Since you’re reading this article, there’s better-than-average chance you’re a marketing professional for a B2B technology company—or you’re in need of the expertise of someone who is. That’s why we often share in this blog our tried-and-true tips on making your content marketing as effective as it can be.
For example, we recently examined how over-reliance on the rapid, iterative approach to digital advertising can cost you more than you gain. We’ve talked about how to prevent your email marketing from irritating rather than engaging your prospects, how to amp up most any content format by simply remembering the power of PSR, and many more content do’s and don’ts.
While you can apply tips like these to most any marketing strategy, today we’ll focus on an issue very specific to B2B technology companies. That is, the unfortunate tendency to try and drag our prospects into the technical weeds, right off the bat. As a technologist myself, I know it’s tempting. We love talking about our products, how our solution specs beat out the competition, how many giga-flops we can push through or terabytes our appliances are capable of handling. And why not? These are concrete examples of how our products and services—or those of the clients we represent—are The Best.
So, it seems only natural that tech companies create a flurry of content assets that talk about “us” and “our products” and tout all these impressive specs and technical details. These assets—from blog posts to bylines to white papers—then become the cornerstones for their lead- and demand-gen. After all, when it’s a hi-tech solution you offer, it’s a hi-tech solution they’re looking for, right?
Not quite, and certainly not always. Before you take such an all-in, hi-tech approach to your content marketing, here are a few pitfalls to avoid.
You’re barking up the wrong tree
Sometimes you’re promoting highly technical content to the wrong person in the organization. After all, often it isn’t the nitty-gritty techies that are the ultimate decision makers—or the ones to sign the purchase order.
Let’s say you offer a state-of-the-art Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) accounting package that virtually eliminates compliance reporting headaches for financial services firms. That’s a huge benefit, especially for the upper management in those companies. These days, such executives can face fines and even jail time for any misrepresentation—no matter how unintentional—to their customers, stockholders from the SEC.
Do you want to start by emailing this audience about how your software encryption and auto-collating algorithms work to accomplish that? True, hi-tech explanations might be interesting later in the sales process, when the IT team is comparing and deciding between potential solutions. But the CFO and other upper management are more concerned about the overarching problem and innovative approaches to solving it—not the nuts-and-bolts of how you do it.
Your timing is all wrong
Besides being a mismatch to your target audience, delivery of overly technical content is often ill-timed. Jumping right into a technical dissertation is like starting in the middle of the sales funnel—or possibly at the end. Even if your audience is technical, dumping a highly technical piece of content on their plate before you know anything about them isn’t a smooth move. Delivering the wrong level of detail too early in the sales cycle can overwhelm and even lose an otherwise promising lead.
Unless you’ve got data to the contrary, assume your prospect needs to start at a high level. That is, that they are in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. If reaching out to new prospects via email, start with a topic about their likely problem—even a problem they may not realize they have—rather than a technology deep-dive. With each successive interaction, let their own reactions (or inactions) reveal their interests and level of technical proficiency.
It’s a similar situation with your website visitors. Your homepage copy should start with a high-level explanation of a visitor’s likely problems and your solutions—not a doctoral thesis on the ultra-fine machining tolerances of laser torch cutters. The website should allow for a natural and intuitive drill down, guiding a new visitor along the path to the appropriate level of information—while also enabling the real techie to jump ahead to find the deep-dive on another page.
You’re sending the wrong information—or not enough
Believe it or not, all these pitfalls—talking to the wrong audience at the wrong time with the wrong (overly technical) content—are related. And three wrongs do not make for a right, where the success of your content marketing is concerned. The fact is, your content needs to address all your potential audiences, each at the proper time during their buyer’s journey and each with the right level of technical content.
For some prospects, it really doesn’t matter how you do-what-you-do, only that it solves their problem. For others, it’s the opposite. Most, however, will first want to know you understand their pain points (Awareness), be slowly introduced to various options (Consideration), then become convinced that your solution is the best one for them (Decision). This may mean you have to create more content to cover more situations. The key thing, though, is to be smart about when you deliver that content to each prospect or lead.
Marketing automation software can help you track key data about each interaction your prospects have with each piece of content. This allows you to know when a prospect has gone beyond the awareness stage and is ready for more solution-specific content. Similarly, your website can detect from which email or ad campaign a visitor has arrived, how many times they’ve visited, and use analytics to determine whether they’ve (yet) shown interest in deeper, more technical information.
Now you can be smart about whether it’s the right time to offer up those gigaflops, terabytes and algorithm to someone who’ll appreciate them.