According to a recent survey of 500 technology decision makers and influencers, Internet access to content is changing the way IT solutions are purchased, with buyers using on-line research to drive substantial portion of the decision making cycle on their own. Savvy buyers are using on-line content to set strategies, explore and select solutions, all before ever engaging a sales representative.
For these technology decision makers and influencers, content is an all important decision catalyst, with buyers researching opportunities, solutions, technical specifications, financial justification, success stories references and competitive comparisons. In a do-more-with-less environment, IT buyers view on-line content as essential to the buying process, a facilitator to help make better decisions more quickly.
Content that Matters Most?
When surveyed as to the most influential content in decision making, white papers remain the stand-out content of choice.
This marked the third year in a row that white papers were ranked as the most influential when compared to several other collateral types, including superior influence in driving purchase decisions over case studies / success stories, product brochures / data sheets, videos, and podcasts.
Although white papers remain influential, technology media firms such as Ziff Davis Enterprise (ZDE) and others report that white paper downloads are DOWN year over year.
Unfortunately the bulk of white paper marketing involves communicating the same information, in the same way, over and over to prospects as different as Joe’s Barber Shop and Exxon Mobil. This results in information overload, with low response rates, a slower buying process and lack of competitive differentiation. The issue is that traditional white papers are often not engaging enough to break through the clutter.
So, how do marketers make whitepapers more effective, more relevant, more ONE-TO-ONE?
Interactive White Papers
One way to overcome these issues is via Interactive White Papers - by creating content that is dynamic, adaptive and personalized in real time, fundamentally changing the way white papers engage buyers.
Research from MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm, shows that targeted content is more effective, when customized for:
- Industry (82% more effective)
- Role/job function (67%)
- Company size (49%)
- Geography (29%).
For buyers, Interactive White Papers provide a fast and easy way to personalize specific data and messaging points in the white paper, enabling them to streamline their research and create more effective resources that can be shared within their organization.
For marketers, personalizing white paper content based on user profile, creates a better attraction, connection and stronger engagement. Noise is removed and education streamlined, helping to reduce sales cycles and drive more sales.
More information on Interactive White Papers can be found at: http://www.alinean.com/demand-gen/interactive_white_paper.aspx
- MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm survey - http://www.knowledgestorm.com/search/viewabstract/90153
- Eccolo Media 2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey of American businesses http://eccolomedia.com/2010_survey.php