B2B Marketers: Four Proven Tactics to Get Tech Buyers to Engage with Your Content
As TechTarget’s SVP of Marketing and Product Operations, I’ve spent the last 13 years helping our customers generate millions of quality content marketing leads. I know all too well what it’s like to live and die based on open rates, clicks and conversions.
Over the years, my team has tested and implemented hundreds of changes to our content marketing strategy to increase engagement, streamline internal processes & revamp our promotional strategy. While most of these changes helped boost engagement and conversion, four tactics continue to outperform the rest:
#1 – Trade persona-based targeting for activity-based targeting
Personas are a great way to understand our ideal buyers, improve messaging, and develop more personalized content. What they don’t do is help us identify and engage the actual people who are looking for our products. Let’s be honest, sometimes our best customers don’t look anything like the personas we have on the shelf. That’s where behavioral data can help.
See, unlike persona targeting, activity-based targeting gives you the unique ability to promote your content to people you KNOW are in an active buying motion. And that matters. In fact, after analyzing over 6.5 million TechTarget content marketing emails, we learned that when we email people who have been recently researching technology on our network, they’re 5x more likely to engage with our content marketing emails vs. contacts who may fit an ideal buyer persona but are not actively researching.
#2 – Determine a content strategy that aligns with your lead generation goals
In a constant effort to keep leads coming through the door, many of us have a bad habit of creating content that attempts to appeal to everyone yet connects with no one. To avoid this, you have to pick the lane that best aligns your content with the outcome you want to achieve.
Do you want a high volume of leads who may not perfectly match your ideal customer type, but gives sales more chances to find deals and open doors? Or do you want a lower volume of very high-quality prospects who directly match your ICP, but could potentially limit your exposure to in-market deals?
Here are the two most common approaches you should consider before developing new content:
- High Prospect Volume = Broad Content
Use content themes that appeal to multiple personas. Examples are content that discusses driving revenue, aligning departments, lowering expenses, general tips, and tricks, or content from third-party experts and analysts. Avoid content that’s highly technical, feature-oriented, or uses role-specific language and keywords. Broad content will net a higher amount of leads but will include more false positives.
- High Prospect Precision = Niche Content
Use content designed to resonate with a specific persona/role or industry based on shared interests and characteristics. For example, if you want to attract Security professionals, promote content that uses their common vernacular, speaks to the specific security features of your products, and addresses security pain points, fears, and aspirations. Niche content will net a lower amount of leads but will include fewer false positives.
#3 – Make sure you’re promoting high-quality content
While creating high-quality content requires more time and investment, it’s well worth the effort. Weak content ends up costing you more in the long run, as it’s harder to promote, erodes buyer trust and has a noticeable negative impact on campaign performance.
The difference between strong and weak content is stark – Strong assets perform 1,167% better in email promotions compared to weak assets. The following are some key characteristics of what’s makes a strong versus a weak asset. These observations hold true across the 12,000+ assets we syndicate and promote every year.
The below table showcases qualities of strong content vs. weaker content:
Strong vs. Weak Content Assets for Technology Buyers
|Uses simple language. Using common language to explain a concept makes it more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.||Uses complex language. Using overly-specific industry jargon will limit the appeal of your content and fatigue your readers. Don’t make your audience work.|
|Is supported by facts. Using statistics gives your content credibility and increases the likelihood that readers will invest their time.||Features sales/marketing pitches. Content with a heavy sales tone erodes trust and is more readily dismissed than content that that’s consultative.|
|Is current. Staying on the forefront of a topic makes your content more relevant and enticing. We recommend all content is created or revised within the last year. Trending topics are even better.||Features outdated topics. Over time, topics will be covered enough or the technology will change. Audience interest will wane.|
#4 – Personalize your content offer based on a prospect’s most recent interests and actions
In the world of B2C, email personalization is the norm. We’re all accustomed to relevant, timely marketing communications based on our recent purchases, searches, and views. Yet many in B2B haven’t caught up – especially when it comes to how we promote our content.
The good news is it’s not as hard as it used to be. Personalized content marketing at scale sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. One way we started improving our email personalization is by using intent data. Instead of just sending everyone on our list the same content, we segmented our prospect list based on recent technology research behavior and promoted content that directly aligned to their interests (similar to the way Amazon promotes new products or services we may be interested in).
To prove that this was worth the additional effort, we A/B tested it and found that personalization increases email engagement by over 12x! Well worth the extra effort to segment and send.
I hope these takeaways will help you make immediate improvements to your content marketing programs. For more information or advice on how you can use intent data to improve your marketing and sales performance, read more here.
Source: Internal TechTarget study of over 6.5 million content marketing emails sent to cold vs. active prospects.