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Tech Marketers Reveal Their Secret Weapons [New Research]

We’ve got this. That’s the prevailing sentiment among content marketers at technology companies according to our latest research.

Approximately three out of four (76%) report that their organization is much or somewhat more successful with content marketing compared with one year ago. That’s seven percentage points higher than the overall B2B marketers studied.

76% of #tech marketers are finding more success with #contentmarketing than a year ago. @CMIContent #research Share on X

What are tech marketers doing that makes them feel so confident? To find out, let’s dive into more findings in CMI’s Technology Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study sponsored by IDG Communications Inc.

The new report digs into responses from 256 content marketers at for-profit technology companies who participated in the 10th annual Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs survey conducted in June/July 2019. The respondents include tech marketers at B2B (88%), B2C (3%), and hybrid B2B-B2C (9%) companies.

1. The most successful invest in customer loyalty

The goals with which tech marketers say they’ve found success are similar to those of all surveyed B2B content marketers. Their top three goals successfully achieved with content marketing over the past year are:

  • Create brand awareness (89%)
  • Educate audiences (80%)
  • Generate demand/leads (79%)

Among B2B marketers as a whole, brand awareness (86%) and education (79%) also made the top two. However, building credibility and trust (75%) took third place, while generating demand/leads came in fourth at 70% among the full B2B set.

Much farther down the successful goal list for tech marketers is building loyalty with existing customers (58%). That’s lower than the 63% of B2B marketers overall who say they’ve had success using content marketing for customer loyalty.

But a dramatic difference comes to light when you compare the tech marketers who rate their content marketing programs as extremely or very successful. Success at building loyalty with existing clients and customers jumps all the way up to 85%.

85% of successful #tech marketers use #content to build loyalty with existing customers. @CMIContent #research Share on X

That puts customer loyalty high on the list of goals achieved for the top-performing tech marketers. It’s a huge 27-point difference compared to tech content marketers as a whole. (The most successful B2B marketers also focus more on customer loyalty than their less successful counterparts. The gap was slightly less – a 21-point divide.)

Those are a lot of numbers to digest, but they add up to this: Brand awareness and lead gen are great, but the most successful tech marketers invest in building loyalty with existing customers, too.

If you pay attention to successful tech companies, the attention to customer loyalty content isn’t a surprise. Salesforce invests in a user conference that attracted more than 170,000 people in 2019. Oracle OpenWorld numbers around 60,000 attendees. Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference attracts several thousand (and generates plenty of news coverage for the company, too).

And many tech companies have a long tradition of investing in publishing content for their customer base. I spent the first part of my career in content marketing (then called custom publishing) working on print magazines that helped customers of IBM and Teradata use the software they purchased more effectively and understand the business and tech changes on the horizon.

And that tradition continues. CDW publishes a series of tech magazines dedicated to helping its customers and prospects stay ahead of industry trends and make good tech decisions. With the help of its agency, Manifest, the company publishes six editions – one for each of its core customer segments: health care, K-12 education, higher education, state government, federal government, and small business. The project earned a nod as a finalist for Best Content Marketing Program in Tech in the 2019 Content Marketing Awards, and Manifest earned the Agency of the Year honor.

In a market segment known for the complexity and length of its buyers journeys, educating (and keeping) existing customers is a sound (and proven) content marketing strategy.

2. They believe in the persuasive power of case studies

Tech content marketers like their case studies. Most respondents (82%) said they use them. That’s well above the 69% we see among B2B marketers as a whole.

Case studies are more popular with #tech content marketers than with B2B marketers. 82% of tech marketers use them vs. 69% of B2B marketers overall. @CMIContent #research Share on X

Among tech content marketers, case studies are the fourth most frequently used content type, tying with email newsletters. (Among B2B content marketers, email newsletters ranked third at 81%.)

And tech marketers say case studies are the highest-performing type of content they use for converting leads (29%), followed by in-person events (22%), and webinars/online-events (12%).

It’s not hard to understand why case studies work well in tech. What better way to convince prospects that your solution can solve problems than to show how it has worked for other companies?

This is the power of a great case study in any segment. With tech, though, real-world examples can help bridge the divide between the complexity of the solution itself and the technical understanding (or lack thereof) by the many different roles of the people involved in a significant tech purchase.

Yet case studies are a content type that many companies struggle to get right, says Jonathan Crossfield in a recent issue of CCO:

A case study needs to say a lot more than surface-level information on what the product or service does, even if it’s a customer doing the talking. Your website, advertising, and other marketing materials should already have those claims covered – repeatedly … So, if your selling point is, ‘It saves you money,’ don’t give the reader another 1,000 words that ultimately boil down to, ‘It saved me money.’ The reader wants to know how much, how quickly, how easily.

And don’t forget the power of video for creating some drama in a case study. This video case study from Samsung for Business (Content Marketing Award 2019 finalist for Best Content Marketing Program in Tech) shows the life-or-death situations EMTs encounter in the field (and how access to a digital tablet helps them do their jobs better):


3. They demonstrate ROI

A healthy chunk (83%) of tech content marketers use metrics to measure their content performance.

Among those who use metrics, just under half (48%) measure content marketing ROI. Of those, (52%) say they do an excellent or very good job demonstrating ROI. There’s a notable difference among top performers (those who consider their programs to be extremely or very successful). Sixty-two percent of top performers measure ROI and 75% rate their ability to demonstrate ROI as excellent or very good.

Again, a lot of numbers that point to an encouraging finding: Tech content marketers who say their organization is extremely or very successful with content marketing know they’re successful because they’ve figured out how to demonstrate ROI.

#Tech content marketers who say their organization is extremely or very successful with #contentmarketing know they’re successful because they’ve figured out how to demonstrate ROI, says @KMoutsos via @cmicontent. #Research Share on X

And there’s encouraging news among all tech content marketers. Improving content marketing measurement is a top priority for this year, second only to improving the quality and conversion of audiences.

What’s your 2020 priority?

I’ve shared a few of the highlights of this year’s research. For more insights (including details on budgets and spending trends), download the Technology Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report.

Once you’ve had a look, chime in below in the comments. I’d love to know your content marketing challenges, plans, and priorities for the next 12 months.

For practical advice to help your content marketing, join us at Content Marketing World this October. Learn more and register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute