these persona-level needs for all the personas in the buying group, Winters and McKeon say that you need to look for common themes. How does your offering address these common needs? What’s the desired outcome? What distinguishes your offering from others?


The B2B Blueprint

The good news, as noted by our presenters, is that when you’re developing your messaging “blueprint” for the activation team, you’re pulling from the work you’ve already done in arcs 1 through 4 of the Messaging Nautilus. Winters and McKeon shared a template to create this blueprint for the buying group as a whole, in addition to the ones you’ve created for the individual personas.


The beauty of the blueprint is that it identifies each member of the buying group and then pulls in the overview information from your previous messaging work, including five-, 10-, 15-, 25- and 50-word value proposition statements.

Informed Messaging

With way too much information to share in one blog post, I’ll leave you with some additional interesting and valuable insights from the SiriusDecisions research on the buyer’s journey:

  • C-suite executives are engaged early in the process, with 100% of CIOs engaged at the selection stage in committee scenarios and 83% as decision makers.
  • Ratifiers — procurement, legal, finance — are involved at all three stages of the buyer’s journey in the committee scenario. Their peak involvement is in the solution stage, not the selection stage.
  • Ratifiers want analyst reports, case studies and other proofs to make an accurate competitive assessment. Eighty-one percent of purchases stall in the buying process, and the number one reason is competitive assessment. You need to address those needs earlier in the process and turn them into your champions.


With a little extra effort, you can make sure your messaging truly speaks to the needs of the buying group, as well as each person in it.

This blog originally appeared on Content4Demand. If you need help with messaging development, Content4Demand is here for you. Contact Holly Celeste Fisk at

]]> (Brenda Caine, Content4Demand) Blog Mon, 03 Jun 2019 10:54:25 -0400
Industry Expert Ardath Albee Shares Thoughts On Connecting The Dots For B2B Buyers With Engagement Hubs Industry Expert Ardath Albee Shares Thoughts On Connecting The Dots For B2B Buyers With Engagement Hubs

/Modern buyers demand modern buying experiences, and that means the opportunity to consume as much content as they want — when they want — all in one place. Considering this, many progressive B2B marketing teams are turning to engagement hubs that provide their audience with the information they need on their terms.

In a conversation with Ardath Albee, B2B marketing strategist and CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc., she shared her thoughts on the emergence of engagement hubs in the B2B marketplace and how marketing teams need to pivot their priorities to make the most of this type of customer experience.

Demand Gen Report: What are your thoughts on the current usage of content engagement hubs in the B2B marketplace?

Ardath Albee: I think advances in technology are making it easier to present content in this way for marketers, so you don't have to go to IT or to your web developer and have them actually build it. When I first started talking about it, it was actually a development build to present content in these ways. I think the technology has just enabled us to make better presentations and create better experiences with content.

The biggest thing I see is that not enough of us are doing it. I still think that too many people are putting content out there without connecting the dots. And even with the ability to create something called " a content hub," what you put in the hub that makes it a hub is really important. Does the content build the story within the hub?

Quite often, I'll see people using the hub-type concept, but they're just kind of putting content in there that doesn't logically go together. One piece doesn't lead to the other and it's not building a coherent story for either a persona or a problem to solution. I think that's still a challenge for people; they don't understand how to put everything together. And I think if you do it incorrectly, it's not helpful.

For example, I suggested one client use one of these [engagement hub] solutions, and they were using it. Then they decided it didn't work, so they quit using it. I called my friends at the company and asked them about how the client had used the hub. And what they had done was put forms in front of every piece of content on the hub. So, people were abandoning the content because they didn't want to fill out the form. The ability to track what people do within the hub should suffice, rather than having them fill out forms. While content hubs are a new concept, the way we think about marketing hasn't changed.

But I think, if you're emailing them the link, you have their information, you can track what they do when they come back. Why do we need a gate? It's interesting, but I go through this with a lot of my clients who are really working hard to use content marketing, develop stories, present content experiences in a way that's engaging — like with a hub. But they still haven't let go of the traditional B2B marketing thought process, or lead gen process.

DGR: This trend is being fueled greatly by the consumerization of B2B buying practices. Are there any other factors fueling this trend's growth?

Albee: People want a consumerized experience, but they're not getting it from B2B because a lot of us are still doing things the old-fashioned way. And I think one of the challenges that I have quite often in working with clients is that their performance is still graded based on how many leads they generated. If you're still graded on that, then you can't give up the gate and you can't try new things. Until we start evaluating our marketing and our performance differently, I think we're going to still have these issues with using new types of experiences — like content hubs — in a way that is easy and embraced by our prospects, buyers and even our customers.

Now, by the same token, one of my other customers, Invoca, is using hubs and achieving remarkable results. They use the hub to promote expertise around their user event and they generated a ton of meetings scheduled before the event even launched. They had opportunities that were moving forward before they even got to the event because they created such an engaging experience around all the expertise that was going to be at the event. It's amazing what can happen when you actually present content that helps people make progress, advance and figure out how to solve this problem.

It goes back to the fact that we're selling to people, not companies. Personal experiences are now much more different than they ever were in the past. In B2B, just because you're buying something for your company, your perspective is going to be different.

What's happening is buyer expectations have now overflowed — B2B buying should be the same, and it should be easy. One of the things that buyers keep asking for is to make it easy for them to buy. And for some reason, we keep making it more difficult.

I'm doing a lot of work right now trying to help salespeople get into conversations, because the old methods aren't working anymore. People don't have to talk to a salesperson. They can get as much education as they want without ever talking to anyone. I'm playing in one project where sales reps can create their own content hubs to help educate their buyers and have interactive discussions in line with the content that they're adding to their hub based on that buyer’s engagement. So, they're actually building hubs, and that’s driving conversations.

The other thing, of course, is that you must have the content to build a great hub. It's also the modern-ness of the presentation of content that the technology for the hubs allow, which makes it feel more like a consumer-type experience than a stodgy B2B experience.

DGR: Does the content format matter for an engagement hub? Why or why not?

Albee: For me, that question goes back to what you learned when you built the persona that you're marketing towards. So, some of the things I'm always asking when I'm developing personas are, "What kind of content do you engage with? What do you like? Do you like videos? Do you like articles? Do you like research reports? Do you like analyst reports?"

Information can be presented in many ways, but what does your buyer engage with?

I think you need to provide a variety of content types within a hub because some people want video, some people want articles and some people want the more heavy-duty stuff. Let people choose and make it easy.

But I also think that — and most technology will help you do this — you need to be able to monitor things like depth of engagement. How far through a video did they watch? How far did they read into a PDF? Or did they just read the first paragraph and say, "Nope, that’s not for me! Time to move on to the next piece." Just because they clicked on three things in your hub doesn't mean they read them all. So, unless you know that, which technology will now allow you to do, you need to think about what you can learn from how they engage with that particular content format in your hub.

DGR: What are some tips/best practices you would share with practitioners looking to incorporate a content engagement hub into their prospective customers' buying journeys?

Albee: One of the things I would say goes back to the gating [topic]. For a content hub, don't gate it, but give them the opportunity to request a conversation as a separate action within the hub — but not similarly to forms where they must converse before consuming the content. I think we need to focus on building that engagement with people, and then they'll reach out on their own accord to speak with you.

I also think that you need to think about the goal for your hub. Are you telling the story? Are you giving them a problem-to-solution journey? Are you trying to help them interact with the other members of the buying committee? Figure out what the goal is and build your content hub with purpose — not just to see how many pieces of content you can get somebody to engage with.

Part of the challenge — and I still see this in research all the time — is that marketers still don't know the best way to engage their audiences or what the next step should be to continue movement in the pipeline. Part of it is because they don't build their content or create a content hub to actually give them insights based on what someone engages with. A lot of marketers are still in the place where they're like, "Oh, they clicked. They read something. Let's send them something else," without thinking about what the next step should be. We need to develop a strategy for how we're using a content hub over the presentation. People get excited about the presentation of it, but what you really need to think about is the purpose of it. What kind of meaningful engagement are we creating with every content hub that we build?

]]> (Brian Anderson) Demanding Views Thu, 30 May 2019 09:29:06 -0400
Minding The Curiosity Gap: Brightcove PLAY 2019 Shares Insights To Engage, Retain Buyers With Video Content Source: Dan Aguirre Photography

Over the last several years, video content has become a highly preferred content format for B2B buyers. Demand Gen Report’s 2019 Content Preferences Survey showed that the majority (92%) value video content when researching purchase decisions — with 51% saying it is one of the most valuable content formats.

At Brightcove PLAY 2019, progressive video content creators for businesses across a variety of verticals came together to learn tips, best practices and processes for producing video content that resonates with their audience and promotes engagement. Thought leaders and experts shared a variety of metrics highlighting the growing prominence of video in the marketplace, including:

  • Seven in 10 people gain an improved perception of a brand after consuming their video content;
  • 75% of the world’s internet traffic is for video content; and
  • 87% of businesses today use video as a marketing tool, while 83% said video gives them positive ROI.

“In 2007, streaming services started coming online. Today, everyone is spoiled, and they are getting video on their phones, TVs, tablet and more,” said Charles Chu, Chief Product Officer of Brightcove, during the opening keynote at the event. “Video is now a major driver behind some of the biggest tech trends in the world.”

Video has become so much of a staple content asset that many organizations are now looking to video to help gain, engage and retain audience attention and provide value in their audiences’ preferred mode of education.

“You need to understand what your viewers like and don't like, [as well as] their behavior patterns,” Chu added. “Despite all the numbers, [businesses] are still just waking up to the power of video.”

Minding The Curiosity Gap

While understanding buyer preferences is a necessity, experts on stage noted that many video content creators still focus on the finer details — such as format, length, etc. — to lead video creation. Industry expert and marketing keynote speaker Andrew Davis noted that, if your video content can hold buyer attention, then it is considered a success.

“Everyone says that our audience has the attention span of a goldfish,” Davis said during his keynote presentation. “We need to quit blaming the goldfish; our audience is capable of paying attention as long as we grab and hold their attention.”

Davis shared a concept called the “Curiosity Gap,” which video creators must mind and consider when producing content that aims to gain and retain audience attention.

“The curiosity gap is just a void between what the audience knows and what they want to know,” Davis said. “If we want to create video content that earns our audience's attention and maintains their attention over time, we must create curiosity.”

Attention = (Tension/Time) x Payoff

To overcome the curiosity gap, Davis noted that video creators need two key ingredients: time and tension. “It’s the emotional anxiety when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know,” Davis added. Ultimately, the payoff must be proportional to the tension you build for the audience to view the content as worthy of their attention.

“Find ways to plant small curiosities all along the way to keep people engaged and interested in your content. Because if we eliminate our audience’s desire to be able to ask even one single question, we eliminate their interest in our invitation for them to chase those answers.”

Creating these curiosities may require your team to break through the status quo of their business content to target topics and subject matters that may be considered out of the norm. One example highlighted onstage at Brightcove PLAY was from Xero, a cloud-based accounting software platform for SMBs. The company created a dystopian-like video of what the future might look like with the power of AI technology within small businesses. However, it was so risqué that the company decided to pull its brand from video and let the director publish it on its own.

“I think a lot of corporate organizations struggle with pushing the barriers,” said Pat Macfie, Global Director of Media at Xero, during his presentation. “But I mean, the reality is that you need to take risks — it’s so easy to just stay in your lane. Number one, you need to really be good at creating the space to innovate. And number two, you need to get really good at falling flat on your face.”

The video ultimately went viral, and the company learned that even though the video content went against what the company normally publishes, it could have helped greatly in terms of brand awareness and engaging audiences who have more questions about the industry.

“It was absolutely massive. Around the world, it generated millions and millions of views, and millions of dollars’ worth of earned media,” Macfie said. “It was really tough to take; I could write a eulogy about what happened and what we should have done. But at the end of the day, if you're going to be a maverick, you must dare to be different. Then, you must have the courage to follow through. Because if you don't, you could miss the biggest opportunity of your life.”

Seven Simple Questions For Timeless Storytelling

One of the recurring themes presented throughout Brightcove PLAY 2019 was that video is one of the few content formats that better positions businesses to tell unique stories in an engaging way. However, the process of producing that type of story for video can be a daunting task.

During a session with Marcus Sheridan, industry author and keynote speaker, he shared seven questions marketing teams must ask themselves about their video content to produce stories that can ultimately provide memorable customer experiences.

  1. Is it repeatable? 
    “When you create videos, what can you say to simplify it in such a way that it’s simple and repeatable?” Sheridan said. “Have we simplified it down so well that we can answer their question in a simple way?”
  2. Are we trying to look smart? (Hopefully not) 
    “The goal is not to look smart; the goal is to make a human connection,” Sheridan said. “So, a part of great storytelling is the perception audiences gain, and the emotions they feel.”
  3. Does the voice feel original?
    “The voice must be non-threatening — just real,” Sheridan said. “You're human, I’m human. We're in this together! If you create a video that goes next to a landing page form, for example, make sure to address their pain points on filling the form out. Create a tone and voice that shows the human side of your company.”
  4. Are you willing to discuss the obvious (even when others ignore it)? 
    “The big five talking points that are always important to customers are the cost, the problems you solve, comparisons to competitors, user reviews and what [the solution] is best at,” Sheridan said. “The real reason buyers get upset about this is because the buyer knows we know the answer. And if we don't make it easy for them to find the answer, they think you're hiding stuff.”
  5. Do you show it differently than everyone else? 
    “For example, if you’ve seen a commercial for a boat, you've probably seen them all,” Sheridan said. “On the homepage of the boat manufacturer — almost every single time — they show the drone video of a family going fast on calm water. Am I really concerned about flat conditions for a boat? What I am concerned about is choppy waters. But nobody wants to show me the five- and the six-foot waves because they think it’ll scare me off. That’s the art of storytelling — finding what your audience wants to see.” 
  6. Is there a journey (with conflict)? 
    “You want to create that feeling of conflict from the beginning,” Sheridan said. “It’s all not just rainbows and sunshine. Conflict is what draws people in and holds their attention.” 
  7. Do you allow certain things to go untold, yet understood? 
    “We have this beautiful opportunity with video that we can’t necessarily do with text content,” Sheridan concluded. “We can show something without even saying it — and it can be understood. The reality is that we can say something all day long. But unless we show it, it doesn't exist.”
]]> (Brian Anderson) Industry Insights Mon, 20 May 2019 16:08:31 -0400
Return Path SmartSeeds Platform Offers AI-Based Insights Into Email Deliverability Source: Return Path

SmartSeeds from Return Path is a deliverability data platform powered by artificial intelligence that aims to provide insights into email program performance. It is positioned to generate a deeper level of deliverability monitoring along with additional intelligent insights, such as subscriber engagement and engagement-based filtering.


The platform is designed to use artificially intelligent personas that mimic the behaviors of real-life users based on a mix of historical data and advanced analytics. By choosing which emails to read and which to leave unread, the personas aim to replicate the engagement patterns of real email recipients. For example, subscribers who are highly engaged with a particular domain may have a higher inbox placement rate than those who don’t engage. These insights can help marketers better understand their email deliverability, inbox filtering and areas for improvement.


The platform is available to all Return Path customers who have public email campaigns sent from their domains.


SmartSeeds is designed to work in conjunction with Return Path’s Consumer Network and CoreSeeds, as well as the company’s other proprietary data sources, to provide a complete picture of deliverability.


It is included in the Return Path platform at no additional cost. The pricing of the platform varies based on different solution and service options.


Return Path customers include Cloudmark, Westpac and more.


SmartSeeds aims to use artificial intelligence to help marketers monitor campaign performance, better understand how they are being filtered and provide better guidance on where they may be able to improve their email programs.


Return Path
3 Park Ave
41st Floor
New York, NY 10016
Request a demo.

]]> (Elise Schoening) Solution Spotlight Mon, 13 May 2019 09:19:09 -0400
Top 10 Quotes From #COS19 Top 10 Quotes From #COS19

This year’s Campaign Optimization Series included nearly a dozen sessions jam packed into one week and filled with tactical takeaways that will help you improve your content strategies, up your direct mail initiatives and create high-converting demand experiences for months to come. Oh, and did we mention there’s a session on Fyre Festival? Yup, we went there.

To help you figure out which on-demand sessions to dive into first, we’ve rounded up the top quotes from the series. So, read on and get ready to binge!

“If you wouldn’t jump into marriage after the first or second date, you can’t expect a prospect to.” — Christine Otsuka, Sr. Content Marketing Manager, Uberflip

“As B2B marketers we’re not going to be producing ‘Game of Thrones’ content. [But] we can produce content that has more personal interest to it and that goes through that hero’s journey.” — Tyler Lessard, VP of Marketing, Vidyard

“Direct mail has the unique angle that it’s shared outside of your office and on your social network. That’s a lot farther than we see with other channels. It’s not often that people are screenshotting ads or other channels and posting to social.” — Kris Rudeegraap, Co-Founder and CEO, Sendoso

“Over the past couple of years, B2B marketers have come to realize that ABM is more than just a flashy trend,” said Shaffer. “For many, it has become a critical initiative within the organization, but there are still many questions on how to bring ABM across the entire funnel. To really drive success with ABM, you need to take a full-funnel approach to it.”  Nani Shaffer, Director of Product Marketing, Demandbase

“Finding the right strategies for you demand gen goals and initiatives for the year is a lot like piecing together elements of a crime scene. It’s like piecing together your case. The more time and thought you put into it, the more complex it could get. You have to take into account buyer behaviors, new trends, new tactics.” — Alicia Esposito, Senior Content Strategist, Content4Demand

“I would much rather have 20 solid, prolific, groundbreaking stories than 200 mediocre stories. People will remember the story they can connect with and that pulls their attention — whether it’s from an emotional or business value perspective.” —Cynthia Hester, Sr. Director of Customer Marketing, New Relic, Inc.

“Instead of taking your buyers down a clicking rabbit hole, you can instantly give them the content they asked for [by activating your content]. There are no roadblocks, there is no friction, just uninterrupted access to your content when the buyer wants it.” Evan Doyle, Demand Gen ManagerPathFactory

“Customer stories have a ton of impact internally as well as externally. Whether or not a company leans into customer relationships and the voice of the customer matters greatly to the employees and impacts their likelihood to stay at the company.” — Leela Srinivasan, CMO, SurveyMonkey

“There are a lot of KPIs that are tied to internal politics versus the external results, or even the experience you’re creating for your audience. A lot of that results in us marketing for ourselves versus for our audience because we’re just thinking about the end results versus what are the little, iterative wins we can make with our content as we go and engage with someone as they start to learn more about our company and the problem we’ll solve for them.” — Tessa Barron, Sr. Director of Brand and Communications, ON24

“You might think 'Fyre Fest doesn’t apply to me,' but there are some takeaways that can be applied to B2B... The golden rule is not to overpromise. Make sure you’re trying to exceed expectations with your campaigns and marketing initiatives. It can be pretty dangerous to over promise or be over ambitious.” — Andrew Gaffney, Editorial Director, Demand Gen Report

All the Campaign Optimization Series webcasts are now available on-demand. You can access the full lineup here.

]]> (Demand Gen Report Team) Blog Wed, 08 May 2019 09:49:22 -0400
B2B Marketers Look To Modernize Webinar Experiences By Promoting Two-Way Engagement B2B Marketers Look To Modernize Webinar Experiences By Promoting Two-Way Engagement

Webinars continue to be a staple in many B2B demand gen strategies, with studies show that webinars are one of the most useful content formats for generating positive engagement with prospective customers. Findings from Demand Gen Report’s annual Content Preferences Survey show that close to half (47%) of respondents find webinars valuable at the early and mid-stage of their buying process. Also, close to two-thirds (64%) of B2B buyers are willing to spend 20 to 60 minutes watching a webinar — more than any other content format.

“Webinars are an opportunity to create much deeper engagement with your audience,” said Tina Dietz, Founder of StartSomething Creative Business Solutions, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “You often have people there live and when you’re watching the recording of course, you want to keep people’s attention. Attention is not the easiest thing to keep in the distracted world that we live in so the more highly engaging and the more interesting, the more fun quite honestly that you can make a webinar, the better off you’re going to be.”

B2B marketing teams are investing in webinars because of their utility throughout the customer journey.

But since B2B buyers are flooded with different offers and options for content, many progressive B2B organizations are looking to modernize their webinar content to promote deeper engagement while catering to buyer needs. This includes giving attendees more control over the discussions taking place on webinars and enabling them to be more of a two-way conversation, versus the traditional slideshow presentation with a single speaker on a set topic.

“It’s vital to prioritize engagement,” said Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, during a recent Campaign Optimization Series webcast. “Think about some of the content you've seen in the past — it has been very one sided. Figure out a way to get people more engaged as part of your content and make them part of the experience.” Research from ON24 noted that more than half (53%) of marketers say it’s “extremely important” to have access to engagement insights from webinars, while 41% say it’s “moderately important.”

Lauren Mead, CMO of TimeTrade, agreed that her company is focused more on how webinar content is engaging target audiences, beyond simply driving registrations. “With webinars, it’s a different format when you’re presenting live to someone,” Mead said in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “So, I think one of the things that we must always try and keep in mind is how does content relate over this format and will it be engaging? Not all presentations are created equal; you need to think about the medium and the best way to engage digitally — even if it’s a little harder to do so with the audience.”

Leading B2B brands such as TimeTrade and PathFactory have turned to new, modern engagement tactics and strategies within webinars, such as formats that promote more conversational dialogue with attendees and presenters, as well as incorporating video content to reinvigorate the traditional slideshow webcast format. This also includes new strategies for pre-webinar engagement with prospects, as well as tactics to utilize webinar participant engagement to fuel content calendars for future campaigns.

Resetting The Traditional Webinar Format With Panel Discussions, Two-Way Audience Dialogue

While webinars have traditionally been used as a top of funnel offering, more B2B marketing teams are expanding their strategies to use webinars at different stages of the buying cycle. For example, TimeTrade utilizes webinars throughout its sales funnel — primarily for new business generation. Mead pointed out that her team does a combination of webinars both for prospects as well as current customers. While most of the webinars are a more traditional format, Mead added that they have experimented with panel Q&As and live video streaming.

“We once had four different panelists and it was all Q&A-based,” Mead said. “With that one, actually, we got really good feedback from different thought leaders to talk about different challenges they face around customer engagement.”

Mead added that, while it’s not always possible, “adding video into the webinar and being able to show the faces of the presenter makes a big difference.”

Industry experts also noted that incorporating more voices into webinars is having a positive impact on promoting deeper discussions with attendees on their topics of interest. PathFactory, for example, ran successful top-of-funnel panel webinars in which they brought experts together to discuss varying topics of interest to their target audience.

“It played more as an organic discussion — no slides required,” said Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing at PathFactory, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “The most successful one we ran was ‘The Great Gate Debate.’ The format was simple: get a bunch of great marketers and experts together discussing a hot topic around the use of gates and forms in B2B marketing.”

Woulfe noted that this panel format promoted more involvement from the webinar attendees to contribute to the discussion by asking questions and sharing their experience. This can ultimately lead to more insights on prospective customers’ pain points that enable B2B companies to create more relevant, personalized engagement throughout the rest of the sales cycle.

“Having the audience contribute their questions via live chat helped them feel like they were part of the [conversation],” Woulfe said.

Industry data shows that there is still room for deeper adoption in easily integrated engagement tactics for webinar content. When it comes to engagement tools utilized in webinar platforms, ON24’s benchmark research shows that there is still room for growth in strategies such as:

  • Surveys (36%);
  • Social (25%);
  • Live polling (22%); and
  • Group chat (10%).

“Anytime you give someone on the webinar an opportunity to lean in, it increases their engagement, it makes them stay on longer, makes them more attentive and receptive to what you're talking about,” said Daniel Waas, Director of Marketing at GoToWebinar, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “We try to encourage simple things like hand-raising. I'll ask people to just put a quick yay or nay into the Q&A. I will start polls and just either try and understand where they're at, such as, ‘are you a beginner or intermediate?’ So that I can tailor the content to it. That helps both in terms of segmenting who they are, and then also helps me in the delivery.”

Promoting Pre-Show Engagement Helps Keep Content On Point

Industry experts also noted that marketing teams are not limited to engagement with webinar attendees to just the roughly 45 minutes a webinar runs live. Pre-show engagement with webinar attendees provides another opportunity to dig into buyer pain points, understand their needs and cater the content to be relevant to them.

Dietz noted that one approach to creating additional engagement is to prime your audience beforehand.

“Send out an opportunity for people to submit questions ahead of time,” said Dietz. “That way, you know what pain points or curiosity questions there are, or so on and so forth. To help spark those questions, you want to send people prompts because there’s nothing more annoying for somebody or intimidating than what I call the tyranny of the blank page.”

PathFactory’s Woulfe also said that her team leverages pre-event promotion to encourage more engagement by taking audience questions right after they register for the session.

“We do this by incorporating a question from behind the registration form,” Woulfe said. “This way, audience members can submit their questions before the panel even begins. The benefits to this were three-fold: it gives us a better idea of why people want to attend the webinar, it gives the speakers time to prepare thoughtful answers and it increases the likelihood of the audience member showing up to the webinar to find out the answer to their question.”

Experts added that incorporating more panelists into webinars also enables producers to expand their reach — ultimately enabling panelists to promote deeper engagement prior to the live air date and encourage meaningful dialogue. Woulfe noted that PathFactory coordinates a promotion plan for webinar panelists to promote engagement.

“For the co-marketing panel webinars, the promotion is even more elaborate since we can leverage an even larger potential audience,” Woulfe said. “We enable our partners by making it as easy as possible to promote and share. We build comprehensive promo kits for our partners, including custom URLs, branded graphics, social copy and email copy. We recently got creative and asked panelists to post videos on their LinkedIn page to help promote a panel — we’ve found lots of success with this tactic in the past.”

Webcasts Fuel Ideas For Future Content Offerings

Experts added that webinar engagement can be a valuable resource for future content production, whether it be from curating the actual webinar or utilizing conversations with attendees to lay out a targeted, relevant content calendar.

“My favorite insights from webinars aren’t metrics — it’s the questions attendees ask during the Q&A session at the end,” said Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist at Marketing Interactions, during an interview with Demand Gen Report. “This gives me more knowledge about where they are in relation to the topic or buying journey and also fuels ideas for additional content or even follow-up sessions driven by what your audience wants to hear rather than what you want to talk about.”

Albee suggested writing answers to submitted questions during the webinar as post-show content and sharing that content with attendees. This shows that brands are listening to their audience’s questions and needs, leading to more meaningful conversations later down the sales funnel.

“Give them something more to keep the conversation going,” Albee said. “You could even develop a nurture program around the topic to extend engagement and provide even more ideas and insights to those interested.”

An area that experts noted marketers often overlook is engagement and attendee participation with on-demand recordings. ON24 research shows that 36% of webinars attendees only watch always-on — i.e. on-demand — webinars. Of these always-on attendees, the majority register a week after a live event. This engagement can also fuel future content efforts. TimeTrade’s Mead noted that, while they always promote their on-demand sessions, there are opportunities for curation into other content formats.

“Very often, we’ll also take that [webinar] and turn it into an additional format like an E-book, just because we tend to find different people like different formats of content and not everybody wants to listen to the recording,” Mead said. “Some people prefer to read it themselves and be able to highlight and take down comments pretty easily. We try to make it as easy to digest the content as we can.”

Woulfe added that PathFactory also ensures that its webinar content is repurposed extensively to continue engaging prospective customers.

“We use them in our nurture programs and for live event follow-ups, and produce round-up ‘highlights’ blog posts,” Woulfe said. “Regardless of where we use the webinar, we always package it into a PathFactory Content Track with more related content.”

Another place to repurpose webinars is in chopping up the video itself and creating shorter videos that might just be little snippets. This aligns positively with buyer expectations and needs in terms of content, as research shows that the majority (93%) of buyers prefer shorter content formats.

“The most watched videos on YouTube are under two minutes, so if you can ‘pull a commercial’ off of your webinar that is under two minutes and an introduction to the larger webinar, then you can use that short video in your social media,” Dietz said. “You can embed it on your website as a snippet or a preview to a larger webinar — that’s a really great way to repurpose, as well.”

]]> (Brian Anderson) Industry Insights Wed, 01 May 2019 12:13:50 -0400
Multichannel Content Strategies, Customer Advocacy & Frictionless Buyer Journeys Take Center Stage At #COS19 Multichannel Content Strategies, Customer Advocacy & Frictionless Buyer Journeys Take Center Stage At #COS19

There is a recurring question that arises when assessing B2B campaigns and demand gen initiatives: what’s working? Progressive B2B organizations are putting a bigger emphasis on producing relevant messaging and content, as well as making it easier for buyers to research and make purchase decisions on their own terms.

This was highlighted in detail by analysts, experts and practitioners during this year’s Campaign Optimization Seriesin which presenters highlighted specifically what’s working — and not working — for today’s B2B marketers to optimize their demand gen campaigns and accelerate pipeline.

While the week-long webcast series touched on a variety of trends, tactics and strategies that are having a positive impact on their demand generation initiatives, three of the main takeaways focused on:

  • Creating content and messaging that adds value across a variety of channels and nurture programs;
  • Removing friction from the buyer’s journey to ultimately accelerate deals; and
  • Incorporating customer advocacy into go-to-market initiatives that can help boost brand credibility and enhance the quality of content and messaging.

Multi-Channel Strategies For Creating Irresistible Content

Today’s buyers are inundated on all channels and have less time to spend researching vendors and consuming content. Almost half (41%) say they consume only three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep, according to the 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report. This year’s Campaign Optimization Series speakers dived deep into current content marketing challenges and discussed new approaches and formats that are helping B2B marketers break through the noise and reach target accounts at the right time with the right message. 

“What we often see are emails that are so obviously being blasted out to everyone in a company’s database,” said Christine Otsuka, Senior Content Marketing Manager of Uberflip. “They’re sending the same content to everyone and this is neither strategic nor compelling to the recipient. As marketers, we know we can do better.”

During her session, "How To Create High-Converting Demand Experiences," Otsuka outlined how marketers can build personalized experiences that resonate with buyers and drive engagement. To do so, she suggested creating nurture variations for different audience segments, which could be based on persona, funnel stage, technographic information and more.

“How you segment isn’t as important as what you segment, and that you have nurtures designed for each to provide a truly personalized experience,” said Otsuka. To take it one step further, marketers can also improve content engagement and downloads by placing a personalized CTA over the content. According to Otsuka, this can boost conversion rates by as much as 17%.

In another Campaign Optimization Series webcast titled, "From Interruptive To Irresistible: How Video Content Is Leveling-Up B2B Marketing Strategies,"Tyler Lessard, VP of Marketing at Vidyard, discussed how marketers can incorporate videos into their email, digital ad and social media campaigns to create the kind of content that buyers have grown accustomed to in their consumer lives and now expect in B2B

Lessard shared an example from Gordian, a facility and construction cost data provider, that created a video series called “Job Order Contracting 101.” The five-minute videos, which were designed to answer frequently asked industry questions, proved wildly successful. In less than six months, they generated more than $20 million in pipeline and $6 million in direct revenue. Lessard suggested marketers follow this model and keep the four E’s in mind when developing their own video campaigns. The content should be: 

  1. Engaging: people are hardwired to engage in storytelling;
  2. Emotional: use this as an opportunity to invoke emotional responses;
  3. Educational: most people self-identify as visual learners; and
  4. Empathetic: this can be a powerful way to develop trust and empathy with prospective buyers.

You can’t replace the human face and video is the next best thing to being there in person,” said Lessard. “As B2B marketers we’re not going to be producing ‘Game of Thrones’ content. [But] we can produce content that has more personal interest to it and that goes through that hero’s journey.”

But don’t just stop at video, direct mail is another top-tier channel for engaging prospective clients. In the session titled: "Thinking Outside The Box: Why Direct Mail Works In The Digital Age," Kris Rudeegraap, Co-Founder and CEO of Sendoso, shared how companies such as Talkdesk have used direct mail to ensure their content reaches top-tier accounts. The contact center solutions provider sent a copy of its Total Economic Impact report along with a handwritten note and Starbucks gift card to priority accounts, resulting in more than $2 million in pipeline generated.

“Picking out your best pieces of content online and having that printed on demand and mailed out is a great way to get it on someone’s desk,” said Rudeegraap. “Instead of just sending an email with a PDF attachment, you can send out printed collateral such as a white paper, E-book, or case study with either a handwritten note or a Post-it Note to drive engagement.”

Alicia Esposito, Senior Content Strategist at Content4Demand, and Holly Fisk, Content Operations Manager, offered additional tips and tricks for improving your content with the help of influencers, interactivity, events and more in a session titled "Making A (Content) Marketer: Lock Up Your Lead Gen With The Right Content Formats."

“A thread that connects all of these different formats and content experiences is that they’re really shaking up the traditional nurture flow and nurture experiences,” said Esposito. “That’s what we want to do… The goal is to stand out and part of that is stretching the creative limits a little bit, not just with experiences, but also with creative theme and visuals.”

Serving Up Killer Customer Stories To Gain Audience Trust 

The power of customer stories was a key topic during the Campaign Optimization Series, with experts from SurveyMonkey, New Relic, Inc. and ON24 highlighting the importance of leveraging existing customer successes to gain prospects’ trust. 

Research from SurveyMonkey shows that 60% of those surveyed think marketing and advertising is selling them things they don’t need, rather than helping them. In addition, 43% surveyed find marketing not so or not at all trustworthy. Today’s B2B buyers are much more informed than ever before, and quite frankly, they are more in tune to filter out a sales pitch. 

“It makes me deeply concerned that, as marketers, we’re not listening and we’re not a trusted source of information and insight,” said Leela Srinivasan, CMO at SurveyMonkey, during the session titled, Why You Must Invest More In Customer Storytelling, Stat. “Forty-three percent, in fact, of those surveyed say they either find marketing not so or not at all trustworthy. So, in marketing, we’re in a tough spot. If our goal is to win hearts and minds and convince people that what we’re doing matters and that we can add value to our customers, we’re starting on the wrong foot here.” 

To become more of a trusted source, companies are turning to their best customers to tell their success stories from their point of view. SurveyMonkey research shows that 82% of people trust the voice of customers over a brand or product copy. “The voice of the customer is incredibly compelling at getting your point across,” said Srinivasan.

She even added that customer stories can make a huge impact internally as well as externally. “Whether or not a company leans into customer relationships and voice of customer matters greatly to the employees and impacts their likelihood to stay at the company,” she said. 

One company who has their customer storytelling strategy down pat is New Relic, Inc. Cynthia Hester, Sr. Director of Customer Marketing, joined in on the presentation to discuss the company’s customer advocacy strategies.  

“The whole reason for any business is how they’re delivering products and services to their customer base,” said Hester. “Hearing the voice of the customer, sharing their stories and sharing examples of their success is critical in my mind to really supporting the business. More and more companies are realizing that attracting customers includes sharing their voice back out. That requires a group that’s dedicated to doing that. 

“It’s not quick and easy,” she added. “It’s like any other relationship — it takes time to nurture, grow and build trust and partnership. But once you do, that is worth gold in business.” 

During the session, Hester shared a variety of insights into how New Relic achieves customer advocacy. This includes: 

  • Finding mutual interest with the customer. People forget that everyone can say please and thank you,” said Hester. “It doesn’t cost us any budget. This is about relationship building. How do you show your appreciation and invite them to embark on that journey? Find a mutual interest and develop that relationship.” 
  • Recruiting passionate customers to tell their stories. “I look for people who are passionate about their stories, passionate about what they’re doing for their company, community and partners,” she said. “Those are the people that we try to invite to be our advocates.”
  • Thinking about partnerships internally. Customer success teams are my BFFs because they’re usually the last ones to be in contact with our customers,” said Hester. “Before we embark on a conversation about whether this is a great story, we set up time to talk with our CSMs.”
  • Having a proper tech stack for your customer advocacy program. “I believe that every program needs a tech stack,” she said. “You want a set of tools that you can scale, but you also need a baseline. First thing I did was [get] a reference database for reporting across the organization. [We also use] TechValidate for capturing customer feedback, responses and evidence. Because we have a good tech stack, I can operate our program and start to grow it with a small team.” 

In another session, titledBreak Through The B2B Noise, ON24’s Tessa Barron revealed that customer stories in the form of a webinar are a great asset to the conversion stage of the buyer journey. In the that stage, the company shares an on-demand customer webinar of a company with similar traits as the prospect to provide third-party validation to their solution. 

“Our conversion stage is all about having the voice of the customer shine through — it has to be in the same industry as the prospect we’re trying to engage,” said Barron. “That allows us to give a third-party validation that they should even be talking to us and seeing how fast they’re going to move. We add a poll to determine that velocity."

Removing Friction From The Buying Journey

The week-long webcast series highlighted a variety of trends and tactics that are specifically helping B2B companies remove the friction out of their buyers’ journeys and accelerate deals. One area in particular is the topic of lead follow-up. Effective lead follow-up requires a streamlined, efficient coordination between marketing and saleswhich continues to be a difficult process. During the session, A Marketer’s Guide To #SelfCare Using Conversational AI," Conversica’s Gloria Ochman noted that the three key areas to lead follow-up in their buying journey are promptness, persistence and personalization. 

Specifically, when it came to persistence, research highlighted during the session showed that more than half (51%) of B2B businesses lack persistence in their lead follow  with most of them only attempting to contact leads one to two times. 

Trifacta, for example, had all their leads being funneled to sales from its website, content, PPC, paid social and more. During the session with Conversica, Jill Marguette, Demand Gen & Marketing Ops Manager at Trifacta, shared how this ultimately led to sales reps inefficiently using their time to engage with leads that were not converting — while other potentially high-valued leads were overlooked. Trifacta brought in an AI assistant powered by Conversica that helped pick up many of the manual tasks slipping through the cracks. This led to $1.4 million in influenced opportunities and a 5% lift in MQL volume. 

“She’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting, to help provide that quick, persistent response to potential customers and improve sales efficiency,” Marguette concluded.

One of the other common themes throughout the series was the concept of removing friction from customers’ buying journeys. During the session, 10 Ways To Reduce Friction In Your Buyer’s Journey,” the team at PathFactory shared a handful of tips designed to help make it easier for the buyer to accelerate their buying decision at their own pace.

One area of focus was on the concept of gating content with form fills. Research shows that 81% of Millennial and Gen X decision makers didn’t download a piece of content because they didn’t want to fill out the form. In addition, the majority (97%) of B2B buyers said the quality of vendor content could be improved by packaging related content together and making it easier to access.

One way that PathFactory suggests companies can remove friction from the buying journey is to bundle content together in hubs that can be binged at the reader’s convenience.

“Instead of taking your buyers down a clicking rabbit hole, you can instantly give them the content they asked for [with content hubs],” said Evan Doyle, Demand Gen Manager at PathFactory, during the session. “There are no roadblocks, there is no friction, just uninterrupted access to your content when the buyer wants it.”

There was also great discussion around obtaining and utilizing the right data to tailor the buyer’s journey and accelerate deals. During the session, How Accurate & Actionable Contact Information & Buyer Insights Are Impacting Engagement,” the team at DiscoverOrg broke the necessary data down into three key areas: fit, intent and opportunity. “Fit” data includes demographic and firmographic details shared with your ICP. “Intent” data is behavior-based activity and engagement that can be collected on a first- and third-party basis. “Opportunity” data consists of ideal explicit and implicit buying conditions — such as an RFP, round of funding or a leadership change. 

These insights provide opportunities to produce a variety of messaging for buyers, including:

  • Persona-based messaging, which utilizes “fit” data to segment target audiences and create and modify content based on those segments;
  • Engagement-based messaging, which utilizes “intent” data to leverage previous engagement, match messaging with relevant themes and interests, while also sharing stage-appropriate content; and
  • Context-based messaging, which utilizes “opportunity” data signals to reference significant events and provide relevant value.

Ultimately, these data and insights better positions marketers to “craft the right message so it can confidentially resonate with the buyer to ultimately illicit a response,” said DeAnn Poe, SVP of Marketing at DiscoverOrg, during the session. “It’s vital to craft that message to promote further engagement.”

Presenters also highlighted how ABM has been an adopted practice that helps sales and marketing teams align focus across the buying journey. During a session titled, ABM And Modern B2B Advertising: Reaching The Buying Committee At Your Target Accounts,” Nani Shaffer, Director of Product Marketing at Demandbasepresented research that showed more than half (52%) of B2B buyers say the number of buying team members had increased significantly. Also, 84% of buyers said they had either accelerated or put purchase decisions on hold based on changing buying needs. Ultimately, 46% of B2B marketing teams cited account-based marketing as a top initiative in 2019.

“Over the past couple of years, B2B marketers have come to realize that ABM is more than just a flashy trend,” said Shaffer. “For many, it has become a critical initiative within the organization, but there are still many questions on how to bring ABM across the entire funnel. To really drive success with ABM, you need to take a full-funnel approach to it.”

For Demandbase, the process is broken into five key pillars:

  1. Identify: build your target account list by targeting those with the most opportunity;
  2. Attract: it’s possible now to target and attract key stakeholders within target accounts through tactics such as account-based advertising;
  3. Engage: optimize your site experience for prospects, customers and partners by understanding their engagement;
  4. Convert: turn valuable buying signals into revenue with the right buyers and decision makers; and
  5. Measure: measure actionable insight on how to drive revenue or improve performance.

The entire Campaign Optimization Series is now available on demand. Click here to view the sessions.  

]]> (Demand Gen Report Team) Industry Insights Mon, 29 Apr 2019 12:06:11 -0400
Time To Hit Reset On B2B Campaign Creation To Focus On Business Outcomes Over Sign Ups Time To Hit Reset On B2B Campaign Creation To Focus On Business Outcomes Over Sign Ups

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the goal of B2B campaigns was simply and almost universally to get prospects to raise their hand. The marketing team would be developing some compelling offer of a webinar, white paper or E-book, decide who to target, determine what the call-to-action (CTA) would be as a conversion point (sound familiar?), and then build an inbound/outbound campaign to that CTA.

However, while the goals and priorities for most B2B brands have evolved over the past three to four years, campaign structures and mindsets have not.

For example:

  • Our research shows more than 2/3 of marketers are now narrowing the focus of their campaigns with ABM programs;
  • 58% are prioritizing lead quality over quantity in 2019;
  • More than half (53%) have some form of revenue-based quotas; and
  • 68% say they are more focused on conversions rather than acquiring hand raisers.

In addition to being more targeted in their campaigns, other go-to-market strategies are also rewriting the traditional rules of B2B campaign creation. For example, many service and SaaS-based software companies are putting more investments towards customer marketing, with retention, cross-sell and upsell goals becoming a bigger revenue priority.

Yet, despite all of these changing and diversifying of revenue goals for B2B organizations, most campaigns are still amazingly similar. Regardless of whether brands are building programs for existing customers, a select group of prospects or are looking to acquire prospective buyers with a budget — the process still looks the same of featuring an offer and pushing them to a CTA that usually includes a landing page and a form.

Considering the limited time and thin patience most buyers have today (either as consumers or business executives), there is a long list of holes in this traditional model. We will examine a number of these topics in our upcoming Campaign Optimization Series, but here are a few areas where I would argue marketing teams and brands need to hit the reset button:

Gates and Forms: We have written a lot about the debate on whether to gate content offers, but as a starting point I would argue that all B2B brands should review their current content engagement experiences and challenge whether they really require a form in front of every asset.

Eliminating Dead Ends: A majority of campaigns I see still focus on singular CTAs — asking an audience to register for an individual webinar or download a single asset — without any thought to the questions a buyer might have or what the next steps in a logical buyer progression should be. For example, if an influencer is engaged with a campaign and is looking for other resources/assets that could help them build a business case to convince their boss or other decision makers, it’s important for campaigns to point beyond a single CTA.

Ultimately, most marketing teams are being asked to support different go-to-market strategies and are being measured against different goals. Therefore, it’s a perfect time to reset campaign structures and redesign the experience with the buyer in mind. Focus more on making it easy for buyers to engage with your brand, and less on frisking them for information before they can access your next webinar or read your next E-book.

]]> (Andrew Gaffney) Blog Wed, 17 Apr 2019 13:51:00 -0400
Drift CEO Discusses Conversational Marketing, New Marketo Integrations & Ongoing Consumerization Of B2B Drift CEO Discusses Conversational Marketing, New Marketo Integrations & Ongoing Consumerization Of B2B

B2B business has a bad reputation for continuing to push traditional, lengthy, inhuman sales cycles on its prospective buyers. However, a variety of vendors and practitioners in the space are making the push to turn the B2B buying process into a conversational, personal experience. At this year’s Adobe Summit, in particular, we saw Marketo and Adobe unveil integrations with a variety of companies in an effort to better enable companies to offer frictionless customer experiences with a conversational approach.

One of those companies, Drift, has been leading the charge in the conversational marketing discussion taking place in the B2B marketplace. The company’s new integrations with Marketo better position marketing teams to bring a more conversational approach to their account-based strategies by tying insights from conversations with stakeholders back into Marketo towards those accounts.

I had a chance to chat with David Cancel, CEO and Co-Founder of Drift, on the show floor at the Adobe Summit. He shared his thoughts on the new integrations with Marketo, the ongoing trend of conversational marketing, as well as the growing consumerization of B2B as the line with its B2C counterpart continues to blur.

Demand Gen Report: Conversational marketing is something that a lot of B2B organizations have struggled with. When it comes to the announcement of Drift’s integration with Marketo, what is your perspective on how this partnership will impact the community?

David Cancel: I think we all struggle when there are big shifts in the landscape. I've been in the marketing world long enough to have witnessed a bunch of [shifts], like when we went from mostly offline to digital marketing. The whole idea of digital marketing blew people's minds! Then we went to creating content and blogging and inbound [marketing]. Content marketing also blew people's minds, because you had a whole generation that were like, “I'm going to write a blog? What am I going to write about? What if I do something wrong?” They didn't know how because they weren't native in it. And then there was a whole next generation of markers that were native in content marketing.

Now we're seeing the same thing with conversational marketing. We have people who are what we call “conversational natives” because they've grown up on messaging. This is just normal to them. And they're actually teaching this older generation — these business leaders — how to do it. This is the way that young conversational native people interact everywhere.

The thing that we're focused on with this integration with Marketo is that marketing and sales do all their hard work, but still bring [prospects] back to an anonymous visit and interaction model. They spent all this money, got the swag, sent them the gift and had the meetings, but when they come back to their website, it's still the same generic website. It should be comparable to real-world interactions. That's just a natural human pattern.

How do we treat all those VIPs with a personal experience? It sounds simple, but up until now it has been kind of impossible. We’re using conversations to accelerate the sale because no sale ever happens until you have a conversation. We’re looking to accelerate conversations instead of deflecting them.

DGR: Another key takeaway from the event was that Marketo is aiming to help users identify key anonymous stakeholders. What is Drift’s role in that?

Cancel: The first thing that we do is leverage the Marketo cookie so that we have any identifier that's already available. We also instrument any third-party sales outbound tool that may be used, such as Outreach or SalesLoft. Let's say a marketer didn't send out a nurture flow, but I'm a sales rep that sent out a flow. We have the instruments so that, when prospects come back, we know what rep had sent that out and who the identity of that person is.

We then pass that back to Marketo. We're catching the sales outflow, as well as the marketing outbound, and unifying that in the Marketo contact database — and, of course, linking that back to whatever CRM is being used.

DGR: Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen companies like Adobe and Marketo starting to understand the importance of buyer experiences. As the CEO of one of the bigger contenders in the conversational marketing space, what's your initial interpretation of the trends you're seeing within these big brands?

Cancel: I think when we started out and started thinking about this category, we thought, “what if we're not even remotely on the right track?” Now that we set this timeline that came true, every one of these companies of every size — whether it's Salesforce, Adobe or Marketo — have to have a conversational kind of answer because this is what's happening in the world.

That was the basis of what we started. The user behavior has already changed. Now, it's been changed in the buying cycle, as well. People are buying all over the world via messaging interfaces, and we're just basically catching up now on the B2B side of things.

But again, we have the weight of martech’s history on our shoulders. So, for us, what we do today, which is not conversational, seems normal to all of these older generations. It's not normal — this idea of filling out forms and nurturing is the most boring thing because they could buy everything on demand. We're now taking a behavior that has already happened and bringing it in to the B2B space.

DGR: Another key theme at the event is the whole idea of the blurring of the lines between B2B and B2C or even having that type of conversation. What is Drift’s stance on the trend?

Cancel: We've been talking about consumerization of the enterprise for at least 10 years, maybe 12 years from what I can remember. But now it's finally true. It wasn't true even five or six years ago. You walk into every company now and anyone can make a buying decision. It might be a micro-buying decision, but they're making a buying decision.

Why that's important is that this is the first time you have a wave of people who are not professional buyers. They're not procurement, and not a CIO or CMO. They're not used to going through these buying processes. So, they want to buy like they buy normally.

At the same time, we saw the subscription and “SaaS-ifying” of everything, which takes down a lot of the competitive moats that existed before. So now in any category, you're not only competing with one or two other vendors, you are competing globally with hundreds — if not thousands — of vendors. So, you have infinite choice, you have people that are not professional buyers and want a consumer-like experience, and you have all these things coming true at one time. This is why we’re seeing this shift from companies having more control of the buying process to the buyer.

DGR: Can you share any forward-looking thoughts on where you see Drift headed?

Cancel: The way that we think about it is that we did one major thing, which was in the way that we thought about the company. We don't think about ourselves as a company that helps you provide software to help you sell more, we inverted the model and said, “we are focused on one thing, which is helping the buyer buy.” If we help the buyer buy and they're delighted because of all the powers moving in their direction, then you have better company dynamics and better sales performance. It sounds fluffy, but it changes the whole perspective.

In terms of where we're going, we're just following the buyer down the entire process from awareness to purchase, and saying, "how would we rethink these things? What doesn't make sense anymore? What does make sense? Where do we integrate? What do we think?" You’ll see us staying close to the revenue side of things. That's how we measure our stuff. I mean, we've gone from having a goal of like, how does Drift influence 100 billion in revenue by this time? Now we're thinking about how do we get closer to that revenue and not only influence it, but how do we get deeper in that in the buying process? You'll see us following that stuff along.

]]> (Brian Anderson) Industry Insights Wed, 17 Apr 2019 13:20:47 -0400
The 3 Key Decisions To Webcast Series Success The 3 Key Decisions To Webcast Series Success

/Webcast series have become popular in the marketplace, aiming to provide a “binge-worthy” content option for target audiences while offering a different format that is more engaging and valuable. We here at Demand Gen Report, as well as all our brands under the G3 Communications umbrella, believe that the key to a successful webcast series lies in first defining production and promotion processes that are scalable, repeatable and flexible.

One of the most popular people in our office, Sheri Butts, Marketing Manager at G3 Communications, had a lot to say on this topic at her recent session at Webinar World 2019. She offered a detailed checklist for teams looking to build out a webcast series. During the first part of her session, she highlighted the three main decisions webcast producers must make to get a program off the ground:

1) Decide The Theme

Like with any content strategy, understanding and building a plan around a particular theme is vital to brand consistency and ensuring the main messages and takeaways that want to be addressed are the highlight of the webcast series.

According to Butts, the main theme is what drives the entirety of the webcast series’ production schedule. “The theme is going to not only help you determine a cadence for your sessions, but also what some of those sessions are going to look like — what format you will use, who can tell that story, what content will support it,” Butts noted during her session.

2) Decide The Format

Butts shared three specific format types being leveraged throughout the industry, while also highlighting how they can be beneficial to an aspiring producer:

  • The “Mini Series.” This is essentially a blitz of webcasts within a relatively short period of time. In the case of G3 Communications, its series are week-long events that host anywhere from one to three webcasts per day, for five days straight. “This model works because the theme of our series is pretty time specific,” Butts added. “For example, we have our annual Strategy & Planning Series that takes place at the end of October into early November. It centers around the ways marketers can assess their programs from the year that's gone by and think about what they might need to tweak or change for the year ahead.”
  • The “Episodic Series.” This is the most common format that we're all accustomed to when we think of a series of any kind — such as TV talk shows or podcasts. “For example, LinkedIn started a webcast series called Live With Marketers," and their main motivation was that they wanted to break away from the standard talking over slides format and create a more personal experience,” Butts said. “So, they began a morning talk show by marketers for marketers to help humanize their brand. An episodic approach can help you build a sustained brand presence. It can also extend the life of your theme and continue to bring it back top of mind, since you can host quarterly, monthly or weekly episodes.”
  • The “Virtual Event.” This is when you aim to simulate a live event, in which the webcasts are positioned more like sessions of a live event. “You might want to consider this type of series if your topic is very targeted, or if you are encouraging completion of all the sessions for some reason,” Butts added. “For example, a certification course, or an online class might benefit from this format.”

3) Decide The Session Topics And Speakers

Session topics and speakers should tie back to the main theme, as well as support your format of choice. Butts shared some suggested sources for identifying potential speakers:

  • Clients, who can fuel case studies or panel discussions;
  • Analysts/Experts, who can provide detailed research and industry trends;
  • Influencers, who can offer expertise and perspective; and
  • Partners, who may share a common interest, goal and/or following.

Butts also stated that while you’re concurrently thinking about your theme, format and speakers, you may also want to consider a piece of content (or multiple pieces of content) that you can reference throughout your series to help tie all your sessions together.

“For example, our Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series happens around the same time [Demand Gen Report] publishes its B2B Buyers Survey Report,” Butts noted. “We use this report to kick off the series; we start the series with a session that focuses on the findings of that report, we dive deeper into it, we examine it, we talk about what it might mean for revenue teams. And then throughout the series, we have various speakers from all different areas of expertise, leading back to that same report. They might be talking from a completely different angle, but each one will reference that report and explore how it's affecting their role, their organization, their discipline.”

Of course, developing a good theme is just the very beginning. To help guide fellow webinerds through the comprehensive process, Butts shared an awesome checklist that dives into the nitty gritty of kicking off a series, planning out promotion, rehearsal and production, tactics for when the series is live, post-series follow-up, as well as ongoing measurement of campaign success.

And speaking of webcasts, you can catch one of Demand Gen Report’s series in action this month, by signing up for the Campaign Optimization Series: What’s Working In B2B Marketing, which will take place April 22-26.

What intrigues you the most about webinar series? Leave a comment below to let us know what your favorite webcast tips and tools look like.

]]> (Brian Anderson) Blog Wed, 10 Apr 2019 14:05:53 -0400