Behind the Numbers: The Case for Expert Content
Solid research tops everyone's wish list
As marketers, we invest in creating or sponsoring content, such as white papers, case studies, and podcasts in order to reinforce our brand in the mind of our target audience. While we think our tactics work, our jobs would be easier if we knew exactly what types of content our customers and prospects prefer and read - and, better yet, pass along to their colleagues.
To figure out the answer to that question, Knowledge Storm recently surveyed more than 3,000 business-to-business technology marketers and their prospects - business and technology professionals - in conjunction with Marketing Sherpa.
White papers proved especially popular with our respondents. Seventy-five percent of marketers claimed to create them as part of their marketing mix, and 72 percent of prospects said they frequently made use of this type of content.
Case studies, product literature, and articles from industry journalists also topped the lists of both marketers and prospects.
The biggest opportunity for marketers is certainly the "pass along" factor - what prospects deem worthy of sharing with others. This type of viral spread is far and away the best means of quickly expanding brand awareness and gaining instant credibility. When asked what type of content prospects were most likely to pass along to colleagues, white papers again led the list with 58 percent of respondents claiming to share them. Articles from industry journalists were second (50 percent), followed closely by product literature (49 percent), analyst reports (47 percent), and case studies (45 percent).
Marketers commonly include vendor-generated thought leadership in their marketing mix. However, there seems to be missed opportunity when it comes to attaching the brand to a third-party expert. Only 38 percent of marketers sponsored an analyst report and 37 percent sponsored an industry journalist article.
A typical objection to sponsoring this type of content is that it can be expensive. But when viewed in the context of how a brand can benefit, the cost is certainly worthwhile. Depending on the execution, sponsorship typically is on par with the cost of a print ad, but the value of being associated with recognized experts, as well as value of the potential lead-generation opportunities, negates the perceived expense.
When asked what they consider the most important aspect of a piece of content, prospects listed the "source of the content" first. Sponsoring third-party analyst content is a way to reinforce a positive brand association, while also demonstrating that an organization understands their prospects' concerns.
The good news is that marketers are getting it right when it comes to creating and sponsoring content that matches the information prospects rely on to make critical purchasing decisions. By capitalizing on the appetite for expert content, marketers can take advantage of a golden opportunity to extend their reach farther and get more mileage out of stretched brand-building budgets.