G2 Crowd CMO’s content strategy aims to stay one step ahead of business software buyers

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The new chief marketing officer for business software and review comparison site G2 Crowd plans to elevate its content market strategy by targeting buyers who don’t even know they’re going to want applications and services.

Chicago-based G2 Crowd brought on Ryan Bonnici, most recently the senior director of global marketing at Hubspot, as its CMO earlier this month. Bonnici has experience in both B2C and B2B brands, having worked at Microsoft, then ExactTarget before it was acquired by Salesforce.

G2 Crowd acts a sort of peer-to-peer review service for all manner of enterprise software, allowing visitors to quickly look at rival or alternative tools to ones they already have under consideration. Vendors, meanwhile, can get data at who has been looking at reviews related to their products and services and where they are in the buyer journey.

In one of his first interviews since becoming CMO, Bonnici told B2B News Network he was attracted to the idea of a “two-sided marketplace” that is bringing more transparency to the software selection and purchase process.

“I think to me, as a marketer, I love the fact that I get to lean into and sharpen my B2C skills (with our reviewers) but also build on the B2B relationships with our vendors,” he said.

Bonnici said his first project involves considerable work in search engine optimization (SEO) keyword research, which will let he and his team develop content in the earlier, awareness stage of a purchase.

For instance, someone close to a decision to buy Hubspot might do an online search for “Hubspot vs. (competitor’s name),” he said, after they had already done a broader search for social media management tools. Even before that, though, they might have been doing an even more general search about “Facebook marketing” that could have led them to G2 Crowd more quickly.

“A lot of startups have a tendency to create content at the bottom of the funnel, thinking about how it relates to their product,” he said. “I think we can lean into that awareness content more than we have.”

While LinkedIn and similar platforms represent an area where a lot of B2B content is being consumed, Bonnici cited overall declines in social referral traffic as such services become more mature and conscious of their various ad-supported business models. That means much of the focus will be driving traffic to G2 Crowd itself.

“I’m a big believer in the idea that a lot of us don’t make as much use of organic demand — search is one of the most under-utilized, or improperly utilized channels,” he said, adding that while voice-enabled tools such as Alexa for Business could drive new forms of research activity, video and image-based content comes second to more traditional formats like blog posts.

“There’s still the fact that Google is surfacing mostly text,” he said. “Format is more  important in things like where and how the schema and content is structured so you can create those featured snippets that Google will notice.”

G2 Crowd has amassed more than a quarter of a million reviews in less than five years.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.