Creating Credible Data-Driven B2B Marketing Content

 

Why and How adTech companies should double-down on content marketing.

The adTech ecosystem is maturing. Serious money has gobbled up several leading companies, and the combined breadth of products and services are increasingly attractive to the world’s top advertisers (e.g., Oracle, Adobe, Google, and Amazon).  However thousands of adTech vendors remain – 6,829 to be exact,  according to chiefmartec.com. Some are fighting for survival, some solidifying their niche, and some growing like weeds. 

What has been clear for many years is that most adTech companies are lousy marketers. They tend to invest first into core tech, then sales, customer service, operations… marketing receives the remaining budget scraps. When it comes to marketing, many adTech companies: 

  1. Presume their targets are fairly limited and well-known (e.g. agencies, publishers, brands)

  2. Assume they know exactly who they need to speak to within those targets

  3. Believe investing in sales is better than investing in marketing (and when they do invest in marketing, tradeshows and a bit of advertising on industry specific publishers are the norm).

Top-of-funnel marketing – Content Marketing – is rarely (and wrongly) not made a priority. 

Make sense? If you know who to talk to, why invest top of the funnel activities like content marketing? If your company is going to invest in marketing, isn’t it better to  invest in a tradeshow (where you might meet a prospect) than in content marketing (where a prospect has to find you)? Unfortunately, this is short-sighted. 

While companies may know their prospects, most of these prospects have limited knowledge of the offerings of any given adTech company and, if they have heard a company’s name, are often confused as to exactly what products and services the company actually delivers. We all know how adTech vendors use the same language to describe their offering – see this deck for adTech newcomer GenerIQ). 

The Facts

Research indicates that 57% of any purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier, and that 67% of a buyer’s journey is now done digitally. While great sales people are required to turn opportunities into actual deals, this new breed of buyer is in search of content to educate themselves. Once educated, they select vendors with which to engage.

Technology vendors have to learn how get into this education mix. In order to reach this new breed of buyer, it is crucial to offer them something they desire. Content that educates and informs prospective customers is, therefore, invaluable.

What is B2B Content Marketing?

Most understand what content marketing is in general – let’s define it more tightly: B2B Content Marketing is using content to expand your business’ brand and market awareness, expand your audience, drive leads, and ultimately increase sales. 

There is little doubt that B2B content marketing works. “Two-thirds of people (67% consuming B2B content) consider content marketing useful and valuable.”  Plus, more than half of all technology buyers consuming content marketing are more likely to visit that company’s website, and half are more likely to conduct additional research on the company.   

B2B Content Marketing Types

How do you create content that attracts the right audience? First, don’t sell – buyers are too sophisticated. If a buyer is in the research phase, they will bounce off any site in seconds if the content smells like a sales pitch, perhaps permanently discounting that company from consideration.

Start by realizing that content is a longer-term play – then you can decide what types of content your company can legitimately create. There are many types of quality B2B content: 

1. Data-driven Content

  • Quantitative Data White Papers

    • Based on external survey data

    • Based on internally-generated data

    • Integrated first/third party data

  • Qualitatively Driven Data White Papers

    • Interviews with industry experts

2. Case Studies

3. Opinion Pieces

4. Guest Articles (in trade publications)

Remember, too, that technology buyers are becoming overwhelmed by redundant, look-alike content. Successful B2B content marketing should be:

  1. Useful

  2. Relevant to the target audience

  3. Produced on a predictable cadence

  4. Of consistent quality

These traits all contribute to cultivating credibility – content that is grounded in data is much more credible and more engaging. According to The Economist, “Credibility is based on the quality of research, not the brand; nearly half of executives would consider a new source of content if it were a source of hard facts”.

While discovery is important, if a companies content is not credible, not only is the content discounted, but so is the company that produced it.

The Dos-and-Don’ts of Credible Content

First, some things NOT to do:

    1. Write redundant, stale content. If you’ve already read it, so has everyone else.

    2. Presume that your marketing intern or your company executive are strong writers. In most cases, they aren’t. 

    3. Exclude specific information or knowledge. If you are going to write about an adTech subject, spend the time necessary to know more than your readers – preferably a lot more. 

    4. Link to another company’s article and think this will suffice as “content marketing” – adTech is a small industry, after all.

    5. Presume that just because your company wrote something that everyone wants to read it, and therefore adTech-focused publications should want to publish it. It just doesn’t work that way. Publishers have their own content calendars, and your beautiful article just might not fit. Earned media is earned. 

    6. Start in the weeds. Specific content is useful, but put don’t presume that your audience knows what you are talking about. Prospects are their to learn. A great presumes, incorrectly, that they already know the difference between a DMP and an AMP. Even if prospects know the difference between and SSP, DSP, CMP, DMP, AMP, one company’s SSP is another company’s Exchange. Be descriptive, and do it in actual english. 

    7. Cram your writing full of adTech acronyms and buzzwords. The fact that your technology uses AI, blockchain, machine learning, etc., is great. Cram your article full of these, and it’ll look like BS.

    8. Treat prospects like idiots. While you don’t want to start to weedy, patronizing is worse.

Some things TO DO to create great B2B Content Marketing:

    1. Know your audience. Within each prospect’s company, there are many different types of players, often called personas. Each may require different content, or the same content presented and organized for different audiences. 

    2. Get your facts straight. Unless your company executive is well-known, prognostications from an unknown executive often sound like something from Nostradamus. Prospects love facts, whether generated from internal data, someone else’s data (how often is an eMarketer chart in a presentation), or through custom research. Prospects prefer content grounded in data – it’s intrinsically more trustworthy.

    3. Hire an editor to polish it up. If you are going to write the content in house (without a professional writer), It’s not expensive, and well worth it. 

    4. Plan on building your company’s online editorial credibility over time. 

    5. Deliver. Solid content is a must, but so is reliability. If you promise the second installment of a series in two weeks, deliver it on time. Lack of reliability destroys all credibility. Your prospects may think, “if you can’t even publish something on time, what will happen when I have a time-sensitive problem with your technology?”

    6. Start with third-party data. It adds credibility far better than starting with your internal data. Let the facts lead, not the writer.

As you look at this year’s marketing budget, invest some time and energy into leveraging your marketing pillars into a data-driven B2B content marketing strategy. You don’t need to do it all at once – set some reasonable goals, get leadership buy-in, and start.