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For tech marketers, video is tops; advertising, a nonstarter

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The sixth annual Technology CMO Rountable, hosted by Atlanta-based digital agency Arketi Group, produced some intriguing observations about tech marketing. Among them: Buy and sales cycles have dramatically diverged; content marketing is about conversion and revenue; and video is one of the most powerful channels for reaching key audiences. “Content has always been important, but it's really been only over the past few years that it's been about satisfying the unquenchable thirst for content,” said Mike Neumeier, principal at Arketi. “Today, however, the talk has turned to not just quantity but the quality; not about how it's written or crafted but about the content that buyers want to consume.” Key findings from Arketi's “Outlook for Business-to-Business Technology Marketing in 2013” report, which summarized the findings of last November's roundtable, included:
  • Buyercentric marketing is vital because the buy and sales cycles are not the same. In the past, most of the sales cycle occurred after a prospect met a salesperson. Today, customers arrive “80% educated, having gone through the majority of their buying process before they even contact sales,” the report said.
  • Content is all about conversion. “A big learning was not to just put content and articles out there but [to] make sure you've got a tight framework. Otherwise, yours is just more noise in the marketplace,” the report concluded.
  • Video is a powerful, relevant channel for reaching key audiences. Tech marketers said video's value lies in its ability to help optimize organic search and offer instructional content, thought leadership and testimonials.
  • Partnership marketing is relevant today and should not be underestimated. Partners might include joint media and analyst road shows, Tweetchats, guest bloggers, executive-level roundtables or pay-per-click campaigns.
  • IT solutions are essential marketing tools. “Marketing automation, sales automation and analytics are transforming marketing programs into revenue campaigns ... with follow-through all the way to getting the contract signed,” the report found.
Video is leading the content movement at tech marketers. Fully 90% of Arketi roundtable participants said they will invest more into their video marketing efforts this year compared with last year. Other major investment initiatives will include lead generation/nurturing, thought leadership, website enhancement and branding. Neumeier said it's important to find creative ways to offer video to demonstrate a tech concept—and to make it as professional-looking as possible. “Folks are realizing that video is much more of a must-have,” he said. “Three or four years ago, video started to percolate up, Flip cams were top-of-the-heap, and people were doing gritty videos with bad sound and light. That was acceptable then. Now, it's not.” For tech marketers, mobile marketing was a nonstarter. Roundtable participants did not view creating mobile applications to be a good use of marketing time or money. While many of the companies represented at the roundtable do use mobile apps to deliver services, creating apps for marketing purposes was not widely used. “CMOs have tons of ideas about how to make their offerings mobile-friendly,” Neumeier said. “For example, they talked about gamification, but no one ... thought they'd make a big hit by having supply chain managers play SimCity.” Mobile marketing, however, wasn't the least-valued activity among roundtable participants. At the bottom of the list were analyst relations, live events and advertising. The Arketi report is based on the opinions of more than 50 tech marketing executives who participated in person at the sixth annual Technology CMO Roundtable, results from which were released in March.
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