it comes to B2B content marketing, there may be no better company out there
than SAP Hybris.
technology firm consistently creates innovative, sophisticated pieces that
educate and entertain its audience. Its Future of Customer Engagement
website in particular is one of our favorite examples of true thought
we sat down with Michael Mischker, Global Vice President of Digital Marketing, and
Amy Hatch, Senior Marketing Director/Editor-In-Chief, to find out how SAP
Hybris approaches content development and what the company has learned from its
Check out the Q&A below:
what role does content play for SAP Hybris? What are the core goals of your
Amy: Our content strategy is
very focused on creating value for the reader. No matter where they are in
their buying cycle, it’s important to develop a relationship.
My background is in print journalism and then digital
journalism, so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand how people consume
information and where it leads them to next.
Content plays a number of different roles for our
organization. First, it’s part of the discovery and awareness phase – the “you
don’t know what you don’t know” stage. This is where we want a potential
customer to come across our content on social media, or via a newsletter, and
engage with all the industry topics we cover. It’s very broad; it’s not a sales
We then have some other teams that are creating assets
and offers that work together to capture that person’s attention at the right
time. The goal is to use the relationship that we’ve created with them as a
Michael: We want our contributors
to have the freedom to explore the types of helpful content and thought
leadership that our readers might find interesting. It’s not about lecturing
that we know best.
At the core of all what we do is trust. Everyone talks
in content marketing about how you have to entertain, how you have to engage,
but we believe the essential element is trust. People might be entertained by
your content but subsequently if they don’t trust you to deliver value they
won’t give you’re their contact information, or engage further.
Amy: On that note of having an editorially
independent point of view, when our Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce site launched in October
2012 it wasn’t connecting at first on the level that we wanted it to. Over time
we began featuring influencers who were willing to share their contributions on
a reciprocal basis. In order for them to get the word out about their own
knowledge base, their own point of view, they were willing to write for the
site in exchange for the opportunity to establish themselves as thought leaders
among their peers.
That content really built a level of trust with our
readership because it was not coming from internal stakeholders; it was coming
from outside voices.
Q: How do you tackle programming the Future of Customer Engagement
and Commerce site? Who is contributing
Amy: First we pick external
contributors who come with their own specific set of expertise that fits into
our goals. So, right now, we have Brian Kramer and Ted Rubin both writing for us,
and both are very well-versed in marketing and customer engagement. They bring
a really different perspective to the table that’s their own. They have a fair
amount of editorial freedom to write what they want within their categories
because they are so forward-thinking and so well respected in their fields.
We’ve also picked people who fit in the certain
niches. So, we’ve got some experts who are really well-versed in retail, or
B2B, or whatever area, and they bring their knowledge to those areas.
Then we have our internal thought leaders like Michael
and Jamie Anderson, our Senior Vice President, who are looking to the future
and trying to think about what might be coming next.
Q: How do you
build trust with your audiences?
Michael: The key thing is authenticity. People come to
our properties to get original content and original thinking. The content is
unique, personal and has real voicing of opinions – not just write-ups of what
you’ve read everywhere else.
Also, we never mention products in our written
features on the Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce. We’ll include a banner
where they can learn more about SAP Hybris, but they by no means have to
Amy: Agreed, the deep level of trust comes from
the diversity of thought that we have from our contributors. The very hard-and-fast
rule is, even if you are an external contributor, please do not sell your
product or your company. The goal of the content is to be useful, entertaining
and informative. The reader’s needs must come first.
Q: How do you
build an audience for your content? Do you use unpaid and paid channels?
A: We do paid amplification now,
but we didn’t always. To go back to the history of the site, I was the founding
editor in 2012. It took a long time to build our initial audience, and it was
all organic. We had zero paid media. So, every eyeball was hard-earned.
Our newsletter actually has been one of our biggest
sources of building our audience. We have a really great conversion rate. We
have a popup on our site and between 4% and 6% of all of our visitors will sign
up for the newsletter; then our newsletter has an open rate of 23% to 24%.
Between the social amplification and the newsletter we
were able to build a core audience and then we started paid promotion.
Q: How do you
measure success? Which metrics do you look at?
Amy: When you’re doing B2B
content you’re really doing a focused program, so you can’t just look at
numbers like pageviews alone. We look hard at how long visitors stay on our
site. Typically people will engage with one piece of content for between one
and three minutes, which is a pretty decent rate considering that the typical attention
span for digital is about 30 seconds.
We also look at peer-to-peer sharing. That tells us
that we’re growing and that people are willing to engage with us.
We have a conversion rate for our media that is far
and above the industry average. Site-wide last year we had a conversion rate
for all calls-to-action of 1.09%, which is far, far higher than the standard. The
credit for that really belongs to our contributors. They’re really engaged in
creating value. That’s what that metric shows.
Michael: A lot of brands start something like this and
then get frustrated. They just count the amount of content that’s being
produced or how it’s working in terms of getting leads.
The whole online marketplace has become overcrowded with
content, and in order to rise above you have to be creative and original; you
have to create emotional content the right way for your readers. We do that in
a good way, which is why we then see the results in our numbers.
Before we ever had a banner ad, before we ever had a
call-to-action, we were just putting content out there; we were contextualizing
the world for professionals. We were not going to push anything on them; that
was a very strategic decision. Then, when we did start to include prompts, it
really paid off because the audience was ready for it.
question: Do you have any favorite pieces of content created by SAP Hybris?
Amy: I love our contributions
from Michael (see posts) and Jamie (see posts), so I’m going to toot their horns a little bit.
Their blog posts are so entertaining and future-focused. It’s really disruptive
content. It’s not the typical story types or storytelling that you would see on
a B2B blog.
I’m also going to toot my own horn a bit. In 2014, I spearheaded
an original study on the omnichannel behavior of men and women. The report was accompanied
by an infographic and did really well organically. It was picked up by The Christian Science Monitor, among
other news outlets, and we were able to build a series of accompanying posts
around it. It shows that original thinking really goes a long way.
I would encourage anyone feels like they’re stuck in a
content box to take a risk and create something that might seem a little bit
out there. It could do big things.