What makes great marketing? Is it the amount of content on the page? Is it the types of resources provided? Is it how the information is displayed?

What is the magic bullet that takes marketing from good to great?

The fact is there isn’t a single, perfect way to market products and services. Each site’s unique mixture of content strategies and navigation schemas set them apart from their competitors.

Some websites, however, have cracked codes to make their marketing stand out from the crowd. They have teams full of visionaries that are constantly tweaking marketing formulas to find the magic bullet that keeps them one step ahead of the competition.

To find out today’s marketing best practices, we put three siteIQ eBusiness Index leaders under the microscope to uncover the elements make their product and services marketing so exceptional.

What did we find? That it is about the amount of marketing on the page, the resources provided, and how the information is displayed. But what is most important is providing value in every pixel and click.

Product Marketing

Oracle.com | 2018 Product Marketing winner

Oracle.com handily took first place in the Product Marketing category – and for good reason. This trendsetting site’s teams always have their eyes on the horizon looking for the next opportunity to change the rules of competition and stay ahead in the game.

This year Oracle.com focused on building on its prior successes. The teams continue expanding the site’s content and crafting new interactive marketing methods to enrich its marketing messages.

Deep content. Oracle.com’s content goes deep, very deep. If you think the secondary sticky navigation goes to information farther down the page, think again. These links go to full pages that dive into the product’s benefits and features. Even the navigation options are written to highlight benefits and answer questions, such as “What is SaaS scalability?” and “What is the Oracle Cloud Platform?”

Admittedly, Oracle.com’s deep architecture violates the famous, albeit antiquated, 3-click rule. However, if the site delivers value on every page, its seemingly bottomless click streams will go unnoticed by visitors.

Video content. Oracle.com provides a plethora of videos that expand on the topics presented by the snippets on the page. This technique allows page content to remain short and snappy without losing rich information about the product or solution. It also gives Oracle.com the opportunity to showcase its advertising chops.

While Oracle.com was one of the innovators of this marketing technique, it isn’t unique to Oracle.com anymore. Many other website teams took up this best practice approach when shorter content became fashionable. You can see it in action on the other Top 5 Index sites, IBM.com, Cisco.com, and SAP.com.

Fresh thinking. Oracle.com’s marketing messages aren’t limited to content, resources, and videos. It also produces high-quality, animated slideshows that highlight the product’s features and benefits and podcasts that explore industry trends.

Role-based marketing. Oracle.com’s legendary role-based marketing approach puts products in context for visitors that focus on a specific set of tasks within their organization. This appeals to prospects from all angles on multiple levels. Read more about this innovative strategy in our post: Oracle.com’s “lean forward” playbook emerges.

Cisco.com | 2018 Product Marketing runner up

Although Cisco.com comes in second, it’s an innovative site that has best practices that can’t go unmentioned.

Cisco.com has been undergoing a stem to stern renovation for the past 18 to 24 months. The result is a nimble mobile-based design with lively content that stands out from the crowd. But everything isn’t new. It keeps some of its best practices from the past that no competitor can emulate. 

Broad content. Where Oracle.com’s content runs deep, Cisco.com’s spans far and wide. The site delivers a wealth of content on every landing page. And the information goes beyond benefit statements and highlighted features. In fact, its resource listings are downright legendary.

This shallow website architecture goes contrary to Oracle.com’s deep structure. This means that Cisco.com’s landing pages tend to run long, but visitors are likely to find the information they need in two clicks or less. One structure isn’t necessarily better than the other. What’s important in both cases is that each page provides value in every pixel.

Content voice. Cisco.com gets the award for the most dynamic content. The writing always puts the reader first, which hooks them on the landing page and keeps their attention throughout the research process.

Also, the writing always begins with a verb – “get,” “increase,” “maintain,” and “protect” are perennial favorites. This energizes the writing, builds momentum, and keeps the visitor moving from the landing page to the “Contact Us” button.

Partners welcome. Cisco.com is the only site that has a semi-transparent partner portal architecture that spans the dot com site. Where most partner portals reproduce product marketing content behind their firewalls, Cisco.com publishes partner-focused content directly on product marketing pages.

All partners need to do is find the product they’re looking for, go to the bottom of the page, and log in. Once they’re in, the product’s partner resources pop up and stay available as the partner surfs the site.

Services Marketing

IBM.com and IBM Services | 2018 Services Marketing winners

IBM fills the top two spots on the eBusiness Index this year with a portfolio of marketing resources that go unmatched.

The site has been slowly building its resources into a vast library that rivals every other site on the Index. It isn’t that IBM is changing how services are marketed as much as it is showing how they should have been marketed in the first place. 

Resources abound. Robust services marketing content is as common as the elusive Yeti, and IBM Services’ is no exception. Its on-page content is short and to the point. What sets IBM Services from the competition is its vast libraries of resources that go well beyond a downloadable brochure and a handful of case studies.

The website offers visitors a cornucopia of reports, blogs, studies, and webcasts. It is also one of the few sites that use videos to explain its services in detail. But it doesn’t end there. The site even provides a cost estimator for its Multivendor Support Services. Now, that’s services marketing.

Services experts. Where “Products” are about objects, “Services” are about people – and no one markets its people like IBM.com.

Many IBM Services’ pages display a short listing of services experts that specialize in the related service. Each expert block includes a bio and links to the specialist’s social media profile and contact information. If a visitor wants to learn about the entire services organization, they can do that too. The site’s IBM Services Expert Hub lists all its service providers and offers filtering options by topic or location.

Final Thoughts

These teams’ relentless pursuit for innovation always keeps these sites ahead of their competition. But will they top the Index in 2019? The historical data says, no. The Product Marketing and Services Marketing category rankings get reshuffled every year. This year’s winner is next year’s also-ran. Nonetheless, these three sites should always be at the top of your watch list. You never know what they’ll come up with next.

Category: Case Study

Class: Best Practice

Websites Profiled: Oracle.com, Cisco.com, IBM.com

Related Research:

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