*e-Commerce Halloween Scares – Boo! We wish you a very scary Halloween. In this blog series, we go over the frightening aspects of e-commerce (and how to deal with them). Spooky surveys, haunted shopping carts, and even the thought that marketing is harder than it’s ever been.
When people think of your industry, what companies come to mind? What ideas? What philosophies? Do they think of you and yours? With all the digital channels available in 2014, there are plenty of ways to grab at the ankles of thought leadership, but it may be more difficult than ever to actually get a foothold. At least, that’s what you find when you ask the strong majority of B2B marketers in the United States.
According to a study by Omobono and the Business Marketing Association, a whopping 85% of B2B marketers agree that being a marketer is more challenging than before. Among the US marketers surveyed, the number one focus is thought leadership with other objectives such as customer relationships and brand awareness following close behind.
Content is King? Content is Thinking.
You don’t have to be as omnipresent as Big Brother or Kim Kardashian to gain thought leadership. If you want to be a trusted voice to the market, you want high-quality original content. Originality matters. Product catalogues and “About Us” pages are important, but the type of content that strengthens thought leadership is informative and compelling and imparts a unique point of view.
For many B2B products, a customer doesn’t just buy into your solution; they buy into your vision of how to solve their pain points. B2B thought leadership establishes the authority of your voice as well as your means of solving problems.
Channels for Content
The Business Marketing Association/Omobono study finds that 41% of B2B marketing budgets go to email and websites, which not-so-coincidentally are also the most effective channels. 92% said website development raises brand awareness, and 85% say the same about email marketing.
The strength of these channels towards boosting thought leadership lies in a two-tiered approach:
First, email marketing allows a dialogue with the customer. Integration with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution allows your email communication to tap into all the data you’ve compiled about a given customer. This gives them a tailored, personalized experience that is more likely to provide relevant content.
Second, your website is the home base for your content. This is where you provide the type of content that builds up thought leadership through your original and compelling ideas. This content is helpful, not merely promotional. It engages the customer, builds trust, and raises your visibility.
Online video, whether webcasts, webinars, or pre-uploaded, is a particularly effective way for B2B companies to share their original vision. Video gives you a direct line of communication to your prospects, and the data backs this up. 86% of the survey respondents say that online video strengthens thought leadership, and 56% say it deepens customer relationships.
So with all these additional tools, why is B2B marketing and thought leadership harder to achieve than ever before? What do marketers find to be their top challenges? 80% say changing priorities. 75% say technical developments. 73% mention that they have to appeal to more audience types. And 69% say they must appeal to a wider range of territories.
These seem like daunting challenges for any B2B marketer looking to grow their thought leadership. In Part II of this blog series, we’ll cover how to properly utilize the email and website channels and optimize your content efforts to tackle changing priorities, technical developments, new audience types, and a greater range of territories.