For today’s marketers, “spray and pray” is the ultimate pejorative. Also known as “spaghetti against the wall,” spray and pray 1.0 was when marketers would buy a huge list of, say, 5,000-10,000 names and send out an email blast hoping that someone, anyone, would bite.
Like its predecessor, spray and pray 2.0 is an attempt to blanket prospects with the vendors’ message. But while spray and pray 1.0 sent minimally-targeted messages to large numbers of people, spray and pray 2.0 goes to a more targeted list in as many ways as possible—emails, white papers, webinars, articles, videos, infographics, tweets, LinkedIn, and more.
Spray and pray 2.0 addresses a couple of modern facts of life. The first is simply that different people learn in different ways—some are visual, some are auditory, some are kinesthetic learners. So it makes sense to present them with the type of information that helps them learn best.
The second is that buyers no longer make their way through their buying process in a linear fashion. Today’s buyer’s journey meanders across channels and social media the way teenagers wander around the state fair. They head over to the Ferris wheel, watch a little Nascar, take a detour through the heritage pavilion, throw a few bean bags to win the stuffed SpongeBob SquarePants, scarf down a deep-fried Snicker Doodle, milk a cow, then check out the baby chicks and the half-ton pumpkins.
The result is that campaigns need to be far more comprehensive. “It’s a surround strategy,” explained Todd Craig, an Atlanta-based marketing consultant and Oracle Modern Market Leader finalist. “You have to think in terms of multi-asset, multi-touch, multi-channel, multi-time period. You also have to reuse content by breaking it down and repurposing it so you can have an impact across all channels.”
Virtually all marketers begin their spray and pray 2.0 campaigns by creating a multitude of content that they can push across multiple channels.
For example, BMC used to do a lot of white papers. But now, said Alison Munn, Senior Social Media Marketing and Engagement Manager, “We’re doing more video, more eBooks, more bite-sized infograms, more blogs. Every time I create a piece of content, the first question I ask is, ‘What images can I use to promote that over social?’”
Certain, Inc. puts the word out about its thought leadership, which explains how the company’s event-management solution fits into the larger ecosystem of marketing automation, through webinars, partner webinars, articles in the press, social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter, and participation in industry events. As Michelle Schofield, Director of Marketing explained, “We take a cross-channel approach and use all these elements in a cohesive manner to create a successful campaign.”
Different Learning Styles
Different types of content accommodate different preferences and learning styles. Blucarat, which offers a solution that brings social media to eCommerce channels, targets millennial social-media managers with short videos because this audience prefers video to longer white papers.
In contrast, Victoria Grey, Chief Marketing Officer at Gridstore, which provides storage solutions for Microsoft HyperV, uses not only videos, but also white papers and other written content. Said Grey, “We do everything. We do video, papers, customer testimonials and more because people have different preferences for consuming content. Some people only watch video, others like to read technical briefs or what another customer might have to say. For example, for me personally, if I’m in a meeting I can discreetly read, but I can’t watch a video.”
Concur Technologies is concerned with addressing different learning styles. Said Amy Higgins, Senior Manager of Content Marketing, “Everyone learns differently. Studies show that video and photos work best. The more interactive it can be the better. You rarely see postings on Google+ without a photo. Twitter is getting more and more into that. We might imbed a SlideShare in a tweet. As a result, our mix tends toward different learning styles. We’re still playing with that. It’s all trial-and-error and testing things out.”
All Stages of the Buying Cycle
But spray and pray 2.0 goes well beyond mere integrated marketing. More marketers are looking to coordinate content-marketing and demand-generation efforts across the entire buying process. “We’re evolving to get better at using content to address key buyers at the right stage in the buying process,” said Frank Barry, Director, New Growth Ventures and Partners at Blackbaud.
Jessica Primanzon, Senior Campaign Manager at Deltek, has created a methodology that ensures that Deltek has the content it needs at each stage in the buying process. She performed an audit of all the content her group had produced and mapped each one to where it fit in the sales process. Said Primanzon, “I use that architecture assessment to see where I need to produce new content as well was what type of content I need to accommodate different learning styles. The content architecture allows us to take personal preference off the table and produce the content we actually need.”
As companies master marketing automation, this mapping process will only become more sophisticated. As Craig explained, “Marketing automation is helping us assess impact. We can evaluate the complexion of every touchpoint. We can determine how many touches it takes to close a customer; for example, how many webinars they attend and so on. With this data, we can start to understand what it takes to go from prospect to customers and map content back to the buyer’s journey. We’ll eventually get to the point where we can create the right combination of content that speaks to multiple personas in an organization, develop a value proposition for each one, and come up with a compelling event that pushes them over to help us close a deal for with a $250 million manufacturer in Kansas.”
Marketing over the Long Term
Because today’s spray and pray 2.0 campaigns cover the entire buying process, they’re far longer than older campaigns. While older campaigns may have run for three weeks and might have included one to three email blasts, modern campaigns take advantage of marketing automation and can run for six months.
Said Craig, “It’s really powerful when you can map things out and have a program that lasts that long. You can really start to see which channels click, where you’re moving the needle in concert, what kind of content, and what combination moves the prospect.”