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Dec 26, 2012

B2B Marketing 2012: A review of MarketingSherpa case studies and how-to articles about content marketing, event marketing, and gamification

SUMMARY: Taking a look back at MarketingSherpa B2B articles from 2012, this year-end recap offers how-to articles and case studies covering content marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, mobile marketing and gamification.

Read on to find insights from your marketing peers and industry experts on some of the most pressing B2B topics right now. In 2012, content proved to be king, but a traditional channel in event marketing found room for upgrades. Additionally, social, mobile and gamification are increasingly important parts of the B2B marketing landscape.
by David Kirkpatrick, Senior Reporter

When looking over the state of B2B marketing in 2012, one topic stands out above the rest — content marketing. Even case studies that focused on other channels, such as email marketing, often had a content marketing strategy at the heart of the effort.

This week’s MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing newsletter article covers our most popular articles on B2B marketing in 2012, and features content marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, mobile marketing and gamification. Read on for a recap of this year’s B2B case studies and how-to articles.

Topic #1. Content Marketing

The importance of content marketing for B2B was readily apparent to the attendees at this year’s MarketingSherpa B2B Summit. In fact, the wrap-up article, "Event Recap: MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012," featured five lessons from the presentations in Orlando, and the number one lesson? Content marketing is a key to B2B success.

Two ongoing marketing challenges for B2B marketers are lead generation and lead nurturing, and having an effective content marketing strategy in place helps marketers meet both of those pain points head-on.

Informative, thought-leadership and third-party content helps to make prospects aware of the brand without pressing them with sales-oriented information. Once that prospect is deeper into the buying funnel, content that answers questions they might have about more specific products or services can help convert those prospects to actual customers.

Here are two how-to articles with actionable tips and tactics for content marketing:

"Marketing Basics: 7 B2B content marketing tactics" is a primer for marketers looking for a place to get started in content marketing, and also a great resource for reviewing a basic content strategy.

Michael Aagaard, self-described online copywriter, and LPO and testing fanatic, Contentverve, offered a seven-point plan on tapping a great resource for content — internal experts within the company.
  1. Plan for blog posts for 10 different employees

  2. Uncover specific subjects they are capable of, or interested in, writing about

  3. Create titles, outlines for general content and the tangible takeaway or payoff for each piece

  4. Get agreement on these elements with each employee creating a content piece

  5. Have them cover the points they want to make in the piece, and reassure them the writing doesn’t have to be perfect

  6. Edit the piece from the expert internal resource to fully craft an article or blog post

  7. Use an editorial plan to set deadlines for each piece that allows the 10 blog posts to provide several months of quality content

"Content Marketing How-to: 7 steps for creating and optimizing content in any size organization" originally ran in the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing newsletter, and this article also offers insights into creating a content marketing strategy.

Joe Chernov, Vice President of Marketing, Kinvey, and former Vice President of Content Marketing, Eloqua, outlined three types of content production:
  1. An executive sponsor obligates a certain number of people in product management and Marketing to create content. People are measured on the content they create, and they have a quota.

  2. There is a corporate culture of content creators. "It’s bottom up, and supported top down," Chernov said. These companies hire digital natives and consider content creation as a core requirement in the hiring process. Chernov provided HubSpot as a prime example of this.

  3. The last type is content as a service bureau. A content team essentially takes orders from different marketing functions, identifies content gaps, and is responsible for filling them. They act somewhat with autonomy, but basically act as an agency within a brand. Chernov considers this type as most in sync with Eloqua’s style.

To see some content marketing strategies in action, here are two case studies from this past year:

"Multichannel Marketing: Combining email and content marketing leads to 35% conversion rate for Elsevier" explores how content marketing intersects with an email marketing strategy — in this case at Elsevier, a provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services.

Elsevier actually used content to segment its database. Using its email database, the company sent different types of content designed to appeal to people in different stages in the buying cycle. Each subscriber was then segmented based on the content types they interacted with from the email sends.

The end goal of segmenting the database was to eventually get the subscribers most likely to become customers to fill out an online registration form. Through this campaign, Elsevier achieved an average form completion rate of 35% from click to completed registration.

McGladrey, the fifth largest assurance, tax and consulting firm globally, realigned its entire online marketing strategy with a content-centric approach, and "Content Marketing: McGladrey’s 4-step process increases content production 300%, Web traffic 100%" covers McGladrey’s entire content marketing process.

According to Eric Webb, Senior Director of Communications & Brand, McGladrey, broken into its most simple components, the strategy included four steps:
  1. Plan content with marketing campaign goals.

  2. Repackage and extend the use of content pieces.

  3. Redesign the website to focus on content.

  4. Drive the website and content to the next level by thinking like a publisher.

Over the several years this strategy has been in effect, McGladrey has obtained solid results:
  • 100% increase in Web visits per month

  • 300% increase in content production

  • 200% increase in content productivity from writers (measuring the "busyness" of content producers)

Topic #2. Event Marketing

It may be true that digital marketing has become very front-of-mind for most marketers, but traditional channels such as event marketing still command a budget line. There is an argument that times exist when that face-to-face connection is the most effective way to market to prospects.

And, in some cases, event marketing has gone digital with virtual and online-only events.

One event marketing challenge is standing out from the crowd at larger conferences, expos and summits.

These next two case studies show how two marketers met that challenge head-on.

"Event Marketing: Zombie-themed campaign nets $1.2 million revenue impact" covers how Stonesoft, a network security technology company, managed to grab attention at Black Hat 2011. The compnay used a "zombie" theme that played on both the company’s business space — a zombie computer is one that has been infected with certain malware — and the current cultural popularity of zombies in entertainment.

The campaign included a video starring a professionally made-up "spokeszombie," as well as an in-event booth visit from the made-up Stonesoft employee.

This effort resulted in 384 unique leads from the event and a $1.2 million impact on Stonesoft’s revenue.

Black Hat is a large event, but’s Dreamforce is truly massive with more than 90,000 attendees at the 2012 conference.

To get noticed at this year’s Dreamforce, SiSense, a business intelligence analytics company, put together a strategy based around a "celebrity" booth visit from a President Obama look-alike. The entire effort included social media teasers and in-show hints at who might be visiting the company’s booth.

This campaign was covered in the case study, "Event Marketing: Stunt combined with social media draws 2,500 to Dreamforce booth."

The campaign, described as a "stunt" by the marketing team, drew 2,500 people to the SiSense booth over the three days of the conference.

Bruno Aziza, VP of Marketing, SiSense, said, "First, you have to know yourself. Secondly, it’s about timing — where are you going to be? And, you lose sight of the top message. Your top message has to work with the stunt; otherwise, it’s a memorable thing, but it goes nowhere."

In "Mobile Marketing: Juniper Networks’ QR code event strategy leads to paperless conference," traditional, in-person event marketing is given a technology upgrade.

Juniper Networks, a computer network company that offers everything from software to systems, hosted its first Global Partner Conference, and decided to go almost completely paperless. The company made all event materials, from registration to speaker bios to presentation collateral, available on a mobile-optimized microsite accessed through QR codes at the event.

Attendees did have the option for some physical handouts, but were highly encouraged to utilize the online-only aspect of the in-person event materials.

The conference had around 1,300 attendees, and Juniper registered impressive results with its QR code-driven event:
  • 1,921 QR code scans

  • 1,238 unique visitors to the conference microsite

  • 7,325 page views on the mobile-optimized microsite

Topic #3. Social, Mobile and Gamification

Although these three are distinct topics, they are also still emerging topics for B2B marketers.

The case study, "Combining Social Media and Event Marketing: Year-round effort boosts clickthrough 236%," takes a look at how one marketer tied a social strategy to an in-person event to create a community that remained active throughout the year.

The Cisco Live user conference created a community for Cisco that the technology company wanted to remain engaged with even beyond the in-person event.

The result was a social media strategy that combined communities on LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as regular engagement on Twitter, to encourage interaction between community members among themselves and with Cisco.

The entire campaign was planned around a social media publishing schedule, including the frequency to publish to each social media platform and determining different types of content best suited for each platform.

This effort boosted the communities around the Cisco Live event:
  • Twitter followers increased 100%.

  • LinkedIn members increased 300%.

  • Facebook fans increased 200%.

The how-to article,"B2B Marketing: The 5 most common social media mistakes," first appeared in the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Newsletter and features insights from a MarketingSherpa webinar on how marketers can identify and avoid social media mistakes, such as not soliciting third-party content and creating content that isn’t authentic.

In another how-to, "B2B Marketing: 7 mobile and social media tactics," we reached out to three experts for insights into B2B mobile and social media marketing.

Here is what we learned:
  1. Match content to buying stages.

  2. Use QR codes to bring offline leads online.

  3. Tie mobile and social into the marketing automation system or other tracking mechanisms.

  4. Be aware of privacy considerations.

  5. Be "mobile friendly."

  6. Don’t overlook LinkedIn.

  7. Make it easy to scan, text or click.

And, one marketing area we expect to continue hearing more about, and finding innovative B2B uses for, is gamification.

"Gamification: 6 tactics for B2B marketers" provides a framework of tactics where gamification can be effective.

These include using game elements to drive online community engagement, motivating employees, and even getting Sales to interact with the CRM software technology.

To show how one marketer included gamification in an overall strategy, "B2B Social Media: Gamification effort increases Web traffic 100%, employee collaboration 57%" covered how Bluewolf, a global consulting firm specializing in enterprise agility, used gaming tactics to get its employees to become more active in social media and help drive traffic to the company website.

That campaign led to these results:
  • Website traffic from social media increased 100% after the gamification effort went into effect.

  • Social traffic increased 20% month-over-month since the beginning of the entire campaign.

  • 57% increase in collaboration via an internal social network.

  • Klout score rose from 43 to 45.28 over the course of the campaign.

To receive case studies and how-to articles in your inbox every week, subscribe to the free MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Newsletter.



Cisco Systems




Juniper Networks



Related Resources

Email Marketing 2012: The 9 most popular MarketingSherpa articles about personalization, content, welcome emails and list segmenting

Marketing Discoveries: Tactics that worked for your peers in 2012

Content Marketing: 7 tips for content repurposing

Nine Simple Tactics to Drive a Higher Return on Trade Show Investment

Mobile Marketing: 27% of marketers don’t know their customers’ mobile adoption rate

MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Newsletter

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