With Content Creating ‘Change Imposter’ Buyers, Analyst Relations is a Major B2B Asset
May 27, 2016 / By Vanessa Horwell
For B2B companies that have embraced content marketing, a trusted lead-generation tactic is the landing page content download: Create a resource that will be useful to your buyers, load it to your website with a lead form, and require site visitors to share their personal information in order to access it.
By following the above formula, businesses win the email addresses and phone numbers of interested individuals – ideally those who can make purchasing decisions. Yet cracks in the trusty landing-page lead-gen approach are beginning to show, due largely to the interrelated issues discussed below. Thankfully, however, improved analyst relations (AR) can help brands fill in their expanding inbound-marketing gaps.
'Peak' Content, but Valley-ed Value
For better and worse, the B2B landscape has entered an era of "peak content." A recent study found that the average brand now publishes more than 2,000 pieces of content a year – comprising a 35% increase over the prior year and fostering 75.7 billion interactions with brands' digital audiences.
Yet as the volume of high-quality branded content has gone up, the perceived value of accessing that content has gone done for their audiences: Average engagement decreased by 17% in 2015 compared to the year prior, and is poised for continued decline. Even worse, the value of the interactions and engagement fostered by downloadable content are also going down.
How so? A huge key to effective lead generation is the quality of leads generated. Now that the landing page email-capture form has become a familiar friend to internet users of all stripes, many consumers will gladly exchange their email addresses in exchange for useful information... but that doesn't necessarily mean they're interested in your product or eligible to make a buying decision on their employer's behalf.
And even if a captured landing-page lead is a B2B decision-maker, a download hardly indicates anything about their level of interest in your product. At a recent Harvard Buyers Summit, half of service providers surveyed said they think enterprise buyers are typically just pretending to want or welcome change at their organizations – and those very "change imposter" buyers are highly likely to be the ones downloading your content.
A/R Equates to Interest
Unfortunately, the reason those decision makers (and their lower-level staffers) will so freely download your content – regardless of their actual level of interest – is obvious: it's free!
And it should be free, of course. All original branded content, no matter how well-researched and informative, is designed to advance a brand's business agenda in one form or another. Knowing that, it's fair value exchange between businesses and its audience to expect (free) contact info in exchange for a (free) resource – and yet it's just as reasonable to expect that the lion's share of downloaders to be low-value, "change imposter" targets.
Reaching highly motivated buyers requires reaching those individuals who are willing to invest time and money to access resources of higher perceived value – resources that are objective, and bear a stamp of third-party validation. Analyst reports are those resources, and ensuring a B2B company's inclusion in them requires a comprehensive analyst relations strategy.
Some B2B stakeholders mistakenly view AR as an ancillary element of a larger public relations initiative, but it's anything but. Landing a placement in any top industry report is challenging for companies no matter their size or standing, because analyst-firm researchers are trained to think beyond brand recognition and to deliver thoughtfully researched, objective product assessments to buyers. Reaching those researchers is easier with an expert AR partner. (At ThinkInk, we maintain a network of analyst contacts from top-tier firms and help our clients develop long-term analyst relationships.)
Ultimately, using analyst coverage can help B2B companies seal the cracks in any branded content strategy. Certainly, high-quality original content is still king when it comes to driving B2B thought leadership, brand awareness, and visibility. But because cultivating quality leads requires reaching motivated buyers, any comprehensive communications program should include engagement with prominent analysts and industry researchers – without one, expect the change imposters to keep clogging up your sales funnel.
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