White Papers

Creating Content for the Technology Market: 5 Key Points

As we all know by now, content continues to be a crucial element in all marketing programs. But according to a recent survey, there are some key differences when reaching out to B2C and B2B customers. Technology Marketers need to consider these differences when formulating their content marketing plans. An overriding conclusion of Eccolo Media's 2012 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report is that technology customers "require vast amounts of compelling and useful content in order to engage with a vendor." The report goes on to say that "content marketing is now a recognized and adopted strategy to engage buyers and build trust within one's market segment. Consumers are driving the demand for high quality, relevant, and useful content."

Here are five takeaways from the survey of C-level executives, vice presidents, directors, managers, developers/programmers, and technicians at US-based companies

1. Match the right content to the right market

The report points out that technology marketers need to consider two very different markets when developing their content marketing plan - the large enterprise customers and the small/mid market (SMB) businesses. It's especially important to differentiate between those markets for two specific reasons. First , according to an IDC Customer Engagement Study, the SMB market is a $460 billion business growing at 7% per year. Second, and more importantly, the content that drives decision-making in the two markets is very different.

The survey discovered that SMB customers consume far less of each type of content than large Enterprise customers. For example, 72% of Enterprise customers read a white paper while only 31% of SMB customers consulted one. Thirty-one percent of SMB clients reported that they consumed no collateral material at all compared to only 9% of Enterprise customers.

The report suggests this is caused by marketers not developing content - white papers, case studies, eBooks - specifically for the SMB customer. Instead they are "reskinning" content written for Enterprise customers and the SMB prospect finds that irrelevant to his or her very different requirements. The survey concluded that marketers need to stop such repurposing and ensure that "content and collateral assets deployed to small businesses are written with this unique audience in mind."

2. Use mix of traditional and new content vehicles

While it's important for technology marketers to take advantage of the newer marketing channels, the survey showed that technology buyers still gravitate toward the more traditional content. Product brochures/data sheets (61%) and white papers (55%) topped the list of most consumed content followed by technology guides (47%). Newer vehicles like webinars (41%), blogs/social content (38%), ebooks (36%) and infographics (31%) were used much less.

When it comes to influencing the buying decision, white papers were picked as the clear number one choice with 46% calling them the most influential. Case studies (29%) and podcasts/audio files (25%) came in second and third followed by webinars (20%), and blogs and video( 18%). Ebooks and infographics trailed behind.

3. Maintain a strong website

When asked on what channel they receive their content, 37% of the respondents cited personal contact, the highest of any method. Second most was downloading information from a web site, named by 34%. Those two topped the list again when it came to influencing the buying decision, but the gap was much closer. Thirty percent ranked personal contact as most influential, while 29% said they were most influenced by information from a company's web site.

The report concluded that, "frequently used and perceived as very influential, a corporate Web site that is carefully planned, refreshed regularly, and leveraged as a channel to engage with prospects remains a vital strategy to build customer loyalty and increase revenues."

4. Ramp up social media

Although traditional content vehicles still lead the way, the report shows that social media will continue to be an influencer in technology buyers' decision making process. Facebook was named by 43% of respondents as having assisted them in a technology purchasing process. LinkedIn (29%) and YouTube (28%) also ranked highly. Overall, 77% of respondents said that simply having social media buttons increased the influence of written content.

"While the novelty of social sharing is less pronounced than last year," the report concluded, "it is clear that social media channels are becoming an important way to engage customers."

5. Focus on desktop vs mobile

This startling revelation seems to fly in the face of all current trends, but the survey clearly shows that technology customers gather most of their content on their desktops as opposed to their mobile devices. Sixty-two percent of respondents reported that they frequently consume vendor content on a desktop. Printed materials (10%) and tablet devices (9%) were a distant second and third. Only 6% reported reviewing content on a smart phone.

So while some enterprise customers do use mobile and tablet to gather information, the report concluded that technology marketers should "consider the type of content that you can deliver via this method and who your audience is before allocating valuable budget to custom applications."

What type of content are you using to attract technology buyers? What vehicle is most effective in driving leads and sales?

3 Reasons Businesses are Flocking to Inbound Marketing

I was recently talking to a small business owner about how to drive more prospects to her site. "Are you doing any Inbound Marketing?" I asked.

(Sound of crickets accompanied by deer-in-headlights look.)

"What exactly is that?" she finally responded.

Those of us in the marketing world know by now the difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing, but there are still many business leaders who do not.

Hubspot defines Inbound Marketing as a "set of marketing strategies and techniques focusing on pulling relevant prospects and customers toward a business and its products." Think blogs, white papers, case studies, SEO and social media. These are tools used to "pull" customers to your business.

Outbound Marketing - or Traditional Marketing - focuses on sending company messages and advertising at consumers. Think trade shows, direct mail and telemarketing. These techniques are designed to "push" the business at your customers.

In the battle for marketing budget dollars, Inbound Marketing is clearly "pulling" away. Businesses that know the difference are flocking in droves to the Inbound Marketing side.

There are three main reasons why according to Hubspot's 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report.

1. Inbound Marketing is more cost effective.

According to the report, which surveyed 972 professional marketers, the average cost of an Inbound Marketing lead was $135 - almost a third of the cost of an Outbound Marketing lead which was $346.

2. Inbound Marketing generates better leads

Leads from Inbound Marketing  - blogs, whitepapers, SEO - are five times more likely to close than leads garnered through traditional marketing tools. Only about 2% of Outbound Marketing collected leads actually close.

3. Inbound Marketing lands customers

62% of the survey respondents reported they acquired a new customer through LinkedIn. 57% credited their blog. 52% said Facebook and 44% said Twitter.

In the last six months, more than a third of the respondents rated Inbound Marketing as "more important" while a third ranked Outbound Marketing as "less important." That is blatantly reflected in their spending as 89% of respondents say they increased their Inbound Marketing budget last year.

What are you doing with your marketing strategy? Are you "pushing" or "pulling?


5 Reasons Why White Papers Work...For Your Prospects

It's not a news flash that communication vehicles are exploding all around us. Blogs. Twitter. Pinterest. Facebook. LinkedIn. Infographics. Podcasts. Video. eBooks. Webinars.

They're all great and should be part of a comprehensive Content Marketing strategy. But don't forget old faithful: White Papers.


Because they still work.

Everyone knows by now why White Papers need to be a key component of your CM plan - they set you up as an authority; they drive traffic to your web site; they generate leads.

That's why they work for YOU. But what makes White Papers so compelling to YOUR PROSPECTS that allows all that other good stuff to happen?

Here are five reasons why your customers and prospects still rely on well-written, thoroughly researched White Papers.

1. They establish a solid starting point

Let's face it. The demands on your prospects' time are increasing. Competing deadlines are the rule, not the exception. When a manager or executive faces a buying decision - whether for a product or a service - his or her to-do list just got longer. There is an abundance of data out there, but how can it be culled down to relevant information. That is what your White Paper can do. According to the 2012 Eccolo B2B Technology Collateral Survey, 59% of tech buyers found White Papers to be the most helpful tool in the initial sales phase. That's more than twice the second most used vehicle. After Data Sheets and Brochures, White Papers were the third most consumed collateral.

2. They are NOT advertisements

Or they'd better not be. When your customers are in the investigative phase of their buying process, they don't want to slog through gobs of marketing salespeak. They want facts, ideas and solutions. When done properly, a White Paper provides those things and becomes a critical document during a buyer's due diligence process. That's why it must be an objective document. Nothing will destroy the credibility of your White Paper - and get it tossed into the trash - faster than making it a thinly veiled infomercial. It needs to be interesting and well written but it can't be an expanded sales pitch.

3. They consolidate useful information

Business people today are being inundated with information from many outlets. A focused White Paper can filter the "noise" and provide the reader with the targeted information they want and need. The key to achieving that is to ensure that the piece is relevant to your audience. It has to address one of their problems and provide insight into solutions through use of the right product or service. Once they have that information, they will share it with other members of their teams. According to a report by Information Week Business Technology, 93% of IT buyers pass along nearly half of the White Papers they read.

4. They save time

Done right, the White Paper becomes a valuable tool for a decision maker. Yes, they could google the day away and come up with much of the same information. However by presenting a clear, well researched White Paper, you have just saved your customer or prospect a valuable asset - time. That's one of the reasons that usage of White Papers increased by 19% in 2012 according to the 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report put out by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs. Busy buyers always appreciate saving time.

5. They help drive decisions

Finally, White Papers still help make buying decisions. 55% of tech buyers have used a White Paper in the last six months and 57% found them to be "moderately to extremely influential" in the buying decision. It is a critical and sometimes determining factor for your prospect in ultimately deciding how they will proceed.

White Papers may not have the same sizzle as some of the newer communication tools, but clearly they still get the job done - for you and for your prospects.

What do you think? Does your organization use White Papers? Do your competitors?




10 Keys To A Boring, Unread White Paper

Have you read a White Paper lately? Did you get all the way through it?

Of course you didn’t. It was boring right? They’re supposed to be that way, aren’t they?

So to make sure you follow the crowd and make your White Paper just as dull as everyone else’s, here are the 10 surefire things you need to

  1. Craft a Deadly Title – Nothing will compel someone to toss your White Paper into the trash faster than a title like: “Analyzing Best-in-Class Practices for Benchmarking Key Marginalization of Widget Effectiveness.”
  2. Make it a Sales Pitch – Your customers don’t want to be educated or informed. They want to be sold!
  3. Lighten Up on the Research – Don’t spend your valuable time poring over multiple industry sources to provide a well-balanced view. One or two quick resources should be enough to make your White Paper shallow enough.
  4. Go Long – Pack your document with lots of words. Go on and on. find new domain . 40 or 50 pages should be enough to put the most tenacious reader into a slumber. This is also a good way to make it tough to read on a computer screen or mobile device.
  5. Present Just the Facts – Drown the White Paper with dry facts. Don’t try to tell a story that may illuminate the issue at hand and provide more relevance.
  6. Use Jargon – Nothing will make your document more lifeless than the liberal use of industry jargon and acronyms.  Don’t try to explain or define those terms. Everyone should know what they mean, right?
  7. Employ Dull Writing – You want to strive for long, academic sounding sentences that drone on and on. Use passive verbs and a pedantic voice. You don’t want short, action packed sentences that would liven up your White Paper.
  8. Make it Deadly Serious – Don’t try to inject any humor or a lighter tone anywhere in the document. That might make it easier to read and get some of your points across more clearly. Strive for the somber touch.
  9. Don’t Provide Specifics – Make sure your White Paper offers generic advice. Don’t give your audience specific ideas that they can action immediately.
  10. Cram It All In- Stuff all your information into paragraphs of deadly prose. Don’t break it up with interesting sidebars of key points or visually pleasing graphs and charts that support the

So how have your White Papers been received? Have they been effective? Can they be improved?