Monday, May 28, 2012

Help Your Prospects Find the Rest of the Story

One nice thing about publishing a blog is that it allows me to share the insights of really smart people. I frequently use blog posts to point readers to books, research reports, and other content that I believe is valuable. There's also a great deal of value to be found in other blogs, and I realize that I haven't pointed readers to this kind of content as often as I should. So, I'm now planning to devote about one post each month to a discussion of content I've discovered at other blogs.

Ardath Albee and Eric Wittlake are two B2B marketing thought leaders and practitioners that I follow closely. Ardath publishes the Marketing Interactions blog, and she is also the author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. Eric Wittlake publishes the B2B Digital Marketing blog, and he heads up the media practice at Babcock & Jenkins.

Both Ardath and Eric recently published blog posts that address the importance of making it easy for prospects to stay engaged with your marketing content.

In New Research:  B2B Content is a Dead End, Eric wrote that many B2B content assets fail to provide readers/viewers/listeners a path for continuing their research. He reviewed white papers published by 10 large B2B marketers and found that:
  • Only two of the white papers provided a link to another content resource
  • Only one of the papers included a link to a web page where more recent content might be found
  • Five of the papers did not include links to a specific product/service page
Eric contends that by not including links to other resources in every content asset, marketers are missing the opportunity to keep prospects engaged with their content.

Ardath makes a similar point in Designing Calls to Action for B2B Marketing Content. She argues that a call to action should be a core component of every marketing content resource. It's important to understand, however, that a call to action doesn't only mean things like, "Have a salesperson call me," or "Schedule a demo now!" Ardath contends that most calls to action should be based on what will be helpful to prospective buyers. That usually means a link to other content resources that will take potential buyers to the next logical step in their decision making process.

Ardath and Eric are making an important point in these blog posts. We now know that most prospects prefer to learn about business problems and possible solutions in bite-sized chunks. For example, research by Eccolo Media and others shows that most buyers prefer white papers that are 4 to 8 pages long. I'm also seeing more and more 30-minute (as opposed to 1-hour) webinars. Delivering content in smaller "pieces" means that no single content resource will tell your prospects everything they need to know.

What you need to do is treat each content resource as one chapter of a novel or one episode of a TV miniseries. Always let your prospects know where to find the next chapter or the next episode.

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