The 2021 Content Marketing Review: Reaching the Public Sector confirms what we all knew: over the past 18 months, the public sector is spending more time with webinars than other types of content. Over one-third of public sector IT decision makers are spending more time with webinars than ever before. This is no surprise during a time of pandemic, but are webinars here to stay, or will there be a resulting burnout?
Are Webinars the New Normal?
On average about two-thirds of those in the public sector believe that webinars have become a new normal and that they will continue to attend them frequently. Once the opportunity arises to meet in person, however, significantly more education techies say they would still prefer webinars to in-person meetings.
How can you ensure your target audiences will find your webinars valuable and worthy of attendance? By ensuring that the webinar content meets their needs and expectations.
Data/Research Is Key
It’s no surprise, time of day and cost are among the top factors on whether federal, state & local, and education audiences say they would attend events. These same audiences consider research and data presented as another important factor in their decision on whether or not to attend a webinar.
Data/research is also a top content feature all three audiences (federal, state & local, and education) want when it comes to webinars. When asked about this content format (to inform and educate them during the buying process), an average of one-third of respondents note data/research as a key feature they’re looking for.
Webinars Are Key to Your Public Sector Marketing Strategy
Public sector marketers need to make sure they are incorporating webinars as part of their content marketing strategy for engaging their audiences. Webinars are among the most effective channels to educate the customer and they are not going away even when live events restart in earnest. Beyond the content, webinars can also accelerate your sales cycle – something every sales and marketing team strives for!
Learn more about best practices in webinar development and other public sector content marketing: Content Marketing Review: Reaching the Public Sector.
Thursday, May 20th, 2021
2 PM (ET)
ABOUT THE STUDY:
Blogs, white papers, videos, podcasts or reports: public sector decision-makers turn to thought-leading sources like these to inform their buying decisions, learn about new technologies, and gauge vendors. As marketers trying to reach these niche audiences, it’s important for us to know what types of marketing assets they find most useful and influential, what type of information it should contain, and where they go to find it.
Market Connections polled government decision-makers at federal, state and local agencies and with K-12 and higher education institutions around the country to answer these questions with the 2021 Content Marketing Review: Reaching the Public Sector.
Join Market Connections as we present the results of our latest study of the public sector. The event program will feature a review of key findings followed by a panel of public sector experts who will provide further insights, share their best practices and discuss what these results mean for marketers trying to reach FED and SLED audiences.
NEW THIS YEAR:
- What are best practices for reaching the K-12 and HIGHER EDUCATION audiences?
- How do public sector decision-makers prefer to receive information since the onset of COVID-19?
- How often should public sector marketers refresh their content to ensure relevancy?
- Aaron Heffron, President, Market Connections, Inc.
PANEL SESSION I – CONTENT CREATORS
Moderated by Lou Anne Brossman, Founder & CEO, Government Marketing University
- Matt Donovan, Senior Vice President, Merritt Group
- Chris Parente, Founder, StoryTech Consulting
PANEL SESSION II – PUBLIC SECTOR MARKETERS
Moderated by Aaron Heffron
- Monica Mayk, Senior Team Lead, Public Sector Marketing, Verizon Business
- Betsy Morrow, Marketing, Education, Amazon Web Services
- Preston Smith, US SLED West Marketing Manager, CISCO
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve shared how to take advantage of increased screen time among government audiences, as well as, how to effectively pivot your in-person meetings to virtual ones. Now we take a look at the pervasive online vehicle that only continues to grow in influence: social media. In addition to your own website and public sector media channels, social media is essential to reaching your target audiences.
According to our latest Federal Media & Marketing Study (FMMS), on average, nearly one-third of federal employees are spending 15 minutes or more on social media. It’s no surprise the top two social sites among feds are Facebook and LinkedIn with 4 out of 10 alone visiting Facebook daily. As government employees are tethered more to their computer, we expect these numbers to climb and the lines of personal and professional social media usage to blur even further.
The old adage of not being able to reach the public sector through social media no longer holds water. Whether it’s via professional social media channels (approximately 2.1 million federal employees are on LinkedIn), or the increased ability to view social media on personal devices, social media marketing should be a key part of your overall marketing mix.
Our Content Marketing Review highlights that the professional value of social media goes beyond just traditional awareness building. Nearly half of federal decision-makers and 7 out of 10 state and local decision-makers found professionally based LinkedIn and LinkedIn communities useful portals for accessing content for educational purposes. The efficacy of social media to deliver content even bled over to the traditionally personal social realm. One-quarter of federal and over half of state and local decision-makers felt Facebook and Twitter were also useful sources for work-related content.
Using social media can help you not only place you in front of your audiences, but also drive traffic to the content you’ve placed on other channels to help increase visibility and lead generation. It also allows others to help you drive traffic by making it shareable.
- How effective are social media sites? Download the Content Marketing Review
- What social media sites do they visit? Purchase the Federal Media & Marketing Study Overview and Audience-Based Reports
- Watch the complimentary webinar: How Are Federal Employees Using Social Media in the Workplace
How can we help?
- Contact: Aaron Heffron (email@example.com) to discuss social media strategies and content generation
Our last blog post “Increased Screen Time Equals More Time with Public Sector Decision-Makers” focused on taking advantage of increased screen time by providing your government customer with content that educates and informs. The next step is to place your content where your customer is already going.
Before placing content on other media channels, take stock of your own corporate site. Approximately 7 out of 10 public sector decision-makers believe that corporate websites are an effective online source for information. If your customer were to visit your corporate site, or preferably a federally focused microsite, is the content they are looking for available and easily accessible? Is your site easily navigable? How far would your customers have to dig to find information around resources they are looking for? Is your site and its contents search engine optimized?
What Online Channels Do They Go to for Content?
According to our recent Content Marketing Review, three-quarters of both federal and state and local decision-makers find government-focused online communities and government-related news websites (e.g., GovLoop, Governing, Government Executive or Federal News Network) effective for delivering content to educate and inform their work-related buying process.
We are also hearing from top government-focused publications that increased screen time has driven up the number of visitors to their sites and subscriptions to their e-newsletters. With this in mind, sponsored content or advertising across highly trafficked online sites should be part of your strategy, if budget allows. If it doesn’t allow right now, work with your subject matter experts and other thought leaders in your organization to develop content attractive to these publications. Earned media can often be more effective than paid media.
To make data-based decisions on where to focus your media purchasing budgets, consider sources like the Federal Media & Marketing Study (FMMS) that allow you to strategically match your company’s target audiences with the publications and sites they most frequent. Spending, matched with strategic market information, can maximize your impact.
Learn more about FMMS audience-based reports available for purchase
Now Is the Time to Educate Your Government Customer
In our last blog post, Webinars in Place of In-Person Events – A New Normal?, we shared insights about public sector webinar preferences to help marketers refocus their marketing dollars from live events and conferences to virtual events. However, webinars may only be the tip of the virtual iceberg.
With more public sector employees teleworking and with travel and in-person events on hold, marketers can expect a spike in online traffic. It’s time to use this increased screen time to be a partner to your customer. Digital platforms allow for greater, self-directed education opportunities on ways to address new, or redirected, agency priorities and missions. Being a source of high-quality information has always been one of the best ways to build a strong, long-term relationship with your customer.
What Is Needed to Deepen Your Relationship with Your Customer
Over the years, our surveys have consistently noted that white papers, research reports and case studies are among the type of content most valued by federal and state and local decision-makers. The best designed of these assets, typically, have one thing in common: they educate the customer without feeling salesy.
It’s not always easy to figure out what you should or should not include in these content pieces. Our Content Marketing Review revealed that public sector decision-makers want data and research to support the content, examples of past performance and product specifications. Fancy visual contents, insights from industry thought leaders and content tailored to their vertical were less critical to the success of good content.
For detailed charts of top features across key marketing assets, download the presentation.
With the increased screen time your customers are experiencing, if you haven’t already, now might be a great time to create or update your marketing content to educate your customer while they have less “out of office” distractions and more screen time.
“Our company provides innovative, cutting-edge services meant to disrupt the existing paradigm through best-in class products, agile, game-changing industry leaders and a one-stop, value added portal.”
If “Buzzword Bingo” were a game, this sentence would have hit all the squares on the bingo card!
Writing a description of how your product, service or even your company, is different than your competitors can be difficult for B2G marketers. Commonly used words like innovative, cutting edge and next generation, have lost their impact and can ring hollow to customers. While marketers often get requests to use these words in their materials, can including these words in marketing content hurt a brand, rather than help it? According to the Market Connections’ 2019 Content Marketing Review: Federal & Beyond study, certain words and phrases may annoy readers more than they explain what you do. In addition, as we have shown in our recent webinar, Differentiation in a Federal Market: How Do You Stand Out?, leaning heavily into these phrases does not necessarily aid in the overall differentiation of your company in a crowded, evolving marketplace. Our in-house database of digital marketing collateral from 100 top technology contractors contains millions of words and highlights the similarities between what is being promised from vendor to vendor.
Content aimed towards government IT customers, whether a white paper, marketing collateral, or a white board-style video, should be built upon three pillars: data and research; product specifications; and past performance. While it may be difficult to avoid all buzzwords, your content should focus on including these three pillars to ensure you keep your customer engaged. Federal, state and local technology decision makers want direct and informative content without the jargon to avoid the overt feeling they are being sold a bill of goods.
Finally, make sure your content includes clear statements focused on the value of your product or service to the organization, in non-technical terms customers can circulate. Three-quarters of federal respondents and over half of state and local respondents admitted to sharing content electronically with colleagues, teams and supervisors, many of whom may not have the same technical expertise as your initial target and may be even less tolerant of buzzwords.
Throughout our review of feedback from federal, state and local IT decision makers, we consistently came back to the theme that content should educate. Education is about presenting the right information at the right time using language that can be understood by the audience. By ensuring that you are meeting the expectations and needs of your audience and avoiding buzzwords and phrases, you are one step closer to creating content that meets your prospect’s needs, and, in turn, advances your company throughout the sales process.
To get the full list of top “annoying buzzwords” for both federal and state and local audiences, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about content preferences of federal, state and local IT decision makers by downloading the full report and infographics of the 2019 Content Marketing Review: Federal & Beyond.
Watch the recording and download slides for our webinar: Differentiation in a Federal Market: How Do You Stand Out?
For public sector marketers, case studies provide you the opportunity to demonstrate your past performance while highlighting your expertise and product or service’s unique features. In an arsenal of marketing materials, should you put an emphasis on creating case studies to highlight your products and services to public sector markets? The resounding answer is yes!
Results from Market Connections’ most recent study, 2019 Content Marketing Review: Federal & Beyond, demonstrated the value and importance of case studies across federal, state and local decision-makers in informing and educating them about products, technical services and emerging technologies.
Ninety-five percent of respondents across both federal and state and local sectors admitted to using case studies to inform and educate them during their work-related buying process and nearly one-third across both public sector groups agreed case studies from contractors and vendors were among the most valuable types of content, placing it in the top three of all content types.
What should your case studies include?
There’s no surprise when it comes to the top three features government decision-makers on both sides seek in case studies. With at least four out of ten, federal, state and local decision-makers listed “data and research to support content” as the top feature sought in case studies. This was followed by “examples of past performance” and “product specifications.” Much lower on the list was “insights from industry thought leaders” and “visual contents (including imagery and infographics),” although the latter ranked slightly higher among state and local decision-makers (21% vs 13% of their federal counterparts).
Learn more about what content works for your government audience
What other marketing content do decision-makers across federal, state and local find valuable in helping them make important decisions about procurement of technical products and services or new and emerging technologies? Where are they going to access this content? How much time are the spending with it and what actions are they taking with it? Where should you focus your content marketing efforts?
Join us to get full study results and hear from an expert panel of public sector marketers at the Content Marketing Review: Federal & Beyond Breakfast Briefing on May 9 in Vienna, Virginia.