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Ep16 | B2B Marketing and Data with Paroma Sen of SAP

Data drives all of marketing today. But how can marketers and companies use it optimally to plan their B2B marketing efforts? Paroma Sen, the Innovation and Industry Marketing Lead at SAP India  shares her views in this podcast episode.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. Demand is like energy, you cannot create it from zero from nothingness you can only convert it from one form to the other, like you can convert potential energy into kinetic energy if you remember you know  high school physics. Demand today exists in the world in the form of customer pain points and when we take that, harness it, articulate it and contextualize it, then we can work those pain points into demand.
  2. But marketing is ultimately any form of marketing going back to basics, it’s about putting your message where the customer eyeballs are and data helps us fine tune that approach, data tells us where to go where to make best use of our budget to put our message where.
  3. Having intent data, being able to tell what the context and the behavior of a person is…with respect to a certain product or service that you’re trying to put out there. Which is great. I mean that’s the gold mine right. That’s what we all want, we all love. But the other side of that now is GDPR, where the lines are being drawn, where we are seeing consent and privacy being a priority.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Host: (0:06) Hi Paroma, welcome to the DemandMatrix podcast series titled Sunny Side Up. We’re so happy to have you here today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Speaker: (0:23) Sure Paroma, and its a funny coincidence that we are both called Paroma Sen. But yeah. Thanks for having me here. Happy to be able to speak to your audience through this opportunity. Telling you a little bit about myself. My name is Paroma Sen. I lead Innovation and Industries Marketing at SAP in India. I’ve been in this role for about two years now. And yeah my primary responsibilities are around demand generation. We are responsible for pipeline generation so sales can take it forward, which ultimately leads to revenue.

Host: (1:00) Great! So what led you to this current position at SAP India. Can you tell us a little bit about your past experiences. Have you always been in a similar field.

Speaker: (1:08) Anything but that! My background actually was in engineering and so I did my Masters in Computer Engineering and by the time I realized that if I had to do a job writing code from 9 to 5, I might as well put a bullet in my head. So then I went ahead and did a masters in advertising and then I thought hey I have a degree in advertising, a degree in engineering. What the hell do I do from a shop front. Thankfully marketing found me or rather I found marketing and I started working in technology marketing. I’ve worked in semiconductor companies selling chips. After that I came back to India in 2013. And I worked in NDTV heading marketing and content for one of their verticals called NDTV ethnic. And then I came to SAP here. This is my first time working for an “I.T” kind of a company. I’ve always been in technology but this is the first time in information technology. And it’s been a fun journey learning everything.

Host: (2:14) So I’m going to ask you a trick question next. What did you like more, your role at NDTV or what you do at SAP?

Speaker: (2:21) Oh I love what I do at SAP, I think B2B marketing has so much depth to it. B2C was fun. That’s what I did at NDTV and I really honed my digital marketing skills there. But when it comes to strategy and really big deals, a big difference to the world, that would be B2B in a large company like this, I love it here. Yeah.

Host: (2:42) Great! So do you want to elaborate on the problem that your company or your department solves?

Speaker: (2:46) Sure, so SAP has been around for all of what 45 years now. We help companies, businesses, governments run better. We are on the side of things that runs operational efficiencies. And so on, so forth…we say that when our customers run better that’s when we feel that we’ve done our job. That’s our purpose in the world. In terms of what the core problem is that we solve here, we are looking now at making enterprises intelligent. Right. So the world is sitting on tons and tons of data. An intelligent enterprise is one that makes use of that data to generate insights. So what would they be able to do with those insights? They would be able to do more with less resources. They’ll be able to empower their employees. They’ll be able to give a best-in-class experience to their customers and they will be able to be future-proof by creating new revenue streams, new business models and so on. So that’s where we were. That’s the value we give the world.

Host: (3:45) You’ve been pretty heavily involved with demand generation activities, do you want to share some thoughts about that?

Speaker: (3:51) Sure Paroma, So you know,  Demand Generation, we use the word demand creation demand generation. But I always think that demand is like energy, you cannot create it from zero from nothingness you can only convert it from one form to the other, like you can convert potential energy into kinetic energy if you remember you know  high school physics. Demand today exists in the world in the form of customer pain points and when we take that, harness it, articulate it and contextualize it, then we can work those pain points into demand. Right. That’s the way I think about demand generation from a B2B perspective. What becomes critical then is the value proposition and how you message the story. Because unless that is there you’re constantly creating and reaching the same leads.

Host: (4:39) Right. So in this entire digital marketing spectrum and social selling space which are again functions you’ve been part of. How have you seen it evolve over the past couple of years. Also given this martech boom and of course love for data that you mentioned, everything’s data driven and we are sitting on a pile of data. 

Speaker: (4:58) I remember when I was in University pursuing Advertising- At that point we used to talk about the world of digital being pop ups and banners and very very in your face advertising. Today its much more sophisticated, we have search engine marketing, we have content syndication. We have optimization techniques of websites. And then we have social selling. So I happen to be a gold level social selling trainer. But marketing is ultimately any form of marketing going back to basics, it’s about putting your message where the customer eyeballs are and data helps us fine tune that approach, data tells us where to go where to make best use of our budget to put our message where. Where that audience of one is, I’d use the term audience of one very, very closely because ultimately every individual in the world wants a very very personalized, relevant, contextualized message which makes him or her an audience of one. The data is out there which allows us to give that very very unique experience.

Host: (6:03) So I will dig little bit deeper here, how effective do you think intent data is in all of this and in B2B marketing specifically.

Speaker: (6:09) Intent data, again there are two sides to this right. So obviously from a marketer’s point of view this is awesome. Having intent data, being able to tell what the context and the behavior of a person is…with respect to a certain product or service that you’re trying to put out there. Which is great. I mean that’s the gold mine right. That’s what we all want, we all love. But the other side of that now is GDPR, where the lines are being drawn, where we are seeing consent and privacy being a priority. And if we have a perfect way to reach out to a person but that person says hey I don’t want to be contacted by you then that falls flat. So I think that itself is evolving as well and will continue to evolve. I don’t think we’ve hit the answer by any means. We are prioritizing privacy as a community today. But there has to be a balance in there. Right. Where I mean at what point do you say that technology I want to use it for convenience and therefore if I’m in the market to buy a bed, I want to see ads for a bed. And there I will compromise on my privacy to be reached. So that balance – we are still reaching… it’s an evolving road. And I think intent data is important here. There will be changes down the road because of GDPR. But it’s certainly evolving and we are not at the motherload yet.

Host: (7:21) A lot of B2B marketers run data driven campaigns, they rely on data and  you know it’s a data driven environment today but it’s also a very Account-based Marketing inspired environment I think. Half of the B2B segment seems to support the idea of Account- based Marketing. How would you tell people to align their digital marketing and ABM efforts.

Speaker: (7:42) Great great question! ABM (Account-based marketing) is usually obviously done for the larger accounts and when you have a large account, you require a lot of depth of marketing rather than breadth. You have to think about all the levels of stakeholders in that particular organization that needs to be influenced. So I would go about thinking through an ABM strategy is how to position oneself from a thought leadership perspective and it connects toward you mentioned earlier about social selling.Right So. Rather than doing product pitches…position yourself whether you’re a salesperson or a marketing person. You’re an individual and you’re positioning yourself as a person with some expertise who can provide a customer an idea, thought about something a leadership position. So it’s very important for people who are selling to create their own social brand and to engage socially with their customer base. And build that equity in oneself. So ABM rather than  a generic one size fits all approach has to be very very specific and that thought leadership has to be an integral part of the strategy getting to that market.

Host: (8:49)  Right, So yes we all know how content and personalized content and data play a heavy role in ABM efforts. So where do you see (I think I’m sure you guys use content as a core marketing strategy SAP as well.) Right. So where do you see this changing and how do you see this changing in the next couple of years. There are changes in consumption patterns as well. So how would you tell people to align all of this together.

Speaker: (9:15) So absolutely, content consumption is changing by the day, by the second in some cases. Right. Artificial intelligence, brand intelligence we’re using a lot of these techniques to understand more on what is happening and how we make our investments more measurable. For example even in India, today people are still so heavily spending their marketing money on television which has least measurability among many many other mediums. But here people still invest in TV. So there are ways of using image recognition to see how much your logo is visible in a certain campaign and for how long it has been visible and how does that compare with competitors. So there’s a lot of that crossover happening. Another example- IoT and I talked about data. I hear IoT a shit load (excuse my language!). It will give another spin to intent data. For example if my fridge tells a marketing organization that the milk is running out or if my pollution meter is telling somebody that the pollution is high, would I want to be contacted for replenishment of milk or for air purifier, maybe yes. So, again…yeah there’s a lot happening with the data, with how data is being generated and consumed, all of that is changing and involving. We don’t know where it’s going but. The journey is ON.

Host: (10:41) Everything is a lot of more convenient for the end user.They just have to do less of everything to get more of everything. Its an interesting journey and following all of this digital marketing,content marketing,ABM as well.As a marketer who is planning a strategy what would you put most emphasis on, especially when it comes to B2B lead generation.

Speaker: (11:03) So yes. So it depends on which market segment we’re going after. what is our (Targeting) base. You’re right. No market is complete, your marketing strategy cannot even start without the First basic market segmentation. If I have to segment my customer base by size of customer, there’s a very simplistic way of doing it. Largest customer and midsize customers and smaller customers obviously, you’ll have a pyramid shape there with the largest customers fewest in number would be on top, for them I would do more Account-based marketing, more in-depth reaching out to as many stakeholders as possible then by the time I get to the bottom of the pyramid there are hundreds and thousands of customers at the bottom. Maybe tens and hundreds of thousands of customers as well. I would have a much more digital presence there because they are the ones looking for information. They’re the ones hungry out there looking for information. They don’t have sales and accounting  teams knocking at their door with  full fledged plans, but they’re looking at using the right keywords. Being able to pull in their search search is to our benefit. That would be the core of the strategy. Right.

Host: (12:04) So I think you’ve shared some pretty interesting insights and I thank you for spending this time with us today. Are there any other key takeaways you’d like to share with our audience?

Speaker: (12:12) Sure. I think if I had to take a step back, why is it that all of us do what we do in marketing. I think I was attracted to marketing. Given my background because it is the one field I see which is such a beautiful blend of art and science. I mean we use data so much, that’s the science part of it. But then there comes the art part of it where you have to create a unique, delightful experience for a customer, for an audience of one. And that beautiful balance is why I do marketing right. People are afraid of artificial intelligence coming and taking away their jobs. Through my career I’ve seen that I have evolved from every job I’ve never held two jobs that have been similar. And there’s been constant learning. I mean I personally see one of my biggest flaws in me is that I get bored very very easily. It’s my job and my work that keep me mentally stimulated, active and striving to learn. That learning, that constant upskilling, that constant desire, that hunger for knowledge is what will keep an individual out there from losing their job or from losing their job to an AI or bots. So that’s my takeaway for myself, for everyone out there. Learn, keep yourself on the edge  because that spot will make sure that you stay unique as someone who will continue to deliver value for an organization.

Host:   That’s great that’s a wonderful a piece of advice! Thank you so much Paroma for spending this time with us and I look forward to speaking with you again!

Paroma Sen is the innovation & Industry Marketing Lead at SAP India. As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 404,000 business and public-sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably.

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

Ep15 | B2B Digital Marketing Trends with Eric Sharp, Founder & CEO at Protofuse Inc

In this podcast episode, we discuss changing B2B Digital Marketing Practices and trends that affect B2B Tech Marketers with Eric Sharp, Founder and CEO of Protofuse Inc and Host of the 1 to 10 Podcast series.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. If you try to set up multiple channels at the same time and you’re trying to do everything well and you have a resource issue and you don’t have people that are helping you push content to that channel and engaging people when they engage with you it’s just you’re going to get burned out really quickly.
  2. I think using video in your digital marketing is a bit of a foregone conclusion right. Everyone knows that they have to it. I think from a B2B space. I think the leaders that B2B companies especially within this space. Again they understand that video is important in their overall digital marketing. But I think the gap that I’m seeing at least is, is it doing well.
  3. Your website should be running Google Analytics especially if you’re going to be subscribing to some sort of content marketing plan. You need some sort of other tool to measure the effectiveness of that too.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Paroma: (00:14) Hi Eric welcome to the DemandMatrix podcast series Sunny side-up. We’re so happy to have you here today. How are you?

Eric: (00:21)I’m doing great. Thanks for inviting me. I really appreciate it. 

Paroma: (00:29) So, let’s get started, shall we begin with letting the audience know about you, a little bit about what led you to start your company Protofuse Inc.

Eric: (00:39) Sure. So my name is Eric Sharp, I’m the founder of ProtoFuse. We do digital marketing for midsize B2B technology companies. For the most part, we try to work with companies within the United States and this positioning of working with B2B tech companies is fairly new for us. We’ve been around the website and digital marketing world for quite a while. Personally speaking, I got into building websites back in 1999. I graduated college right around the dot-com explosion and kind of got thrown right into things. I kind of like to describe it as jumping on a moving freight train with no destination. That’s just kind of how it felt at the time. And so I started there I started working for a company called Wild Card Systems and as a web designer in 2000 and collaborated with a bunch of designers and developers and QA and leadership on building web applications and interactive training for  Fortune 500s, Bank of America, just to name a few. And so I was kind of  working on these big scale sites. And during that time, I knew what I wanted to do- work with my own clients. I had that entrepreneurship type of bug and I decided to start my  freelance business and pretty much designed a website for anyone that had three hundred dollars. Literally, if you had three hundred dollars in your pocket I would design your website and I just kind of built up my business over the next couple years. My agency had grown to a point where it was sustainable and I saw a lot of good things for the future. So that was 2005. And so I’ve been doing Protofuse full time since 2005. And like I mentioned, we’ve been kind of going around servicing a lot of different companies, a lot of it in a lot of different verticals, and within the last two years, we said we want to be the experts in this space- The B2B tech space and we want to work with clients in this space because we feel like we can deliver a lot of value. So that’s where we’re at today.

Paroma: (03:06) That’s amazing. So tell me, you’ve been involved in digital marketing since a while, since the start almost. How have you seen it evolve over the past couple of years especially given the Martech boom off late?

Eric: (03:19) Yeah, that’s a good question, the web with social media just becoming a part of our daily life and everyone wants to be on social media. There is this desire and this urge to want to be on social media. And when I started back in 2000 all these channels really didn’t exist and MySpace wasn’t even out there. So it was really about just get their website right. It was about having your digital presence through your website and just making sure that it was usable and functional and cross-browser compatible and mobile hadn’t really exploded at that time. So we had a couple of different devices that you just needed to make sure the site worked well on. So the emphasis was always on your website right and just making sure that we rethink your website as the hub of all your digital marketing. And so when I first started out there was this sort of emphasis on your website and then social media just exploded and all these channels started to pop up and then all of these people started to flock to those channels. And then the emphasis came onto the channels. Right. And rightfully so that makes total sense to me why that happened. But what happened through that process is I think people’s focus got distracted a little bit and they took their eyes off their website and got more focused on the social channels. And so from a B2B space, I’m going to probably go to be revolving around a lot of B2B and tech and that’s where our focus is and that’s where my opinions are based essentially. But I just felt like with from a social media perspective especially within the last year or two people are starting to realize that these channels are vulnerable. You don’t own your content on these specific channels and you don’t have a whole lot of control over that content as well. And so what I have seen (I guess this is a really long answer to your question) but what I’ve seen is the focus slowly start to shift back to your website and what you can own. Right. So people now have had this realization. Wow. The volatility of these social channels. I put something on Facebook, the algorithm is going to change. I got to relearn the algorithm and how I can sort of connect with my audience. And now the focus is slowly shifting back to well let’s put our emphasis on our website right and make sure there is quality user experience. It’s got great content saying we’ve got all the right lead generation tactics built into it. We’re tying into multiple platforms where we got all of our data in one spot. So that’s what I see and it’s kind of been a bit of an evolution where we’re starting back to where we were back 50 years ago.

Paroma: (06:05) So you mentioned that there was this explosion, this multichannel explosion everyone wanted to be everywhere and advertise their product and solution in multiple places. So now you’ve seen this trend where the importance of having everything on one website and in one place is picking up again. So according to you what would be the primary objectives for digital marketing for their digital marketing campaign, for a smaller B2B tech company especially given these changes that you’ve seen. What would you tell them should be their primary object or their primary focus. 

Eric: (06:41) Great question, yeah if you’re talking smaller B2B tech companies so maybe they are under the 10 million dollar of revenue. I would say, to keep it simple and really start with defining and ironing out your value proposition. And this gets so muddied in this particular vertical. Typically leadership at a technology company- They’re so close to their product and service right. And they’re so smart and they know it so well but they seem to always struggle with articulating their product or service in a way that other people are going to understand it. And so they may be fancy about it and use a lot  of technical mumbo-jumbo. And so my advice would just be to start with that because that is your value proposition and how you’re different from your competitors and in what you do well in your brand’s personality and all that stuff, that is sort of the…I guess the groundwork to all your marketing and all your communication from that point forward. Right. So instead of jumping into a specific tactic or really just sitting down, see what your content strategy is like. Like what kind of content are we going to put through our website. It’s like well wait a second let’s really focus on what you guys are good at first, let’s actually write that down on a piece of paper. let’s get other people involved in collaborating and really sort of strain and focus on every single word that you use. So, I would say the value proposition. Get that written down, share it with the team, maybe even bring in some of your clients, your customers and say hey you think this is the value that we’re bringing to the table with our product and service, do we feel right about the solution or the value that we offer the world  how we articulated it in a really concise way. The easy answer is to like oh have a great website right and start generating leads. But if you really want to break it down into a granular, smaller bite-sized format, is really work on the value proposition and how you’re going to sort of express that to the world.

Paroma: (08:55) Okay. And in terms of the channels they should focus on, of course having a great website and keeping in mind what you just said that’s important but what about the channels especially for B2B marketers, technology marketers. What would you tell them to do? Definitely maintain in terms of sharing content, uploading new things or engaging with their prospect, which are the best channels for them to be active on.

Eric: (09:18) So this is a little bit of a tricky question. Yeah, because it really depends on the resources available at the company. So, if you’re a smaller tech/ B2B tech company you’re probably not going to have a dedicated marketing department that is going to allow you to push your content in multiple platforms and just to really own it and be regular about it. And that’s the thing you don’t want to do, to circle a social channel and start broadcasting to the world that you’re on Twitter. But then someone goes to your Twitter channel and realizes you haven’t posted in three years, that doesn’t look good. So, now what I’ve seen with the people, with the clients that I work with that are in this space is that the popular ones that seems to get the most emphasis are channels like LinkedIn. So it’s all about connections. It’s all about forming relationships. And I’ve seen just a lot of B2B owners and VP’s of marketing, VP’s of Sales really flock to that channel because it just seems to work for them and they understand that. So that will probably be the first one off I’d recommend, the next channel would probably be Twitter. Twitter is a great way to engage in conversations with people that you don’t know. There are definitely some downsides to Twitter.

Paroma:(10:27 ) I guess with Twitter it’s not that much about lead generation like LinkedIn but more about brand awareness maybe. Something like that.

Eric: (10:34) Yeah and I’ve also seen clients use it as a way of promoting their content that they’re pushing on their site. So it’s just another source to potentially bring in traffic, bring it quality traffic and get that exposure whether it be a blog or a white paper or graphics or whatever it may be. So again, depending on who I’m talking to, if it’s a small B2B company, you want to start out on LinkedIn or Twitter maybe have a little bit of Facebook. But I think the core or the most important thing that I say to my clients that are getting into social media. This is just what I’ve seen work.  Focus on maybe a singular channel for a certain length of time and then move on to the next one. Because then if you try to set up multiple channels at the same time and you’re trying to do everything well and you have a resource issue and you don’t have people that are helping you push content to that channel and engaging people when they engage with you, it’s just you’re going to get burned out really quickly. And so I kind of just try to break it down in a simpler way and say let’s start with LinkedIn. Learn the nuances of the channel, how you post content, how you like other people’s content how you publish content, how you network with people. You have your own channel, you have your own sort of company profile right like what type of things are you going to share in your company profile versus your own personal profile like learn the nuances right and then move on to the next one. And it’s just kind of a snowball from there.

Paroma: (12:19) Yeah. So with all these new platforms coming in, there was obviously a shift in the way they consumed content. People have a choice, in terms of content consumption pattern. There is a shift. People don’t want to read as much anymore, probably just want to skim through the content or they want to listen to a podcast or they want to probably watch a video. And you mentioned earlier that you’ve seen this entire cycle from a focus on your website to this entire multichannel focus and going back into the website and their plans alike again rethinking the entire strategy or where their content of that information is going to be dumped. where do you see this is going again in the future. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Eric: (13:06) So I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about video, now I know everyone is familiar with video, YouTube has been around for a while, Vimeo and all those specific channels that do video content and from a B2C perspective I think using video in your digital marketing is a bit of a foregone conclusion right. Everyone knows that they have to do it. I think from a B2B space. Again they understand that video is important in their overall digital marketing. But I think the gap that I’m seeing at least is, is doing it well. And and I’m not talking about fluffy company promos that is promoting your product or your service or it’s a company overview or something like- that’s not the stuff I’m talking about. I’m actually talking about video content that is helpful. That’s going to pull in your potential prospect, that’s going to educate maybe entertain and really establish you as an authority in your space. And that’s the type of content that I feel is really missing when it comes to B2B tech. I don’t think enough people are doing that well enough. I mean you could literally pick up your iPhone and you could film the video and the quality is going to be good. I guess the recording quality is going to be great. Right. You need to have good lighting and frame it in a way that looks professional. But we have all these tools, you can go to Amazon and buy a light kit for 150 dollars. Most people are carrying around an iPhone right, that is HD and and so it’s no longer an issue about having the tools, we have all the tools we have all the ideas we know that we should be doing it but it’s the people that really say what we’re going to roll up our sleeves and we’re going to do this well and this is the type of content we’re going to create. It’s not going to be sales it’s not going to be promotional. It’s going to be engaging. It’s going to be helpful. We’re going to commit to this for the next two-three years. And I think in this particular vertical again- B2B tech- this is a space this is an area where I see video just really taking off in the next couple of years and the companies that commit to it are the companies that are going to be winning big time in three or five years.

Paroma : (15:18) Pretty cool and in terms of tools and technologies that B2B tech marketers can use to boost digital marketing or content marketing effects, have you come across any that you would like to tell us about.

Eric: (15:31) We’re a SharpSpring partner, SharpSpring is a marketing automation platform and I know there’s a ton of marketing automation platforms, I’m sure everyone has heard of the big guys like HubSpot and Marketo but if you are anywhere between that one and ten million dollar revenue mark maybe even a little bit over, SharpSpring works really really well. It also has a CRM as part of the marketing automation platform. It’s less about the tool and probably more about this overarching theme of wanting to make sure that you pull in data into one spot that the leadership team can review, can export out, reporting can really get a sense very quickly and very easily on what’s working and what’s not with their digital marketing so sometimes I run across companies that are running a CRM which blows my mind. I don’t understand how they can manage all that data either in an email or an Excel document so there are plenty of simple CRM solutions out there. Get locked into a system that’s going to pull data from multiple spots into one area that allows you to analyze what’s working and what’s not. And so use a marketing automation CRM. Of course, your website should be running Google Analytics especially if you’re going to be subscribing to some sort of content marketing plan. You need some sort of tool to measure the effectiveness of that. But that’s it for me that’s more top of mind. The clients that are sort of subscribing to some sort of marketing automation platform realize the value of saying hey there’s data everywhere out there and all these different tools and all these services. We just don’t have the time to go into each one of these tools and export out a report and really look at what’s working, we need everything pulled in underneath, sort of you know one umbrella, that we can access very quickly.

Paroma: (17:50) That’s pretty interesting. Thank you so much for your input on this question. And do you have any last key takeaways or words to share with our listeners.

Eric: (17:58) That’s an open-ended question. Well yeah! it’s putting the pressure on me.  OK. I see. I gotcha. So I would say, the content marketing we touched a little bit on- I know  people that are listening may hear a little glimpses or little reports that content marketing is dying and we’re in this constant crash is what I’ve heard it before and there’s a lot of saturation and there’s just so much content out there, how do you ever compete with all this content that billions and billions of new content that’s going up online every single day. Don’t let that intimidate you. Again everyone knows that you have to commit to creating valuable and unique content on a regular basis through your website and through your social channels. But again not everybody is doing it well. So if you can commit to understanding best practices and you could commit to really generating quality content on a regular basis that’s going to resonate with your audience and then make sure that it’s got great user experience. It’s the small things, that you can do can really make some headway. And so content marketing isn’t going away it’s just about doing it better than the next person and committing to it and being consistent and making sure that you’re sending out relevant content that is really going to make a difference.

Paroma: (19:30) Right. Thank you so much. I think that was a very interesting answer. And I’m happy that you had the time to spend with us today and I hope to catch up with you and probably collaborate with you on many other things in the future.

Eric Sharp has 20 years of digital marketing experience and has worked for over 250 different businesses ranging from 1 Million to 1 Billion in revenue. He is the Founder and CEO of ProtoFuse, an agency focused on helping B2B Tech companies grow their digital leads. He’s also the host of the ‘1 to 10’ podcast where he shares the stories of B2B tech companies that have scaled, or are currently scaling, from $1M to $10M and beyond. He’s done work for companies such as Stanford University, Dixon Ticonderoga, and Sun Communities.

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

Ep14 | B2B Content Marketing and its Changing Dynamics with Anastasia Pavlova

Anastasia Pavlova, (Former) Vice President of Marketing at Webgility talks about the current and evolving trends in B2B Content Marketing. 

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. When it comes to content marketing there’s a lot of noise out there. Everyone is now a content marketer, everyone has a blog, everyone is trying to communicate their message and it’s harder and harder to stand out. So you really need the right tools and you need the right skills to be able to break through the noise
  2. We are now seeing a really big transition from inbound marketing or traditional demand generation where content really plays a big role  transition to account-based marketing
  3. Having shorter videos, shorter webinars is a trend we see happening right now

Here’s the complete transcription:

Paroma: (00:21) Could we start with knowing a little bit about you. What have you been doing for the past couple of years and can you tell our audience about yourself?

Anastasia: (00:29) Yes thank you Paroma. Nice to speak to you and to your audience here today. So my name is Anastasia Pavlova. I currently run my own strategic advisory and marketing consulting service for  technology companies. So I advise companies of various sizes in Marketing strategies, Digital Transformation, Demand generation, Account-based marketing, product go-to market strategy and high-performance team development. Most recently I was Vice President of Marketing at Webgility team which is an e-commerce and accounting automation software provider for small businesses. And there I was responsible for all aspects of marketing, including Content Marketing, driving 40 percent year over year revenue growth. Before Webgility I ran Demand Generation at Marketo focusing on the entire customer lifecycle from net new logo acquisition, revenue acceleration all the way to platform adoption customer retention and cross-sell. And before Marketo I held various marketing leadership roles at companies such as Corail, Ruby, Sonic Solutions and Roxette Napster. So I’ve been around quite a bit and most of my career was spent in the technology industry.

Paroma: (02:00) That’s pretty interesting so what I wanted to know is how have you seen marketing evolve. You have held several leadership roles and there have been several changes in marketing over the last few years. Given the new technologies, the new changes in the way people are consuming content and also the way they want it presented to them, they are being choosy. There is a lot of content out there. So what how have you seen this  digital marketing, marketing trend change over the last couple of years.

Anastasia: (02:31)Yeah that’s a good question and marketing  has been evolving quite a bit in the last few years and we have seen more changes in marketing and digital marketing over the last five years than probably in the last hundred years. Right. And a lot of that is really fueled by technology. So if you look at the marketing technology knowledge landscape there are almost 6000 different vendors that are on the list and the category has become really fragmented which creates lots of opportunities for marketers but also presents challenges because a lot of those technologies- they’re hard to learn. They don’t integrate with each other and you need specialized talent to run them. But as marketers, it’s become on one hand again easier because many folks are empowered by the technology but also harder because everyone is using those technologies and it’s becoming very noisy right? When it relates to content marketing there’s a lot of noise out there, everyone is now a content marketer, everyone has a blog, everyone is trying to communicate their message, and it’s harder and harder to stand out. So you really need the right tools and you need the right skills to be able to break through the noise, and another ethics I would also mention is that we are now seeing a really big transition from inbound marketing traditional demand generation where content really plays a big role and a transition to account-based marketing which again we can get into the details later.

Paroma: (04:25) What would you tell younger marketers who are currently entering the space. There are so many challenges like you said there’s too much content out there. Everybody is doing the same thing. So what would you tell them, how can they differentiate themselves besides having a good balance between ideas, skill set and technology abilities? The ability to use new tools and the ability to learn about new tools, what else can be doing?

Anastasia: (04:50) Well tools certainly help but it’s important really to gain the experience and to be a great marketer as a starting point… and that kind of starts with being passionate about the field and also understand the products really well and also probably most importantly really understand the customers and customer needs that you’re marketing to, because content and any product message cannot be really successful without knowing what you are selling! Right! And understanding their needs and being helpful in and trying to help them solve their problem.

Paroma: (05:35) So tell me one thing, what are your thoughts on the driving factor behind content marketing. Why is everyone still so excited about it. Like this is what we’ve been observing even if you are a young startup, your a new company, everybody still wants to do the same thing even though they know that there’s already a lot out there. So, especially in your industry in the roles that helps so far. So what has driven marketing teams to always rely on content marketing?

Anastasia: (06:01) Well, first of all, let’s kind of define what content is, because sometimes people sort of narrow think of content as blog posts or e-books right? Content is a lot more than that content is really everything it’s everything you publish on as a marketer on all touch points, whether it’s your website, whether it’s thought leadership content or press releases, your presentations your video- everything is content right? So you really need to have content and the right content again to tell a story, story about your product, story about your company, story that will help your prospective customers really understand that they have a problem and how you can help them solve the problem right. Content also that fuels demand generation. So when we’re talking about B2B marketing your demand generation engine cannot run without content as a fuel right. Because you need to again provide your customers with it along the buying journey all the right information that will help them through that journey. And so that’s why content is so pervasive and companies use that.

Paroma: (07:17) Let me ask you here given all your past experiences and in this category of content marketing about content gating. Was it always a focus area as part of your overall marketing strategy? How much importance would you give to it?

Anastasia: (07:32) So there are a couple of a reasons why companies gate content. One is because it enables marketers and companies to collect information about prospects so that marketers can develop more relevant timely and personalized content. Right. So also to reach the profit database and it help marketing and sales to be more efficient. So the more information marketers collect on the forums the better they can segment and nurture prospects by providing them with valuable information. And that, of course, accelerates sales cycles, enables sales to have more relevant conversations that lead to more deals as a result.

Paroma: (08:16) Usually the norm that we’ve seen is that everyone has pretty much a similar content gating strategy in terms of lead forms to hide your webinar or your e-book or you know assets like that. So how would you tell people to sort of create a different content gating strategy, what should they keep free? What should they still be keeping gated? Given that everyone is currently following pretty much the same format. 

Anastasia: (08:56) Yes so the best way to think about it is, first of all, you need to develop the right content for the buying journey right. So different types of content apply to different stages of the buying journey so you can think of it like this- thought leadership content, for example, is early stage so this goes kind of content like your press release is your awareness piece so everything that sort of educates prospects about your company or industry trends creates affinity with a brand, helps prospective buyers to realize that they have a problem. So thought leadership content typically is not gated? And so examples of leadership content could include blog articles, infographics some introductory videos. Companies typically don’t gate late stage content. And so those are typically delivered sort of later at the evaluation stage of the sales cycles and late stage content includes customer case studies, product reviews, sort of how-to videos, so again everything that helps sales close the deal. Now pricing and packaging of products and solutions is kind of  interesting. So sometimes it’s gated and sometimes it’s not gated and it really depends on the complexity of your product offering and sort of the price point of the product or solution. Marketo for example when I started was focused more on the SMB segment. It also published its pricing. But as the company moved up towards mid-market and enterprise buyers  they stopped publishing pricing information. And so the middle of the funnel content, of course, is not gated by most companies. Right. And so again that content pertains to specific company solutions and the type of content that can be delivered in various formats whether it’s white papers webinars or product demos and the reason for gating this content is that you need to better qualify prospects by matching their needs to company solutions so that they don’t waste expensive sales resources.

Form sales are not the only way to gain Prospect information. We have the right marketing automation and data management tools, you can add behavioral data you can add intend data. So there are tons of vendors that can help you in gathering this information.

Paroma: (11:39) So tell me according to you in B2B especially in B2B marketing what are the few things you would say marketers especially content marketers to rely on if they have a scarcity when it comes to resources. So should they be focusing on open blogs e-books maybe they have a way narrow team very small team so what would you give high priority importance to?

Anastasia: (12:01) Well again it’s- I don’t want to give sort of blanket recommendation, the tool really depends on the products that they market or the service that they market. Right. How complex how technically difficult it is so it really depends on whether they need to, whether they can create content internally with just a couple of people whether they need to go outside and employ services of subject matter experts. So I think a combination of things is always sort of a good idea. So you need some good writers on the team and you need to really figure out where you need influencers who are subject matter experts  and then the combination of sharing blogs for example blog articles or working together with influencers and helping them promote their content on your property. And at the same time gating valuable content could help you build a library of good content.

There are many freelance writers available for many topics. Marketplaces that you can go to and employ the services of writers, platforms like NewsCred provide a lot of content that you can repurpose but you absolutely need to have content marketers on the team who can again not only write but also manage the whole content development process. And if you’re starting with a pretty decent content library again the rules that are helpful to keep in mind are that you can always sort of refresh, recycle and retire content and adapt content for different audiences. Right. So for example, if you have a large library of generic demand generation content and you need to drop that to account-based marketing focus on a specific industry or specific accounts then you can easily do that with some easy hacks.

Paroma: (14:27) What you said was pretty interesting towards the end and so can you tell us what some of your biggest takeaways are of a couple of words to our listeners before we end this conversation.

Anastasia: (14:39) So the take away again I think is that the industry is certainly changing a lot. I think the important thing to keep in mind is that companies need to sort of follow the, what we call 4-1-1 rule for example. Right. Not too late stage content like the data sheets of products information too early in the sales cycle. You won’t get any engagement or response as a result, you’re going to basically deplete your database. And basically, it means that for every four pieces of entertaining and educational and value-add pieces of content you can push sort of one soft sell piece and one hard sell piece like a demo or trial. And of course look into the various technologies that can help you understand and leverage our content effectively. So there is some pretty interesting technologies that are emerging as well. There’s a company called LookBookHQ it’s actually rebranded into path factory recently and it helps you aggregate content within their platform and Binch fed to prospect when they track the initial engagement or spark. And so platforms like that could be quite expensive for many. And so this approach can definitely help accelerate sales cycles and get your prospects to an opportunity to stage faster. And video is becoming a lot more prevalent, of course I think shorter form video as well so I’ve seen a couple of examples. In terms of having shorter video and shorter webinars – that again  is a trend happening right now. So we see a lot of transition from 30 minutes to 15 minutes.

Paroma: (17:31)Yeah, that’s pretty interesting; There’s also this trend of shorter blog articles listicle formats because I guess there’s so much noise out there so you have to break it down for everybody so that you get attention also. So yeah a lot of changes.

Anastasia: (17:49)Lots of changes. Even when I was at Marketo and I mean it’s still challenging for many companies its really about how you measure content. How do you justify the investment in your content team and content strategy if you can’t put a dollar number on the returns? So there are different ways of doing that again. Many companies look at Google Analytics mostly and the number of visits to particular web pages,  your blog and then try to calculate engagement, but in the market, we invest so much in the content. We released a hundred page definitive guide almost every quarter and we treated each of these as a product launch with a huge integrated campaign to push it. And so we were able to measure not only the download from each but also the number of MQL’s, opportunities associated with each piece of content and revenue from each report. So with the right tools its definitely possible and again companies need to have the right methodology and the right tools to be able to again measure the success of their content strategies and be able to justify investments in that.

Paroma: (19:31) Right and that’s very important because everyone wants to create content so I guess this balance is very-very important. So I think we had a very interesting chat and I thank you for spending time with us. 

Anastasia : (19:46) Thank you. It’s been great. I really appreciate the opportunity. And I would say keep up the good work and for all young marketers and content marketers out there be passionate about what you do and try to understand your customers and try new things. Always test and always experiment and it won’t be dull.

Paroma: Thank you so much, Anastasia was a pleasure speaking with you. Catch you soon. Bye.

Anastasia Pavlova is the former Vice President of Marketing of Webgility. 

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

Ep13 | B2B Content Marketing Trends with Pamela Muldoon of The Pedowitz Group

B2B Content Marketing is evolving at a rapid pace. Here’s what Pamela Muldoon, the lead content strategist at The Pedowitz Group feels about these dynamics.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. I would say over the past 05 to 10 years the consumer has become the one in charge and more so now than ever before. And for organizations, especially B2B organizations this is a really big shift.
  2. Historically even if you look at content marketing as an industry it really became an industry I want to say probably 12 or 13 years ago. But even before that we were using content as marketers to reach our audience…we just didn’t necessarily call it that and then it didn’t have its own industry like it does now or a niche area within the marketing spectrum.

  3. The real challenge is getting the right content in front of the right person at the right time. And that’s the challenge because the audience continues to shift and move.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Paroma: (00:37) I think our audience would be interested in knowing what you do and what your past experience was all about, and how it led you to your current role as content strategist at The Pedowitz Group.

Pamela: (00:47) Absolutely. Yes and as you mentioned I’m currently a campaign and content strategist with The Pedowitz Group and we’re a marketing consulting agency that works with enterprise organizations on setting up their digital marketing campaigns both inbound and outbound. That includes also the tools as well as the strategy. So I’m one of the key strategists on this team working with multiple clients. But before I came to TPG (I’ve been with TPG now for about two and a half years) before that I worked in various roles from Social Media Director for an education network to working as a content strategist both independently and within organizations. I’ve actually been in marketing for over 25 years. I can’t believe the party has been that long but I’ve been very focused on the content and digital side for the past 12-13 years and kind of been a veteran in the content marketing space in terms of doing content marketing…that’s even before it was called content marketing. So lots of experiences in all aspects of digital.

Paroma: (01:50) Can you tell us a little bit about the major changes you’ve noticed over the last couple of years ever since this entire digital experience has taken over and also the changing consumer behavior and the change in consumer consumption patterns when it comes to content. 

Pamela: (02:08) Yeah. You really hit the nail on the head with the consumer concept… like obviously the biggest change that’s taken place I would say over the past five to 10 years just as a general rule is that the consumer is in charge and more so now than ever before. And for organizations especially B2B organizations this is a really big shift. More so in terms of content. We not only have to really understand how our prospects become our customers but how we can align our content information, what we share with them as well as how we distribute it and where we distribute it to them…we have to take all of that into consideration because at the end of the day our customer is in charge of their own buying process and their own journey.

And we’re just here to help fill in the gaps and connect the dots per se so that they consider what we have to sell if they’re looking for that in the market. Its important to tell them that what we have is something that they not only need but we’re the only option and that’s not easy in a world where they can pretty much look up things themselves at any given time on the Internet.

Paroma: (03:18) What I wanted to ask you next is your thoughts on content marketing and the fact that every B2B marketer relies on it as a strategic way to drive conversion, to get more leads, and to reach out to their audience base effectively. So according to you and The Pedowitz Group, what is the core driving factor for content marketing, why is it still so important considering there is so much content out there already?

Pamela: (03:44) It’s a really great question and historically even if you look at content marketing as an industry it really became an industry I want to say probably 12 or 13 years ago. But even before that we were using content as marketers to reach our audience we just didn’t necessarily call it that and then it didn’t have its own industry like it does now or a niche area within the marketing spectrum. It really has become quite important and continues to be, I don’t see that’s actually going away at all. In essence I see it not only continuing to expand but forcing us as marketers to just get better and better. And what I mean by that is because we as consumers can go onto any given platform on the Internet via our mobile device our phones our iPad’s our tablets whatever the case may be, we really want to be able to provide information that our audience is seeking at any given moment.

And I think that’s where the real challenge is today, the real challenge is getting the right content in front of the right person at the right time. And that’s the challenge because the audience continues to shift and move. And we can only make certain assumptions. So we want to make sure that we’re using our technology and the content that we share with them in a smart way that can also track their behavior patterns so that we’re able to kind of meet them where they’re at at any given moment. And I think that’s where we’re going to see more and more of our content conversation moving towards. You’re absolutely right when you say there’s so much out there and the conversation of quality versus quantity is one that’s been in discussion for a couple of years. I think we’re also going to see that continue to play out, putting forth the best content for our audience versus the most content is still very much in play when it comes to the content marketing that we do.

Paroma: (05:32) Let me ask you- when you plan a content strategy, how important is gating some of your content assets? How important is it to you specifically. And how important should it be for a B2B marketer who’s just starting up.

Pamela: (05:45) Yeah that’s a great question. It’s also one that’s starting to really gain some ground in terms of a discussion point in the content industry. It’s a paradox right, where you want your audience, especially your target audience to be able to consume content, to be able to find and consume the content you are giving them because that’s how you introduce your style.

That’s how you show the world what you’re talking about, that you’re there to be of support and help and add value. Yet at the same time as I mentioned we need to build in these elements of behavioral tendencies, right? Behavioral elements that allow us to track whether or not the person that’s consuming our content is truly qualified in terms of the proper prospects and will it lead to a marketing qualified lead or to a sales qualified lead and then eventually the customer…that kind of takes away some of the relationship piece but it really allows us to put data to this process. And I think in the long run when we’re able to do that, we can actually have happier clients because they are truly where they want to be. Now in terms of gated content, that is a very specific tactic that is used by a lot of us in content marketing to be able to get information from our audience to bring them into our database and then move them through a nurture process to actually purchase a product and/or service. And it still is an important part. I think we’re seeing a shift in that with the ever increasing ways that we can reach audiences through social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn for example. We’re seeing that we can pick them and move them through a behavior process when we bring them through social into our website and into our database. But at the end of the day we still use a lot of data opportunities to have value driven gated opportunities where the audience can start to kind of select this for themselves by either joining or not joining. The creative process is still very important, but you want to be very cautious in how you’re building your content and distributing your content when it comes to gated, so that it doesn’t feel forced and it doesn’t feel too ‘salesy’ …it should feel like it’s actually a part of a conversation and not something that you feel like you’re forcing your audience to do.

Paroma: (07:56) So what kind of content would you choose to share freely and what would you chose to gate?   

Pamela: (08:01) I really shifted over the past probably 18 to 24 months in how this works. When gated content became a very common way of gathering information from the audience, a lot of the choices were made based on size of content. Right. Like white papers, really robust pieces of content and really now, the way I look at this in today’s world (because we have so many different mediums in which we can reach our audience) is different. To me the word that constantly comes to mind when I needed to decide what to gate is value, and so I look to what is that I want my content to do. Do I want them to engage with it easily and start to welcome the information, learn from us, accept us as a thought leader in a certain topic…if that is what I want my content to do in terms of value, I don’t want to gate that. So there’s a lot of video content, podcast content falls into this category quite often, visual content like infographics that are easy-to-digest content just in terms of different tactics.

But at the end of the day it’s about value. So if you’re asking your content to simply be there as a resource then you probably don’t want to gate it. At the same time, if you’re asking- Do I want my content to start to select specific members of my audience, then you can start to to create value driven pieces that will do that. And again robustness of content is not necessarily the answer. Something like a checklist of all the things you need to know before you start a project or whatever the product or services that you sell could be something of value to your audience. Get a nice visual one page that could require a gated piece because people are willing to what I call spend money which is their email address right? Spend money on that piece of content… so that’s really how I approach this conversation in today’s content world. What is that I want my content actually accomplish as part of this campaign or as part of the process of moving our audience through their customer journey. And then in terms of value, will my audience pay for this with their email address. And those are the two main questions I ask. It’s not necessarily the largest or biggest piece right.

Paroma: (10:25) So at this point, you’re probably using a lot of registration forms to collect all this information from your target audience. So we’ve been noticing that that it’s easy to get a lot of bogus information when we do that. So how do you sort of suggest ways to minimize this bogus this information from entering your database?

Pamela: (10:44) It is a tough part of the process right there’s a lot of sandbox out there. A lot of black hat techniques are still right in terms of individuals. And then there’s those that are trying to get the content to working executives so they only allow a business address and things like that. And I don’t know if you’ll ever truly get away from some of those natural characteristics of just human nature. But I think from a content perspective what I like to do is look at the value of the audience and really understand your persona or the folks that you’re actually going after. It’s been discussed probably at length right that your buying journey and your personas are key and are very critical to building out the proper campaign. But I think sometimes we talk about something so much that we forget to just kind of  stop, take take a step back, and really assess how well do I know this audience. The more that we truly understand the individual, the less chance we have of having bogus information. Right. Because at the end of the day our goal is if you are interested in my product and service I really want you to come in. And want you to come into my database and if you’re really interested you want to be there and that’s what we want our sales staff to have…that qualified person who’s excited and interested to talk about the product and service. So it does always take a little bit of scrubbing right. We always have to make sure we are doing a routine cleaning of our database to make sure that we don’t have junk accounts or inactive accounts or accounts that just don’t follow suit. But this is where content, the ungated content can be critical, to ensure that by the time you ask for information they’re almost waiting for it. They’re willing and waiting to be able to come into your database because you’ve provided so much value to them already.

Paroma: (12:36) What do you think of the future of this content marketing game in the context of the content gating game especially with all these new tools and all these technologies out there. Its technology that has changed the way they consume what we have to offer them, they prefer video today, they probably use their phone a lot more often to read blogs, to consume video content, podcasts. So where do you see all of this going? Where is it headed?

Pamela: (13:02) Yeah!  That they are in control, that they’re getting smarter and they know when it’s coming is true. So I think we may actually see less of gating as we move forward because the audience is almost demanding more of value that they can achieve in one click. Right? At some point there won’t be any clicks perhaps but they really are demanding. I think what our job is as content creators and developers is to be able to do as much as we can in content development that spans different mediums and different types of content for our audience to digest. And what I mean by that is we mentioned video we mentioned audio visual text all of those elements are important and we need to look ahead and and really consider content development not only an important part of the marketing process but a key part when it comes to  importance because your audience wants to be able to see something for a couple of minutes and then they want to pop over and read another blog post and then they see that you’re also a podcast host and then they maybe listen to a couple of those episodes and think- if I like it I’ll subscribe. And so that’s what it really is, we’ve heard the word bingeing on content similar to the way we like to binge on Netflix right. We need to be able to start using more technologies that develop content hubs and through those behaviors we can easily or more easily bring them in. Let them stay with us for a longer time frame. And then of course bring them into our database. So I think we’re going to see more free content as we continue to evolve but we’re going to see multiple mediums in play so that our audience can digest that content the way they really want to at any given moment. Right. I have a good friend who works in the B2B marketing space and I spoke with her some time ago and she said the average person when they start to research do up to 20 minutes of research at any given time. And if that’s the case then why aren’t we developing content that gives them the opportunity to do that. Does that make sense?

Paroma: (15:14) What are your biggest takeaways after all these years in content, you’ve seen the game change. You’ve seen a lot of technology coming in and you’ve seen the consumption patterns change so what are your biggest takeaways and what are the few secret steps that you would want to share with our listeners?

Pamela: (15:30) One of the biggest takeaways I have is that I have seen marketing evolve quite a bit. I mean I started my marketing career in traditional broadcasting as a radio copywriter and copy director back when all I had was a newspaper clipping and I had to write a 30 second ad based on that newspaper clipping right. And I’ve seen it evolve from this push marketing all the way to now where there’s a whole marketing that’s inbound to where we are today with digital and multiple tools and a couple of things just never seem to change… one is the  understanding of your customer, that’s truly critical. I think now we have opportunities more than ever to be able to collect information on behavior and data on those that are interested and what they’re consuming. So let’s take advantage of that as much as we can as marketers so that we’re fulfilling the promise of what our content needs to deliver.

And another piece that I see is with technology we in marketing sometimes have what I call S.O.S- shiny object syndrome right. We see a new tool and we want to go play with it and test it out and that’s all fine. I think it is important for us as marketers to really understand as many of the tools that we have available to us so we can get them, demo them, that type of thing but at the end of the day the tool is only as good as the information you’re putting into the tool right? And so I believe that content is still going to be the most critical part of everything you do even if you’re doing a marketing automation campaign through a Marketo or Eloqua for example. You still have to provide a message and a content offer to get your audience to do something to fulfill on on an action. Right. And so all of those tools are fantastic but the most important is still the information that you’re sharing with your audience which you have to know extremely well.

Paroma: (17:28) Absolutely agree with you. And I think this was a very interesting conversation. And there’s a lot that our listeners can learn from this. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up for the day ?

Pamela: (17:38) I think just one last piece is- if you are in marketing today, whether you’re just joining the industry or you’ve been in the industry for a couple of decades, it is one of the most exciting times to be in marketing. We have an opportunity to really make change happen inside of organizations because content is touch marketing, it touches customer service, it touches the product development, Human Resources, Sales. We have the opportunity to really work within the inside of organizations like never before and then externally to be able to work with our customers. This ultimately is an unheard of opportunity. So I’d just like to remind our fellow marketers that it’s an exciting time. I can feel overwhelming but we have the opportunity to do some really interesting and fun projects. And I just really think it’s a really wonderful time to join the marketing industry if you’re just joining us.

Pamela Muldoon Sunny Side Up Podcast episode

Pamela Muldoon is a Revenue Marketing Coach with The Pedowitz Group and comes to TPG with over two decades of traditional and digital marketing experience. She specializes in campaign and content strategy with a passion for helping clients develop a content marketing culture across the organization. 


About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

Ep12 | B2B Content Marketing Trends with Sarah Beldo at Sift Science

Sarah Beldo, Director of Content Marketing at Sift Science shares her thoughts on the changing trends in the realm of B2B content marketing, and how new technologies will impact content consumption behaviors.


Key Takeaways from the episode:

1.In order to find out what content is resonating we regularly make it a point to ask the people who come to our customer advisory board for feedback and we also have a regular meetup called the Fraud Offenders Forum

2.We partner with sales and we keep a running list of some of the top questions that they get when they’re on their sales calls. So that’s been very helpful for especially lower down the funnel content

3.I do think that the basics don’t change because it is all about delivering value for your audience though it’s the same as always- that you need to know what your audience cares about, you need to know the questions that you can uniquely answer for them.


Here’s the complete transcription:

Meetul (00:38): Tell us about the problem your company solves and your role there.

Sarah (00:41): Yeah absolutely. So Sift Science is a machine learning based platform for fighting all different types of online fraud that can be anything from payment fraud, for example a fraudster taking some stolen credit card numbers and using it to buy all kinds of goods across the world to account takeovers which is someone using your credentials from a site like say Facebook, Airbnb any of that, who log in and act like you and then basically commit some type of fraud which is basically spam and scam. So you can think of maybe like  someone selling something, to spam or abusive content that you would see on any kind of social network or place that posted user generated content. So that’s Sift Science. At this company I run the content marketing team. We’re a team of three and we produce all of the content for the website, for ebooks, podcasts, infographics all of the traditional content marketing assets as well as run our social media accounts.

Meetul (02:11): How does this content change or does it change for sales & marketing type of audiences versus technical audiences?

Sarah(02:20): Yeah good question. So I think that the audience that we are working with right now is very focused on numbers, very focused on efficiency. They really respond well to metrics and to insights that make their job easier and may make it easier for them to communicate their value across the organization. So we always try to be as specific and useful as possible when we’re creating content. Numbers really work. They really like data so that’s different than a lot of the content that I worked with previously at LinkedIn. Also for this audience we found that sharing content is not something that they do as much as some of the other audiences that I’ve written for in the past. Being fraud managers and people who are concerned with risk- they actually don’t even love to use social media that much. If you work with these channels all day and that’s what you’re thinking about, you maybe a little more hesitant to just go on Facebook and share a bunch of stuff and click on a bunch of stuff and engage. So, we had to look at other ways to get people to share our content with each other.

Meetul (03:33): When we were having the conversation, you mentioned that you guys are pretty innovative in your approach as far as what type of content to write and to kind of figure out what content is working and what content potentially may not be working. I thought that was a pretty interesting insight. You don’t mind sharing it with our audience?

Sarah (03:53): Oh sure. I mean when we’re looking at content effectiveness, we really look at what content has either created a new deal or like created an MQL or an opportunity as well as how it has influenced the opportunity until it closes. So we don’t just look out for the first thing that they downloaded, but if a salesperson has shared something like an e-book or a worksheet with someone at any stage in the sales process to help them get past one of the hurdles in the months that they’re working together, the next step basically involves executing that specific piece of content. So we can see with every deal, what content has helped close that deal and then we can tie that to the overall revenue that deal has created for the company. So that’s been very helpful. That model has been very helpful for me as the leader of the content team to not just see what is successful and what isn’t but to show the value of my team.

Meetul (04:49): it’s almost very similar to the type of approach and how you are measuring content at every stage and trying to figure out what value this content is adding to closing the lead.

Sarah (05:01): Yeah exactly, And then as I mentioned before, we also just ask sometimes because that shows what is actually being shared.

We don’t always get the feedback on whether it’s been helpful with that model. In order to find out what content is resonating we regularly make it a point to ask the people who come to our customer advisory board for feedback and we also have a regular meetup called the Fraud Offenders Forum- that is exactly our target audience. I always make it a point to go there and ask people what they like, what they haven’t liked, as well as what type of content they want in the future and how they like to consume content. Honestly it sounds very simple. Those responses have been so useful and have really informed our content strategy quite a bit.

Meetul (05:49): So when it comes to creating content for the different stages, you’re seeing how they’re adding value. But how do you know as to what content to write, right? That’s the problem we grapple with many times. So like okay we’re dealing with an area that’s probably emerging that people don’t know much about. How do you know what resonates for the audience at different stages?

Sarah (06:16): We partner with sales and we keep a running list of some of the top questions that they get when they’re on their sales calls. So that’s been very helpful for especially lower down the funnel content because often these questions are things like- how in this specific way does your tool differ from your competitors or something, a lot more product-specific content. But we also get a lot more awareness stage questions from just asking sales people.  For example Account Takeover is a fairly new problem in the fraud phase. I mean, it’s been around a while that there are some companies that are just now starting to experience that. So they have these questions like- how do I know if it’s a problem, how are other companies like mine experiencing this, what does their problem look like, are there any other common tools to fight it. So the more basic questions that people are asking sales has really shown us where those green spaces are, the places that we can help educate the audience much earlier on, because that is something that’s still emerging.

Meetul (07:18): So when it comes to content gating there’s all kinds of debate that’s kind of going on as far as gating versus ungating content and so forth. What’s the strategy and approach at Sift Science regarding gating content?

Sarah (07:31): So our approach has actually changed a bit in the three years that I’ve been here and I think it’s because we’ve grown as a company. We started out trying different things and seeing what will work. And now we found something that works for us now at this stage based on our company’s needs. We started out having a lot of content ungated and then we would retarget visitors to our website with ads. That way we try to get them to download like one key piece of our content. Most of our content was ungated, so we try to lure them in with information and then follow up later. But that just was not giving us enough leads. I think our focus as a company has shifted to- we want increased volume of leads. I mean we want them to be high-quality but we also just need more volume. So we’ve taken a more aggressive approach where we’re gating more pieces now than ever before. We would never gate a blog post or podcast. Basically anything that we think has enough value to the reader, now we will put a form in front of it. And then after they download that, we will follow up with the sales call pretty quickly with just a very helpful line like- are there any questions I can answer. And then if the person is not ready to talk, they go directly into an email nurture campaign which has about half a good number of emails, maybe one every week with a piece of content that could be webinars, could be a podcast, could be another ebook that we think would be useful and makes sense for them in their particular industry and their particular persona.

Meetul (09:11): Do you guys optimize your landing pages? There are all kinds of theories regarding the fields and questions that should be there. Did you guys go through that exercise of optimizing your landing pages to get the maximum number of visitors and bounce rate and try to reduce the bounce rate.

Sarah (09:31): Yeah we definitely did. We removed some fields and that was positive for us. What has actually helped a lot is just having a form that pops up on the same page versus sending people to a completely separate landing page whenever possible. So all they have to do is fill it out and then they will be redirected directly to the thank you page versus having to go to their email to dig it out. Like everybody, we are trying to make it as easy as possible.

Meetul (10:06): I think you had a pretty interesting insight into this- for the advent of all these new tools and technologies coming in the market with the buzz or hype around ML and all this new jargon thrown around in the marketing, I was just kind of curious to get your take on this when it comes to content marketing. How is it disrupting that feel, Is it changing that feel at all or you feel that there are basics and they don’t change and that technology is just an enabler in the process?

Sarah (10:39):I do think that the basics don’t change because it is all about delivering value for your audience though it’s the same as always- that you need to know what your audience cares about, you need to know the questions that you can uniquely answer for them. You need to differentiate your message from your competitors, deliver value that they can’t deliver. So those are all classic challenges but I don’t think they change at all depending on technology. What technology is improving is the ability to personalize the entire user journey and personalize the content that is delivered. I would love to explore that more here at Sift Science. We’re fairly personalized now, as I understand it, there are even more advanced tools becoming available to really know and be able to deliver the right content at the right time.

So I think that the future of content marketing is going to be an even more personalized experience. I think it is technology that will help us get there. We’re not quite there yet but I think that’s where most tools are headed.

Meetul (11:44): So as a parting thought last but not least, any kind of advice or guidance you have for people who want to be a content writer or content manager. Are there any blogs or books or other things that you recommend?

Sarah (11:59):Oh yeah definitely, I mean one of the great things about learning content marketing is there are a million different resources available out there for free because they are written by content marketers and content marketers love to write. And they love to share and they love to publish. So it is one of those very easy areas to get a lot of really great information. Like, when I was first starting out 10 years…however many years ago trying to learn what Content Marketing is, Content Marketing Institute for example was great, you could go there and do an entire course for free. There are many online courses on content marketing available that are taught by prospective leaders in the field. So very easy to access as well and often free. I used to read copy blogger a lot. I used to read copyblogger a lot. There is a company called Contently, we don’t use their tools right now but I really respect the content they put out. So those are just a few of the many places that you can get information about content marketing online from, and HubSpot as well- it’s like a classic leader in content marketing. They have so much available now, I find it overwhelming. I’ve actually stopped subscribing to their newsletter because there’s just too much that I know that when I go look for in Google, HubSpot will be near the top…so I know it’s going to be a quality article.


Sarah Beldo  leads a team focused on content and events and has been with Sift Science for two years. She has held content-related roles in print publishing, news writing to UX content strategy and B2B content marketing.


 About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

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