With much of the business world working remotely due to COVID-19, reaching potential buyers through digital channels is now critical to B2B marketing success. But with everyone doing “virtual” everything, how do you cut through the noise to engage your target audience?

Standing out in congested digital channels has been a challenge for many years — and data shows that tech marketers aren’t always successful in their attempts. Last year, we surveyed 747 global technology decision makers: 65% felt that vendors give them too much material, 59% agreed that much of the material is useless, and 70% said that the material is more focused on style than substance.

B2B Buyer Content Preferences

Marketers can do better, even in crowded digital channels, if they can resist the urge to pile on more product-centric content. We work with clients to execute content in the trenches, and based on our experience, here are five ways to make your marketing content more engaging:

1. Be Empathetic

Your content strategy must put customers at the center: The challenges they face are shifting rapidly, and buyers want to know that you understand their industry, market, company, and business conditions. They want to know that you hear their problems — and that you can offer solutions to those problems, not just words of sympathy.

Humanize your content to connect with what your customer is going through right now by adjusting the tone, setting flexible virtual events to work with different schedules (such as parents who are juggling work and increased childcare responsibilities), or helping to address other unique challenges that have arisen in the current climate. Do this by creating new content and reviewing and reprioritizing what is in your existing queue.

Tech Vendor Selection Criteria

Top-of-funnel content should deliver value to your audience — regardless of whether they buy your product. Each asset should answer questions that your audience cares about, helping them to do their jobs better or to drive more successful business outcomes. Forming this level of engagement with your audience fosters relationships that cause them to think of you first when a business issue arises that you can solve.

2. Boost Your Credibility

Your content will make more of an impact on your audience if it is backed by trusted data and expertise. Our 2019 content preferences survey found that trusted data and expertise are the top factors that make content worthwhile to prospective technology buyers. Add this value to your content by working with influencers, industry analysts, and research consultancies to create, validate, and put a trusted name or brand on your ideas and thought leadership.

B2B Buyer Most Important Content Features

3. Use Engaging Form Factors

PDFs are not dead: 50% of technology purchase decision makers say they still prefer to download and read or print static articles. But digital offers many more opportunities to create animated, dynamic, interactive content that can explain complex concepts in more digestible and entertaining ways. No one digital format stands out across all buyers and all stages of the buying cycle. This means mapping your content to the different needs buyers have, at different points in time, across a variety of channels.

Proprietary data or frameworks are particularly well suited for dynamic display. LogMeIn shared insights with buyers using a 13-question interactive assessment that helps prospects understand how well they are engaging their customers. The tool evaluates maturity and shows how they stack up against their peers. It then uses data to show how they can expect to move from their current to a more desirable state.

LogMeIn Assessment Tool

4. Anchor Thought Leadership Content With A Unifying Theme/Message

Companies that use thought leadership in their messaging effectively differentiate themselves in crowded markets — or with specific accounts — while maintaining a consistent story across form factors and channels. Take the time to develop your thought leadership strategy with the right stakeholders by defining the transformative idea at the heart of your messaging, then map that message across your content for the year.

Forrester SiriusDecisions Thought Leadership Framework

Don’t forget your existing customers; ensure you are creating and activating content to nurture your base. During times of economic and market uncertainty, it’s even more important to resonate with your customers, create advocates, and find new ways to deliver value. Start by doing more with what you already have; instead of launching a net-new thought leadership initiative, use existing data and content to spin off new stories and new assets that tell a consistent, well-rounded story.

5. Amplify Your Content With Derivative Assets

Great IP does more work for you. You can repurpose it into dozens of formats; customize it more easily across multiple regions, industries, or customer segments; and create a narrative architecture that allows you to continuously share applicable data and messages to engage prospects in each stage of their journey.

Importance of Cornerstone Content

Forrester Consulting works with marketers to create unique, expert-backed thought leadership content based on proprietary market research. Content that helps your buyers learn how to solve real challenges can be an anchor, not just in crisis but on an ongoing basis. To learn more, please contact us. And be sure to find us at Summit 2020, where you can meet 1:1 with subject matter experts from Forrester.