Category Archives: TechTarget Online ROI Summit

TechTarget Content Strategy Workshop

Bill Crowley, VP, Group Publisher, Data Center Media, TechTarget, ran this lively discussion on producing good online content for IT professionals.

Get your head around the prospect

The Heath brothers call it the curse of knowledge. Whatever way you frame it, there is always a problem when an expert tries to communicate to a novice… empathy towards the uninitiated is hard to maintain.  This is particularly true of documents produced for IT prospects: the audience may not understand how your company’s solutions relate to their problem.

You need to remember that it’s about the problem – not about you! So work on really discovering what is the problem – not just going overboard describing all your bells and whistles. As most sales guys will tell you, the hardest task is finding people with the problem and the budget. Remember that most prospects have pain points – understand these and put forward a solution.

Create ‘change the game’ content

If you are developing content for the awareness or interest stage, you need to explain why you are different. While this is not great froma direct response perspective, it can really help you develop a niche and stand out.

Headlines sell the story

Think of where your target is in the buying cycle and frame your headline accordingly. The categories:

  • Awareness
  • Interest/tech explanation
  • Solution/product information

Remember that people are more afraid of failure than they are craving success – play on this. Show how your product reduces risk (could this mean a move away from the often-overused ROI arguments?).

Like a good journalist, make sure there is some action in the headline. Breathe life into it.

Measurement, tracking and nurturing

Check out what is the most popular content for the month. See what is working – both in terms of headlines and content. This information is available on TechTarget sites. However, make sure you don’t judge all content equally – product/solution assets: these have a much lower volume, however given their position in the buying cycle, generally attract higher quality traffic.

Finally, remember that if you do have content for the different stages in the buying cycle, you can leverage this: if someone takes an awareness stage asset, run a nurturing program and use a solution stage asset to make further contact.

BTW, if you want more information, check out the presentations from the TechTarget Online ROI Summit in San Francisco.

Marketing to Enterprise Java Developers

Ouch. I’m sure most of the Java developers I know would cringe at the headline to this post. Inflammatory or not, I think this is the crux of trying to entice this clever, often commerce-averse brood. There is often a huge cultural chasm between heads of marketing departments (who, let’s face it, as marketing operations guys we’re always trying to impress) and your average enterprise Java developer (who is often tasked with evaluating different vendors).

This was definitely my takeaway from a recent session on this topic at the TechTarget Online ROI Summit. Peter Varhol, Editor in Chief, TheServerSide.com and Brian McGovern, Publisher, Application Development Media, TechTarget led the discussion, however there was also significant input from Eugene Ciurana, Director of Systems Infrastructure for Leapfrog Enterprises.

TheServerSide.com statistics

TheServerSide is one of the top resources for Java developers. They have recently conducted a survey of their user base which throws up some interesting stats on the state of enterprise Java development.

How much experience do they have?
70% have more than 5 years,
22% have between 3-5 years.

Where do they fit in within the organizational structure?
50% are part of central IT organization.

In what kinds of companies can they be found?
No surprise that most work in the technology and finance industries. 75% can be found in SMEs.

What are they working on?
75% are building mission-critical applications,
80% work on web applications,
only 8% are currently working in mobile.

Pains of Java development

From here on, the discussion moved in a qualitative direction.

Some issues around architecture/frameworks:

  • Too many to evaluate – there is a problem keeping up with all the new technologies
  • Open source projects will be considered but are of varying continuity (eg. a problem to know whether the framework will be supported long-term)
  • What framework do you choose?
  • Performance and scalability – how well does it scale?
  • Developers dislike vendor lock-in – they like to have the idea that they do have choice if something goes wrong (one advantage of open source)

Day to day issues

Some big problems Java developers face:

  • Can’t find/fix a bug (especially damaging if the bug is in the framework)
  • Build breaks kill hours of development time, and are compounded if outsourcing means teams are split across geos/time zones

Why should we care about these? Read on…

Enterprise software site requirements

Developers are looking for features that solve problems, and take away their pain points. Addressing these when positioning products is key. State the benefits upfront, eg. ‘fix bugs 50% faster’.

In order to reduce potential risk, developers are also looking to get their hands on evaluation copies of software – this is the best way you can sell to this audience (from an anecdotal point of view, I know we see campaigns run better if we offer demos/evals). The takeaway here:’try before you buy’ is essential, and this needs to be the full version – no ‘crippleware’ (eg. with print/save disabled).

The Open Source Challenge

Developers look first for open source as these generally have the latest and most innovative technology. However questions around open source relate to the quality of the support and the longevity of the product. Having said that, it is felt that support is generally better on open source platforms as there is often a large developer community base ready to answer questions and address bug fixes.

Enterprise software websites should borrow from the best of the open source model: engage the development community and offer strong online support options – a forum needs to be visible. Also, ensure experts are out in front of the customer. As much information as possible should be public so answers can be found quickly on Google.

Remember that potential customers will be looking for validation before purchase: references are gold.

At this point, the marketers in the room asked what kind of vendor content works well? These are some of the answers that came back:

  • Source code can be interesting (as well as useful)
  • Webcasts generally take too much time and are often avoided
  • The same goes for other video – unless it’s interviews with interesting people, but all video should be short (eg. create something for the 5 minute downtime when a developer is waiting for code to compile)
    Big documents work well: explain the product in detail and how exactly it will help a developer

How do developers learn about new technologies? The omnipresent Google came up here. Choice quote: ‘I want to talk to the guy that wrote this’.

All in all, I found this session one of the most revealing on the subject of creating appealing content for the developer crowd. I’ve found myself wincing on occasion whilst writing this with the frequent mention of ‘developers’, as if they are a homogenous group. In today’s complex workplace, that is probably a vast oversimplification. However, having said that I did come away with the feeling that this group of eventual end users have demands at the evaluation stage that we as marketers often fail to meet. At the end of the session, it was asked whether the developers present could give any good examples of enterprise level software websites they could recommend. Perhaps Sun? What about Oracle?

They drew a blank.

Matching content to your market, target and prospect buying stage

This session focussing on online content at the TechTarget Online ROI Summit was presented by Bill Crowley, VP, Group Publisher, Data Center Media, TechTarget.

The core of this presentation: most technical buyers information needs change over the buying process. What is the buying process? The old AID(A) model is useful as a starting point here. To recap:

  • Awareness: when buyers needs to figure out what the industry is and how it relates to them
  • Interest: really getting into details about how the product/service can help you
  • Decision: finally… evaluating different vendors to decide on the most suitable
  • (Action:) making the sale

The last point is in parentheses as it is not so important for this discussion as there is generally little marketing collateral involved at this stage.

The point Bill makes is that most marketers don’t produce content for the different stages of the buying cycle. The few marketers that do concentrate on this stand to make considerable gains. According to their research on which documents are most popular, those that do speak to a given segment in the buying cycle tend to perform the best.

So, given that you probably have limited resources and can’t produce documentation across all stages of the buying cycle, where should you focus your efforts? This largely depends on externalities: what is the market, and where do you fit in? There’s a large difference between new and old markets. In a mature market, you have a sophisticated audience. You can heavily segment this audience and offer very focused content. An emerging market needs more general, informative content.

In terms of content, Bill gives some examples of content that has worked well. For the mature wireless access market: ‘802.11n: Preparing for your Enterprise Wireless Deployment’ (generated 257 leads). For the emerging virtualization and networking market: ‘Virtual Networking Concepts’ (with a clickthrough rate of more than 1%).

OK, if this all sounds great, where should you start? As with many areas of marketing, a good a place as any is with competitive analysis. Look on the TechTarget site for the most popular content in the area you are considering.

All the slides from this presentation

ROMO: a new era needs new marketing metrics

I was fortunate enough to attend the TechTarget Online ROI summit in San Francisco recently. I can definitely recommend this event as one of the best places to meet like-minded individuals if you happen to work in tech marketing.

ROMO: your flexible friend
In the opening presentation, TechTarget’s Marilou Barsam, SVP of Client Consulting and Corporate Marketing highlighted what she sees as the big changes in online marketing to IT professionals. She brought up the interesting point that the metrics we use to measure campaigns do have a significant impact on the way we plan, execute and decide whether or not we see our campaigns as successful.

We are now developing campaigns more as interactive spaces rather than just simple point-and-click download documents. Throw social media into the mix and you have much more immersive experiences for the audience. For a given topic (say SOA integration), you may have video demos, blog posts, white papers and standard web pages. All work well to generate awareness and promote engagement, but cannot easily be measured using old school direct response techniques. You need metrics that measure engagement and awareness. This is the move away from ROI (return on investment) towards ROMO (return on marketing objectives). This metric is more fluid and can be adapted to the situation.

As far as I can tell, Marilou is advocating a move towards the metrics used by the media industry: average time on site, returning visitor ratio (and what those visitors who visit regularly do) and average page views per visit. Video and audio content introduce their own demands: rather than just clicks, you need to know the length of time people spend on these media. This makes particular sense for campaigns that are driving either awareness or interest. The one drawback I see in moving to this more flexible ROMO framework is how to compare different campaigns. If you aren’t using consistent metrics site-wide, then how can you gauge relative success?

Marketing is oh so passe, dahling
Somewhat related to ROMO is the move in marketing content towards media models. The argument here is that the straightforward logic (that underpins so many marketing campaigns targeting IT professionals) is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The campaigns that win out are the ones that include both logic and emotion. In this context, drama and humor have a strong part to play.

I suspect we’ll see this trend play out in the next few years. Company websites will start to borrow more from online media sites – both in terms of the type of content on offer and how that content is presented. For instance over the last few years we have seen a proliferation in video footage, blogs, podcasts – just for starters, all these tools need to be more fully integrated into corporate websites.