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How to Create Content with Customers to Generate Leads

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Everything you do at your job is for your customers, right? They’re the reason you open the doors every day, and you couldn’t do it without their support. Yet, at some point, you have to turn forward and try to acquire new customers to keep everything moving along, while continuing to satisfy your current clients. While your sales and marketing teams are strategizing on how to pull down new conversions, you should remind them of one of the greatest assets you have: your past and current customers. Elevating and celebrating your happy clients can generate converting content, new leads, convince those in the critical decision phase, and raise your retention rates. Well-placed content can boost your bottom line. Here’s how.

Positive Vibes

If you’re about to make a purchase, large or small, it’s likely you’ll check at least a few reviews and ratings before you buy. In fact, a full 86% of potential consumers do, according to this report. We all do it, mostly because we’d rather get the perspective of an everyday person rather than the puffed-up sales pitch from the brand’s website. We trust these voices to give us the real deal, good or bad, and this theory applies to corporate decision makers as well. Showcasing comprehensive testimonials provides ample social proof and can even explain all the positive steps and personal attention that they received along the way. Most satisfied customers are happy to provide a testimonial with a little nudge. And, like any social obligation, it’s always a good idea to reciprocate with a personal thank you or a gift (more about that later).

You Just Gotta Ask

Look, you should already know how your customers feel about your company and the experience they had while working with you. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on some valuable feedback that could help you out in all aspects of your business. There should be some degree of recording customer feedback, either from customer service or your regular client-facing personnel, like your sales team or account managers. To start compiling internal data, you might want to try surveys that focus on the customer experience, either via email or as part of a regular “exit interview”. Make sure to include plenty of open-ended questions with spaces for clients to put their thoughts into their own words, like these:

  • What surprised you about this product/service?
  • Which feature did you find particularly useful?
  • Would you recommend this product/service to friends/family/colleagues?
  • Anything else you’d like to add?

You may also want to include rating systems that you’ll be able to pull quantifiable data from (i.e. “92% rated their service as very good”). When you are able to comb through these responses, you can identify those customers who might be top candidates for testimonials, and you can even include a question that asks them directly if they’d be willing to volunteer their thoughts for a testimonial.

Make sure that you get the client’s full name, company position, and head shot when publishing text or video testimonials. Proper endorsement absolutely needs qualified identification…you don’t want Joe T. from Ithaca singing your praises, as it’s likely anonymous testimonials just won’t be taken seriously. Professionally shot video clips may have the most impact, as you can see and hear the sincerity and emotion from the happy customer.

Celebrate Your Customers

There’s lots of room to integrate your customers into your overall sales and marketing plans simply by showering them with praise. Developing and writing a detailed case study about the challenges, plan, and success you eventually had while working with them accomplishes quite a bit. It gives potential customers a good look at the end result, yes, but it also highlights the experience and the journey that you and your team went through to provide those solutions. Keep all the statements in the case study positive (i.e. avoid phrases like “They were in a lot of trouble before we stepped in”), and be effusive in your praise about how great it was to work with them and how happy you are with their success. This is valuable content that you can have on your website, include in your email newsletter, and post on social sites like LinkedIn for maximum exposure. Here’s a few case studies to look over for inspiration.

Also, be sure to publicly congratulate your past customers on their recent milestones and successes, such as anniversaries, new expansions, or big hires. Privately, of course, you can send gifts and cards to their office. Point is, having a positive relationship with past clients (and showing that to others) is great publicity and social proof that you’re a great brand to work with.

The Two Forgotten Phases in the Sales Funnel

Your sales team is probably well acquainted with the sales funnel model, and strategizes with those phases in mind. The first three phases – awareness, consideration, and decision – have their own individual pathways with regards to lead generation, email campaigns, and other sales and marketing tactics. The case studies and testimonials that we already talked about certainly have their place in these first three stages, but they can also feature prominently in the last two phases, which are retaining your customers and getting them to become advocates for new potential customers. When you consider these last two phases, the funnel actually becomes a circle with the kinetic energy to keep each phase aiding the others. Retention and advocacy are steps where testimonials and positivity are particularly helpful. This is also a good time to drop a few incentives; a discount to returning customers (retention) or a referral program (advocacy) would help keep that energy up.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your customers over the moon with your products and services is great, but adding good doses of flattery, well-deserved praise, and recommendations will assure that anyone who considers doing business with you is walking into a beneficial situation. Through working with customers to create content assets such as case studies and testimonials, there are plenty of opportunities to earn new content that generates leads and turn leads into customers. A company who treats its customers well should naturally be recognized as such, so go ahead and tell the world how great your customers are!

Do you have any tips to promote customer advocacy to appeal to new clients? We’d love to hear all about it on Twitter @Feed_Otter!

 

 

 

 

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Is Your Lead Nurturing Strategy Doing More Harm Than Good? 5 Common Mistakes You May Be Making

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Are you having trouble turning leads into sales? This could be because you’re not maximizing your lead nurturing strategy. Or maybe your lead nurturing strategy is doing more harm than good. Don’t fret, because this post is here to help you identify mistakes you may be making in your lead nurturing strategy and once these mistakes are identified, you’ll start turning more leads into sales.

A lead nurturing strategy is just as important as your strategy to generate leads. If you’re generating a ton of leads but aren’t nurturing them correctly, you might as well not be generating them in the first place.

The following 5 mistakes are common content marketing mistakes when it comes to any lead nurturing strategy. If you recognize any of these as mistakes that you’re making, there is plenty of time and strategies to fix the problem!

Mistake #1 Skipping the Research Phase

Researching buyer personas and the type of content that resonates with your audience is a crucial part of the initial phase when implementing a lead nurturing strategy.

Identifying pain points that your target buyers experience helps you develop the type of content to drip them.

Also understanding the customers journey as it is unique to your brand is an important part of the research phase. The journey makes you aware of what to drip your leads and when to drip it to them.

How to fix it: Carve out time in your schedule and spend time creating your buyer personas, this template from HubSpot is a great resource to use. After you’ve created your buyer personas, map out your consumer’s journey on a piece of paper. Note the questions and pain points they will encounter and make a plan to solve these pain points with the right content.

Mistake #2 Doing a Sales Pitch Too Soon

A lot of marketers make the mistake of doing a sales pitch too soon. Leads need a healthy amount of thought leadership and educational content so that you can establish brand credibility and brand trust before you make the sales pitch.

The sales pitch can also happen too soon if you’re marketing goals aren’t aligned with your sales team. Sales teams can sometimes jump in and do the sales pitch before you’ve had the chance to nurture the lead. So, it’s crucial that sales and marketing goals are aligned.

How to fix it: Set up an email drip campaign that drips leads 5 emails/pieces of content before you lay your sales pitch on them. Make sure sales is aligned with this goal so that they don’t reach out to leads until they’re “hot.”

Mistake #3 Ignoring Campaign Data

Your lead nurturing program churns out a lot of data. Are you analyzing this data? From open rates to conversions, there are a lot of clues in your campaign data when it comes to your lead nurturing strategy. Some things to examine are:

  • What subject lines had the highest open rate?
  • What pieces of content convert a lead into a sale?
  • Which messages cause a lead to unsubscribe from your emails?
  • What time of day and which days of week do your emails get opened more?

After examining this data, you will be able to make tweaks that will convert more leads into sales.

How to fix it: Monitor your data once a week and refine your lead nurturing program on a continuous basis. Each week, you should start to see better and better results. When you identify which pieces of content have the highest conversion rates, be sure to make more of that type of content.

Mistake #4 Forgetting to Update Your Drip with Fresh Content

Because you are putting out fresh content every week, you’re going to want to continuously update your lead nurturing drip. Many marketers make the mistake of creating a drip program and leaving it alone for too long. This content can become out of date and your leads can feel like they’re not getting new information from your brand.

One thing to note, though, is that your drip should keep a balance of being filled with your new content and with your best content. Things like ebooks and case studies have a longer shelf life and can stay a crucial piece of your drip campaigns for a while. Blog posts, however, should be updated every few weeks so that your leads feel like they’re getting the latest information.

How to fix it: When it comes to blog posts in your drip campaign, refresh them once a month. When it comes to ebooks and case studies, refresh them every 6 months.

Mistake #5 Not Utilizing the Right Converting Content

There are a lot of things to consider when uncovering the content that converts. First, mapping out your buyer’s journey can clue you into what types of content will convert a lead into a sale. Second, monitoring campaign data will clue you into what types of content will convert a lead into a sale. Between these two things, you should have a pretty good understanding of what types of content turn leads to sales for your brand.

How to fix it: Common forms of converting content are white papers and case studies so be sure to use these types of content at the end of your email drip sequence.

Final Thoughts

The lead nurturing mistakes that we’ve outlined occur commonly in both big and small brands so if you are making any of these mistakes, you’re not alone! Hopefully we gave you some easy fixes for these mistakes so that your lead nurturing program will start converting more leads into sales.

A commonality in these mistakes is time so make sure that you budget enough of your time each week to analyze your campaign and continue to refine it. Although feeling like you already don’t have enough time in your day may be the reason you make these mistakes in the first place, it’s important to allocate time to analyzing and tweaking your strategy each week.

Do you make any of these lead nurturing mistakes? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter @Feed_Otter

 

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The Unavoidable Need for User Generated Content in Your Content Marketing Strategy

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User generated content (UGC) is just what it sounds like–content created by someone other than your brand. The theory behind its effectiveness is simple: it is always more trusted than content the brand puts out about itself. Consumers increasingly look to their peers for brand recommendations and advice, and UGC fulfills this for them.

UGC can encompass multiple forms of content not produced by your brand, including social media recommendations, testimonials, videos, and blog posts. You can find ample quality content as the result of an influencer campaign, and more from happy consumers who take it upon themselves to write about brands online.

If you’re not sure if you need to embrace UGC, or how to go about collecting this valuable form of content, then keep reading.

Do I Really Need User Generated Content for My Brand?

If you might need a little convincing that you need to ramp up your UGC strategy, we can look at a few statistics. 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all forms of advertising. And, word of mouth marketing generates twice the sales of paid advertising. Lastly, 64% of consumers actively seek out UGC when it’s time to make purchase decisions.

Have we convinced you yet that you should be populating the Internet full of UGC? You can assure that target consumers come across your brand through a peer’s recommendation, plus they’ll be plenty of UGC content readily available when a consumer is researching your brand. Keep reading, because this post is going to give you all the tools that you need to improve your UGC strategy.

It’s All About Authenticity

User generated content is all about current consumers sharing real-life experiences about your brand. For example, you can feature a post on LinkedIn about how your software makes their day easier, or a video testimonial talking about how a business discovered how your brand solved several major pain points for them. These brand experiences are authentic, and instantly create brand trust.

UGC helps brands tell stories in ways that the brand can’t do themselves. Whether it’s a selfie with your product, a blog post about their experience with your brand, or a tweet saying how much they love you, UGC will organically contribute to your overall storytelling strategy.

Reach New Audiences with User Generated Content

When happy consumers publish a complimentary post online about your brand, it’s goes straight to all of their followers, instantly putting your brand in front of hundreds or even thousands of new potential consumers. Their sincere experience with your brand might be enough to activate new people into leads, and (hopefully) conversions. Your happy consumers should be your brand’s greatest marketing asset, and they can offer valuable social proof with their recommendations.

How to Get Users to Create User Generated Content

Most UGC content is published organically and without any incentive. That said, there are ways to get consumers to publish their experience with your brand on their blog, their social channels or even a testimonial on your site. Let’s explore a few ways you can generate UGC for your brand:

  • Email your clients and announce a social media contest, and reward the person who creates the best post with an Amazon gift card or an iPad. The small investment in the prize will be worth all the UGC social content that you’ll get for your brand.
  • Ask clients to give you a 1-2 sentence testimonial about their experience with your brand. The small amount of time it takes them to write those sentences will make it easy for them to contribute.
  • Check with your client facing co-workers to identify happy clients. Reach out to these clients, and ask if they’d be willing to do a video case study about using your product. Consider compensating them with a free month of usage of your product.
  • Be transparent and simply ask your clients to put out social posts showcasing how they feel about your brand. You’d be surprised at how many people want to feel included and who would be happy to endorse your brand.
  • Create an email campaign where you ask your clients to leave reviews about your brand. After all, 70% of consumers look at a review before making a purchase decision. Consider incentivizing them with either a discount on your product or gift card.
  • Run an influencer campaign and sponsor posts that showcase an influencer’s experience with your product or service. Some marketers might think that influencer marketing doesn’t work for B2B brands, but we disagree!

How to Leverage User Generated Content for Your Brand

There’s no point in earning all this juicy UGC if it doesn’t get you put in front of your target consumers and make it easy to find. Putting a strategy in place to leverage UGC is crucial. Let’s look at a few ways you can get maximum views on UGC to generate new leads and sales for your brand:

  • Monitor social media for consumer raves about your brand and reshare them on your own social channels.
  • Sprinkle testimonials throughout your website’s homepage. When potential consumers are researching your brand, they’ll be far easier to find.
  • Link to blog posts that speak highly of your brand in the posts that you publish on your website.
  • Use relevant UGC in your email marketing strategy, and send these to your leads to spark their interest through peer reviews of your brand.
  • Ask the creators of the UGC to share all over their social media channels
  • Use UGC in your paid social ads, instead of a self-promotional ad about your brand

Do you have any tips to add about a powerful UGC strategy? We’d love to hear all about it on Twitter @Feed_Otter

 

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How to Create Content that Converts Leads into Sales

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Content marketers have a broad variety of tasks. Creating content, promoting content, engaging with readers and running social media channels are just a few of the many things you probably have to do each day. One thing that often gets overlooked is ensuring that you’re creating content for all stages of the buyer’s journey to fill up the content marketing funnel.

Your goal as a content marketer is to promote thought leadership for your brand and bring in new leads that hopefully convert into sales. It’s a lot of work and it’s crucial to walk leads through the buyer’s journey to land more clients for your brand.

Research from Content Marketing Institute tells us that 90% of marketers are using content marketing to generate demand and fill the top of the content funnel. However, only 60% of marketers use content to persuade a lead to check out a brand’s product or service thus not helping them convert from a lead to a sale. This shows us that a lot of marketing organizations have a disconnect when it comes to using content to appeal to all stages of the buyer’s journey and fill up their content funnel.

This post is here to help you understand what types of content you can produce that will get more sales for your brand and earn gold stars from your boss for your successful content marketing approach. Let’s dive in.

Become a Content Funnel Expert

Image courtesy of SEMrush.com

Awareness: The awareness stage is how a new lead discovers your brand either through search or through a piece of content that you produce. Blog posts, social media and ebooks are all common ways that a new lead enters into the content funnel and becomes aware that your brand exists. Awareness content is usually thought leadership content and strays away from pitching your brand within the content.

Consideration: The consideration phase happens after a lead becomes aware of your brand. Usually in this stage, they are taking a deep dive to learn about your brand and compare it to your competitors. When a lead is in the consideration phase, they digest more active forms of content like product reviews, white papers, webinars and more. Consideration content has the potential to filter out leads who aren’t a good fit for the brand making the leads that progress to the next stage qualified.

Conversion: The conversion phase is when the lead decides whether or not they’re going to become a customer. While this is a crucial stage for leads, a lot of content marketing strategies fall short here, but we’ll fix that in this post.

Spend Less Time on Brand Awareness

Brand awareness spans the broadest category and marketers find it easier to create content for brand awareness. So, it’s likely your brand awareness strategy is solid and you need help creating content for the conversion phase.

Don’t get us wrong, brand awareness is key to generating leads in the first place, but, it shouldn’t make up the majority of the content that you create.

So, we propose this: how can you spend less time on brand awareness content and how can you create more content that converts leads into sales? After all, isn’t your goal and perhaps even your performance measured by how many new customers you bring to your brand through your awesome content?

Does Your Content Close the Deal?

When you tap into your marketing automation software to see what types of content leads are digesting before they convert into a sale, are you noticing any trends? Is there a particular piece of content that seems to convert?

In order to make sure your leads are getting the type of content that converts, you should have a dynamic email drip for all of the leads that enter into your content funnel and you should slowly drip them content that moves them through the buyer’s journey. After sending them 5-7 emails, they should be “sales ready” and ripe for your sales team to reach out to.

As we see in the Content Marketing Institute survey we mentioned in the beginning of this article, marketers do a great job of building brand awareness and generating leads with their content but not so much when it comes to converting a lead into a customer.

Types of Content that Converts

Succeeding with creating content for the conversion stage of your buyer’s journey requires a lot of research and well documented buyer personas. In order to create content that converts, marketers need to have a strong pulse on pain points a lead faces and the types of solutions that will appeal to them.

Treat every lead like the potential consumer that they are and implement this into your email drip campaigns. Start with awareness and thought leadership content, move to consideration content and finish with converting content before you mark that lead ready for sales or invite them to sign up for a trial of your product.

Let’s take a look at some types of content that you can publish and use to convert leads into sales:

White papers: While a white paper could also fill the top of the funnel, producing a white paper that focuses on how your brand solves certain pain points your target buyer may encounter would be perfect for the conversion stage of the funnel.

Case studies: Case studies are formal pieces of content that document success stories of your clients and emphasize how your brand is a solution. These tangible examples of how your brand can help your target consumer are one of the best ways to convert a lead into a sale.

Webinar: A webinar that showcases how your brand works and offers customer success stories is a great way to move leads into the conversion phase of the funnel. Offer viewers concrete examples of how your brand can make their lives easier.

Break Down Silos Between Marketing and Sales

In order to operate a well-functioning content marketing strategy, you need to have close communication ties with sales. Sometimes leads come to them directly and don’t go through the whole email drip process. So, sales needs to be equipped different types of content that they can share with leads while they’re trying to persuade them to become a customer.

Not only do you need to equip sales with content assets, sales is client facing and thus probably understands buyer behavior and can offer ideas for your content creation efforts.

Lastly, silos between sales and marketing need to be broken down so that you can come up with a strategic process on how to approach leads after you’ve walked them through the entire content funnel. Is sales going to reach out to the leads directly? Are you going to send leads an email to see if they want to register for a demo? You get the drift.

How to Measure Your Efforts

In the Content Marketing Institute report that we referenced at the beginning of the post, it’s clear that marketers mostly measure KPI’s at the awareness stage of the content funnel like traffic, number of leads generated and engagement. However, there are completely different metrics that need to be documented for judging the success of your content in the conversion stage of the funnel. Some metrics to consider are:

  • How many demos and/or trials did your content bring in?
  • How many leads converted to clients?
  • How many people downloaded your white paper?
  • How man views did your case studies get?

Key Takeaways

Research shows that most content marketers do a great job at filling the top of the content funnel with brand awareness content but don’t give the bottom of the funnel, the conversion phase, enough efforts. Content marketing isn’t just about generating leads, it’s also a strong way to convert leads into sales when done correctly.

Most marketers need to shift their focus from only generating brand awareness and need to implement strategic ways to move leads into consumers with the right forms of content. The best types of content to convert a lead into a sale are white papers, case studies and webinars.

Don’t forget to be sure to establish strong communication with your sales team in order to make the most out of your content program. Your sales team needs to be equipped with the awesome content that you create so that they can utilize these pieces of content when they’re trying to close details.

Lastly, to get the recognition that you deserve for your great content program, be sure to document your content marketing strategy, specifically when it comes to documenting the pieces of content that convert leads into sales by measuring things like number of demos registered for and of course, leads that became clients.

Do you have any tips on creating content that converts leads into sales? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter @Feed_Otter!

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The Full Suite of Content Marketing Tools You Need to be Using

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It may be a tired cliché to bring up the carpenter’s toolbox when discussing proper preparation and usage of the right tools, but let’s put it in a slightly different light. Finish carpenters have a more precise and exacting task then general carpenters do; their job is to make it all perfect and precise and ready for the owner to move in right away. Thus, their toolboxes are different. While a framer or general carpenter has powerful saws and giant drill bits to rip through massive amounts of wood, the finish carpenter has delicately shaped router bits and sanders to get all the finishing touches on the trim and baseboards just so. You need both sets of tools to build a house; likewise, you need powerful tools to produce and manage your content, yet you also need precision tools to make it perfect.

Let’s check out a few content marketing tools to see which ones you need on your belt.

Airtable

Above all things, your small business or marketing team needs organization. Project management, for one or many, can take various forms, and everyone processes information like this differently. For an all-in-one project management tool, you can’t do much better than Airtable. Fully customizable for any type of business, Airtable can connect all of the department teams involved in multiple projects with the power of a full database and the precision of a spreadsheet. By setting up individual “bases”, teams can monitor and organize every stage of content production in a collaborative manner. All of this powerful software is presented with incredibly intuitive UX; you can present an editorial calendar, for example, in grids, app-like galleries, or in regular calendar form…basically, in whichever way your content creators prefer. Big dogs like Shopify, Buzzfeed, and Time use Airtable for their project management needs, and you can try it for free (though the very affordable paid version is well worth it).

Canva

It sure would be convenient to ask one of your roofers working on your house to help out with some major electrician work, but you may not feel super comfortable with the results. Asking a content writer to tackle graphic design in order to spiff up a case study or social media post has its risks as well. You need an easy to understand and intuitive tool to enable your team to make their content look good, and Canva has you covered. Starting with basic design templates, Canva lets you not only make elementary infographics and borders, but gives you and your team the tools and educational resources to customize branded graphic content to fit all your needs. With a comprehensive blog chock full of advice and resources from top designers in the business, you can train yourself and your team to use Canva to create graphs, edit Instagram posts, and feature your brand’s logo on anything you create. So, it’s a tool to create immediate needed design and teach you how to do it yourself? That’s a powerful content marketing tool you should use.

FullStory

Ok, so you’ve got your projects organized and looking slick. Your new client has requested a ton of content, and you’ve delivered. A month later, though, they’re not sure what’s working and not working and why, and that various content now appears random and unfocused. How do you fix this? The incredibly efficient software behind FullStory gives you…well, the full story. You are basically given the exact user journey: how they navigated through the website, what they lingered on and read, and where they got frustrated and bounced. You can filter your user attributes however you wish, whether by device or OS used, inbound link used to find the site, or even the geographic location or other known demographic of the user. You can examine the UX journey with a color-coded heatmap to see what’s hot and what’s not, and even pull buggy codes directly from a JavaScript log (your IT guys will thank you for this). The data you get from this very detailed UX recreation will help you refine your content, avoid ineffective posts, and, most importantly, keep your clients reassured that the content you’re serving up is on point.

FeedOtter

Now, you’ve got a bunch of relevant content, you know what’s working, and every team member is on the same page. Looks like you have to put someone on your marketing team to work, as there’s email pushes to schedule, newsletters to write, and other industry-relevant content to curate. All this work can take up days of your time, or even take your team away from all the crucial content management they need to do. Consistency is key when marketing content, so look into using FeedOtter to automate your whole calendar. You can plug in the right targeted content into your newsletter template, giving a personal touch (which is always a good customer relation move) while saving lots of time and headaches along the way. You can schedule an email blast that includes that newsletter and other blog digests on the specific day, week, or month that works for each client, and there’s even a feature that stops the process if there’s no new content to promote. FeedOtter integrates with multiple existing content and email automated platforms, so onboarding is quick and easy. Get your content team back to the work they excel at, and leave the rest to FeedOtter.

Hemingway

The results are in. You know what needs to change. Empower yourself and get it done.

Or

Hopefully, you may have seen the results, and even if you know what should probably change, you might want to consider possibly getting up the courage to give it the best shot you can at making it happen.

Which one works for you?

If you’ve taken basic literature courses, you have read Ernest Hemingway’s work. Tight, concise, and powerful sentences. Impactful imagery, and very few “weak” -ly adverbs. Now, this may or may not be your literary fiction style, but we can all agree that simple and direct language works the best in most content styles. We love the Hemingway app for its ability to efficiently distill your copy into simple yet effective phrases. Just paste your copy into their editorial template, and it will point out your run-on sentences, passive voices, and excessive adverbs. If you do this regularly (and you read through the corrections), it will start to naturally adjust your writing style towards this sparse yet powerful style.

That was straight to the point.

Marketing Automation Tools

There are a ton of marketing automation tools out there and instead of just naming one, we want to make sure that you’re aware that there are platforms to fit any brand size and budget. These tools will help you with your lead gen and nurturing programs, track leads, grow email lists and run full scale email marketing programs—just to name a few features. We like Pardot and AutoPilot but check out a few others to find the one that fits with your brand.

Do you have other content marketing tools we should know about? Tell us about your favorite tools on Twitter @Feed_Otter

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New Strategies for Reaching Decision Makers with Your B2B Blog

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By now, everyone knows you need a blog for your B2B brand. However, keeping up with a blog takes a lot of time and marketers don’t always see the results they want from their content. Desired results typically include generating new leads and converting leads into a client, as well as giving your website better visibility.

Chances are though, if you’re reading this post, you’re not seeing the results from your blog that you’re hoping for. This is a common content marketing pain point, especially in the B2B world. And if the market is so saturated with good content, how do you make your content stand out? And, more importantly, how do you make sure your content gets in front of the right people?

Due to the pressure of delivering a blog that actually converts readers into leads and leads into sales, you may be considering getting rid of your blog together. But, before you decide to give up on your hard-earned content, consider these ways you can reach the real decision makers through your blog.

Take Buyer Personas Seriously

The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is create definitive buyer personas for the decision makers at the types of companies you want to get your content in front of. We like this template from HubSpot. You should be sure to include the following persona components and more:

  • Job titles
  • Company size
  • Skillsets
  • Professional background
  • Industry knowledge as it pertains to your brand
  • Years of experience in your industry
  • Age range
  • Budget
  • Career goals
  • Challenges they face in your industry
  • Pain points they encounter when trying to perform their goals
  • How your brand solves pain points
  • An elevator pitch about your brand that would appeal to decision makers
  • Where they can find your brand (search, case studies, blog, etc.)

It’s likely there are different types of decision makers that you’re trying to reach, so be sure to create a buyer persona for each job title, industry segment, etc. We find it’s helpful to name each persona, and, keep in mind the different personas you are creating content for and to make sure to spread the content out evenly that caters to those specific people.

Cater Your Content Topics

Once you create your buyer personas, it’s time to plan content accordingly.

Next time you fill in your content calendar, consider the topics that actually appeal to decision makers. It’s possible that “101” type basic content might get a lot of views, but it won’t get the right views. If you’re a decision maker at a top brand, you almost certainly have a solid understanding of the niche your brand falls into. How can you take your content to the appropriate level to meet these buyers where they’re at?

One way to plan the most relevant content is to meet with your client-facing coworkers. Ask them to come up with common questions that clients have or pain points that they notice. Turn these questions into post ideas, or even use the question for the post title. It’s a great way to grab attention and resonate with the decision makers.

Move Your Readers Through the Buyer’s Journey

Just like you need to create content for different personas, you also need to create content for different stages of the buyer’s journey. The established (but useful) stages in order of how a buyer moves through them are awareness, consideration and decision making.

Be sure to move your buyer personas through the sales funnel from awareness to making a purchase decision by linking up your content with the right resources. For example, if you are creating a blog post to generate brand awareness, you want to link your post with content that takes the reader to the next step, consideration. In the consideration phase, it’s likely the reader wants to learn more about how your brand can solve pain points so links to a landing page and/or case studies would move them to the next step. Another example, if you’re creating a post that caters to buyers in the consideration phase, you want to link to resources that guides them through the purchase decision page like how to get in touch with your brand or examples of work you’ve done in the past.

Say you’ve created 3 buyer personas and you want to move each one through the buyer’s journey. That means you have 9 different posts to create to cover the full spectrum of your buyer personas and your buyer’s journey. Say you’ve named your personas Alice, Peter and Bob. Your upcoming post targets should look like this, with 3 posts per persona:

Alice: Awareness, Consideration, Decision Making

Peter: Awareness, Consideration, Decision Making

Bob: Awareness, Consideration, Decision Making

Feel free to mix them up, but be sure to create an equal amount of blog posts that speak to each of these personas in each of their phases. It’s helpful to create a content calendar where you can keep track of the posts geared toward your target personas and stages.

Optimize Your Email Program

If someone within a brand has reached the decision-making phase of their career, they are almost certainly a high-ranking employee in the company, knowledgeable about the industry, and don’t have a lot of time on their hands. Therefore, they aren’t doing a lot of research about or keeping up with a scattered variety of blogs. This means you need to get your blog in front of them and accessible when they have time. You can do this through emailing a weekly digest of your blog content. Use your most valuable post titles in the subject line, and consider segmenting your emails either by industry or buyer personas.

Because we believe in content digests so passionately here at FeedOtter, our product is an easy-to-use content marketing tool that automates content digest emails and integrates with tools like Marketo, Pardot and more so that you can drip content to all of your leads and clients. It only takes 5 minutes!

Use LinkedIn

There are a few ways you can use LinkedIn to get in front of your target audience. Let’s explore a few:

  • Message your contacts: You can message up to 50 of your contacts at a time. We recommend using this feature wisely and limiting the messages you send out to once a quarter, so be sure to lead with your strongest content. Research shows that people open LinkedIn Mail 85% more often than regular email. So, while you could export your LinkedIn contacts and email them directly, we don’t recommend doing it that way.
  • Updates: You should share your content on both your personal LinkedIn profile and on your company page. Be sure to leverage hashtags and catchy taglines. We recommend you update your profile and company page once per post. When decision makers are considering your brand, they might vet your LinkedIn profile so you need to establish thought leadership.
  • Ads: LinkedIn Ads allow you to get really specific when it comes to the types of companies and job titles that you are trying to get in front of. We recommend not just putting an ad up about your company; you need to lead with thought leadership resources, like your best blog posts. This works with any budget and you can pay per click to be sure the right people are reading your posts.

Align with Sales

Be sure that your sales team knows everything about the awesome blog content that you produce. If your sales rep is talking to a lead, that lead is in the consideration or decision stage of their buyer’s journey. Equip your sales team with content that appeals to the different stages and industries, and sales can leverage your thought leadership content to establish brand credibility and close deals.

While brand awareness content is part of the buyer’s journey (and thus part of your blog), know that if sales is talking to a lead, they have obviously moved passed the awareness phase, so you shouldn’t need to share that type of content with your sales team.

You might want to consider an internal library that you update with your new content. This way you can slice and dice it up to sales by categorizing your content by buyer persona and buyer’s journey.

If you want to take it a step further, you can pre-write social media posts for your sales team to share on their own social channels every week. Any bit of word-of-mouth recommendations you can get that point to your content is extremely helpful.

Re-Think Your CTA

The usual CTA (call to action) at the end of a blog post functions for readers to ask pertinent questions or share personal insights in the comments below. But, are people really commenting? If you feel like you’re doing everything it takes to reach the decision makers, but you’re still only reaching mid-level or entry level readers, invite them to share your post with their boss or co-workers.

Conclusion

The key things to consider when creating a blog targeted towards decision makers is to make certain you’re utilizing and integrating your individual buyer personas and buyer journeys. Leveraging email and LinkedIn can be really powerful, and don’t forget to have your co-workers share your awesome content. Give these strategies a try before you decide to give up on or put less time in your blog.

Are you ready to get your blog in front of the right people? Try our curated newsletter feature to stay on the top of mind for your target consumers.

 

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3 Innovative Ways B2B Content Marketers Nailed It

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These days, content is as varied, creative, and effective as ever before…which means it’s even more challenging to stand out in the crowd. In the B2B industry, competition is fierce. There are countless ways to use engaging content to drive your business, but which methods will work best for you?

We have picked out a few particularly impressive examples in the hopes that you’ll find a method that resonates with you and your brand. Let’s take a look.

Customer is King

Obviously, your customers (past, present, and potential) are incredibly important to you. So, why not sing their praises to the world? Drift, a conversational marketing service, has elevated customer appreciation into brilliant content marketing, and everybody wins. Here’s how.

First, they feature success stories with their customers on their blog. They talk about how great the company is, and how they were able to help them achieve such amazing success. This shares social proof with potential customers who are in the consideration phase, and assures them they’re on the right track.

There are plenty of examples of customer testimonials, and the reader gets a comprehensive rundown on how the services work, but in an easy to understand, conversational way. Next, the sharing starts, and both companies link back to the other, exponentially raising the share radius and providing some tasty SEO juice in the process.

Drift’s blog is also full of informational content, and the writing is funny and quirky enough to make all of it easy to read. So, you have a great company that clearly loves its customers, happy customers who are willing to testify how great Drift is while enjoying tons of brand exposure, and potential clients who are reassured they’re onto something good. Like we said, everybody wins.

Educate and Sell

There are so many different marketing experts and industry rock stars out there, and they all have great insight and advice to share. Likewise, there are countless new entrepreneurs and startups that need some guidance. Problem is, you have to search and filter through an enormous amount of unorganized and vague posts before you happen upon some relevant industry content, and then hope that it’s well written and pertains to your pain points.

Enter First Round, a thoughtfully curated collection of digital magazines that cover a variety of industries and let the experts do the talking. You need to find and digest this content quickly and efficiently, and come away with actionable tactics you can consider and employ right away. That’s a stated goal of First Round, along with providing entertaining and engaging content that the experts themselves offer. This is a prime example of how strictly offering education and insight is both impactful and beneficial for everyone involved.

Time is Money

Here at FeedOtter, we are all about content marketing solutions, specifically, automating content digest emails so of course we need to include an example from our own experience!

Trimble had a problem. They are an international company that offers unique positioning products, innovative hardware and software , and complex informational solutions to massive companies on several continents. They had a tremendous amount of helpful content to push out to current and potential clients, and had counted on emails and newsletters to do so.

Problem was, all of this needed to be integrated and organized to be sent in a timely and efficient manner. Oh yeah, and in five different languages. Newsletters were taking all day to curate and compose, and they were trying to write unique code and design entire systems to do so. Yes, email campaigns work, but the effort spent in formatting and translating them was costing a lot of time and money.

Enter FeedOtter, a content management service that was able to provide Trimble with newsletter templates, integration with scheduled automated email services, and translation services right away. Within two years, Trimble’s website traffic from subscribers doubled, monthly conversions increased by 150%, and the creative team was able to focus more on the quality of the newsletters.

The takeaway? Hire the right experts to do what they excel at, and utilize your team to keep the quality up where it should be. If it works for a huge company like Trimble, it can work for you, too.

Do you have any examples of brands who rock at content marketing? We’d love to chat with you about it in the comments below!

 

 

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10 Content Marketing Metrics You Should Know

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If you’re reading this post, then you probably already know that content marketing is a crucial strategy for your brand. However, having clearly defined targets and awesome content isn’t enough. Having a plan to analyze your content promotion and track it from ideation to fruition is critical, so you’ll be able to build off of what’s working and refine your strategy.

In fact, a recent study found that 89% of marketers want to prioritize finding ways to measure their content marketing efforts. Are you one of them? If you want to be, we’ll show you how to start.

This post will explore the different metrics that are crucial in determining which parts of your content marketing strategy are worth the work you put into it. It will also help you find the easiest ways to identify and track these metrics.

Traffic

What it is: Traffic simply refers to the number of visitors to your site through links and searches. It’s important to note and record which pieces of content are generating the most traffic so that you can refine your strategy accordingly.

How to measure: Utilize your Google analytics to see if your website traffic is increasing or decreasing and measure it on a monthly basis.

Bounce Rate

What it is: While traffic is important, it’s moot if visitors aren’t spending enough time on your site. Bounce rate refers to the number of people who spend less than 15 seconds on your site. It’s not benefitting your brand if you’re bringing in a lot of traffic, yet those visitors don’t spend time on your site.

If your bounce rate is high, you need to examine the quality of the pages they are viewing and quickly leaving, and develop more engaging content and stronger CTA’s (calls to action).

How to measure: Google Analytics will tell you what your bounce rate is, and which pages your site visitors are landing on.

SEO Ranking

What it is: SEO ranking refers to how high your site ranks on Google or other search engines for ideal keywords. Most people don’t go past page 2 when they are searching for a keyword, so it’s critical that your content marketing plan includes an ongoing strategy to continuously rank higher.

How to measure: Open a new “incognito” window and search for keywords. Make note of where your site shows up in search results for your keywords. Do this once a month to see the progression of your site and it’s ranking. Take advantage of tools like Ahrefs to take note of your best key phrases, and don’t forget to check what your competitors are using, also.

Lead Generation

What it is: Lead generation is the process of gathering qualified leads for your brand, so that you can nurture them and hopefully turn them into clients. This is done through a lead capture which gates your best content, an option to sign up for a trial or a demo, or a CTA on your site that lets the lead indicate their desire to know more about your brand.

How to measure: You can look at leads generated in either your Google Analytics dashboard or your marketing automation software. You’ll likely want to both note how many leads you generate per month and how many leads are generated from your different strategies.

Conversion

What it is: A conversion means that a lead took an action beyond just being interested. This action is usually referred to when a lead becomes a consumer. This is the ultimate goal of content marketing and should be tracked closely!

How to measure: As long as you have the proper tools set up, you can track conversions through your marketing automation platform or Salesforce. You will also be able to report on where that lead originated, so that you know which types of content and strategies are bringing in the most sales.

Social Following

What it is: Social following is simply the number of followers you have on any given social channel. When people take it upon themselves to follow you on social, they are self-identifying as having an interest and affinity for your brand. Social is a great way to share your content, so the more followers the better.

How to measure: Every month when you are putting together your content marketing reports, record how many followers you have on each of your social channels and calculate the percentage your followers went up or down. This will help you share and build a successful social strategy.

Content Engagement

What it is: Engagement refers to the number of people interacting with your content. This can be done in the form of comments, likes or shares. This is a key metric to indicate whether or people like your content and find it valuable.

How to measure: Every time you publish a piece of content, even something as small as a tweet, measure the engagement with that piece of content after it’s been live for 30 days. This amount of time gives you enough time to let the content flourish and be shared throughout the internet before you measure it.

Inbound Links

What it is: Inbound likes are pieces of content that link back to your site or a piece of your content. These links improve your SEO and bring new visitors to your site.

How to measure: Monitor your Google Analytics so that you know when there are new sites linking back to you. You can see how many visitors come to your site through these links, so be sure to check in on your analytics frequently.

Subscribers

What it is: Subscribers (as it relates to your content marketing goals) refers to the amount of people who subscribe to get a weekly or monthly digest of your content. If someone takes it upon themselves to subscribe, it shows an affinity and trust for your brand’s content.

How to measure: Every month, check your marketing automation platform and see how many subscribers you gained that month. It’s important to note where these subscribers were derived from, so that you can scale your efforts accordingly.

Email Conversion Rate

What it is: This metric refers to the amount of people who receive your marketing email or newsletter and click to read a piece of your content or visit your site.

How to measure: You can view both the open rate and the click through rate on your marketing automation platform or MailChimp. It’s important to keep note of how your emails are performing so that you can mimic your most successful emails in the future.

Are there content marketing metrics that you track that we’ve not listed? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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You’ve Created Great Content. Now What?

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If you’re like most marketers, you feel like you’ve been creating engaging content all along, but it just doesn’t get as many views as you need it to. You’ve put a lot of work into creating content and you know that readers would love it…if you could just get them to read it. Sound familiar?

Many experts say that content marketing should follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your time should be promoting your content and 20% of your time should be creating content. It’s a better use of your time to make sure your great content gets seen before you continue on towards creating another piece of content.

This post outlines 8 things you can do after you create your awesome content so that your target consumers actually see it.

Utilize your Site

Your site should get a lot of traffic, even if those visitors aren’t initially checking out your content. Creating pop-ups that recommend your newest content when visitors arrive are an effective way to get more content views. You also can put relevant images and content blocks in your sidebar that direct people on your site to your content.

Create a Dynamic Email Strategy

Hopefully by now, you’ve created an email list of leads. Thought leadership content that you produce like blog posts, eBooks and white papers are the perfect items to email out to your leads to keep them engaged and privy to your content. To save time, you may want to consider a tool like FeedOtter to automate and curate a weekly or monthly digest of the content your produce.

For content that is gated by a lead capture form, you may want to go above and beyond with your email strategy and purchase an eblast or a spot in a thought leadership newsletter. The money you might have to spend on this is well worth the new leads that you will generate.

Enlist Your Coworkers

Your coworkers can be an incredible untapped resource for sharing your brand’s content.

One research report found that content shared by a brand’s employees has 561% more engagement than content shared by a brand’s own channels. That number is too big to ignore.

Here are a few ways to encourage your coworkers to share your content:

  • Create a weekly email digest containing your brand’s latest content
  • Write some social messages that they can cut and paste
  • Utilize a communication platform like Slack
  • Gamify the process by offering incentives

Hit Social Hard

Share everything you produce on all of your own social channels and keep experimenting with relevant hashtags. Hashtagify can help you see how popular any particular hashtag is, and can help you be equipped to use hashtags that will actually be seen.

Paid social ads for your best pieces of content are a great idea as well, because you can work with anything from a tiny budget to a big budget while targeting ideal consumers.

When it comes to Twitter, schedule tweets out on a tool like HootSuite and share your post at least 5 times within the first week after publishing. Use different hashtags (2 per post) every time you compose a tweet.

Get on the Radar of Big Brands

If you can get your content on the radar of brands who have a lot of followers, they will often share your content with their own audience, which maximizes the visibility of your content without expensive paid promotions.

One way to do this is to link to their site, or a resource they produced, in the body of your content. Then, when you share your content on social, tag them in your posts so that they notice it.

You can even go as far as to email them and send them the link to your content and ask them to share it.

Along those lines, you can also reach out to big publications and ask if you can write a guest post for them. If you do it right, you can now house your incredible content on their site and benefit from their traffic. What a great way to maximize your visibility!

Utilize Influencers

There are a couple ways to utilize influencers to increase content visibility.

One way is to extract relevant quotes from their posts and use them in your content, and then cite these influencers in your post. They are usually as eager to promote any complementary content that includes their quotes.

Another way to work with influencers for your content is to email them specific questions that you might want them to weigh in on, and then link to their social accounts or blog when you insert their input.

Just like working with brands as we cited above, be sure to generously tag the influencers on social media and email them and ask them to share your content with their own followers.

Make it Sharable

There are a few ways to make your content easily shareable, which can increase your chances of readers sharing your content.

The most obvious way is to have social share buttons on your content. Make these social share buttons easily viewed on the sidebar and/or the bottom of your content. Also, make sure they’re optimized so that when your readers click on them, the posts are accurately representing your content.

Another way is to insert Click to Tweet phrases within the content so that your readers only have to click on the link and instantly share the tweet you’ve composed within your content. Take some time to decide which of your sentences sums up your content concisely and accurately.

Also, it never hurts to include your best content to your email blasts, and ask them to share your content on their own social media channels if they like it.

Tap into Content Sharing Communities

There are plenty of communities out there (that have already built a strong online presence) that you can submit your content to. These communities are a great way to connect with like-minded readers. Some ones to consider are LinkedIn Groups, Triberr and Growth Hackers. These communities also offer optimal networking opportunities with like-minded professionals.

Do you have any strategies that you use to promote your content? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

 

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B2B Content Marketing Strategies That Increase Lead Generation and Conversion

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Content marketing is shown to be three times more successful than traditional marketing strategies and can even cost less than doing things the old fashioned way. Knowing this, content marketing can be extremely beneficial for your business when done correctly.

Let’s examine 5 ways you can leverage content marketing to generate more leads and convert those leads into clients.

Gate Your Best Content with a Lead Capture Form

When you create content that is more dynamic and comprehensive than an average blog post (such as an eBook or a white paper), make sure to gate it with a lead capture form. This will help grow your leads exponentially right away. Downloading your content immediately self-identifies these leads as having an affinity for your brand.

When you create a lead capture form, keep it short and sweet. You want to have a balance of getting all the information you need, while only having a few fields to fill in.  If you ask for too much information, the lead may give up in frustration. Key fields include:

  • First and last name
  • Email address
  • Company name
  • Role at company

Send Leads Content Not a Sales Pitch

It’s likely that you have an email marketing campaign all queued up. But, you might want to take a moment to examine your campaigns and make sure that you’re sending your leads thought leadership content as opposed to a sales pitch about your brand.

Of course, you want to present them with a sales pitch eventually, but you want to “warm them up” with resources they will actually find useful. This positions your brand as a trusted source of information and will make the lead more receptive to your sales pitch when it comes time. A good rule of thumb is to drip your leads with 5 emails before sending them an email about your brand and then asking them if they would like a demo or phone call to learn more.

Create a Dynamic Content Strategy

There are many forms of content to leverage that positions your brand as a thought leader. A balance between a stream of blog posts and more thorough pieces of content like eBooks is crucial. This means that multiple channels will be bringing new leads to the table. A sample editorial calendar to use as a springboard may look like:

  • 1 blog post per week
  • 1 eBook per month
  • 1 white paper per quarter
  • 1 infographic per quarter

This balance and steady stream of valuable content will help generate new leads and nurture current leads. You may want to consider a weekly round-up of your brand’s content, and the FeedOtter tool is a great way to streamline this process.

Learn Your Consumer’s Journey

Sit down with a hot cup of tea and draw out on a piece of paper the stages that consumers go through that lead them to your brand, while noting specific pain points they may encounter or different questions they may have. Seeing these stages on paper will help you create the right content that will appeal to those target consumers and help you line up your email drip campaigns.

Case studies are key pieces of content, but need to be strategically dripped. Knowing where your leads are in the buying process is crucial to understanding when and how you should distribute case studies. Theoretically, the lead should be dripped thought leadership resources like blogs and eBooks to establish brand trust. Once that trust has been established, case studies are key to converting that lead into a consumer.

Embrace User Generated Content

Consumers don’t want to hear from a brand itself. Rather, they are more likely to trust the recommendations of their peers. This is where user generated content (UGC) comes in. Content created by consumers and/or influencers is ideal content to promote and share with your current leads and potential leads. Here are some areas where you might want to use UGC:

  • Social media (paid and organic)
  • Weekly or monthly newsletter
  • Blog posts

To earn more UGC, you may want to offer incentives in the form of discounts from your brand or gift cards. Sometimes, clients need a reason to produce content about their experience with your brand, and it’s so worth it!

Additionally, it’s wise to seek out influencers who have an affinity for your brand and explore how you can work together to have them produce UGC in the form of a product review. This earned media adds an extra layer of authenticity surrounding your brand and can generate a lot of new interest. If this type of content is put in front of current leads, it may get them to the finish line and convince them to convert into a client.

Have you tried any content marketing strategies to generate or nurture leads that you want to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!