Creating an Interactive Marketing Campaign from Start to Finish [Case Study]

Creating an Interactive Marketing Campaign from Start to Finish [Case Study]

 

A common question for us at SnapApp is some variation of the following: “Well, I get interactive and how it could help, but how do you actually integrate it into your campaigns?”

 

Let’s get meta for a minute. It should come as no surprise that we (ourselves at SnapApp) spend a lot of time not only spreading the word about interactive content but also thinking about ways to incorporate it into all of our campaigns.

 

And not just in an ad hoc, random way – our content team mantra is “think interactive first,” so before anyone ever puts pen to paper (or more likely, finger to keyboard) for that next comprehensive white paper, definitive ebook guide, or one-page piece of collateral, I always ask: “Is this the best format? Can we make this interactive instead?”

 

We don't just do this because we feel we must as an interactive content platform, but because interactive campaigns time and again show to deliver far more touchpoints, more audience participation, and significantly better lead insight.

 

The use of interactive content is at its best when it's a part of a larger marketing strategy, not just a one-off, shiny object that lives on its own. After all, interactive is not magic – sure, it’s an extremely engaging and effective format, but it still requires thoughtful promotion to be successful.  

 

So I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the sausage is made, open the kimono a bit, or [insert your favorite business jargon phrase here].  

 

Here’s a deep dive into a recent campaign the SnapApp team executed – conducting research into the B2B buying committee and promoting our results – from ideation all the way through tracking results, to give you an idea of how you can layer interactive into your own marketing in a meaningful way.  

 

The Idea

As a marketing team, one of our key goals is to drive interest and engagement with our content at the top of the funnel. So we spent some time brainstorming ideas for what might be interesting from an awareness perpsective for our audience.


There seem to be endless stories today about what Millennials are doing wrong, responsible for destroying everything from department stores to marriage. But all of the readily available insights seemed to be geared towards a B2C world, so the natural next question from a team of B2B marketers (who, full disclosure, are majority Millennial) was about Millennials in a B2B world – are they having an impact?

 

 

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We came up with a theory. Most B2B marketers wrote off the “Millennial problem” as a B2C thing, a dynamic the retail and auto industry had to worry about. But our hypothesis was a bit different: that as Millennials joined B2B buying committees, they influenced purchasing decisions in very real ways. And that maybe they were even bringing their B2C buying behaviors into the B2B world.

 

Executing the Idea: Doing Research

 

To get inside the mind of the Millennial buyer, as well as other generations of B2B buyers, we teamed up with our friends at Heinz Marketing to conduct a survey into generational buying preferences.

 

We put together a comprehensive survey digging into the behaviors of B2B buyers across generations.

 

Questions included:

  • How do you typically discover a new product/solution? 
  • When in your decision-making process do you typically communicate with the company’s sales rep? 
  • What factors are most important when evaluating a solution?  
  • What do you hate when being sold/marketed to?

We built the survey as a SnapApp and collected the data throughout June 2017.

 

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Building the Foundation: From Results to Content Creation

 

Over 500 B2B buyers across different generations responded to our survey. And after spending some time poring over the data, the results were clear: Millennials were having a big impact on B2B buying and even having an influence on how the other generations made decisions. (To learn more about what the survey actually found, check out this blog post.)

 

After agreeing on a narrative to tell the results story in a compelling way, we brainstormed a number of different types of content to create. The goal was to give our audience multiple ways to digest the research findings and give individuals more choice in how they engaged with us.

 

Another key decision: we opted to ungate all of our content related to the research (we’ve actually ungated all of our content at SnapApp, but that’s a story for another blog post!).

 

The survey and related content is more about high-level awareness and engagement at the top of the funnel, vs. a harder, lower-funnel sell that’s all about us. We wanted readers to be able to get the value of the content without fear of being subscribed to marketing emails for all of eternity!

 

Quiz

The very first piece of content we created was a short quiz that challenged marketers to answer the question “Do you know B2B buyers?” The idea was to pique interest in the survey and results, ultimately driving individuals to sign up for an upcoming webinar that dug more deeply into the research.

 

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Interactive white paper

We also created a more traditional survey report, but, you know, made it interactive. This made it possible for those who really wanted to get into the details to have an easy-to-reference doc to do so.

Here The Millennials are Coming How Generational Differences Impact B2B Buying Committees Today TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 Introduction 2 Methodology 2 Key Findings 3 2 Survey Results 4 Generation Profiles 4 Digging Into the Results 5 3 Conclusion 12 Best Practices for Marketing and Sales New Ways to Engage 12 Final Thoughts 13 4 About the Authors 14 That Millennials are bringing their consumer buying behaviors to their B2B work is not a surprise What is surprising is that B2B marketers across all generations havent woken up yet to the fact that the old B2B marketing playbook is dead or at the very least its in hospice Ann Handley MarketingProfs snapappcomgenerationresearch snapapp 21 INTRODUCTION Todays buying committees are diverse Millennials are already taking their seats among Generation X and Baby Boomers at the buying table making navigating the already complicated buying environment even harder thanks to their different preferences Though this shift might seem minor it greatly impacts how marketing teams operate sales teams engage and how purchase decisions are ultimately made For B2B marketing and sales teams to continue finding success they must be able to identify acknowledge and respond to the generational differences of todays new buying committees This report looks at the differences between the rising Millennial buyer their Generation X and Baby Boomer counterparts and how B2B marketing and sales strategies can address the gaps between them METHODOLOGY To understand and identify the generational differences and impact of those differences on the B2B sales process and buyers journey SnapApp and Heinz Marketing conducted a survey over two weeks in late June 2017 The responses came from 503 professionals with buying influence andor authority across B2C and B2B businesses in different functional areas and from organizations that range from SMB to large enterprise Respondents were prequalified for the survey with the question Are you involved in either influencing recommending or approving a purchase for your organization or client Those who answered No were excluded from the survey Respondent Breakdown out of 503 responses Generation B2B vs B2C Organization Role on Buying Committee 29 20 22 31 34 14 7 46 64 Millennial 1834 Gen X 3555 Baby Boomer Over 55 B2B B2C Both snapappcomgenerationresearch 7 26 Decision Maker Influencer Project Manager Researcher Other snapapp 2 INTRODUCTION KEY FINDINGS 1 The Millennials are here The Millennial buyers are no longer just coming they are here they are active members of todays buying committees 13 of Millennials are already making purchasing decisions while another 28 are influencing them B2B marketing and sales professionals who assume Millennials only impact the B2C world are mistaken 2 A new sales journey The Millennial buyer is introducing a new marketing and sales journey one thats more independent than Generation X or Baby Boomers The Millennial buyer conducts extensive research before making a decision and early sales engagement is a big turn off Unsurprisingly across generations no one really likes white papers as a research tool 3 The rise of the sales avoiders A more independent marketing and sales journey also means that Millennials reach out to sales much later in the process than their Generation X and Baby Boomer counterparts Nearly 60 of Millennials reported that they only engage sales in the middle of a purchase decision actively avoiding sales until only after theyve had a chance to do some research on their own 4 Whats in it for me A Millennials search usually starts for one of two reasons their boss asked them to do it or they have a specific problem that they are experiencing Out of the three cohorts surveyed Millennials were least likely to proactively seek solutions for their team This is in direct contrast to Baby Boomers who look for solutions to team problems first 5 Authenticity matters Authenticity and trust are the keys to winning the influence of the Millennial buyer Where Generation X and Baby Boomers rely on the guidance of a salesperson Millennials look to their peers experts in the field or other sources for insight Millennials also care more about company values vs product features when finding a solution With a more selfserve approach to finding solutions the Millennial buyer is impacting the entire buying journey and the old marketing and sales tactics wont work Our approach needs to change dramatically to address the building tension between these diverse stakeholders snapappcomgenerationresearch snapapp 3 SURVEY RESULTS GENERATION PROFILES Millennials Millennial buyers crave trust and respect from their peers They search for solutions that are helpful to them first not necessarily their team This individualistic mindset puts them at direct odds with the other two generations who are much more teamfocused problem solvers meaning that Generation X and Baby Boomers likely view Millennials more as selfcentered Millennials do not wait for traditional organizational processes to solve their own problems they just go solve them Generation X Millennial BUYER Age 1835 Typical role Researcher or influencer Key behaviors Seeks solutions for their own issues vendor values are important avoids sales at all costs GENERATION X BUYER The buying habits of Generation X fall between Millennials and Baby Boomers creating even more uncertainty within the buying committee Unlike Millennials however Generation X is more likely to reach out to sales at the beginning of the decisionmaking process which aligns closely to the actions of Baby Boomers In fact Generation X and Baby Boomers share more commonalities than differences Age 3655 Typical role Influencer or decision maker Key behaviors Focuses on features engages sales early relies on salesperson for insight on solutions Baby Boomers Baby Boomers differ the most from Millennials in their actions as buyers and the ways they engage with sales teams Unlike Millennials they like to reach out to sales at the beginning of their journey a difference that could paint Millennials as less proactive Baby Boomers are also very teamfocused in contention with the individualistic attitude of Millennials These differences may make Baby Boomers perceive Millennials as lacking initiative snapappcomgenerationresearch snapapp Baby Boomer buyer Age Over 55 Typical role Decision maker Key behaviors Seeks solutions for team skeptical of free trials relies on experts 4 SURVEY RESULTS DIGGING INTO THE RESULTS Role of millennials on the buying committee Millennial influence on the buying committee is growing 5 The buying committee today is diverse and large with anywhere from three to 10 stakeholders when looking at companies with over 100 employees nearly half 45 have a minimum of six stakeholders Isolating companies with more than 1000 employees the number jumps to 10 or more 13 27 38 17 The power and influence of Millennials on these committees is growing and fast Today 13 of Millennials are already making buying decisions an additional 28 more are influencing decisions A total of 82 of Millennials are involved in the buying committee in some way Researcher Influencer Other Decision Maker Project Manager How many stakeholders are on your buying committee of employees Over 1000 5011000 101500 11100 110 0 5 10 Over 10 people snapappcomgenerationresearch 15 6 to 10 3 to 5 snapapp 20 25 1 to 2 5 SURVEY RESULTS 13 of Millennials said they are decision makers 28 more influence the decisions How buyers find solutions Among the three generations Millennials are more likely to proactively initiate research if they themselves are struggling with an issue vs a team issue This individual focus is in contrast to the other generations Generation X and Baby Boomers are more likely to elevate team problems as well as their own Of the three generations Millennials are the least likely to proactively research new products for team issues on their own accord In contrast Baby Boomers are much more likely to start looking for a solution to a team problem Millennials are not surprisingly most likely to begin the buying process when they are asked to do so by a superior When do you start seeking solutions to problems at work My team is struggling so I proactively research Im struggling so I proactively research solutions My boss asked me to find a solution for a problem I stumble across solutions even when I dont need them My boss asked me to research a few specific solutions 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Millennial Gen X Baby Boomer My sense is that while most B2B buyers have pretty sensitive BS meters Millennials can sniff out not only BS but inauthenticity a mile away And theyre less forgiving of it so good luck trying to win them back Douglas Burdett Artillery Marketing snapappcomgenerationresearch snapapp 6 SURVEY RESULTS So what happens once buyers decide or are told they need to solve a problem Where is the first place they start looking 45 Nearly of those surveyed start research with social media Turns out its social media and its generation agnostic Company social media sites were the most frequently referenced across all three generations as a channel for researching solutions Whats the most common way you Start Researching Solutions frequency out of 503 responses Company social media Personalbusiness social networks Product review sites 3rdpartycustomer reference Company contentwebsite 0 20 40 Millennial Gen X 60 80 100 120 140 Baby Boomer However there are clear differences between the generations among other sources they rely on for input Millennials skew towards the more relational channels using their personal social networks of friends and business contacts Generation X and Baby Boomers were more likely to seek out customer reviews and thirdparty input Millennials want to feel acknowledged and included This is an interesting aspect of influencer marketing isnt it By connecting to trusted influencers we may also tap into the audien

Webinar

Our big push in the first month after launching the research was driving folks to sign up for a live webinar. This would be an opportunity for readers to get more in-depth insights from the report authors on the results and what they mean, and also ask questions live.

 

This was the sole piece of content that required an email address, and that was so we could send information to log in on webinar day.

 

Video

One of the survey questions was an open response asking “What do you hate most about sales and marketing?” And we got an earful. There were lots of great, insightful comments, as well as some starightup amusing ones.

 

This gave us a spark of inspiration – what if we take a page from the Mean Tweets format and get our own sales team to read some of the responses?

 

 


Blog posts

We created a series of blog posts related to the content, both at launch and beyond. These included:


 

Buying profiles overview

As a follow up to our webinar, we developed an interactive piece that highlighted the key differences between buyers of different generations and ways to actually market to them. 

 

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All of our generational research-related content is housed on one resources page, so we can easily direct those interested to it.

 

Getting the Word Out: Promotion

 

Just because we prioritized creating interactive content didn’t mean that we could slack in the promotion department. Interactive content, like any other content type, needs to be put in front of people to drive engagement.

 

So we came up with a comprehensive promotion strategy across different channels including:

 

Press outreach

We gave key members of the media early access to the survey results. After the official launch, we expanded our target list to the broad marketing media.

 

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Social media

Our research and related content was a key theme on social not just at launch, but over the course of the weeks and months after.

 

We still incorporate key stats in our promo.

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Inclusion in newsletters

We featured the research and webinar as core content in our monthly marketing newsletter to drive attendance.

 

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Event promo

The research was a key feature at our fall events as well. We incorporated the stats into our presentations, and also created collateral to give to attendees, driving them to the research resources page.

 

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So what happened?

 

A lot happened as a result. First, some of the very tangible things – hard metrics in the first 60-90 days:

  • Mentions in targeted marketing media, including Chief Marketer and MediaPost
  • 1,000+ views of the blog post series
  • 230+ webinar registrants
  • 100+ social media mentions
  • 1,700+ impressions on related interactive content

 

What we also found is that the research benefitted us in another, probably even bigger way – it’s helped shape what we actually do as marketers. Consider the finding that B2B buyers, regardless of generation, don't want to download white papers. Guess what? We’re de-prioritizing our own focus on white papers.

 

This experience led me to a few key realizations about campaigns that I’ll carry forward as we plan the rest of Q4 and into 2018.

 

  1. Talk about things people care about. The topic was relevant, practical, and hit a nerve – there are so many things changing for B2B marketers and they’re looking for reasons to explain why, reasons why the old methods aren’t working. Find the topics your audience is talking about, the things that actually matter, and figure out how you can grab onto those ideas to help build engagement.
     

  2. Create multiple content types. We created A LOT of content around the survey, and it worked – we got more eyes on this collective set of content than most other campaign themes. And while each piece required some work, the core theme and message was consistent throughout, meaning that instead of coming up with net new concepts each time, we were able to build off and repurpose the material developed before. This made it easier for not only us to create the content but also for our audience to easily pick and choose what content they wanted to consume based on individual preferences.
     

  3. Promote, promote, then promote again. It’s not enough to just launch a campaign and let it be – you need to rehash, repurpose, and reuse to get attention. To this day, we’re still working on additional ways to further the generational buying differences messages, finding new ways to get the ideas in front of broader audiences.

 

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