In our research, and through the Gartner Blog Network, we’ve often talked about the importance of third-party content. Buyers don’t trust vendors, and they often feel that claims they hear are exaggerated, and the content they read is fluffy and lacks value. With the exception of case studies (and in some cases demos), third-party content (like analyst research notes) is not only more valuable, but also more likely to help build trust, than any other content type. So a lot of our clients license our research for marketing and sales purposes and do the same with research from other analyst firms.
Written research is the core intellectual property of any analyst firm. As a result, the content costs money to acquire. As with any marketing expenditure, a positive return on investment is required to view the endeavor as a success. Many Gartner clients put a lot of effort into campaigns, events and other marketing investments, but don’t put the same amount of effort into promoting and using the analyst content they license. At best, this limits the upside from the investment, at worst, it can lead to negative feelings all around and the perception that money is being wasted.
Getting the most out of your investment in licensed analyst content (including reprints and newsletters) isn’t easy, but it’s also not brain surgery. Clients often ask for guidance or want to know what other successful clients are doing. My colleague Hank Barnes has written about this, but I wanted to share the guidance I give as well. I tell them that it really comes down to four points:
- Select the Right Content Types for the Right Use Cases: Not all analyst content serves the same purposes. Magic Quadrants and other comparative documents can be really helpful for lead acquisition (capturing contact info in exchange for the document), but they can also help build credibility way down the funnel. Market guides and documents like that can be helpful for awareness purposes, but may also build credibility for companies that aren’t as well known but putting them in the same discussion as larger, more well-known vendors. Best practice and other qualitative documents can be good vehicles for high-level education and perform well in lead nurture efforts. But they can also be helpful with decision-makers much later in the process by reinforcing a specific point of view. Most document types can serve multiple use cases, but you need to be clear on what you are expecting before you run campaigns. If the primary focus is top-of-the funnel lead acquisition, don’t pick a document type that isn’t well suited for that purpose.
- Create Compelling Messaging Around the Research: This is one of the most common mistakes we see clients make. Simply saying “free” or “complimentary” research from (insert analyst firm name) will drive some clicks, but in an age where people have short attention spans and are inundated with information, it isn’t enough. You need to give people a reason to click. Highlight the specific value they will get in reading the document. Do this briefly on a web site home page, tweet or banner ad and more expansively on a landing page, in a blog post, e-mail and Linkedin posting. Like any other piece of content, the messaging will need to change for personas, roles and buying contexts (where they are in their buying process).
- Promote Widely and Frequently: Marketers know that the more often someone sees a piece of content, the more likely they are to click on it. Putting a link on the home page and doing the bare minimum when it comes to social media and press releases is not going to deliver the desired outcomes. When it comes to the web site, it needs high-profile billing on the home page and then should be added to interior pages (resources and product pages) as appropriate. It should be incorporated into blog posts whenever possible (taking care not to be repetitive), included in e-mail drip and nurture campaigns (when it makes sense) and shared frequently on Twitter and Linkedin (either directly or by sharing the blog post). If you do content syndication, PPC or display ads, rotate that content into the mix and ramp up or down based upon performance. Also, use with existing customers and prospects as appropriate.
- Enable Sales Reps, SDRs and Partners to Leverage the Research: In some of the other sections, I mentioned that certain types of research can be helpful with prospects at various points in the funnel and also with existing customers. But this can only work if you give sales reps, SDRs and partners very clear, prescriptive guidance on when and how to use it. You’ll want to highlight the use cases (what points in the process and in what circumstances) and give specific messaging to include in e-mails and other outreach vehicles. Also take care in disseminating this information to them. An e-mail may be sufficient, but depending upon the document, an internal webinar may be a better vehicle.
Every one of our clients have slightly different situations, so not all of this information will apply equally in every situation. But if you follow these guidelines, you can greatly improve the likelihood of success with your program. If you are a Gartner client, work closely with your program manager and account executive as they can also provide valuable insight.
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