Welcome to the sixth-annual Eccolo Media 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report. We’ve come a long way since we conducted our first survey in 2008. We’ve witnessed the move to mobile, the rise of social, and the ever-increasing importance of content marketing (back in 2008, the term wasn’t even widely used). Through it all, Eccolo Media has been there. Our survey remains one of the few in the world that tackles the important subject of content marketing.
Our 503 respondents include managers, directors, vice presidents, C-level executives, and other key personnel at small businesses, mid-market companies, and large enterprises. All were responsible for influencing or making technology buying decisions in the six months prior to the survey.
In some cases, these buyers reinforce our previous year’s findings, but in many other instances, their responses are nothing short of surprising.
The universe of marketing collateral continues to expand at a rapid pace, and in an effort to keep up, we’ve increased the number of assets we surveyed against from five in 2008 to 16 this year. Even when faced with a wider set of choices, our respondents, as in years past, favor traditional content types. White papers, product brochures, case studies, and technology guides/implementation scenarios remain among the most consumed and influential collateral assets during a technology purchase.
For the first time, we’ve done more sophisticated mapping of content to the sales cycle by buyer role and by size of business. We uncover exactly which content types are consumed in which phases of the sales cycle for six distinct personas (see section, “Content Mapped to Persona Types”), from presales through the final sales process and even beyond.
Because content now plays a role at every stage of IT purchasing, its relevance and quality becomes paramount. Marketers who understand the phases of the sales cycle and correctly leverage content have tremendous opportunity to engage, connect, and build trust with customers like never before.
While IT buyers continue to rely heavily on traditional content such as white papers and case studies (no surprises there), they are increasingly finding value in an ever-expanding content universe, which includes social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
When they access content via social platforms, their behavior doesn’t quite match their expectations. We find, for example, that while 21 percent of buyers receive vendor collateral through tweets, only 6 percent expect Twitter to be a source of content.
Similarly, when asked which social channels they “have received” vendor content through, more respondents say Facebook than LinkedIn. But when asked which social channels they’re “most likely to consume” vendor content from, LinkedIn takes the lead. In other words, technology buyers actually receive more vendor content through Facebook but perceive LinkedIn as the more likely channel to receive such content. This disconnect points to the battle of brand perception brewing between the two social media giants (see sidebar, “Social Wars: Facebook vs. LinkedIn”) and potentially presents opportunity to content marketers.
Survey respondents state clearly that interactive content is perceived as more influential, and more than two-thirds say they will interact with content to receive additional information from vendors (see section, “Interactivity in Content”).
You can get an instant uplift in influence by building interactivity such as hyperlinks and embedded audio, video, or graphic elements into your written content and, as an added bonus, take users more deeply into your buyer’s journey. Be careful, however. The interactivity must augment, not detract from, the user experience. Buyers, for example, won’t always click a link if they’re not certain where it will take them, or whether the link is relevant.
When it comes to the distribution channels through which respondents say they’re most likely to receive vendor content, vendor Web sites tie with “forwarded from a personal contact” as the most frequently used channels (see section, “Distribution: What’s Hot and What’s Not”). Even better, when we ask respondents to rank the “influence” of these same distribution channels, vendor Web sites come in a respectable second in terms of imparting influence over a purchasing decision.
This aligns with one of our big beliefs: When it comes to content marketing, microsites and campaign landing pages that are well linked to vendor sites can be extraordinarily valuable.
As always, we wrap up our survey findings with best practices that marketers can apply right now to make a measurable difference in reaching and engaging technology buyers.
We hope the information presented in this year’s report helps to guide your content marketing planning and strategy, and we encourage you to leave a comment or reach out to us with your own perspectives on the Eccolo Media 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report.
CEO, Eccolo Media
Too often, companies race to develop content and forget about strategy. That’s a mistake because all content is not created equal; it must be tailored to achieve its goal.
In 2013 and 2014, we established new and rigorous editorial processes for a major cloud computing company and its customer content program. We created new templates, new style guides, and innovative ways to repurpose stories into high-impact, thought-leadership assets. We also put together a detailed requirements document to develop a dynamic, editorially driven website to feature the new and improved customer stories.
“This is a game changer. This is what we have been waiting for. The quality of our customers’ stories and how we’ve been promoting them in new distribution channels have never been better and we can’t wait to launch our new website.”
In 2013, a large $2 billion data analytics company asked us to create what they had never been able to create before: a complex, multi-touch, go-to-market campaign for a broad-based horizontal technology solution.
By the time we were done, we had completed in-depth competitive and industry research to create compelling story arcs for one major campaign theme and four sub-campaigns. Thirty touch points were mapped to three distinct phases of the buyer’s journey and targeted to three distinct audiences: business, technical, and the bridge audience between the two. The work also included a tactical distribution plan and an audit of existing content assets for potential repurpose.
“Before working with Eccolo, we had only done very ad-hoc planning. But Eccolo showed us the power and the value of a comprehensive content plan—one that generated real measureable results.”
Print and multimedia, internal and external communications, customer content, social and digital content … these are all near and dear to our hearts. We like nothing better than to work closely with you to establish a consistent editorial cadence across a wide variety of assets that are compelling, useful, or entertaining.
Every quarter for four years, we produced, on average, a total of 50 case studies, videos, podcasts, and supporting materials, across five business units, for a large $48 billion networking company.
In just 90 days, we produced 25 assets to help a global multichannel contact-center software provider capture leads for its salesforce. We developed three distinct story arcs mapped to the buyer’s journey, across three product areas.
Chief Executive Officer
At Eccolo Media, Lorie primarily consults on comprehensive content strategies and provides a broad range of account management services. Her client work includes planning for content-intensive marketing communications programs, including lead generation and nurture campaigns, thought-leadership programs, and new market launches.Over the course of her career, Lorie has developed and applied best practices that offer her clients clear advantage through the development of more effective collateral assets. Her extensive experience, creative thinking, and steady leadership have been key in establishing Eccolo Media’s unique value proposition: superb copywriting and visionary content strategy informed by deep industry expertise.
After beginning her career as an actor and a writer, Lorie expanded her reach by co-founding Derringer Productions, a theatrical production company, where she put a fine edge on her ability to rapidly plan and execute creative projects. Lorie was then asked to join the national accounts group of The Disney Channel, where she was part of an affiliate marketing team supporting key accounts such as Time Warner, Cox Cable, and TCI. After five years at Disney, she served three years as director of marketing communications with CBR Systems, a biotechnology company which she led from startup to category leadership. Then she became a senior consultant with e-business agency Cognitiative, where her key accounts included Digital Island and Quantum.
In 1999, Lorie launched Lorie Loe & Associates, an agency she founded to offer copywriting and collateral development services to technology companies. After eight years of continuously expanding its strategic vision and capabilities, the organization became Eccolo Media in 2007.
Lorie holds an MFA from Western Illinois University and a BS from Western Michigan University.
He has worked with some of America’s great writers and thinkers including Peter Drucker, Andy Grove, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Peters. His work has appeared in numerous national magazines including Wired, MIT Technology Review, CIO Insight, and Business 2.0. , and he has provided commentary for a of variety TV and radio outlets, including ABC News.com, ABC radio, Yahoo FinanceVision, CNNfn.