6cmoA new Content ROI study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and NetLine reveals that business buyers give vendors poor marks for the value and trustworthiness of their online content, rating content produced by professional organizations and industry groups as more usable and relevant.

The 11-page report, entitled Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field, looks at the critical need for marketing organizations to bring more discipline and strategic thinking to content specification, delivery and analytics.

BtoB marketers annually invest an estimated $16.6 billion in digital content publishing to acquire business leads, influence customer specification and consideration, as well as educate and engage prospects.

Despite spending about 25% of their marketing budgets on content creation, most companies lack the necessary strategies, competencies and best practices to effectively engage their markets. And very few have content performance measures and metrics in place to scorecard effectiveness and calculate ROI.

According to the CMO Council’s report, organizations need to have well-conceived, customer-centric themes and subject areas, strong content origination capabilities and partnerships, more effective delivery networks, and measurable content performance tracking systems.

The report includes findings from an online survey, entitled “Define What’s Valued Online” of more than 400 business buyers across a wide range of industries and functional areas worldwide. It clearly evidences that online content plays an essential role in influencing BtoB purchasing decisions.

The survey tapped a sample of perspectives from those reached through NetLine’s global content syndication network of 15,000 publishing sites, blogs and communities. The objective was to get a snapshot of BtoB content sourcing behavior and find out how content seekers rank, rate, share and value content online.

The following are among the survey findings:

  • 80% of respondents say online content plays a major to moderate role in vendor selection;
  • Some 28% say they share content with more than 100 colleagues while another 31% share it with 25 to 100 people.
  • Peer-powered organizations are the most trusted and valued sources of online content; 67% of respondents named research and white papers from professional organizations among their most trusted content sources compared to just 9% who named vendor white papers.
  • Other trusted and valued types of content include papers from industry organizations (50%); customer case studies (48%); analyst reports (44%); and independent product reviews (41%).

“Improving content relevance and performance is a strategic imperative for BtoB marketing organizations”, said Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “BtoB buyers are looking for content that’s original, consultative and highly pertinent to where they are in their decision-making process. Too many vendors are failing these buyers with overly promotional and overly technical content that doesn’t adequately address market challenges and customer needs.”

Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field” includes interviews with senior marketing executives who say that investments in content marketing and publishing are growing significantly as organizations deal with the need to target, reach and convert buyers and influencers with valued content across a growing multitude of channels, formats, rich media sources and devices.

The report argues that marketing organizations need to do more to develop cohesive strategies, themes and branding across all of these efforts, as well as aggressively measure the performance of content and channels against critical marketing and business objectives.

“I think budgets for content development have to grow, as it becomes a much more complex process to manage,” said Laura Breslaw, CMO for AlixPartners, a leading global business advisory firm. “It’s a bigger investment of people. It’s a bigger investment of research. It’s potentially a bigger investment of strategic partnerships. But it’s all part of building an integrated marketing program. You have to bake in all the different ways to reach your audience and build that into your plan before you go to market.”

The CMO Council’s Content ROI Center believes too few marketers have fully grasped the role and value of content in the process of sales lead acquisition, qualification, conversion and closure or its contribution to customer retention and revenue generation. Most have yet to map and model content requirements for specific buyer types across the marketing funnel.

Channel analytics and content testing are needed to further the “precision acquisition” of qualified, actionable leads. Customer content requirements need to be anticipated and automated along the buyer’s journey.

The report cites results of a rigorous content-driven customer nurturing program at DocuSign.  Meagan Eisenberg, Vice President of Demand Generation, said the program has helped reduce customer churn by 65% and drive a 25%- improvement in corporate sales.

Eisenberg and Breslaw were among the marketers interviewed for the study from industry leading companies including AlixPartners, Deloitte, DocuSign, IBM, LexisNexis, and NEC.

Marketers who are seeking more meaningful engagement with customer audiences should also consider building stronger partnerships with organizations and content originators who understand and are trusted by targeted buyer groups, according to the report.

“Relevance and trust drive better content performance across the purchase funnel,” Neale-May said. “Peer-powered organizations, including professional communities and industry groups, offer brands the opportunity to access powerful insights into customer audiences, as well as trusted channels for content engagement.” (Source: CMO Council)

By MediaBUZZ