Most tech companies now use content like blogs and guides to market their cloud services, but not all of them do it successfully. Here’s are some of their most common mistakes.
It’s not particularly difficult to make a compelling case for the use of content marketing in cloud services. Back in 2014, a LinkedIn report claimed that “education without bias” is the perfect way for tech companies to build awareness and trust among their prospects when a big, transformational IT purchase is on the cards. Meanwhile, a March study by the CMI showed that some 95% of tech companies are using content marketing already – a greater number than in any other industry.
The trouble is, that’s not the whole story. According to the same CMI study, the results of their efforts are decidedly hit and miss – almost half (47%) of tech companies rate the effectiveness of their content marketing as a neutral three out of five, while just 3% award themselves a “very effective” five.
So what mistakes are they making along the way? From our experience, some of the most common are as follows:
1. Not knowing the audience well enough
With change the only constant in the IT industry, it’s vitally important that tech companies keep their buyer personas accurate and up-to-date at all times.
This may sound a little glib, but the cloud has had a wider-ranging impact than many tech trends of the past – it’s sometimes led to fundamental changes in the decision-making units responsible for customers’ infrastructure and software purchases, and created new opportunities for savvy providers (consider mid-market IaaS suppliers that now focus on SaaS startups with specialist security requirements, for example). Failing to renew your persona research in light of this disruption can be a fatal misstep.
2. Focusing on product, not outcomes
For many customers, making the most of the cloud has meant a process of letting go – first of the sense of control that came with having a server humming in the corner, then of concerns over security, and sometimes even of the idea that software and services should be kept under the jurisdiction of a centralised IT department.
Little by little, then, buyers have stopped caring about boxes and wires, and instead turned their attention to value, convenience and a great customer experience. If your cloud content is still heavily product focused, you may have ceased to speak to their wants and needs.
(Want to learn more about customer-centric cloud marketing? Download our free guide, How to market and sell a cloud service, here.)
3. Not showing your value and what makes you unique
Differentiation is a complex issue in cloud services. A trend of consolidation and commoditisation has made it unfeasible for a lot of mid-market IaaS suppliers to compete on price and features alone. Meanwhile, a spate of trendy SaaS tools – of which Dropbox and Slack are prime examples – have had a disruptive effect on many traditional software markets and their incumbent, albeit cloud-ready, providers.
With this in mind, it’s critical that your cloud content communicates your value as a provider, and what makes you unique, with surgical precision. “More secure than on-premises”? Not great. “Able to help financial services firms navigate complex hybrid cloud deployments”? Better!
4. Not taking control of the buyer journey
Cloud adoption can be a big, transformational business decision, and this lends itself to a long and complex buyer journey. Content marketing is your opportunity to take control of that journey – to educate your prospects, earn their trust, create value and make the path to purchase as simple as possible.
A lot of tech companies fail to do this correctly, even with the core mechanics - blogs, gated content, nurturing emails - firmly in place. It’s not uncommon, for example, to see blogs crammed with way too much information (normally an attempt to conceal an overt product focus) long before that information becomes necessary to the buyer. Elsewhere, issues like heavy-handed, sales-oriented calls-to-action may hinder attempts to move prospects seamlessly from top to bottom of the purchase funnel.
5. Not measuring and reporting well enough
Finally, tech companies – much like their peers in other industries - often fail to measure and report on their marketing efforts well enough. This can be a big problem with tech and cloud content, as it’s both difficult (requiring industry and product knowledge, technical know-how, and creative nous) and resource-intensive (requiring input from multiple stakeholders, such as product managers, security experts and writers) to produce. Without joined-up goals, measurement and reporting, keeping a handle on the bigger picture can be practically impossible.
This means there’s a genuine risk of pouring resources into content that provides little to no return – creating a toxic, and counterintuitive, distrust in the whole content marketing enterprise. And that’s bad news for you, your marketing team and your would-be customers.
To find out more about successful cloud content marketing, download our free guide here. It’ll teach you in four simple steps how to transform your cloud marketing, and create, nurture and close high-quality leads in a cost-effective way.