Digital content is emerging as the newest strategic

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1 For Building the B2B Sales Pipeline One of the biggest challenges facing B2B organizations is how to efficiently scale digital content production to reach and engage prospective new buyers. Savvy marketing professionals recognize the critical need to deliver frequent, relevant and highly targeted content that is required to be competitive in this new business environment. Digital content is emerging as the newest strategic battleground for B2B marketers as more companies turn to content as a way to reach and engage customers, strengthen credibility, and build a community of brand advocates. The B2B buyer is more empowered than ever before. The Internet and its advances in technology continue to shape where, when and how information is being consumed. B2B buyers conduct their own pre-purchase research and arrive at their vendor s door highly informed about products, pricing and competitive product rankings. Today s B2B buyer is armed with insights into the scope of their business problems and the solutions to fix them, information often gathered with little reliance on supplier sales representatives. This is a serious issue, since user discovered content is essential to your brand being included among the selected solutions being considered for purchase. According to industry experts, B2B buyers find nearly 70 percent of the content they need on their own, 2 and up to 60 percent of B2B buying decisions are completed before engaging with a supplier s sales representative. 3 The new digital business environment is challenging marketing professionals to re-evaluate their customer engagement strategies to improve how they reach and engage prospective B2B buyers throughout the sales cycle, or risk losing to the competition. This new reality has several implications for B2B marketers: Marketers need a strategic approach to reach and engage prospective buyers throughout the customer life cycle. Quality content has emerged as a centerpiece to many B2B organization s customer engagement initiatives. Savvy marketers recognize the need to reach and engage new prospects during the critical information discovery phase. By creating and executing a content strategy, marketers are empowered to deliver the right content to the right buyer, at the right time, in the right marketing vehicle. One company found that it needed four staff members to dedicate two full days each month to processing payroll for 60 to 70 contract writers. Marketers must develop a process and technology framework to ensure a steady stream of relevant content for online channels. Many organizations are skilled at creating original articles or blogs periodically but lack sufficient resources and frameworks to generate enough content required to feed online channels and build digital authority. In order to meet these new business requirements, today s marketing leaders must focus on developing processes and technology frameworks to execute their content strategies and streamline content creation, editorial review, optimization and ongoing analysis. Marketers need to augment their in-house staffs with access to a resource pool of qualified brand journalists. Organizations evolving to the new marketing paradigm need to augment their in-house staff with qualified writers. These brand journalists should have the journalistic skills to write on deadline but also have the subject matter expertise and knowledge of a company s brand voice. This report covers eight challenges confronting brand companies today in establishing a robust infrastructure to reach and engage audiences with relevant content when and where they seek it, and addresses the required capabilities to solve those challenges. 25 Thomson Place Boston, MA SKYWORD

2 Challenge 1: Developing an Overarching Content Strategy Creating a content strategy is an essential first step before creating and scaling digital content. The content strategy should clearly define how digital content types, topics and frequency of outreach across marketing channels will enable the organization to achieve its business goals, such as engaging new prospective buyers during the critical information discovery phase and continuing to build thought leadership position. Once an organization is clear about its content goals, it can then focus on developing a structure, workflow and processes that support achieving those objectives. B2B marketers need to develop a plan for creating and maintaining a steady stream of targeted, highly relevant content. This includes creating original articles, news pieces or blogs that display expertise in a specific topic. As part of creating the content strategy, marketing teams need insight into the keywords that interest potential buyers. By using keyword research tools and developing search-optimized content, B2B organizations improve how they reach and engage prospects through search results and the social Web. How Much B2B Content Do You Need? In addition to business and technical content, B2B decision makers today are looking for constant streams of informative content from a variety of online sources. To determine how much content your marketing team needs to produce, consider the following: 1. Who are your target audiences? It s not uncommon for B2B companies to have three or more distinct sets of content consumers. 2. For each target market, what types of content do they want? A robust content strategy addresses each target market s top three business needs. Many B2B marketers vary the topic focus of their content production to address each business need a few times per month. 3. How many marketing channels are you using? In the online world, content is often delivered over multiple marketing channels, such as a website, social media, blogs and online communities. Many marketers re-purpose content for use among various online channels. 4. Schedule for content delivery. At a minimum, B2B organizations should deliver targeted, relevant content at least once a day to address each target market s needs. For example, let s say that an organization has three target market segments and wants to address their business needs through fresh, original content. If they deliver that information at a minimum of once per day over a variety of online channels, they must generate and manage a significant amount of new content on an annual basis. Here is one approach for estimating the annual volume of digital content that you will need to reach and engage three market segments at a minimum of once per business day: Target Audience Articles Per Month Annual Quantity of Content Market Segment A Market Segment B Market Segment C Sub-total 60 articles / month 720 articles per year 2

3 Challenge 2: Recruiting Qualified Writers In order to quickly and efficiently scale content production, B2B marketers are leveraging freelance writers to generate more relevant digital content. However, often times, they lack the recruitment resources to identify and vet qualified writers with the required subject matter expertise, journalistic skill sets and available capacity. To efficiently attract and manage writers, B2B organizations require a new approach to streamline and automate writer recruitment. Organizations require one interface that provides access to communities of writer resources ranging in expertise from enthusiasts, influencers, subject matter experts and journalists. The interface should automate the writer search, resume submission and application review process eliminating managing resumes from myriad sources, phone screening and long, cumbersome threads. Skyword has enabled IBM to reach and engage midsize business owners by providing a platform to produce search optimized news content. Pickup in Google News proved to be a real game changer for the program and will help further promote IBM s brand. - Leslie Reiser, Program Director, IBM WW Digital Marketing Challenge 3: Onboarding Writers Once freelance writers are hired, they must be trained on the company s voice and style guide. Time and resources are needed to share existing content and the overarching content marketing strategy. For security purposes, many companies do not want to provide external parties access to internal systems, so an external SaaS platform may be required. Writers may also need to be taught important concepts related to writing Web-based content, such as search engine optimization and social sharing. Bringing new writers up to speed can take weeks of conference calls, webinars and online chats. To enable efficient writer training during the content creation process, B2B companies must adopt new techniques to efficiently train and onboard writers. Ideally, B2B companies should have one repository where writers can access style guidelines and writing standards. Writing a featured article takes a different skill set than writing a blog post, and writers should have a system in place that provides guidance on how to create search-optimized content that maximizes online customer engagement. 3

4 Challenge 4: Managing Internal And Freelance Writers Tracking articles can be onerous using spreadsheets and word processing applications. Marketing team members must keep track of which writers have been assigned articles, ensuring on-going coverage for key topics, avoiding duplication of topics, and managing which deadlines are approaching. Keyword glossaries are needed to support search engine optimization. These customized lists represent a source of competitive advantage for B2B organizations. B2B organizations need a new framework that streamlines and automates the entire content creation process to gain operational efficiencies and produce content at the pace required to effectively reach prospects during the various phases of the buying cycle. From a single platform, in-house staffs need a view of the status of every piece of content at every stage of the process to ensure that assignments have been completed and deadlines met. They also need a system with built-in tools that optimize content for search and social, and ensure that content is original and properly sourced. To keep pace with the always on requirements for web content production, they must be able to publish at a moment s notice with a single click. Challenge 5: Editorial Review Developing compelling content is an iterative process. Using and word processing applications to communicate edits to each writer is time consuming and requires advance planning. These manual processes don t provide adequate visibility into writer communications or editing cycles. B2B companies require a technology framework for managing the editorial review process of freelancers article and blog submissions. This framework should incorporate a detailed history of activity for each author s articles and facilitate dialog between the writer and copy editors to reduce operational inefficiencies. This streamlined process eliminates a time-consuming back-and-forth dialog between freelancers and marketing staff. Freelance writers enjoy the structured atmosphere of submitting articles and tracking content from copy editing through the payment process. 4

5 Challenge 6: Payment Administration As B2B marketing teams juggle managing multiple writers, managing invoices, payment and tax reporting creates additional work for finance and accounting teams. One company, for example, needed four staff members to dedicate two full days each month to processing payroll for its contract writers. Despite this level of effort, manual accounting processes resulted in lost invoices and dissatisfied writers. Based on median salaries for a payroll accountant 1, this translates to an annual cost of around $16,290 USD. In addition to the cost of managing invoices, B2B organizations must also pay writers for their work. The price of content depends on the nature of the writer ranging from subject matter expert to enthusiast. To efficiently manage writers and reduce administrative time and costs, B2B companies must streamline and automate writer payment and tax administration. Organizations must institute a system that eliminates invoicing and ensures timely and regular payments. Freelance writers appreciate the scheduled pay cycles and the cumbersome exchange of invoices becomes obsolete, making the payment process quick and reliable. Challenge 7: Content That Is Shareable In The Social Web B2B marketers need to ensure their content is engaging prospective new buyers across a variety of social channels. If people find information they like, they will share it on their social networks. Delivering shareable content is a smart and strategic approach to driving traffic to your website and optimizing lead generation. To efficiently engage prospective buyers through social channels, B2B marketers need to publish the types and amount of highly relevant, targeted content on a daily basis. By publishing thought leadership content on a company blog, B2B marketers can cost-effectively amplify the message by using social media to promote it. Facebook alone reports that people Like and comment on its user content 3.2 billion times a day. Every time your marketing team creates an article, infographic, blog, or video, ask yourself if someone would find it interesting enough to share if the answer is no, start again. 5

6 Challenge 8: Metrics and Analytics to Optimize Audience Engagement Creating digital content isn t enough. B2B organizations must measure how well different pieces of content perform across various online channels and revise their plans accordingly. B2B organizations need insight into keyword effectiveness, as well as the types of content (e.g., articles, videos, blog posts) that users share in social media. This information can identify trending topics that will optimize each prospect s reach and engagement. Gathering this type of data requires generating reports from multiple systems and then synthesizing the results. Marketing teams need at-a-glance dashboards to deliver content performance metrics for each piece of content, as well as tools that easily facilitate the social sharing of content. They also should have the ability to create new assignments based on topic or focus areas that perform well or are trending. Writers can be offered an additional payment per page view incentive to further expand social reach and online visibility. How Skyword Can Help To manage all aspects of a B2B organization s content marketing process, organizations need a framework that handles content creation, publishing and impact measurement. Skyword enables B2B marketing teams to streamline their operations, resulting in more efficient scaling of quality content, stronger business performance, and a greater competitive advantage. Skyword offers access to: Comprehensive SaaS platform for content strategy, content development, content production and optimization for search and social promotion In-depth content intelligence for identifying the information relevant to our client s target audience values to improve content offerings. An active, diverse network of 3,000 writers, including subject matter experts, influencers, journalists and enthusiasts Tools and resources to simplify writer recruitment and management Tools that manage the administrative aspects of hiring and evaluating outside writers, streamline and automate writer management, and optimize keywords A built-in editorial process that incorporates a history of activity on each article Metrics tied to each writer and piece of content, as well as tools that facilitate social sharing of content Data in one centralized place that allows teams to forecast their content budgets more accurately based on the articles they want to produce and the writers they want to use 6

7 Skyword To see for yourself how Skyword for Brands can revolutionize your digital offerings, contact us today at WEB PHONE 855.SKYWORD ( ) Reference 1 Payroll Accountant Salary. Payscale.com. Retrieved from Calculation of $16,315 assumes $44,190 median salary divided by 260 work days $ cost per day for a payroll accountant. 8 person days per month and 96 person days per year spent managing writer invoices equals $16, Peter O Neill, Content Marketing Is A Key Differentiator For Tech Marketers, Forrester Research, January 12, Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, and Nicholas Toman, The End of Solution Sales, Harvard Business Review, July-August Thomson Place Boston, MA SKYWORD Follow Skyword on: Twitter, Facebook, Blog, LinkedIn, and Google+

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