High expectations for content marketing in high tech
Technology companies are expected to be innovative creators — after all, they develop highly complex products and services. And if they’re going to build strong relationships with their customers in order to earn their business, they also have to take human emotions and needs into account.
Tech firms used to build relationships with technology buyers through in-person meetings, but that has changed. Now, most high-tech customer journeys happen online. According to a TrustRadius survey of more than 2,000 technology buyers, virtually 100% now prefer a self-serve sales process. This means most buyers will get to know high-tech brands through the content they produce. For high-tech companies, content marketing is perhaps the most powerful strategy they can adopt to reach more potential buyers and accelerate sales.
Content marketing defined
Content marketing is the creation and strategic distribution of thought leadership and instructive materials that educate and interest the audience. These assets may include web page content, research studies, articles, infographics, blogs, eBooks, videos, and more.
Content marketing is a great way to improve brand awareness and build trust with customers. Once trust has been established, customers are typically more open to engaging with product- and feature-specific content like demos, reviews, and brochures. With a strong content marketing function in place, high-tech buyers effectively sell themselves. Sales reps then take on a more consultative role, helping prospective customers work through challenging use cases and product questions.
“That’s the answer — creating a relevant customer journey. It’s like a light bulb turns on when our customers realize that we really care about them. And when our message resonates with customers, they care about what we’re doing, too.”
Steve Schultz, Head of Marketing Technology, Esri
Benefits of content marketing
Useful content helps customers navigate their journey from awareness through consideration and beyond. A well-run content marketing program can deliver many benefits for high-tech companies, including:
- Demonstrating credibility by sharing thought leadership on relevant topics
- Improving SEO by highlighting trending topics in the industry
- Sparking curiosity that leads prospects to seek out product demos
- Retaining customers and improving brand loyalty
- Fine-tuning messaging to suit current market conditions
- Decreasing marketing costs to improve ROI
- Retaining customers and building brand loyalty
Who are high-tech buyers, and what kinds of content do they need?
For high-tech sales companies, audiences can include individual consumers, B2B buyers for small to midsize businesses, or interdepartmental buying teams for large organizations. Depending on whether the tech buyer is a person, multiple people, a team or department, or everyone within a company, building relationships with these audiences can be complex. But it’s possible to build a feeling of community.
Content marketing can help high-tech firms communicate technical topics to non-tech buyers in ways that resonate. It’s a move away from a traditional “tech specs” approach to becoming storytellers whose brand, story, and actions are all aligned. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to speak to people and their needs. In fact, your content may speak more directly to customers than your sales reps. This year, vendor sales reps have dropped off the TrustRadius list of the top five resources used by high-tech buyers.
Getting started with content marketing
Content marketing requires bringing together people, processes, and technology. First, coordinate with the right teams to ensure creative teams have the tools they need for success while stakeholders get visibility into projects. Then, develop a content strategy that speaks to audience needs. Finally, deploy technology to help streamline content development and create hyper-personalized customer experiences with that content.
About content management
The goal of content management is to create, organize, and distribute content assets effectively. A modern content management system (CMS) can automate this process. It can be used by non-technical team members and provide valuable insights for improving content marketing. An advanced CMS can also deliver personalized content and experiences in response to real-time behavioral data.
The goal of personalization is to offer the right content to the right people at the right time. That requires customer data, marketing workflow management, and automation. High-tech organizations may use several types of data to personalize their customer experience:
- Persona, job title, and industry
- User preference centers, purchase histories, and search histories
- Local events and regional trends
- Gender, age, and other demographics
Content can be developed to meet the needs of different personas within the audience. A security solutions provider might offer an article on endpoint security to an IT director when they’re researching upcoming network security conferences. Likewise, a gaming console company might share an article about upcoming local gaming events with customers in a specific region.
Unifying data: IBM’s story
From punch cards to floppy drives to hybrid cloud infrastructure applications, IBM has been a technology innovator for more than 130 years. For generations, the company has been known for finding visionary solutions to technology problems.
Across IBM, 40 digital asset management repositories held 171,000+ assets in thousands of locations. That led to data silos — which kept content from reaching the right audiences. The company’s legacy CMS held 10,500 different templates, making it difficult for creative teams to ensure a cohesive brand image and voice.
IBM chose to manage all content within Adobe’s digital asset management solution, Adobe Experience Manager Assets, and place just a handful of brand-unifying templates in Adobe Experience Manager Sites, Adobe’s CMS. IBM also used customer data to guide the delivery of digital experiences to leads.
Site navigation is now simpler and cleaner, with greater consistency in web pages. The site went from 40 million web pages to 6,700. Pages that used to take marketers several days to create are now completed in just 45 minutes. Most importantly, customer journeys are now more cohesive, and leads are seven times more valuable.
“If you can't understand your customer in your own data systems, it's really hard to lay claim to being customer-centric.”
Ari Sheinkin, Vice President of Global Experience Engine, IBM
Modern content marketing done well can help tech organizations reach business goals.
Learn more by visiting our high-tech industry page.