Monday, August 27, 2007

Optimizing B2B Lead Generation through White Papers

White paper syndicator KnowledgeStorm and the marketing case study experts at MarketingSherpa recently published the third white paper in their series on Connecting Through Content, Putting It All Together—Driving Content Marketing Program Success. The series focused on research and best practices in using thought-leadership content, primarily white papers, to drive B2B lead generation efforts. The key findings from this study include:

Marketers need to make better use of privacy policies to improve registration quality. While marketers rated the quality of lead registration data from their own website twice as high as that from syndicator or other sites, B2B technology buyers said they provide valid registration information regardless of site type—as long as they are confident that their contact information will not be misused. Buyers rate IT publications and vendor websites as the least trustworthy, with just 30% expressing confidence in these sites. To improve lead registration quality, marketers need to make their privacy policy prominent on registration form pages, and provide credible, high-quality content throughout their websites.

Put your content where your buyers are looking. While 95% of marketers view their own websites as the best sources of leads, B2B technology buyers seek out a wider range of sites. 84% of buyers view directory/syndicator sites as very important, and 64% investigate publication and analyst sites. This point may seem a bit self-serving to the white paper authors (KnowledgeStorm is a syndicator and MarketingSherpa is a publisher), but it passes the common-sense test: the more places in which your content can be found, the more likely it is to be seen.

Following up on leads, promptly and properly, is marketing's job. There is a disconnect between lead follow-up processes as reported by marketers and their prospects: 73% of marketers say that their company always follows up on white paper registrations within two days, but most buyers say they are contacted less than half the time. Crucially, three-quarters of buyers say that timely follow up impacts their impression of the company and its products or services.

Buyers report that they provide valid phone numbers on registration forms less than 40% of the time, but a valid email address in nearly 70% of situations. As the white paper states it, "the buyer wants to be in control of the vendor/prospect conversation." Given this information, and the fact that B2B technology buyers often download white papers early in their decision process—well before they qualify as what sales would call a "hot lead"—marketing needs to be in charge of the lead-nurturing process at this point, starting with a courtesy email. To maximize opportunities, the first email should be followed up with a second (unless the prospect opts out, of course), then ideally both a direct mail piece and phone call to those prospects who provide valid contact information.

By disseminating your content through as many outlets as possible, giving prospects confidence that their contact information won't be misused, and following up promptly by email, marketers can maximize the lead-generation potential of their white papers and other thought-leadership content. There's much more; again, you can download the complete white paper here.


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom


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