B2B leads can’t all be treated the same.
In 2018, it seems pointless to make such an obvious observation about B2B marketing.
But time and time again, we here at True Influence see our customers take the Content Syndication leads we generate, with all the advanced targeting and Intent Signal Monitoring intelligence we build into our programs, and just dump them into generic nurturing workflows – as if these potential customers hadn’t already indicated their purchase journey stage and intent to buy.
Marketers often think of Content Syndication and third-party demand generation as just raw MQL acquisition, a new list or database, and not a data-rich channel that needs to be fully integrated into their marketing and sales strategy.
We use that term “integrated” a lot when we talk about B2B marketing, but as we all know, we seldom attain this goal. In-house marketing teams and systems often have no idea what each other are doing, let alone appreciate the value they can find in smartly integrating our lead-generation programs into their overall mix.
This needs to change. B2B sellers need to get serious about integrated all their marketing channels, and that includes Content Syndication.
Every Piece Needs to Work Together
As with any buzzword, people throw the term “integrated marketing” without a clear understanding of what it means in real-world application. And this is particularly problematic for marketers, since the moving pieces we have to ingrate have changed dramatically over the last three years or so.
McKinsey Quarterly famously reported back in 2016 that B2B decision-makers tend to interact with about six channels as they move toward a spend decision. That’s six (or, in many cases, more) functional teams and technologies that need to operate in close synchronization as they move a prospect closer to closed business.
Makes sense, right? But in even the most simplistic use cases, real integration gets complicated, and often breaks down. Let’s say you send an opt-in email blast that encourages readers to visit a blog post. This post highlights a few key data points from a whitepaper you just created. Of course, the post will feature a CTA to promote download of the report.
Your workflows must recognize that the download came from an opted-in email click and react based on the knowledge that this lead has a pre-exiting relationship with your company and just acted on interest three times. The correct next action is significantly different for a prospect who simply ran a Google search and found the blog post or a dedicated whitepaper landing page.
Integration also speaks to strategy – exactly what data points are you pulling from that whitepaper for that blog post, and how are they presented in the outbound email based on content personalization and other factors? The impact extends even to how you announce your great new research report in the trade press and on your social media channels.
So, you’re looking at coordinating the outbound team, inbound team, content marketing, PR, and social media – not to mention Marketing Ops and the various underlying technology systems that track and act on user behavior.
And yet, we so often don’t.
It Boils Down to Execution
We know more about prospects than ever before, with advances like Intent Monitoring and detailed profile data collection. We’ve identified and researched the buyer’s journey. And the technology is there – it’s just not being used properly. In fact, despite the fact that 45 percent of respondents to the Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Survey said they plan to continue investing in martech, many said they are increasingly frustrated with complication and poor integration.
We just aren’t executing. We have all these great new insights, new technologies, and we aren’t putting them together to grow revenue for our clients or ourselves.
And this extends to how Content Syndication and third-party demand generation is so often mishandled in B2B marketing initiatives.
Content Syndication Is A Key Channel in Integrated Marketing
Content Syndication has evolved over the last few years to be highly sophisticated. Not as potentially sophisticated as your inhouse tools, of course, but still very smart, and loaded with information about prospects’ intent to buy.
And yet, we still see our customers treat the leads we deliver as if they are just buckets of names and email addresses. In one extreme case, a marketing team took leads we delivered through our BehaviorLEADS program, which are driven by our InsightBASE intent monitoring intelligence, and simply pitched them as dupes because they matched addresses that were already in standard nurturing programs.
Let me stress this — these were folks who had announced they were ready to buy in the next three months. They needed to be moved immediately to inside sales for outreach. Putting these leads into a three-month nurture program was simply throwing them away. It killed Intent.
This happens all the time, particularly with leads provided by a third-party supplier. And this is even though classic demand gen remains a vital component of B2B marketing, even for businesses that are adopting Account-based Marketing (ABM).
Demand Gen Report’s 2018 ABM Benchmark Survey Report notes that 35 percent of respondents prioritize a combination of Account-Based Marketing and traditional demand-generation initiatives as part of their overall strategy. Forty-five percent said they still place the highest emphasis on demand gen, despite the rapid adoption of ABM. In fact, the model of a “double-funnel” approach of engaging prospects differently, based on whether they come from ABM or traditional programs, is getting a lot of attention in the trade press these days.
Demand gen is here, it’s smart, and it continues to be under-utilized by marketing programs that aren’t fully integrated.
Back to Basics for Integration
Look, if fixing this problem were easy, we’d all have done it by now. Marketing functions, particularly in large organizations, are broken out across numerous teams — programmatic, outbound, content, webinars and online events. Some companies even assign re-targeting to a distinct team, which is about as un-integrated as it gets. And dealing with Marketing Ops and the various systems it manages can be a real headache for revenue marketers.
Communication is challenging, and often fails. Each team has their own targets and simply don’t consider how every action and asset can fit together in an integrated program. And then there’s Content Syndication, which often gets treated like a third wheel.
The webinar team may not even know there’s a whitepaper in the pipeline that’s a great compliment to their upcoming online event and can be offered to the same audience in the invitation email. After that offer, the whitepaper should be reused in a staged tele-campaign. And then use that valuable asset with Content Syndication partners to extend the workflow to new audiences.
So, what steps do we need to take to make all our channels, including Content Syndication, work together to target, engage and convert prospects? There’s no silver bullet here, but here are some fundamentals that will move marketing toward true integration.
Build an ACTIONABLE integration plan
Many marketing organizations don’t execute on even basic cross-channel asset re-use, like the ones I’ve described in this post. Run a few trial programs to get a feel for how integration can work in your organization, and then use your experience to build out a strategy that you can actually act on. Again, the problem here is a failure to execute – not a lack of vision.
Be disciplined in building out integrated marketing workflows
With functioning models of what integration looks like in your organization, implement rules and reviews to ensure you are, in fact, executing on your vision. Don’t make the substantial investment in a series of research reports without a clear roadmap of how that content is going to be leveraged across outbound, inbound and social. Don’t greenlight a social campaign without a clear plan of how it will use behavioral data from other contact channels.
Get the most from your technology
As I said earlier, we keep spending on martech and continue to be frustrated with the overall results. We see clients who are getting very little payoff from their investment in marketing automation systems, simply because teams aren’t communicating to build the advanced workflows these technologies support. In some cases, they aren’t even setting the systems up correctly.
Task several of your teams, including Marketing Ops, to build a sophisticated program, and track the results against several key KPI, including Return on Investment (ROI).
Work with a Content Syndication partner that can support your strategy
We here at True Influence believe that Content Syndication is a vital source of leads for all phases of your pipeline, from initial engagement to prospects who are ready for that inside sales call. But you must work with a provider who executes smart, integrated programs of their own that generate leads that match your desired personas and purchase journey definitions.
This means more than just email targeting, or even advanced market intelligence such as Intent Signal Monitoring. As our Craig Weiss wrote recently, Content Syndication programs should include a variety of outreach tactics, including tele-based programs that can uncover enormously valuable information about purchase journey and decision triggers.
These leads are ready for integrated nurturing programs, or to move on to inside sales for faster time to close and immediate return on your investment. This is possible because they were created with smart, integrated programs by your Content Syndication partner.
Content Syndication is a Key Component of Integrated Marketing
Integrated marketing programs enable B2B marketers to take full advantage of the incredible amounts of information and insights we now have about our prospects and how they make the decision to buy. Every channel must work together seamlessly, and that includes Content Syndication.