This article first appeared on TheNewNewThing.com.
Mattermark and Drift recently put together a study of the 50 fastest-growing B2B companies to uncover some of the effective sales and marketing strategies that are working for these companies to drive growth.
Using Mattermark data, they were able to identify fifty of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. and take a look at their marketing activities to hypothesize which practices are driving real growth for the companies. They also combined qualitative data by looking at each how each company approached content, their customer communication, pricing, and more. Below is the full report from Drift and Mattermark. I highly recommend digging in and reading — it’s some great insight and trends from our friends at Drift and Mattermark.
They uncovered a number of key takeaways they discussed in the report, but I wanted to focus on a couple that stuck out to me personally as I work with our portfolio companies’ early-stage marketing teams at High Alpha, a B2B SaaS venture studio.
Form completes aren’t the only way to get people into the top of the funnel.
As the authors point out, 44% of the fastest-growing B2B companies offer downloadable content, like ebooks or whitepapers. What is more interesting to me, though, is that 56% (a majority) of the fastest-growing B2B companies don’t offer downloadable content to fill the top of the funnel. In fact, the top three companies observed in the report (Upwork, WeWork, and Slack) all do not offer downloadable content on their website.
Too often, I think as marketers, we focus too much on how we’re going to fill the funnel with downloads instead of focusing first on:
1) Who really is your audience?
2) What is their path to purchase?
3) What do they want to hear from your brand?
Because of my background as a Content Strategist at Salesforce and ExactTarget (the leading digital marketing provider acquired by Salesforce for $2.5B in 2013), I oftentimes default to wanting to build a content and thought leadership strategy from Day 1. I’ve found with some of our portfolio companies, though, the content marketing flywheel may not be the best way their audiences buy and want to interact with our brand. This also revolves around whether the company is a product-driven business (like Slack) or a sales-driven business (like Salesforce).
16% of the fastest-growing B2B companies offer ungated content.
Again, the content marketer in me cringes at the thought of offering content without collecting email addresses — how am I supposed to generate leads?
Something they tee up well in this report is the emergence of ungated content in the enterprise. Dave Gerhardt at Drift detailed this out in his post last year around Drift’s decision to throw out their lead forms.
While we rush to try and fill the funnel for the sales team, we often overlook the value of brand value. Cold leads are valuable, but the value of a “content lead” is diminishing rapidly. Instead, we need to think about creating experiences and content that generate interest, build the brand, effectively position and message the product/solution, and warm people up to enter the funnel in the first place. We’ve all seen the SiriusDecisions stat that 67% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer reaches out to sales. SiriusDecisions revisits that stat with more insight in this post:
“The real message behind the 67 percent statistic is that every marketing organization must view its inbound efforts as absolutely critical to success at all stages of the buyer’s journey. Do not ignore the role of inbound marketing at later stages of the buyer’s journey, and be sure to look for gaps in the resources available to support buyers looking for validation rather than education.”
Your content should do way more for your business than generate form fills — and maybe offering ungated content is the first step to embracing that fact and fully investing in a holistic content strategy.