Balancing your content distribution strategy across paid, earned and owned channels. Insight. a guide for the B2B technology marketer

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1 Insight Balancing your content distribution strategy across paid, earned and owned channels a guide for the B2B technology marketer 1 Tel: +44 (0)

2 C ontent marketing has experienced staggering growth in the past years and is now definitely a prevailing tactic largely incorporated within overall marketing strategies, with adoption rates nearing 90% among marketers. Documented corporate content strategies are now common practice, through which marketing departments aim to achieve lead generation, thought leadership and education, as well as brand awareness for their businesses. This is mainly due to an increased level of sophistication around the research and information consumption habits from audiences. Our ability to understand how they consume, where they go, what information they need at different stages of their buying cycle and then matching these needs have changed the parameters for how we as marketers now operate and run programs. However, in content distribution there is a trend to favour social tactics over others, perhaps because of the notion that it is a free channel and because organisations can easily find aid within existing in-house resources to manage them, making it relatively cost efficient. What needs to happen is a rebalancing of the roles that each of the paid, earned and owned routes plays upon reaching a company s audience. 2

3 Where do I start? The first step when beginning media planning is to profile an audience so we can effectively understand how they consume media, how they are influenced by media channels and where they go to find the information they seek to help them in their daily lives and jobs. Everyone consumes information and is exposed to messaging differently but for efficiency purposes we group audiences into buckets that are more or less likely to have the opportunity to consume certain media. 3

4 Once we understand how our audience consumes, the next step is to assign appropriate time, resource and budget to each channel that s appropriate to your audience size and value that exists across each. Within this process it s also important to understand the potential cost vs. reach of each, our ability to communicate effectively across each channel with our messaging and also what type of impact and response we expect to see from each. 4

5 When planning, it s worth considering the following model to help guide your thinking. Paid branded content Converged Media Paid Online advertising Owned Company Created Content Sponsored content Earned User Generated Social Content - Media Coverage Shared content While each of these channels will play a critical role in your strategy, the real power comes when you can integrate two or more of the channels into one campaign or program. We refer to this as converged media. This approach has led to a surge in native advertising where paid content promotions sit side by side in contextually relevant editorial environments. These experiences are designed to increase relevancy for the consumer, drive a better experience and impact traction and response rates for the advertiser. 5

6 How does a B2B IT audience consume information across channels and make decisions? Every individual has their own set of preferences of channel and format for consuming information. A B2B IT audience relies on a variety of different channels and sources of information to help guide their decisions and as marketers we need to thoroughly understand this process in order to allocate the correct proportions of time, budget and resource on reaching them. It s only when we analyse each channel utilised against one another that we can view the prominence and importance of each. 6

7 On which of the following sources do you rely for tech-related information, trends, news, reviews and opinions? Among B2B IT respondents Technology web sites 88% Technology-related print publications 63% Tech-related blogs 45% Social/business networking sites 32% Business-related websites 28% Business-related print publications 25% Video-sharing sites 24% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Source: IDG Echo Research The chart broadly compares each information channel against one another when looking at the sources that B2B tech decision makers rely on for information, trends, news, reviews and opinions related to their job. Broad business and networking social media does feature but by far the most important channels they rely on are the technology media, both print and online publishers as well as user generated tech blogs. Each channel on the chart plays its part but it s the ability the user has to search and source archived information on a subject that drives how the medium is used and ultimately how useful it is for accessing relevant information immediately. 7

8 Broader information sources When diving deeper into the information sources used during an IT decision maker s purchasing process we can view other non media channels to compare their roles, importance and usage. For each of the following information sources, select which you never find effective during your purchasing process. Germany France Spain UK Rest of Europe General social networking General business websites Value-added resellers Face-to-face events This chart plots the least used information sources but this time as well as media channels it includes industry peers, events, channel resellers and also content types such as research pieces and podcasts. It is interesting to note that general social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the least used of all sources. Another interesting point is the relative prominence of IT related online communities, which are of course social media in nature and refer to media such as Spiceworks or the Microsoft s Developers 8 Network for example. Most are closed membership networks by their very nature and some are open forums Print publications Published research and Podcasts IT-related online communities IT vendor websites Peers and colleagues Search engines IT publisher websites 0% that encourage the sharing of information as their model. Indeed, some are owned by the tech vendors 25% 100% themselves and exist to develop knowledge and sharing of their company technologies and products.

9 The role of paid digital media Each of the main general social media channels has a paid promotional model that s been developed (some further than others). 9

10 As examples, LinkedIn has a number of commercial promotional routes, including but not limited to InMail advertising, standard targeted advertising and a sponsored content marketplace. Facebook has an increasingly commercial model and Twitter is finally starting to realise its commercial capability. YouTube has a paid guaranteed engagement video model as well as other routes. Many of these commercial promotional routes give the marketer the ability to scale a company, content or product message exponentially to a broader audience than that which it has access to via their own connections on their owned social channels or as part of their network. They also give access to a greater audience than those that have searched for and found content organically or are sent via a share. Thus the commercial paid route to utilising social media should be viewed very differently to that which can be accessed via owned and earned social media. 10

11 Media Planning Broader paid digital media includes online publishers and advertising technology providers who give us the ability to target, buy or access audiences in increasingly sophisticated ways through a paid commercial advertising/messaging route. 11

12 There are far too many example models to mention in this piece but each has a unique way of reaching an audience, displaying promotional messaging and engaging with their audience in a manner that cannot be achieved through another route. Paid media gives us the ability to both target those we are not already connected with (or can reach through a share, search, connection, group or comment) and exponentially scale messaging. This may sound like an obvious point but it s in the context of an over prominent usage of general social media for the distribution of messaging that this needs to be compared. For a technology buyer who is researching information to aid their decision making for a product purchase, the role of an independent media owner/publisher is vital, as has already been demonstrated earlier in this piece. These media owners exist in the main nowadays because of the advertising revenue they derive from commercialising their owned properties and the value of the connections they have with their audiences. They play a huge part in populating the organically found content on search engines and are destinations that B2B IT audiences trust and important sources of independent content to help them do their job. 12

13 Conclusions In content marketing it is key to balance the mix of paid, earned and owned channels, mapping them against your audiences and information consumption patterns. Certain routes for reaching audiences can only be achieved through paid media and therefore it compliments your efforts deployed in other channels. Paid syndication plays an important role in organic search and also in establishing thought leadership for being a trusted source. It warrants careful consideration in your content distribution strategy. Pulse is a digitally led international media and content marketing agency dedicated entirely to servicing technology based companies. Through a clever mix of media buying, effective content marketing management and the latest digital techniques we make sure you optimise your presence in the market so your potential customers find you. Contact Tel: +44 (0) Highgate Studios, Highgate Road, London, NW5 1TL United Kingdom Connect pulsecomms PulseTechAgency company/pulse-comms

UNDERSTAND HOW B2B IT AUDIENCES CONSUME information. Insight. a guide for the B2B technology marketer. Tel: +44 (0) 2034 4053188 www.pulsecomms.

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