Digital content is becoming better and more common on e-commerce sites targeted at business customers, but marketers have long struggled to share this content through the web to attract and engage new customers, Forrester Research Inc. asserts in a new study.

But there are ways to make such content more useful in marketing campaigns through sales enablement automation technology, Forrester says in the report, “The Forrester Wave: Sales Enablement Automation Systems, Q4 2016.” SEA systems, which are typically built to integrate with customer relationship management systems, are designed to help online sellers distribute online content to the customers most likely to respond to the content, Forrester says.

One key to successfully connecting with customers, it says, is for marketers to understand how buyers and prospects are using a seller’s online content. That includes how long they spend with the content and how often they share that information with colleagues.

Forrester lays out the following set of content administration and reporting functions in sales enablement automation systems necessary for an effective content marketing strategy:

Content management—a centralized function to control, manage, publish and access content. “It makes content available from a main portal or from the CRM system in many forms and types, including both externally and internally facing content. This allows sellers to assemble and customize content within the limits that the SEA solution controls.”

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Prescriptive recommendations. SEA can actively recommend the right content at the right time by identifying available offers and mapping related content to CRM data fields identifying such customer criteria as their industry, a particular buyer’s role within her company, and a targeted customer’s known usage of the recommended product. It can also be helpful to link product recommendations to related material that demonstrates how to use the product.

Engagement analytics. SEA software should measure how often buyers open and forward digital content to their colleagues, and how much time they spend viewing video or slide presentations.

Usage reporting. “For B2B marketers, understanding how, when and with whom content gets consumed forms a basis for future content creation,” Forrester says.

Seller-oriented user experience. While most SEA applications integrate well with CRM systems for sharing content at appropriate times with customers, it’s also useful to integrate SEA applications with a seller’s e-mail system for distributing content. In addition, SEA applications should offer a web portal where sellers can search for and use digital content in marketing campaigns.

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