Content marketing could be the next best thing since EDMs in APAC

Content marketing is making its way into Asia Pacific, completing the trek for any fad or trend from the west to east.

As more B2B marketers start warming up to content marketing, platforms like LinkedIn believe that they are on that intersection to engage with both marketers and customers.

Speaking to The Drum, Assaf Tarnopolsky, director, marketing solutions, Southeast Asia and North Asia, LinkedIn, stresses that content marketing is about engaging customers in an authentic way.

“I think content marketing is a great thing, and the trend is moving up and to the right…content marketing is the most authentic and effective way for B2B marketers to connect to their prospects,” said Tarnopolsky.

“Content marketing enables brands to develop authentic and trusted relationships with their prospects over time,” he added.

Making the shift

As B2B marketers in APAC get to grips with content marketing, Tarnopolsky notes this is a shift for them compared to what B2B marketing was in the past. Citing Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study, he notes that customers have changed their habits, which leads to marketers needing to change tack.

“I talk to a lot of enterprise companies who have been around for a long time, who do trade shows or they might do a page in a trade magazine. If that’s what their doing as their lion’s share of their marketing effort today, they are not best-in-class and they are leaving money on the table in my opinion. These are real conversations I have with customers all the time,” said Tarnopolsky.

“There will be a pure B2B marketer, someone who does enterprise-grade security software, if they go to a trade show twice a year, and they don’t target people who should come to that trade show and they don’t nurture them over time with positive brand messaging and content that is valuable to their prospects, they are missing a huge opportunity,” he added.

Operating with legacy framework and processes pose a challenge for marketing teams to adopt a new content marketing strategy, notes Tarnopolsky, and requires a shift in mind set.

“The marketing teams have a legacy way of doing things…content marketing requires a mind set shift and a strategy. You can’t embark on a content marketing campaign and think that it’s won and done, you need to think, ‘who do I want to address, how do I want to address them over time, what is the kind of messaging is useful, what is the kind of specific engagements will I have in the future where I want to tweak my strategy,’” said Tarnopolsky.

“It’s complex and in a lot of cases you need to have a sophisticated agency that can help enable that transformation, you need to have buy in from the top,” he added.

Walking the talk

While platforms like LinkedIn might be seeing the tide come in, how about brands on the ground? How are they adapting to catch this wave of content marketing?

Cyber security software provider F5 Networks believe that their content marketing strategy more than just reach out to prospects and customer, but to the C-suite as well. John DiLullo, executive vice president, worldwide sales, F5 Networks, believes like Tarnopolsky, in reaching the customer at the zero moment of truth.

“Really effective online campaigns are reaching buyers very early in their decision making processes. When they are just gaining some awareness, when they are learning about some tech on the Internet, when they do their first three to four searches about it, the very smart B2B marketers are beginning to plant the seed at that time,” said DiLullo.

This extends to reaching out to the C-suite as well, as DiLullo notes that they have not changed the way they buy things.

“I think the C-suite has always bought the same way, and is being amplified right now. The C-suite is looking for a couple elements of data, and proof points presented very very early in their exposure cycle to the information and some indication of what it means for them,” said DiLullo.

Kunaciilan Nallappan, senior marketing director, Asia Pacific, F5 Networks, concurred as well, noting that advertising and EDMs are not as effective in capturing the C-suite attention.

“CxOs today are a savvy bunch who recognize the impact of digital transformation in an organization. As Asia Pacific becomes more mobile and social driven, traditional platforms such as advertising and EDMs aren’t as effective as they used to be in capturing a business leader’s attention,” said Kunaciilan

“To garner interest, what we need to deliver is targeted, tailored and trustworthy content, with a personal touch. Unfortunately, CxOs are overdosed with information and technical jargon which don’t speak to their concerns,” he added.

Building a trusted relationship too is part of F5’s strategy, as Kunaciilan recounts an incident with a CxO.

“The F5 team recently changed tact – being digital, we shouldn’t forget about being personal. We noticed that a particular CxO had commented and posted on some topics that F5 had intimate knowledge on. So we reached out to him directly on LinkedIn and shared a couple of ideas on the change and impact certain initiatives could bring. Within minutes, he responded.

“This experience is not just limited to LinkedIn, but every communication platform. The key lesson here is the importance of gaining a level of trust, making your message personable and most importantly, making sure that what you have to say is tailored to their specific needs and industry focus,” he added.

Working the data

Content marketing is not a fire and forget approach as LinkedIn’s Tarnopolsky pointed out earlier, coupled with digital platforms, metrics can show what audiences are looking at your content and what needs tweaking.

“Digital platforms enable much greater visibility and transparency on what’s going on. We can see what’s going on with a campaign, we can talk about the traditional metrics, the clicks, the likes, the engagements, the magic happens when you can correlate our data with the client data,” said Tarnopolsky.

Similarly, data is part of how F5 Networks decide on what topics to cover for their content marketing strategy according to Kunaciilan.

“Our topics are very much influenced by the problems that our customers face, and the problems that we anticipate they will. This requires an in-depth understanding of our customer’s businesses, anticipation of industry trends and sensitivity to market movements.

“Analytics definitely play a big role in determining the kind of messages and content we want to spread to our customers – through analyzing the data we get from marketing platforms, we are able to identify hot topics for customers and react by curating the right content to be shared with them,” he added.