We wrapped up 2016 by asking B2B marketing leaders what they thought were the key attributes of exceptional demand generation content.
Our experts confirmed that great demand gen content:
As we look ahead to 2017, the foundation of great demand gen content isn’t going to change. But what IS exciting is how B2B marketers are adopting new content strategies for successful campaigns. Here are three trends that I think are going to be key for B2B marketers this year.
1. As Martech Adoption Grows, Customer Focus Matters More
When I went to the MarTech USA conference in San Francisco last spring, I came back from the show with a poster of the amazing Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic—which showcased more than 3,000 marketing technology solutions.
This wall of logos demonstrates an astounding opportunity for marketers to use tools to better connect with customers.
Great brands have always cared about customer experience. But in 2017, technology advances make it possible to understand more about your customers than ever before.
The flip side is that customers are going to expect more from you. According to a Walker report on the future of B2B customer experience, by the year 2020 “customers will expect a personalized experience.”
Our perspective: You need to know who your audience is to have any hope of being relevant to them. Too often, brands pump out content that they think is important. But when your competitors are using sophisticated tools to personalize content and experiences, you don’t want to be the brand that’s still pushing one-size-fits-all content.
What should you be doing to adapt to this customer-centric reality? To start, you should be doing three things:
- Developing customer personas
- Understanding their buyer’s journey
- Developing relevant and personalized communications for every touchpoint
But even beyond personas and personalization, you should create highly targeted nurture flows and detailed segmentation strategies to truly deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
2. ABM Increases the Need for Quality Content
Account-based marketing (ABM) surged in 2016 and adoption will keep growing. According to DemandBase, 97% of B2B marketers have ABM in their plans and 83% are increasing their ABM budgets.
While focusing on accounts is an age-old strategy, new tools make it possible to pursue target accounts with increasing sophistication. Earlier in 2016, LinkedIn announced its Account Targeting Service, which gave B2B marketers the ability to pursue an ABM strategy on its network.
In a recent case study, HubSpot noted that LinkedIn Sponsored Content was one of their most successful lead gen campaigns, with 400% more leads from their target audience than other platforms. HubSpot’s success points to the fact that you need great content to put these campaigns into market. (I wrote about this earlier in my blog post, “Content Will Make or Break Your ABM Strategy.”)
Our perspective: Technology is only one part of the ABM equation. You can have a great tool, great data, and a great delivery mechanism, but unless your communications provide value to your customers and prospects, you’re just creating more noise.
ABM increases the need for relevant customer-focused content that’s informed by your knowledge of your audience. We often hear from new clients who have invested in an ABM program but are struggling to supply the right content to their targets. A study conducted by LinkedIn’s Technology Marketing Group found 59% of responders cited high quality leads as their top priority for 2017.
Bottom line: If you want high-quality leads, you should focus on high-quality content.
3. Video Becomes a Demand Gen All-Star
According to HubSpot’s Future of Content Marketing Report, video was the content type that most people paid attention to thoroughly as opposed to skimming (55% of survey respondents).
In the same report, 45% of survey respondents said they watched an hour or more of video on Facebook and YouTube per week. And in Vidyard’s State of Video Marketing Survey, more than two-thirds of participants reported that they planned to increase their video spending.
So video is booming. Great! How does that fit into your demand gen strategy for 2017?
B2B marketers are realizing that video can do more than build awareness and educate. Video can work effectively as part of demand gen campaigns. We’ve had success recently with gated subscription videos for an enterprise cloud platform. And don’t forget to use video to amplify the impact from your events.
Our perspective: Increasing consumption—along with the fact that people pay closer attention to video—should make video a key part of your content mix in 2017. People’s willingness to watch thoroughly instead of skim makes video suited for big ideas.
What do you really want your target audience to know? Use video to get your point across. (Check out the Tendo video page on Vimeo to see some examples.) Based on what we’re seeing from clients, we expect interactive storytelling (including video, assessment tools, quizzes, and so on) to grow in importance.