- For more effective demand generation, tech marketers should use a balanced multichannel marketing mix, instead of investing in limited or too many channels.
- Create more relevant CTAs in marketing campaigns by focusing on the buyer’s behavior, profiles and activity streams in the buying cycle.
- Select marketing channels based on performance against objectives, not just investment. Include channels with higher direct investment (display ads and retargeting, content syndication and paid social ads) to drive improvements in lead quality.
Despite pandemic-inflicted economic disruption, technology marketers saw stability in conversion rates across the funnel in 2021. While this is a good indicator of marketing program effectiveness, there is still scope to improve demand generation with a balanced multichannel approach.
“Many technology marketers invest in limited channels because they don’t want to spread their budgets too thin,” says Gartner Sr. Director Analyst Alan Antin. “But simply increasing the number of CTAs and marketing channels won’t drive demand generation either.”
These three steps can help you use a broader multichannel marketing mix that meets buyers’ needs and generates qualified leads across the three stages in the buying cycle — exploration, evaluation and engagement.
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1. Provide appropriate CTAs
Create CTAs that map to activity streams in the buying cycle.
- In the exploration stage, potential buyers identify a problem and seek solutions, but may not have committed to a project or a budget yet. Spur the buyer to ponder questions like “where should we put this on our priority list?” or “what are other businesses doing?” Typical CTAs direct to thought leadership content on future industry trends or the buyer’s role in the form of white papers, videos, podcasts or webinars, as well as case studies.
- In the evaluation stage, buyers shortlist vendors to understand product differentiators and the value each vendor offers. Your message should connect the business needs to appropriate technology solutions. Typical CTAs include outcome-based case studies, free trials or demonstrations, and product comparison webinars.
- In the engagement stage, buyers are ready to interact directly with sales or channel partners to further understand the product offerings. They are clear about their needs and seek to build a business case for selecting the vendor. Typical CTAs include meeting requests, hosted events, proofs of concept, implementation guides and technical documentation.
In a 2021 survey of technology marketers, Gartner found that the most used CTAs were webinars, virtual events and content assets, particularly among respondents representing companies with annual revenue of $100 million or more. Certainly, the pandemic is the likely cause for the increased performance for virtual events, webinars and demonstrations. Content assets, on the other hand, saw a decrease in overall performance.
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2. Define marketing channels to improve content distribution
Once you establish CTAs and content, earmark marketing channels that you will use to increase awareness and amplify content distribution.
The 2021 Gartner Technology Marketing Benchmarks Survey indicated a shift toward a diverse mix of marketing channels among tech marketers, who traditionally relied on in-person tradeshows and third-party events. In terms of channel performance or ability to generate leads, email was the best-performing channel, followed by social marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). However, the respondents did mention challenges in aligning their email strategy with the right messaging.
The key is not just to use low-cost channels, such as email, social media and organic traffic, but also assess channel performance based on objectives. For example, while certain channels, such as display advertising, retargeting and content syndication, require greater direct investments, the quality of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) they generate is typically higher.
At the exploration stage of the buying cycle, ask these questions to identify the right channels:
- From where are your buyers gathering product information?
- How do they define their problems?
- Who are the influencers in your market?
- What digital/online communities are your buyers engaging with?
- Are they replacing or buying new technology?
At the evaluation stage, when the interest of potential buyers has been captured, your goal is to keep their attention and stay top of mind. To do so, leverage your owned channels (websites and social media pages) along with ad retargeting, display advertising, paid social and targeted emails.
Finally, at the engagement stage, it’s about understanding the level of engagement buyers are seeking. The most viable channels for this stage include outbound calling, industry events, and direct or partner channel sales. Content vehicles at this stage should focus on further educating the buyer. Gartner research shows that videos and case studies are among the most effective ways to do so.
3. Align CTAs, content and marketing channels to target buyer personas
Simply adding CTAs and marketing channels with limited understanding of buyers will not improve lead conversion. To optimize conversion rates, align marketing channels, CTAs and content to specific buyer personas at different stages of the buying cycle.
For example, a C-level executive in the exploration stage of the buying cycle may seek information around business processes to solve a problem by engaging with industry-specific digital communities. Meanwhile an IT leader within the same account may look for product solutions in the evaluation stage and use technology-specific websites or publications.