+44 (0) 208 334 8041 jcooper@ascendcomms.net

In recent years B2B marketers seem increasingly caught up in the hullabaloo and hype surrounding e-marketing and social media – nowadays everyone’s captivated by rich new data reporting on SEO rankings, blog re-tweets, and which pages or content downloads most turn web visitors on.

Little wonder then that CMOs are caving under the pressure to demonstrate a correlation between B2B marketing spend and ‘measurable outcomes’. But while this information is helpful to understanding buyer intent and leveraging it to accelerate revenue – it kind of misses the bigger picture.

Confused? You shouldn’t be. Fact is, most B2B buyers don’t close deals online – and they don’t ‘discover’ potential suppliers there either.

According to some estimates, customers making B2B purchase decisions have already completed 70% of their research by the time they first contact a company to ask questions, download a data sheet, or request technical specs.

So perhaps it’s time for CMOs to push back with strong evidence that it’s naive to measure e-marketing outcomes alone – because these represent just the tip of the iceberg. Below the waters lie the much harder to quantify PR and AR activities that first get a company onto the radar of a potential prospect.

Analyst Relations – a key aspect of the PR mix

Let’s cut to the quick and highlight why adding analyst relations to your PR mix represents a great investment.

Industry analyst firms talk to lots of people – everyone from vendors to partners to customers. And they conduct deep research on evolving markets and assessing customer challenges, issuing guidance on what your prospects should look for when seeking a specific offering to address a particular problem.

In other words, analysts influence vendor fortunes before the sales cycle even begins. What’s more, buyers consult analysts to understand the financial benefits of the solutions they’re considering, to learn how to implement them – and even how to buy them.

According to a recent Forrester report (Forrester: Build Analyst Relations Programs on Buyer Priorities for Analyst Interaction and Insight, 2015), buyers repeatedly turn to analysts throughout the entire discovery, explore and buy cycle.

They’ll purchase analyst vendor reports to explore the range of technical options available in the marketplace, attend seminars, participate in webinars, and frequently utilise analyst advisory and consulting services to get their questions answered.

So, if you’re not talking to analysts, chances are you’ll miss out on getting included on a buyer’s list of potential vendors. And you’ll miss out on prepping analysts with the deep insight and knowledge they’ll need about your company and your solutions when they’re involved in face-to-face engagements with buyers.

But don’t just take our word for it. Or the word of Forrester – who are, after all, an industry analyst.

The much respected 2015 Buyersphere Report, an annual survey which explores the attitudes and behaviours of B2B buyers, confirms that the DMU (Decision Making Unit) of both large and SME-sized companies actively seeks out expert opinion and content from independent industry analysts – and that this information influences vendor choice.

Why e-marketing content doesn’t cut it with buyers

You probably think that you’ve got your marketing communications strategy sewn up. After all, you’re generating oodles of blog and infographics – but does this content ever get consumed by the key decision-makers and influencers you want to reach? Clearly, your installed base is probably checking out those podcasts. But what about new prospects?

A recent analysis of 1 million online articles undertaken by BuzzSumo and Moz found that the majority of content published on the Internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links. The findings suggest that most people are wasting their time – and either producing poor content or failing to amplify it (their words, not ours!).

But analysis of a subset of content types such as editorial, throws up some interesting findings:

  • Opinion content focused on current trending areas garnered a significantly higher average of shares and links
  • The highest correlation between getting amplified and linked is press coverage
  • Organisations should concentrate on forming authoritative content on current topics that is well researched and evidenced – like offering publishers new data and research that has never been published before
  • Content that reveals interesting trends or findings has high take-up
  • That white papers and case studies are great for building links

The report concludes that it’s easy for digital or social marketers to lose sight of the real business drivers. Because we live in a world where only 3-5% of the people your direct marketing team contacts will actually buy something.

In other words, if you try to quantify PR in the same way you manage your digital marketing analysis, you’ll risk treating it as a standalone activity and will wind up with an incomplete picture at best.

As Einstein put it, “Not everything that can be counted counts – and not everything that counts can be counted.”

So if you want to get known as a thought leader in your sector, engage with key influencers, or generate awareness and change perceptions – then you’ll need to invest in PR.

What’s more, you’ll be able to measure PR outcomes in lots of ways, but seldom from a lead generation point of view.

What you will be able to track over a period, however, is patterns and trends that highlight your PR is working. And that’ where your monitoring of web traffic, number of inbound links, the ratio of new to repeat visitors, branded searches, comments to posts – and so forth – will come into well.

Fact is that when PR is executed well, it generates and builds the audiences that marketing and sales can turn into leads – and ultimately revenue. And that’s where we can help.

point of view.

What you will be able to track over a period, however, is patterns and trends that highlight your PR is working. And that’ where your monitoring of web traffic, number of inbound links, the ratio of new to repeat visitors, branded searches, comments to posts – and so forth – will come into well.

Fact is that when PR is executed well, it generates and builds the audiences that marketing and sales can turn into leads – and ultimately revenue. And that’s where we can help.