Effective content marketing is now critical to B2B marketers’ success because useful content accelerates potential buyers along their journey, writes Peter O'Neill. This raises a serious content challenge for B2B marketers. Their content should be available and compelling across all touchpoints in the customer life cycle — from the awareness phase (from the vendor’s point of view) through to the phase that Forrester calls customer retention and expansion.
Are B2B marketers rising to this challenge? Forrester’s Q4 2012 US And Europe B2B Marketing Tactics And Benchmarks Online Survey provides us with an answer. As we make clear in this report, there is significant room for improvement. Here are some significant shortcomings that we highlighted in the responses from 328 B2B marketers:
B2B marketing content works for lead nurturing but nothing else. When asked about the effectiveness of content marketing among 16 separate marketing tactics, the rankings range from No. 15 in the awareness phase to No. 5 as a tactic for lead origination; it’s in third place for lead nurturing but drops back to No. 6 in the customer retention and expansion phase.
B2B marketers create most of their content internally. The majority of the content produced is created internally either by the marketing department (44%) or by other employees (14%). Organizations that create their own content with only internal staff tend to remain fixated on their product and solution.
This month, we have been studying the returns from our Q4 2012 US And Europe B2B Marketing Tactics And Benchmarks Online Survey of more than 328 B2B demand management marketers in the US and Western Europe. We asked a total of 34 questions, covering the revenue acceleration tactics that marketers deploy and in which lead-to-revenue process phase; how effective these tactics were in terms of conversion rates across the L2R processing; and several other questions about resources. We also asked about their progress in adopting various systems of marketing automation software. Lori Wizdo presented some of this data in her Webinar on November 20which Forrester clients can replay. Data highlights and curiosities include:
· US marketers prefer tradeshow and print. US-based companies have a 50% larger allocation on this spend item compared with European companies. They also allocate 30% more for print advertising.
· Top-performing marketers spend differently. Companies with better-than-planned revenue growth, or where marketing contributed more than 50% to the sales funnel, mixed the 16 possible tactics differently, with the biggest differences in their usage of trade shows, SEO, and social marketing for lead origination.
· B2B marketers prefer to create their own content, mostly for lead nurturing. Even more, the data shows them stuck in the product marketing comfort zone, and their marketing content fails to deliver at all in the awareness phase.
· Email campaigns can work, if done well.We asked if they “send out individualized mails based upon prospect-specific data and behavior.” While 30% said yes to this, among the top performers, it was 48%.
One of the most enjoyable tasks as a Forrester analyst is reviewing all of the Groundswell awards submissions. And we know many of you also look forward to seeing the innovative approaches that other B2B companies use to listen to and engage with customers. This year, we received 45 entries and we judged submissions across seven categories: Listening, Talking, Energizing, Spreading, Supporting, Embracing, and Mobile.
Earlier in November, we announced the winners and then presented a Webinar to Forrester clients where we discussed the awards process, criteria, highlights, and named all the winners. And we described why they won their awards as well as featuring many other entries that we thought warranted an honorable mention.
Download this podcast to hear more from Kim Celestre, Zachary Reiss-Davis, and myself about the Groundswell B2B Awards (it runs for around 45 minutes):
My colleagues and I (Peter O’Neill here) have been busy here at Forrester putting together the agenda for our next Forum which is in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 4, 2013 under the title “Accelerating Revenue In A Changed Economy.” Now, achieving that objective requires contributions from many different parts of a B2B enterprise – it is more than a sales enablement topic. So we have gathered together a strong team of analysts from across Forrester to work on content and invite leading practitioners who they work with to provide insights and to advise members on these three B2B functions:
· The sales and marketing teams that support the direct sales organization that must be empowered and enabled to grow their assigned accounts
· The marketers in the demand-generation group who must power up their revenue management processes, find new logos and generate new business (see previous blog)
· The channel management team which needs to orchestrate and manage the partner community to win their loyalty and business.
There continues to be a cacophony of marketing noise from technology vendors about their cloud strategies; while the announcements sometimes include messaging for their channel, many partners are still unsure of their future role in the industry. Nearly two years ago, Tim Harmon and I (Peter O'Neill here) published two reports on this, and earlier this year the Cloud and Technology Transformation Alliance (CCTA) reported that its survey of 229 channel partners in North America revealed that 13% of the partners still lack a cloud strategy altogether and 42% describe their strategy as “nascent” or “evolving.” CCTA also collected the alarming statistic that 65% of channel partners know that they’re losing business because of their cloud shortcomings; that is, the partners know that their customers are asking for cloud services but cannot react.
Peter O'Neill here. I hope that most of you would agree that mastering customer experience is just as valuable for B2B firms as it is in B2C. And yet, there isn’t much information around on B2B customer experience, let alone case studies providing practical advice on how to get B2B customer experience right. Well, at Forrester’s upcoming EMEA Forum dedicated to Customer Experience (London, November 6-7), I am hosting a “virtual track” of four sessions that debunks myths about customer experience for B2B companies. In one of the presentations, Jesper Thomsen, VP Sales & Customer Experience, Maersk Line, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, will discuss how his company improved its Net Promoter score from -10 to +30 over 30 months – an improvement program that involved staff throughout the enterprise. I recently caught up with Jesper in preparation for his session – for a sneak peak on how Maersk mastered B2B customer experience, check out our conversation below. I hope to see you in London where Jesper will share the full story!
Welcome back to us all from vacation. I, Peter O'Neill, would like to join the discussion on “What is marketing?” ignited by an HBR article a few weeks ago — if only because of the reaction to my last blog post, where I pleaded for HP marketing to do something about its worsening brand standards. That post hit a nerve, generating several urgent inquiries with B2B marketers. A few clever journalists even wrote articles afterwards that combined comments on HP’s business prospects from Steve Milunovich, investment analyst at UBS, with my point of view, as an industry analyst, about HP’s lack of marketing agility.
While most responses were statements of violent agreement, one point was frequently made: “Which marketing group should be stepping in to stem the tide?” Another was: “Yes, but does that brand stuff matter? We are still selling our kit to customers — they don’t seem worried.” I like to keep things simple, so, for me, there are just two disciplines in B2B marketing:
· Brand marketing. Often called “corporate marketing” or even “marcom,” this discipline is responsible for the marketing of brand values; running centralized marketing processes such as customer/market intelligence and public/analyst/blogger relations; and perhaps managing social media services, such as listening and content management.
What is going on at HP? Or rather, what is not happening at that company? Ex HP- marketer Peter O’Neill here with some observations.
I am sure you’ve all consumed the numerous stories about HP over the last 18 months: CEOs being fired and hired in an almost show-business fashion; a board not paying enough attention; business strategy speculation (is the PC business in or out? – imagine this, for a while, the PC business unit actually ran ads arguing against their CEO’s plan!); multiple tablet announcements, and withdrawals; plus a long list of failed, mistimed, or simply stupid acquisitions. Clearly, many journalists, who are not technology market experts, now see HP as being run incompetently.
Last week, Peter O'Neill here, I had the pleasure of going to Marseille and contributing to Dell’s first EMEA-wide PartnerDirect Marketing Advisory Council. I led a session entitled “Leave Your Competitors Behind With Better Marketing Campaigns,” where I proved that vendor-centric fulfillment marketing models no longer work in today’s market because the modern empowered buyer now controls when and how information is found and consumed.
The battle among tech vendor marketers to configure their programs and content accordingly has now really heated up. The very same trend is about to hit the channel as well — there are too many companies in the tech channel, so only those that market well and appear compelling to buyers will prevail.
I enjoyed discussing content management, the buyer’s journey, and digital marketing tactics with the 30-odd marketing professionals in the audience in Marseille. But even these marketing pros admitted that they still need ammunition to argue for more resources with their own executives, so I hope that the material I provided will be useful in that respect. Feel free to drop me a line if you would like a copy of the presentation as well.
As promised, here is Peter O’Neill with my thirdregular blog where I highlight something important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany. My colleague Andrew Bartels has just published his European ICT Market 2012 to 2013 report so I’ll take the chance to augment his prognosis on the German ICT market by adding some local color. Andy’s report is, as usual, excellent reading, runs to more than 40 pages, and is based upon our own buyer intention surveys plus government and vendor reports. Germany is the largest ICT market in Europe, estimated by Andy at 86.6 billion € for 2012. This puts Germany at 18% of the total Western and Central European number and 14% of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa total (EMEA) — a much more common regional division for tech vendors.
Andy reports that the German tech market is growing at 1.6% in 2012, which is in the more positive league of European markets together with the Nordics, Central Europe, Switzerland, and Austria — many other country markets are shrinking or “experiencing negative growth” as some people like to say.