Technology marketers have tough jobs. Not only must they master their company’s sometimes complex products and offerings, but they also need to communicate quickly and succinctly — and in a way that is different from what their competitors are doing. Complicating matters is the long and often complex buyer’s journey.
But, there is good news. According to our latest research, as reported in Technology Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by IDG and IDG Enterprise, 64% of technology marketers say their organization’s overall content marketing approach is much more or somewhat more successful compared with one year ago; 92% of those marketers attribute that success primarily to doing a better job with content creation.
So what specifically about content creation is working? Technology marketers who are most successful with content marketing (i.e., this year’s “top performers”) often approach content creation differently when compared with their less successful peers. Consider the differences shown below, gathered from our seventh annual content marketing survey.
Deliver content consistently
One of the big differences between top-performing technology marketers and their less successful peers is that they deliver content consistently. In fact, consistency tops the list of factors they take into account while creating content — and it’s something they do more often than their top-performing B2B peers (93% vs. 85%).*
Determining what type of consistency works best for your organization is up to you. A lot of this will depend on your goals, target audience, content types, distribution channels, budget, resources, and other factors. Maybe you deliver content daily, weekly, or monthly — just be sure you have a defined schedule that you stick to.
(*85% of top-performing B2B content marketers surveyed say they always/frequently deliver content consistently, as reported in B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.)
Prioritize delivering content quality over content quantity
Not surprisingly, prioritizing quality content over quantity is also a differentiator between the most and least successful technology marketers. And note on the chart how the top performers are placing nearly equal emphasis on quality content as they are on delivering content consistently. Perhaps they are learning the “secret” that Robert Rose, CMI’s chief content adviser, shares when asked how often you should publish: “As little as you can and still have the impact you desire.”
Consider how your content impacts the overall experience a person has with your organization
Top-performing technology marketers also think about content in the context of the overall experience someone has with their brand. Considering how many products and solutions tech companies offer, this can be a complex proposition.
For instance, Scott Rosenberg, director of Intel’s Digital Governance and Operations group, spoke at Content Marketing World 2016 about how Intel had 12,500 U.S. web pages, 715 microsites, and 324 social media handles. Some Intel customers’ experiences with the brand felt disconnected because so many points of entry and paths to follow were chaotic and disconnected.
How is Intel addressing this? Scott and his team are focused on digital governance, which is a fancy way of saying they are creating rules and norms that keep the company’s content consistent, on brand, efficient, and effective. You can learn more about Intel’s journey if you are interested in improving the experience your customers have with your brand.
Focus on creating content for your audience versus your brand
Another differentiator of top-performing technology marketers is that they focus on their audience instead of their brand. While many companies understand this in theory, it can be tough to do in practice.
A great example is what Toby Lee has done at Thompson Reuters with its taxologist program. You can read about details of the taxologist program, but, in short, the company’s marketing team identified a persona that focuses on the introverted people in the tax department who use leading-edge technology to get results. To help this group, Thompson Reuters created the concept of the “taxologist,” as well as a corresponding program that includes educational content and an annual user event complete with taxologist awards. More than 1,500 people attend the event, and the taxologist designation now has an official skill set on LinkedIn.
Craft content based on specific points of the buyer’s journey
Crafting and delivering content based on varying audience needs is challenging — even more so when you’re faced with a long buyer’s journey. Consider some of the fill-in responses we received to our annual survey question, What area(s) of content marketing will your organization need the most help with in 2017:
- Being able to create content for all phases of the customer’s journey and target audiences in each part of their journey
- Deeper understanding of buyer personas and creating content that speaks to each persona at specific points in the customer life cycle
- Being more intelligent with the customer journey
- Developing content for multiple phases of both the awareness and sales stages
One thing that can help is buyer personas — 60% of the technology content marketers surveyed indicated that they have them, but that’s not enough. How can you create spot-on content for people in distinct stages of the buyer’s journey if you don’t have a deep understanding of their motivations at different points in time? Start by understanding the buyer’s journey. You may be surprised to learn there are multiple models to consider.
Prioritize providing the right content to the right person at the right time
Creating the right content for the right person and delivering it at the right time is exceptionally difficult, especially for technology marketers for all the reasons we have discussed. And, there are multiple ways to think about this concept:
- Creating content specific to the channels where it will be published
- Helping people find the content they are looking for (or didn’t even know they wanted) when they arrive at your website
- Understanding what people want to accomplish as they interact with a brand (enter: the customer journey map)
In short, identify your most pressing goals and needs here, and begin to take steps to incrementally improve how you are delivering content to your customers in the most personalized way possible.
Differentiate your content from the competition
Technology marketers know they need to differentiate their content from what their competitors are publishing, but — as the chart shows — there isn’t a huge gap between what the top performers are doing when compared with the overall sample.
But here’s the thing, the technology space is super crowded, and so much of what is published could come from any vendor. (Try this: Look at your content next to a few competitors’ content. Strip out all references to products and services. Can someone tell what is from your company versus someone else?)
It’s more important than ever to publish content that no one else is. Find what CMI founder Joe Pulizzi calls your content tilt so that you have an angle that no one else does. It will make a world of difference.
Want to learn more about how technology marketers approach content marketing? View the report for insights on the content marketing tactics and distribution methods they use, techniques they use to learn more about their audiences to create the right messages, metrics they use to gauge content marketing success, how much of their marketing budget they spend on content marketing, and more.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute