Marketing of ECM and other enterprise software is not the most popular topic among journalists. If it was, there would be more articles that help explain "The Five W's" - who, what, when, where, and how. To help others in the field improve their own ECM marketing programmes we asked these questions to a group of ECM professionals who run their own successful sales and marketing organisations.
What... content is the most effective when engaging potential ECM customers?
The first step is to review and document your own content marketing strategy. You will also need the help of your stakeholders to generate ideas, participate in content creation, provide feedback, and share your content with their social networks. Rinalds Sluckis, CEO at Digital Mind says, "Our preferred content types are demos, infographics and blog posts. We publish them all on our website and share them on LinkedIn."
Smaller companies, who don't have the resources do regular content marketing rely on talking about real-world problems that they've encountered. Take for example Red House Consulting. Chris Meyer, Founding Consultant says, "Our audience is highly tech-savvy, so we regularly write posts talking about the technical solutions we've used to help solve client problems." The other type of content they rely on heavily is one-on-one personal demonstrations, proving that good old fashioned show-and-tell still lives on.
The chances are that you're not the only one who's had any specific problem. You are unique, but problems aren't. Helping others by sharing the solutions that you've already found is a secure way to build trust and establish yourself as the expert on a subject.
Another example comes from Wisteria Information Technologies. "We look for problems that Content Server users are posting in the OpenText Knowledge Center discussions, and help people solve them," says Donna Nalls, Principle Consultant. This, along with sponsoring events such as OpenText Enterprise World and Innovation Tour days helps them find new prospective clients.
How... significant is your website within the lead generation process? What is the most effective way to get leads from your site?
From your Contact Us form to your latest blog post, all of your most valuable content is stored on your website. By producing content like blogs and whitepapers or ebooks, you establish your role as an authority on ECM. Your website becomes the proof that you are a company who knows the industry. In the words of Wisteria, "No matter how you find a potential client, the company website is the definitive source of information about your company."
For Digital Mind, content is what attracts customers. "Usually visitors land on our site because they’ve come to see some piece of content we’ve created – video, blog post or infographic - and then they often move on to look at what else we have there," says Rinalds.
Global Cents also completely agree. They have created an entire Resource Library section within their website where prospects and clients can download their latest collateral, demonstrations and webinars.
Is your website just a business card?
Just a business card? Absolutely not! "A website is key to demonstrating your viability as a supplier," says Gunn Kristin Saltvik, Owner of Contesto AS. "No matter how small your company is, it’s essential to be seen to be professional and these days the website is the first place people go looking when you reach out to them."
It is also essential to understand what distinguishes you from everyone else out there. For example, Sara Beltoise, Marketing Director at KineMatik, found that "visitors look at a large range of material, especially videos because they can see how the solution would work on their own Content Server platform."
Once you know which assets are the most successful, don't forget to effectively promote them to ensure they bring you the maximum benefit. We can't stress enough the importance of tracking visitor activities. This not only brings you sales leads, but it also provides the content analytics that you need to market effectively. Digital Mind and Global Cents monitor activity within their site in order to correlate interest in certain types of content with interest in specific products.
When... to send emails and newsletters? How to get people to subscribe?
Almost all B2B digital marketers use newsletters as one of the key weapons in their armoury. Why wouldn't they? Newsletters are one of the most cost effective ways to nurture prospects and help maintain an on-going relationship. But most of all, they establish or reinforce your company's authority as an expert in its field. Our friends at Digital Mind send out a regular newsletter to their prospects in which they promote their online Paper.li newspaper. "We curate the best 10-15 pieces of EIM related online content that we believe would be of interest to our current and potential clients," Rinalds said. Contesto and Global Cents also send out regular newsletters when they launch a new product or have relevant news.
Where... are your ECM prospects hiding?
These days the journey to your website often begins within LinkedIn or some other social media watering hole. We asked our ECM marketers where they go to find their leads, and here's what they said:
- Personal connections
- Customer recommendations LinkedIn
- OpenText Knowledge Center OpenText events (e.g. Enterprise World, Innovation Tour)
- Website forms
- Directly from OpenText
Currently there are over 40 groups related to OpenText on LinkedIn. RedHouse Consulting tends to look for opportunities in the forums targeted at OpenText staff, partners and customers. "The OpenText Knowledge Center is also a good place to monitor," says Chris, "they tend to be more technical discussions on there, but it’s good to be able to post up things into there from time to time just to help people out."
Digital Mind try to be present as speakers, exhibitors or at least attendees in events related to business technology and business development. Furthermore, they maintain close relationships with media outlets such as CMSWire that cover appropriate topics and give them the opportunity to feature as ECM experts. Paul Kleinknecht, VP Sales and Business Development at ShinyDocs says that it is important to "focus on getting your message to as many [OpenText] reps" as possible. If you have a solution on their price list, OpenText's sales team can become your own, so enablement is vital.
Who... attends enterprise events? Most importantly, who attends Enterprise World?
One of the biggest events on the OpenText calendar is upon us: OpenText Enterprise World. So if you've paid to exhibit or sponsor the event, or if you just plan to attend in person, how do you make the most of it?
For smaller companies like Red House and Wisteria, the most important feature is the networking opportunity, "Go to the breakout sessions that are most relevant and just talk to people there", says Chris. Bigger companies like Digital Mind, Global Cents and capSpire go one step further and actually sponsor OTEW. As experienced sponsors, they have a few tips they would like to share:
- Clearly define your goals. "Unless your primary goal is brand awareness, avoid spending money on fancy booth designs, entertainers and give-aways," says Rinalds.
- Plan ahead. Gunn Kristin advises to, "Set up a goal of why you are attending and what you expect to bring back, then plan in advance what sessions you want to attend, and who you need to meet and engage with". Trent Amos, VP Sales & Marketing at capSpire comments, "We ensure that our representatives schedule meetings with their key clients prior to the event."
- Dedicate staff to be constantly at the booth: you need at least two people to be there at all times. The person talking to your potential customers will be the deciding factor to your success. If you are presenting, make sure you have a product demo ready at all times.
- Have a clear message! You will have only a short while to get your point across. Use it wisely.
Whether or not you are happy with your current marketing results, make sure that you set reasonable expectations and don't forget the basics. Start with great content, make sure you've got an effective website, use your network to spread the word, and make sure you critically analyse your efforts. As Gunn Saltvik from Contesto puts it, "To sustain and grow your business, develop a plan for how many new customers you need every month, how many users, where in the country, what solutions and so on. This will make it easier to measure and make sure you attain your goal and stay within your budget."