Jackie Kahle, VP, Research and Content Director
Jackie Kahle, VP, Research and Content Director
CA Technologies is one of the largest software firms in the world, working with many of the Fortune Global 500 companies, government organisations, educational institutions, and thousands of other companies. Based in the US, with offices in 40 countries and just over 11,000 people, the firm posted $4 billion in revenue for FY2016.
Business is being redefined by digital innovation. How rapidly and successfully firms embrace a software-driven digital transformation strategy will be a critical driver of their competitive advantage. CA needs to position itself at the centre of this debate: “We have the depth of technology, expertise and scale to help companies succeed in the application economy,” says Jackie Kahle, VP, Research and Content Director. “But you need to be in the game to win it.”
Six years ago CA started an annual survey-driven content marketing programme to act as the foundation for thought leadership engagement around disruptive trends, innovation, digital transformation and the app economy. The objectives were threefold: brand awareness, demand generation and sales enablement.
Initially, the survey took a broad focus on the app economy and disruptive trends that were impacting CA’s clients. But over the last two years, it has drilled into digital transformation as a strategic enabler: at first exploring how widespread digital transformation efforts are; then exploring how the business impact can be measured.
“We usually start the process by exploring the ‘whitespace’: discussing the hot trends, what other thought leaders in the industry are saying and where CA might be able to carve out a unique PoV,” says Kahle. “Before actually finalising the questions, we brainstorm the headlines that we would ideally like to go forward with, so we can build in questions that will hopefully get us there.”
For the 2016/17 edition, CA worked with Coleman Parkes and Grist. This included a survey of 1,770 senior business and IT executives at large enterprises in 21 countries and 10 vertical sectors. A phone and web-based approach to field research was used, plus a follow-up programme of interviews to elicit deeper insights and probe survey findings.
The research data worked at both a brand and product level for CA. It examined the impact of digital transformation on business performance. It also looked in depth at the correlation between business performance and advanced use of technologies and practices such as agile methodologies, DevOps, API management and identity-centric security.
An extensive range of content assets were created to help achieve each of the three core business objectives. At the heart of the year-long programme were four short online reports, each forming the fulcrum of separate programmes:
Each phase had a range of ‘top-of-funnel’ activity and assets designed to raise awareness and drive prospects to the reports. The programme was kicked off with a high-profile, CA-sponsored press event, including participation by CTO Otto Berkes, to coincide with the publication of his book Digitally Remastered: Building Software into your Business DNA.
This was amplified through extensive PR activity, infographics, SlideShares, blog posts, case studies, industry sector summaries, tweets, and LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ updates. Social posts were created centrally, and made available to employees through GaggleAMP to ensure widespread sharing. The reports and assets were also translated into six or more languages for key markets.
“We constantly re-evaluate channels – testing, measuring results and then adjusting our strategies over time,” says Kahle. “And we get granular as well – for instance, we found that paid/sponsored social seems to be particularly effective with some communities, but not others. SlideShare works well for research, but video doesn’t (although it is good for solutions-level awareness and ‘how-to’ films).”
The outreach activity directed visitors to the reports, which were published on CA’s thought leadership hub Rewrite, exploring how next-generation technology and the app economy will dramatically impact the business landscape. This included CA’s research alongside a stream of articles from external journalists.
“Rewrite’s focus is on thought leadership content,” says Kahle, “not product information. And it works: we know that 93% of the visitors to Rewrite have never been to the CA corporate website so they are new to us. We’re building brand recognition and getting more people into the buying cycle.”
The reports provide demonstrably clear value, including a Business Impact Scorecard which evidences the KPIs critical to success with digital transformation, plus a checklist of essential steps to increase business impact. As a result, they enjoy high conversion rates via gated access.
Once prospects are in the system, they are tracked using marketing automation, while sales enablement activity, assets and tools facilitate nurturing through the sales cycle.
A series of internal presentations for sales teams raise the profile and value of the research; while data, insight and case studies are packaged for inclusion in corporate presentations, sales materials and proposals.
All three objectives have clear targets and straight-forward measurements. “It’s a major investment in terms of research, asset creation and outreach,” says Kahle. “We need to know if it works, so we closely measure performance against each objective.”
Contribution to improved brand awareness is measured by tracking worldwide press coverage in terms of both the number of articles as well as the sentiment and share-of-voice. For the full set of launches over the course of the year, CA expects to get more than 1,200 articles worldwide. Visits to the research assets on Rewrite are also tracked, along with time-on-site, bounce rates, and other metrics. The effectiveness of Rewrite in terms of funnelling visitors to the main ca.com site is also a key metric.
Demand generation is measured through qualified leads from people who register for gated content and enter the sales pipeline. Research assets are also effectively used later on in the buying cycle to continue to nurture leads.
Meanwhile, sales engagement is measured by how well salespeople react to the research results and actually use the assets with their clients. “We get quick and honest feedback from our sales teams,” says Kahle. “We know quickly whether the research programmes are cutting the mustard, and we adjust our plans real-time, based on their feedback. We’re working on this for the seventh straight year, which is testament to the great results and the value of doing these types of integrated research programmes.”