When targeting the technical mind, what sort of content excites a techie?
As you know, content marketing is one of the biggest trends in the comms world today. According to a Statista survey back in 2016, 83% of the brands surveyed stated that they rely on strategies with the focus primarily on user-oriented content and less on the company itself or its products. The idea that relevant content is better than generic content is now being celebrated as a radically new insight is somehow worrying. However, this “new” celebration could be due to the digital comms world bombarding end users with tons of undesired information and advertising messaging on a daily basis.
Clearly content is king – but how can we explain this victory march? In times of increasing sensory overload and advertising overkill, content marketing has proven to be an especially effective way to draw more visitors to your company website, establish credibility and trust, and generate new customers or maintain the loyalty of existing customers¹.
The idea of deploying user-oriented content to interest customers in your company is not new. What is new are the channels for distributing this content more effectively to the target persona, ideally at exactly the right point in time in the customer journey – during the process of gathering information and making a purchase.
What engineers want
From the study we conducted earlier this year on the media consumption behaviour of engineers in the UK, Germany and Italy, we know that the quality of content is especially important in the B2B marketing industry. For instance, the engineers surveyed rated articles as especially credible if they included specific application examples, were based on research results or were presented in an objective manner. In addition, the research brought to light that only half of the engineers surveyed said they were satisfied with the current level of technical content they are receiving/reading.
The B2B buyers’ process has also changed dramatically in recent years:
- 67% of purchases are made online²
- 70% of the B2B purchase process is complete before a buyer contacts a vendor or sales person³
- 47% of B2B purchasers consume three to five content items before they make contact with a vendor4
- 48 % of the engineers use ad blockers5
Particularly in B2B, trust and credibility are very important. For instance, when the engineers in our study were asked what factors they consider when choosing suppliers, the most frequent answer was “quality and reliability.” It follows that B2B purchasing processes are primarily based on facts, expertise and rational decisions6. In addition, in most cases a large group of decision makers are involved in the purchasing process, so diversified and convincing selling points are essential.
What brands (often) do
Occasionally industrial companies can be deluded about their content marketing. Even though appreciation of UX is gaining more and more ground, we repeatedly see that content can be created for internal company reasons. Perhaps the CEO thinks they have something extraordinary to say or a project manager simply thinks it’s about time that something was written about their work or their products.
This issue has been nicely addressed by SEO Hacker, who says: “Keep in mind that the reason we are making content is not to make ourselves feel good, or to archive and document what our company is about. We make content for people ... who read, watch, and/or look at it.” A similar note is sounded by an item on Marconomy, which exhorts: “Stop making useless content!” According to a Forbes study cited there, 60 to 70% of created B2B marketing content is never used because it does not appeal to its target group.
Talk less and listen more
What does this mean for PR and marketing managers? Our agency partner Outlook Marketing in the USA put it very succinctly: we need to talk less and listen more. Brands must put all their energy into developing the best possible understanding of the different customer types.
The magic word is data. Enormous effort is now being put into acquiring data in compliance with GDPR. Market research, for example, is rapidly gaining importance, as well as methods such as social listening and data analysis as part of marketing automation. Customer surveys and involving the sales team are also good ways to obtain valuable insights into the interests and media consumption behaviour of the target group.
One size doesn’t fit all
Customers do not form homogeneous groups but instead fall into small microcosms with their own needs and preferences, which have to be addressed individually. Properly researched, professionally created and user-oriented content will stand out from the crowd establishing trust and credibility for your brand.
For successful B2B PR, companies need to create exciting, emotionally charged and unique content that truly engages customers. For this they need to have precise knowledge of the preferences and behaviour patterns of their different customer personas. The more you know about them, the better you can pair relevant content to them. To engage potential customers with your content the quality and the timing have to be right.
Mark Herten, Account Director, Technical Publicity
² Cisco’s Tech Marketing 2016
³ Google’s Digital Best Practice for B2B Marketers 2016