It’s the natural time of year to talk about how to spend marketing dollars. As we make our plans for next year, it’s common to look for new concepts, new trends and directions, and to pay attention to what others are doing for clues about what’s working and what’s not. That’s really the big challenge – marketing is so in-flux today, that the list of programs that always work is rapidly evolving and quite frankly different from company to company. So we’re all paying close attention to what we can learn from others’ experiences and how to apply that to our own spending decisions.
First, if we look at this study from Fierce Marketing, a b-to-b publisher in the technology space, we can see the huge growth of content marketing (ebooks, webcasts, white papers, infographics, etc.) as a priority for marketers in 2014. No surprise there – we’ve seen this in studies from MarketingSherpa and others, particularly tied to the growth of Marketing Automation tools like Hubspot. As we work to create more engaging web environments, and as Google ranks our websites based on relevant content, we have to create more of it to attract new visitors, and maintain our search rankings. We also see social media moving beyond a fringe “nice to have” to a core activity for 2014. The answer is simple for b-to-b marketers: Google tells us they value social media traffic and “shares” as evidence of your site’s relevancy, so now it’s a priority. Whatever Google tells us to do, we do.
Fierce went on to report on what activities generate the most ROI, which we’d interpret as quality leads, not just any lead. While it’s fashionable today to point to shortened attention spans and people’s preference not to read, PR articles topped the list. No surprise there, after all – if we’re trying to showcase thought leadership and expertise, being published online and in print remains the method that generates the most impact. Interesting to see videos as #2 on the list, and it illustrates the integrated approach marketers must take to “content.” Rather than publish an article and call it a day, consider the article as a piece of content rolled out in multiple ways – as a video, as an infographic, as a white paper, as a SlideShare, as a photo slide show on your site. Fierce’s data here reinforces that’s the right approach.
A little surprised to see Buyers Guides make the list so strongly. Who uses these online Buyers Guides any longer? We don’t really see the stats to support that in our advertising programs, beyond the “free” basic listings, so we’d love to hear anyone with a different experience!