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Breaking Down the Buy-In Barrier for B2B Content Marketing

Presented on October 10, 2013

While more and more B2B marketers are using content marketing and allocating more of their budgets to it, there is still a significant percentage facing the challenge of getting buy-in. During this webinar, Search Mojo’s Kari Rippetoe will show you how to overcome this obstacle and get the buy-in needed to implement an effective B2B content marketing program.


Hello, everyone. Welcome and thank you for coming to today’s webinar, Breaking Down the Buy-In Barrier for B2B Content Marketing. I’m Alex Katzen, Public Relations Manager at Search Mojo, and I’ll be serving as your moderator for today’s webinar.

I have just a few reminders before we begin. There will be a Q and A at the end of today’s webinar, so if you have any questions for our presenter, please enter them in the GoToWebinar questions box at the right of your screen. Also, as always, we are recording this webinar, and once the full recording is available, you’ll receive a follow-up email, which will be early next week at the latest.

Finally, we encourage you to tweet about any interesting insights or takeaways you’d like to share from today’s presentation. So if you do so, please use the hashtag #mojowebinar. Plus you can also follow us on Twitter at Search Mojo.

Now I’d like to introduce our presenter for today. Kari Rippetoe is Content Marketing Manager at Search Mojo, helping clients develop compelling content pieces for search optimization and lead generation. She has over 12 years’ experience with search, social media, email and content marketing. After studying marketing and communications at the University of Texas-San Antonio, Kari went on to manage online marketing strategies and campaigns for a variety of companies and organizations including Liquidity Services, Incorporated, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

A little bit about Search Mojo: The company was founded in 2005 and specializes in all things search marketing including SEO, pay per click, social media advertising, online reputation management, and content marketing. Search Mojo is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, and we also have an office in Charleston, South Carolina. We’ve been featured in several marketing publications and blogs, and we also speak at several conferences including SMX, MarketingProfs, and Pubcon. Our clients include a variety of B2B and consumer brands, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. And now I’ll turn it over to Kari.


Okay, great. Thanks, Alex. So that’s the big question right there. Why content marketing? And I would even venture to say that many of you already know the answer to that question. You probably wouldn’t be here today at this webinar if you didn’t because you know why content marketing is so important for B2B companies.

It’s been so hot in the last couple of years. It’s been such a big deal. And you know the value that it brings. But you’re just not sure how to convince your boss of it or how to get the organizational support you need to make it work. And I hope that I can give you some helpful pointers with that today.

But your boss is probably asking the same question. Why content marketing? And you have to make your case. Well, the numbers and the data are always a really good place to start. So let’s look at the current state of B2B content marketing. And, by the way, all of this information is from the most recent edition of the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report, which comes from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute. They just released this just a few weeks ago actually.

So first of all, nine out of ten marketers are using content marketing, so it’s very much a top priority for your fellow B2B marketers. And they’re also spending more budget on it; 58% of B2B marketers have increased their content marketing budgets this year. And they’re spending an average of 30% of their budgets on content marketing.

And what are the most effective B2B content marketers doing, according to this same report? Well, 39% have allocated budget to content marketing, 66% have a documented content marketing strategy, and that’s very, very important. You can see how over half of B2B content marketers surveyed in this report, they’ve actually documented their strategy, part of what I’m going to be going through today during today’s webinar. They use an average of 15 content marketing tactics, and they use an average of seven social media platforms to deliver their content.

But B2B content marketers do have their share of challenges, and producing content is definitely a huge challenge. In fact, I was just at a conference called Lead Gen Summit last week, where I led a roundtable discussion that focused on content marketing challenges. And certainly the biggest challenges we discussed were around the production of content from planning the creation to finding the resources to create it and then also creating the most relevant content.

But you can also see other big challenges when it comes to content marketing here in this graph, which is also from the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report, which I think really get to the heart of the buy-in barrier we’re talking about today. Specifically, those are the inability to measure content effectiveness and lack of integration across marketing. And if we can address those challenges, we can start to break down that buy-in barrier.

And we’ll get to that a little bit later, but first, let’s look at the broader challenges that you as B2B marketers face. And these are more general challenges that aren’t related specifically to content marketing, but in addressing these challenges, we can then start to talk about addressing content marketing challenges specifically.

So the first one-getting marketing and sales aligned. And this is a huge challenge, especially in larger enterprise-level companies where marketing and sales seem to be very much siloed. So they may not be talking to each other as much as they should.

And the second one-sticking to a strategy. This is also a big challenge for B2B marketers because there are so many forces within and outside of an organization that affect how a strategy is executed, not to mention differing opinions. And, in fact, while I was at Lead Gen Summit, I did speak to someone during the roundtable discussion from a company where he was having a hard time getting everyone on the same page as far as what content marketing was in the first place. Everyone had differing opinions. So all of these different sort of challenges combined can make sticking to a cohesive strategy quite difficult.

Another challenge is getting buyers down that sales funnel. And many companies may have leads stuck in the top of the funnel or in the middle. They just can’t seem to get them to the next stage where they’re sales qualified and getting ready to make a buying decision.

And the next one-convincing the decision makers. This is always a really big challenge, and there are so many different forces at play here because you could be dealing with several different roles in the company who make the ultimate buying decision. Each one is going to have a different perspective, and they’re going to have different requirements for the information to help them make a decision.

And then, of course, this is the biggest challenge facing B2B marketers-proving ROI. Marketing is being scrutinized more and more by CEOs. And, in fact, a study by Ifbyphone shows that four of the top five marketing metrics that are most important to CEOs are focused on sales and revenue.

So how can marketers overcome these challenges and at the same time show the value of content marketing to their management? And we’re going to go through each one individually here.

So, first of all, let’s talk about aligning sales and marketing. So, as B2B marketers, we all want to generate more leads. But are the leads that we’re generating actionable for sales? And is sales communicating back to marketing about those leads? So communication is really the key here, and the more marketing and sales is communicating, the better informed our marketing efforts will be, and the more qualified the leads we generate will be.

So it’s important to establish that line of regular communication between sales and marketing so everyone is on the same page. This way you can get some actionable feedback on the quality of leads you’re generating, and you can also get more insight into the tools needed to help them make those sales. And this is where content comes in because we can also find out from sales what questions customers are asking and create content that can answer those questions and fulfill that sales need.

So let’s go through the next one-getting your strategy together. So, if you remember, I was telling you earlier the story of the marketer at a company who was having a hard time getting everyone to agree on what exactly content marketing is. And if you can’t get everyone on the same page there, then good luck with implementing an effective content marketing program.

But the first thing you really have to do before you even talk about content marketing is to establish your overall business goals. And you have to do this before you even start to talk about content marketing because that’s just a piece of the strategy. If you can get everyone in agreement on what you’re trying to accomplish with marketing in the first place, then you can put together a strategy that will address those goals and tie everything together.

The next challenge is moving buyers down the sales funnel. And, again, many companies have leads that are stuck in the top or middle, and they can’t seem to move towards the bottom. And content marketing can certainly help overcome this challenge in that it can be used to actively nurture leads and provide them with the information they need at that particular stage while keeping your brand and solution top of mind. But this is where you’ll need to again keep those communication lines open with sales and also work with them to map content to the different stages in the funnel as well as to the different buying stages.

It’s also important to develop your buyer personas so you know what your customers’ specific pain points during the different buying stages are, and you can more effectively address those pain points with your content, thusly moving them down the sales funnel quicker.

And speaking of personas, persona development will help you to better influence decision makers as well. As I mentioned before, you might be dealing with several different people who are making purchasing decisions or even heavily influence purchasing decisions. So you’ll need to know what roles those decision makers and influencers are in first and foremost. You’ll need to know what their biggest pain points are and the top questions that they have regarding solutions like yours. Then you can create content that addresses those specific roles, pain points, and questions.

And here you can see an example of how you might map your different personas to the different steps in the buying cycle for a decision maker or a decision influencer. And you can also map in there how many solutions they evaluated, the key rings of insight that they might want to know, the resources that they might consult. And then you can put in there a content column, too, so you know what exactly that you need to create in order to help them through the different stages and through their evaluation of your products.

And lastly but definitely not least, you have to be able to prove the ROI of your efforts. So what you really need to do is work backwards. Go back to your business goals and what you want to ultimately achieve from your efforts. Then determine the key performance indicators that align with those goals and will give you the best picture of how you’re doing. Then figure out how you’re going to effectively measure those KPIs, and we’ll talk about some of those metrics to look at a little bit later.

So now that I’ve shown you how content marketing can help you address some of the high-level challenges that many B2B marketers have, now I’m going to show you how you can make your case to management for implementing a content marketing program. Now notice that I said program and not campaign because a campaign is really about a short-term quick hit effort. And content marketing in order to be successful really should be a sustained, consistent effort. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, to quote Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute. So I cannot stress this enough as you’re making your case because this might be a hurdle to overcome with management who might be focused on getting results from content marketing right now.

So let’s go through how to put together a content marketing plan to present to your management. Now many of you, I’m sure, have had to create a marketing plan before, and this is going to be no different. So I find that a cohesive plan that shows the who, what, when, why, and how will really go a long way in making your case. So I write out a plan, and it could be an outline or on a slide deck, but it includes the following sections usually.

So first is the goals. This is the why of your plan. Go back to those business goals I was talking about earlier, and you’ll need to establish these with major stakeholders at the outset so you know what’s important to them, and you can create a plan that aims to achieve those. You’ll need to summarize why you’re creating this plan and then list these goals to show what you’re trying to accomplish.

Now I think it’s very important to set goals that are achievable and also specific. Your CEO might want to increase sales, for instance, but that’s much too broad, and you’ll be constantly chasing your tail to accomplish this. How much do you want to increase sales? That’s probably a different way to hone that goal. And in what period of time do you want to increase sales? And can we hone in on that even more to make the goal much more achievable? For instance, decreasing the time to purchase or increasing the average total sale.

The next section is strategy. This is the first part of how, but you’re not getting into the tactical quite yet. This is where you think about the path you’re going to take to accomplish your goals and where content marketing fits into that. So if your goal is to decrease the time to purchase, then your strategy might be to provide leads with content at the appropriate time in the buying cycle in order to inform their evaluation of your solution and help them make a quicker decision.

The next section are your tactics, and this is where you’ll go into further detail about the specific tactics you’ll be executing in line with your strategy. So using the previous example, one tactic might be to set up lead nurturing campaigns via email to deliver to leads who are in different stages of the buying cycle.

And the next section here is resources, where you’ll define the who, what, and/or the where. These will be the different resources used to execute the tactics that you’ve outlined such as the internal staff you’ll be using, outside vendors, specific marketing technology platforms and software, etc. Now the resources are obviously very important, but I’ll go into more about getting buy-in and support from other internal staff to help you execute your plan, and I’ll go through that in just a few minutes.

And finally, the metric section will outline how you plan to measure the success of your content marketing efforts. You’ll want to include the high-level key performance indicators such as lead gen, SEO, or other KPIs you define as important to your company. Then detail the specific metrics to support that such as leads, search rankings, etc., etc.

Now content marketing is not an island. You may be putting together a content marketing plan, but it really fits quite neatly into nearly all of the other marketing channels you may be using. Content, in fact, is really the driving force behind those other strategies which include both SEO and paid search, social media, email, mobile, PR, and even any offline channels you may be using like print and events.

So let’s look at a couple examples of how you might integrate content into your other marketing activities. When it comes to SEO, you really need to have content to drive your search strategy. And Google has been making really great strides over the past few years with their algorithm updates to put the focus on quality relevant content in search results.

And most recently, Google’s new algorithm called Hummingbird is helping searchers to find even more relevant content that better answers their queries because it’s more of a semantic search algorithm that tries to better understand what searchers are really looking for and answer their questions rather than simply returning search results that just have some certain keywords in it.

So let’s say, for instance, I search for who are the best cloud- computing providers. As you can see here, these are the results that are returned, and you can see that it’s not just returning results that contain those specific keywords, who are the best cloud-computing providers. You can see top ten cloud-computing providers, most important companies in cloud computing, even compare cloud-computing services. And, if you’ll note, they’re in the top three positions.

So Google is understanding from my query that I’m evaluating cloud- computing companies, and it’s trying to answer my question with the most relevant content. So you can see just how important it is for you to create content that is not just containing some keywords but also answering your customers’ questions in order to drive more traffic and leads from organic search.

Now with PR, this is where you’ll want to get your PR and communications people in line with your content marketing efforts because there are really so many opportunities to integrate content with what they’re doing. These could be interviews of or thought leadership pieces written by internal subject matter experts for industry publications or news media. It could be features on research and reports your company did or maybe even video from events where a subject matter expert spoke. There are lots of other creative ways that PR can help both create and distribute content, and you definitely don’t want to forget about that as you’re putting your plan together.

And speaking of getting others involved in content marketing, it’s imperative that you do get support from internal stakeholders and contributors for your content marketing initiatives for a few reasons. First of all, they will include your subject matter experts, who will hopefully help you to create the content. So you need to make sure that they’re basically willing participants in that. They will include other departments such as sale and PR, who will also help you to create content, not to mention distribute it and use it to sell. So you got to get their buy-in so that they know what they’re supposed to be doing with the content that you create. And having that support will be crucial for making your case because
they will go to bat for you and help you to prove that content marketing has value and can work across your organization.

The final part I’ll be talking about today is measuring the success of your content marketing activities. And this is something you’ll want to include in your plan to show management how content marketing will drive what they want to see, which, as I mentioned before, is largely revenue driven.

So then, what should you measure? First of all, you want to think of your goals, which will be the best indicator of how you’ll measure the success of your content marketing program. For example, your goals might be to increase brand awareness, increase leads, and increase customers. So then, you can think about the key performance indicators that will help you get a picture of how you’re achieving those goals. So in this case, website traffic and PR will help you to measure awareness while lead generation and sales metrics will help you to measure the sales-driven goals.

Finally, the specific metrics that you measure will tie to those KPIs. So for your traffic KPI, you might measure unique visitors as one of your metrics. For PR, you might measure how many placements in publications your efforts generated. And for lead gen and sales, you might look at how many leads you generated or how many turned into sales opportunities and ultimately the sales, the actual revenue that was generated.

Now this is a pretty simplistic way to look at what to measure, and obviously goals, KPIs, and metrics will be different and probably a lot more complex for every company, but this at least helps you to think of the process for determining your metrics. But as you’re going through this process, you’ll need to beware of vanity metrics. These are metrics that really aren’t going to be of any use to you in demonstrating the success of your program. They’re metrics that don’t tie back to your goals, aren’t actionable by your team, or aren’t accurate indicators of your visitor or customer behavior.

And this might be a challenge you have to overcome as you’re either getting buy-in or implementing your content marketing program because you might have different ideas from different camps of what should be measured, and those are not going to tell the best story of how the program is working and achieving your goals. For instance, search rankings aren’t actually the best indicator anymore of SEO success because of several disruptions to search that have rendered this almost immeasurable such as personalized search, rich snippets, and not provided keyword data. So instead what you might want to measure is how well search is driving traffic to your website and if you see increases from organic search to specific pieces of content.

Engagement is another vanity metric, and these include the social media metrics that show engagement with your social media content, so the likes, the comments, retweets, etc. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t measure these, because an increase in engagement metrics might indicate an increase in brand awareness or at the very least will be a barometer for how well your content is resonating with your audience. But as far as tying back to your goals, it may be better to measure how social media is driving traffic and ultimately conversion actions.

And a third example of a vanity metric is bounce rate. Now back in the olden days, this used to be a good indicator of how interested your website visitors were in your content. If bounce rate was high, then that meant that people were hitting your site, then leaving again soon thereafter without visiting any other page on your site. But with tabbed browsing, which, if you’re like me, means that people might open your site in a browser tab but leave it open without engaging with it right away, so I do that a lot. Bounce rate is not the most accurate measurement of success anymore.

The better indicator is again conversion actions. If you see, for instance, that a page with a content download has a low bounce rate but not a lot of conversion, then that could indicate a disinterest in your content or it might indicate other things, but generally people aren’t clicking that download button and converting in some way.

And with that, I’m going to turn it back over to Alex, who has a few words for you before we answer some questions. Alex . . .


Thank you, Kari. We’ll be answering your questions shortly, so don’t forget to enter them in the questions box at the right of the screen. First I’d like to let you know about our next webinar, Planning and Budgeting for Digital Marketing Success in the New Year, on October 24, 2013 at 2 o’clock p.m. Eastern Standard Time. You can register at www.search-mojo.com/budget.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Search Mojo’s content marketing services, then we’d love to hear from you. You can get
in touch with us at the email address and phone number shown here. And if you’d like to get in touch with today’s presenter, here are several ways you can contact Kari.

So let’s get started with answering a few of your questions.