Forty percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their total spend on digital in 2016, and companies plan to spend more than 30 percent of their total marketing budgets on digital, according to a new report from Green Hat in conjunction with ADMA. Content marketing specifically is slated to make up 17 percent of total spend in 2016 and marketing automation will account for 9 percent of B2B marketing budgets this year, and both channels are expected to grow next year.
Adoption of marketing automation is rapidly increasing in the B2B space, yet the industry has plenty of work to do to get it right. In fact, only 2.8 percent of B2B enterprise marketers report that marketing automation-powered campaigns achieve their demand generation goals, according to a report by Annuitas. Meanwhile, a study from Bluewolf reveals that only 7 percent of marketers see measurable ROI from their marketing automation programs.
To achieve success with marketing automation, marketers must be strategic. This begins with defining their process and workflows. From there the business should identify the ideal customer profile and buyer personas and then develop content that appeals to these audiences. This includes data points such as job title, industry, etc. Data is at the core of this process since it allows marketers to get to know who their leads are from social sign ins and email collection. These tools help identify customers and, in turn, serve them with relevant content that speaks to their needs and drives engagement.
Timeliness and relevance are everything in the digital world. Ensuring that the right message, reaches the right consumer, at the right moment is critical to attracting leads and influencing their purchase decisions when they are in market to buy. Adaptive content is a key element that will help marketers ensure that they have the appropriate message for their various prospects in play at the right time.
Understanding the buyer’s journey is core to developing an adaptive content strategy. By knowing the stage of the prospect, a B2B marketer can develop content that speaks to the need at that phase in the cycle. From awareness and interest to evaluation and commitment, content must appeal to the in-market buyer in order to capture their attention no matter how long the sales cycle. Adaptive content allows marketers to speak to clients at each point in the cycle to keep the conversation alive throughout the relationship. Based on demographics, skill sets, and behaviors, B2B marketers can define buyer personas and create content to speak to these people through automation.
To develop good content, start in-house. Begin by looking at the experts within your organization and developing a roster of subject matter experts that can be tapped for their unique viewpoint. Good content marketing should serve as educational to your audience on relevant industry themes rather than products. Think about content that your customers would find valuable and develop a content calendar around these themes. Then organize the workflow for content production and distribution. Start small, so that you don’t commit to too much. Make a gradual commitment so that you have enough content. Too often marketing automation programs get going quickly with lots of material but lose their steam when the content production gets overwhelming. Create a process that encourages a steady flow of materials so that you can nurture your programs.
Marketing automation has the promise to make B2B companies more successful than ever before, but it takes good content and a solid nurturing process to succeed.