The Elusive Purchasing Time Horizon: Or Why Driving Content Discovery Really Matters

Source: Business.com’s Small Business Pulse Report: 2013 Lead Generation Insights

Source: Business.com’s Small Business Pulse Report:
2013 Lead Generation Insights

A recent report on B2B lead generation by Business.com doesn’t offer a lot of clarity on which content marketing tactics generate the most valuable leads.  Generally speaking, the survey respondents were fairly evenly split on which tactics were most – and least – valuable.  Some believed webinars were useful, but whitepapers weren’t, others relayed an opposing view.

The one standout stat is that most B2B lead buyers want – but don’t get – information on their buyers’ purchasing horizons.

It’s easy to overlook the overwhelming and significant fact this report reveals, because that fact isn’t expressed in numbers or charts.  Some tactics work really well, some of the time.

Mix it up.  Rather than relying on one tactic that’s worked well in the past, it’s crucial to keep experimenting with timing, channel and content format, for a few reasons:

-          Different people have different preferences.  Communicating via myriad channels and formats multiples your opportunity to connect with prospects in the method they prefer.

-          Each platform and network has its own audience.  While searches on SlideShare.com represent a small percentage of the total views to the content we published there received, we have to assume the people who got to the content via a deliberate search are well qualified. Skipping one network reduces visibility among people who are truly engaged, and that’s not a tradeoff I’d personally like to make with my brand’s content.

Be present, because your prospects are.   According to an interview published by eMarketer, a significant majority – 88 percent – of B2B decision makers research potential purchases online prior to the buy.  And according to another study, buyers are deep into the decision process before they contact vendors.  I believe that it’s safe to assume that marketers will never have access to batches of leads with ideal purchase timelines.  But the fact is we still have plenty of opportunity to communicate with prospects that are at crucial points in their buying journeys, simply by being present with the right content online.

Seed discovery – atomize and distribute content.    Driving discovery of the content your brand publishes requires its own strategy.  Break apart white papers, webinar transcripts and other big blocks of content, and surface interesting messages and facts.  Develop simple graphics, promote content via online press releases, and share the myriad facts, snippets and assets you’ve created in order to develop the maximum amount of awareness and interest in your messages – across multiple audiences and platforms.

Done well, content marketing will bring people to your brand, familiarizing them with what your organization has to offer well before they identify themselves, and well before they are swept into the nurture stream.    However, effective content strategies require brands to constantly test, experiment with and use a variety of platforms and channels to publish messages.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books Unlocking Social Media for PR and the newly-published  New School Press Release Tactics.  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery  at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   We hope to see you in Cleveland at the show!   In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag #CMWorld.   She’ll be offering 19 (instead of the previously advertised 10) ways to build an element of discovery into your content strategy, and to drive the discovery of the information your brand publishes.  Here’s a sneak peek:

CMW session snippet

 

 

One response to “The Elusive Purchasing Time Horizon: Or Why Driving Content Discovery Really Matters

  1. Sarah, Thanks for summarizing many of the presentations I missed at CMW!

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