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Content Marketing Tactics: Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Posted April 2nd, 2017

Sometimes, as they say, the pioneers are the ones with arrows in the back. Astute B2B marketers recognize that improving the outcomes of their content marketing campaigns means learning from others – preferably, from other companies operating in the same competitive arena. Marketers need to understand what works and what doesn’t in terms of tactics, tools, channels and content assets.

It only makes sense, therefore, to closely observe and emulate the practices of top-performing companies. In fact, according to preliminary research for  The 2017 Benchmark Report on B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation, which publishes next month, 72% of B2B content marketers indicate that they spend time benchmarking best practices in content marketing and lead generation. This helps them mitigate failure and replicate success stories in the context of their own content marketing activities.

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Fewer Than One-Third of B2B Companies Use Social Data to Improve Content Marketing

Posted March 2nd, 2017

According to preliminary research findings for The 2017 Benchmark Report on B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation, 0nly 30% of survey respondents report that their companies use social data (monitoring online conversation in social networks) to try to improve content marketing activities — e.g., by identifying more relevant topics and/or audiences. And only 24% say that their social listening efforts have been “somewhat successful” or “very successful.” More than half (56%) indicate that social data is not currently being used at their companies for content marketing purposes.

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With New Benchmark Reports, Starfleet Media Broadens Its Scope

Posted February 15th, 2017

By consistently delivering high quality content and qualified leads through our Smart Decision Guide titles, Starfleet Media has earned a reputation as the leading provider of content marketing programs for leading solution providers in selected niche markets. These markets have been vertical in nature – namely, hospitality, retail and healthcare. But with the publication this month of The 2017 Benchmark Report on Application Performance Management, along with several other recent benchmark report titles, we’re continuing to expand our research coverage to include topics that are horizontal, or cross-industry. Without exception, these topics speak to emerging business trends and rapidly-evolving technology capabilities that are of paramount importance. Application Performance Management, which is pertinent to every application development and operations team as well as every database system administrator charged with maintaining the uptime of both internal and external IT systems in their organizations, regardless of industry, is a perfect example.

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Take the Survey and Learn How B2B Companies Have Evolved their Content Marketing Capabilities

Posted December 11th, 2016

We’re going  all out for the next edition of our benchmark report on B2B content marketing and lead generation, expanding the scope of the survey questions and nearly doubling the sample size of the qualified participants. To liven things up, we’re also revamping the design and populating the pages with an animated cast of characters.

Set to publish in April, The 2017 Benchmark Report on B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation will offer fresh insights into how B2B companies have evolved their content marketing and lead generation capabilities over the previous year. It will also uncover their plans for the future, including specific business outcomes they aim to achieve in terms of key performance metrics. Click here to take the survey that serves as the basis for the research.

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Gated Content: A Stern Warning from a Medieval Guard

Posted September 17th, 2016

At Starfleet Media, we’re generally in the business of licensing high-value content assets, including Smart Decision Guides, co-branded eBooks and Benchmark Reports from Starfleet Research (our IT market research arm), to other B2B companies, and not the other way around. But when we came across a recent post from Tom Fishburne, a “career marketer and cartoonist,” that highlighted some of our market research on content marketing and lead generation along with his cartoon depicting an encounter between a modern-day decision maker and a medieval guard, we decided that it was our turn to acquire licensing rights to a content asset.

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Seven Tactics for Leveraging the Licensed Version of a Smart Decision Guide

Posted June 23rd, 2016

A large part of the value of the Smart Decision Guide program is the guaranteed-number-of-qualified-leads component. Because the leads are typically generated through inbound marketing tactics and carefully scrubbed (based on buying intention info and other target prospect criteria), they tend to have much higher-than-average conversion rates. Another large part of the value of the program is the licensed version of the Smart Decision Guide, with the underwriter’s logo only on the cover and company profile page only in the appendix. The benefits of this valuable content asset can’t be overstated. Yet not all participating solution providers take full advantage of it.

Some solution providers showcase their licensed version on their homepages and in their blogs and resource libraries. They distribute copies at industry trade shows. They email it as an attachment to prospects. And they use it as the basis for any number of other content marketing activities, including email blasts and third-party syndication, resulting in dozens or hundreds of additional leads for their sales pipeline. We are always pleased to see solution providers maximizing their investments in the Smart Decision Guide program by putting their licensed versions of the content asset to good use.

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More Solution Providers Are Licensing Benchmark Reports (Including Ones from Starfleet Research)

Posted May 26th, 2016

It’s no secret that benchmark reports published by leading IT market research firms like Starfleet Research may be the most effective type of content asset a technology solution provider can put to work in their incessant quest to demonstrate thought leadership, raise brand visibility and generate qualified leads. According to preliminary research findings captured for The 2016 Benchmark Report on B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation, benchmark report content licensing for lead generation purposes increased by 15 percent over the past 12 months.

Fact-based reports from research firms that are experts in their fields can provide a “cloak of credibility” that cannot be obtained from vendor-produced and -branded content assets, which prospects often perceive as little more than marketing collateral masquerading as thought leadership. For many solution providers, the decision of whether or not to license a report may depend on: 1.) whether the report profiles their company and solution in a favorable light; and/or 2.) whether the report aligns sufficiently well with their key go-to-market messages, platform capabilities and how they wish to educate the marketplace.

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LinkedIn Highlights Research from Starfleet Media in eBook on Content Marketing

Posted April 18th, 2016

A new eBook, produced and distributed by LinkedIn, offers perspectives and insights from a variety of recognized sources on the art and science of content marketing. We’re pleased that this ambitious, 108-page endeavor, called The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing, includes some of Starfleet Media’s own benchmark research findings to help further educate “sophisticated marketers.” The eBook is recommended reading for any content marketing professional, whether they are just starting down the path or already a seasoned expert, and a nice complement to The 2016 Benchmark Report on  B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation, which publishes later this quarter.

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The Role of Synergy in Content Marketing Success

Posted March 30th, 2016

Harnessing the power of synergy to drive marketing success is hardly a new concept. In fact, the concept goes back many decades. The Walt Disney Company, in particular, is often cited as a pioneer in creating a synergy-driven marketing advantage, licensing and cross-promoting properties across its vast network of movies, TV shows, toys, video games, books, clothing, soundtracks, and theme park rides. Importantly, this notion of a synergy-driven marketing advantage is applicable in the context of B2B content marketing and lead generation and for the purpose of raising overall brand visibility.

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The Advantages of Co-branded eBooks (in Any Language)

Posted February 15th, 2016

Today, 90% of B2B marketers “agree” or “strongly agree” that unbiased third-party content assets are generally perceived to be more credible than company-branded content assets, which decision makers often view as little more than thinly-veiled marketing collateral. Moreover, 83% of marketers “agree” or “strongly agree” that unbiased third-party content assets generally produce higher-quality leads than company-branded content assets.

These research findings help explain the popularity of custom eBooks and research reports co-branded with industry-respected IT market research firms like Starfleet Research. The content assets tend to perform exceptionally well in lead generation campaigns, which further explains why there seems to be so much demand for them (some of our clients commissioned more than a half dozen new eBook titles in the past year). Producing high-quality content — content that can be repurposed into blog posts and leveraged in multiple other ways — is important. So, too, is doing the homework that is necessary to ensure that the content focus of each eBook will resonate with the target audience. Also important, as already suggested, is steeping the content in fact-based research, not only for added credibility but also to incorporate more actionable insights for the benefit of readers.

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Outbound Marketing Versus Inbound Marketing: It’s Not an Either/Or Proposition

Posted January 23rd, 2016

A snobby bunch of marketing services firms (including ours) have made it a habit to admonish marketers that rely on outbound marketing tactics like email blasts. Even worse than email blasts, they (we) say, are marketers that hire telemarketers to cold call prospects, based on their titles, industries or other firmographic data. These callers cajole people into agreeing to receive an email with whatever whitepaper they’re hawking included as an attachment so as to be able to then count them as a lead to pass onto the client. No doubt, some percentage say “yes” just to get the caller off the phone.

At the same time, this snobby bunch of marketing services firms sing high praises of marketers that rely solely on content marketing fueled by inbound marketing tactics. These marketers blog and post and create micro-websites and landing pages designed to attract target prospects. They invest heavily in SEO and SEM. And they place their bets on the expectation that decision makers who are conducting related research and are currently in the market to make a purchase decision will find their content assets through relevant keyword searches.

In reality, outbound marketing tactics and inbound marketing tactics are two sides of the same coin. They should not be treated as an either/or proposition. There are, in fact, merits to both approaches. So, just maybe, we snobby bunch of marketing services firms should get off our high horse.

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Assessing the Primary Objectives for B2B Content Marketing

Posted September 3rd, 2015

According to our latest research findings, 89% of B2B companies invest in content marketing primarily to acquire new customers while only 34% do so primarily to retain existing customers. For 23% of companies, the objectives around acquisition and retention are perceived to be equally important when it comes to content marketing initiatives.

The fact that B2B companies are more than 2.5-times more likely to be focused on using content marketing for new customer acquisition than for customer retention purposes is telling, and it informs everything from content development to promotional tactics. Incidentally, this ratio has not changed significantly in the past year.

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