by

10 Ways to Make Contacts Look Forward to Your B2B Marketing Emails

, , , , ,

With so many emails flooding people’s inboxes, it’s more important than ever to refine and create a strong email marketing strategy for your leads and clients.

Understanding what your contacts need out of your emails as opposed to what your business needs, you can create emails that offer value to your contacts and thus produce powerful emails that actually get opened. Once you’ve identified the types of emails that appeal to your contacts, your brand will get better results from your email marketing campaigns.

With email marketing offering a potential return of investment of 4400%, it remains a powerful way to attract and retain customers so let’s explore ways to create emails that your leads and clients look forward to.

Personalization

The more personalized your emails come across the better. Contacts want to feel like your brand understands their needs and can be turned off with mass emails. However, you can’t send different emails to thousands of people so there are a few ways you can make your mass emails a little more personalized.

Use HubSpot’s My Persona Tool to learn the different persona’s that you should be targeting your emails to and you can create different email buckets to send leads based on their persona.

Using a contact’s first name in the email can go a long way and this is pretty easy to insert with the right email  marketing automation tool.

Segment Your Lists

Segmenting your email lists goes along with personalizing your emails. If you segment your contacts into different lists, you can dictate the way you write your emails and determine what would be the most relevant emails to each email lists. Here are just a few ways you can segment your lists and adapt your email strategy accordingly:

  • Industry type
  • Where they are in the buyer’s journey
  • Leads versus clients
  • Company size
  • Purchase history

Add Value

Instead of just boasting about your brand and constantly trying to convert leads into clients, you want to send out emails that add value for your contacts. The goal of email drip campaigns is to keep your brand top of mind and establish thought leadership. So, the more resources and relevant strategies that you can provide for your contacts, the better!

If you’re dripping educational material and thought leadership strategies, your contacts are actually going to look forward to your emails. A few ideas on how to do this are ebooks, blog posts, tip of the week and more!

Special Offers

One way to definitely get contacts too look forward to your emails is to occasionally offer special offers. This can be anything from a free trial to a limited time discount or a free ebook.

When you offer your special offer be sure to put it in the subject line to convey to readers that your email is worth opening because it contains something for them.

Enticing subject lines

44% of consumers don’t open an email when the subject line doesn’t excite them. So, there is a lot of pressure to get creative with subject lines. Here are a few things to try with subject lines for your marketing emails and entice your contacts enough to get them to open your emails:

  • Ask a question in the subject line such as “did you know that 87% of consumers prefer this marketing automation software?”
  • Use emojis
  • “How to” subject lines answers a question that your contact might be interested in such as “how to create blog posts that increase sales”
  • An urgent subject line like “you only have 2 days left to get this free ebook” creates a sense of urgency
  • The announcement subject line such as “introducing our new iPhone app”
  • Research shows that subject lines with numbers in them perform better so try something like “30 new ways to build your email list”
  • Elicit curiosity with your subject lines for example “this little-known fact changes the email marketing game forever”
  • Insert your contact’s name into the subject line for more personalization

Know When to Send the Sales Pitch

Here at FeedOtter, we have a rule of thumb that each new lead gets entered into an email drip and receives a series of 5 emails. The first 4 emails establish thought leadership and offer intriguing recourses. Then, the 5th email is the one where we send the sales pitch after we’ve established trust and brand familiarity.

Once a lead makes it all the way through the initial drip campaign they are entered into a drip campaign that emails out weekly blog posts. Occasionally we will ask leads at the end of the blog post email if they want to try out FeedOtter. For clients, we ask how things are going with FeedOtter in an effort to retain them.

So knowing that the sales pitch should only come occasionally, you can plan your email drip campaigns accordingly.

Don’t Send Too Many Emails

69% of email recipients unsubscribe because they get too many emails from brands. Taking this fact into consideration, you should be really mindful of how often you send out your emails. While it might be tempting to send out emails every day, you should probably send out emails once a week.

One strategy you can implement is to ask your contacts which emails they want to receive. This way they can choose if they want to receive an email every time you publish a blog post or if they want a monthly round up of your blog posts.

Make Your Emails More Human

When writing your marketing emails, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re writing to actual people. Many brands make the mistake of making their emails too formal and robotic. You want your emails to be friendly and conversational in order to appeal to your contacts.

You can do things like use their first names in your emails and add a CTA to the end of the emails inviting them to reply to the emails if they have any questions for you. Inviting your contacts to reply with questions makes them feel like they can have an actual conversation with you and keeps them more engaged.

Automate Your Blog Digest Emails

In order to not email every blog post that you send out and turn off your contacts by emailing them too much, you can create a weekly or monthly digest of your blog posts. This way your contacts can choose which blog posts they want to read and you don’t overwhelm their inbox.

Luckily here at FeedOtter, we have a tool that allows you to automate your blog post emails whether you want to email every blog post or if you want to automate a digest of your posts. With beautiful templates, your contacts will enjoy receiving your blog post emails.

Do A/B Testing

A/B testing your emails can be done in any email marketing tool. So whichever tool you use, take advantage of the A/B testing feature. This allows you to try different messaging and subject lines to see what resonates best with your readers. Then, you can build off of what works and continue to refine your strategy so that it becomes exponentially stronger.

Final Thoughts

Your brand puts out great resources and has a lot to say in your email marketing campaigns. There are many strategies we’ve outlined here to make your strategy stronger when it comes to your email marketing campaigns. Having drips for leads and clients is great for customer acquisition and retention as long as you craft your strategy the right way.

Do you have any tips when it comes to your email marketing campaigns? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Twitter @Feed_Otter

by

The Dangers of Not Emailing Your Blog Posts

, , , , , ,

Consistent blogging just makes good business sense. It increases SEO, establishes thought leadership, moves leads through the sales funnel and helps consumers establish a connection with your brand. To make the most out of your brand’s blogging strategy, it’s crucial to email your blog posts to keep your audience engaged. If you don’t email your blog posts, you could lose your connections with eager consumers, and you may miss the perfect opportunity to establish thought leadership.

Many brands make the mistake of posting their blog posts on their website, sharing them on a onetime  social media blast, and calling the job done. However, emailing these posts is the most effective way to get eyeballs on your content and nurture those leads and clients.

At the end of the day, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to position your brand as a thought leader if you’re not using the latest in email marketing technology. So, let’s explore why and how to ramp up your game when it comes to emailing your blog posts.

The Impact of a Blog

53% of marketers surveyed say that blogging is their top content marketing priority. This statistic tells us that blogging is key and there is plenty of room to reap the benefits of a blog. Here are just a few ways that a blog can power a brand:

  • Establishes thought leadership
  • Creates a trusting relationship with target consumers
  • Produces valuable lead-nurturing content
  • Has a dramatic impact with SEO
  • Offers engaging and entertaining material to share on social media
  • 61% of consumers have made a purchase decision based on a blog post

Email Statistics to Take Note of

Email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, making it an extremely powerful strategy when executed correctly. In case you’re not convinced that email is right for your brand, let’s look at a few statistics:

Combining Two Powerful Forces: Blog and Email

Now that we’ve established the impact of blogs and email marketing, let’s combine these forces to power each strategy. Emailing blog posts capitalizes on the benefits of a blog and caters to how consumers want to communicate with your brand.

By emailing posts, brands can have a reason to email clients and leads and offer thought leadership material to nurture them with. Consumers really do want to hear from your brand, especially when the correspondence offers educational material and resources (as opposed to self-promotional material). Emailing these types of blog posts bridges the gap between content and email marketing.

How to Build a Powerful Email List

The first step when setting up your strategy for any email marketing campaign is to build out a list. This will be an ongoing process, and, if executed well, will snowball and collect email addresses on an exponential basis. There are plenty of ways to build this list:

  • Add current clients and leads to your email list
  • Highlight an easy to use subscribe button on your blog
  • Purchase email blasts to promote your blog posts, and ask them to opt in to receive digests of your posts
  • Create a landing page for your blog on your website with a subscribe button
  • Incorporate your blog feed on your home page with a subscribe button
  • Share your posts on social with a CTA to subscribe to your blog

How Often Should Brands Email Their Blog Posts?

61% of consumers report that they enjoy weekly emails from brands, and 38% of those say they wish for more frequent emails. So, judging by this data and our own experience, we recommend that you send out an email every time you publish a new blog post. Whether your content calendar includes weekly or daily posts, it’s a smart idea to send them all out as you post them to keep your readers engaged.

If you find that your leads are unsubscribing, you can consider a weekly digest of your posts.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Blog Digests

Whether it’s a daily or weekly wrap up of your posts, you should create emails that present your readers with a teaser of what your posts are about, and how they’ll benefit from them.

You should always accompany your teaser content with an obvious link or button to read the post.

Try experimenting with different templates in your emails. A lot of brands report that sending a text only email increases open rates. You can A/B test the formats to see what works best for your readers.

In addition to A/B testing formats, you can experiment with subject lines as well. The main takeaway here is that you need to find what appeals most to your readers so you can build off of the best results.

Tools You’ll Need

To maximize the power of your blog and integrate emailing blog posts into your strategy, you’re going to have to navigate with a few tools and sync them up properly. Here are a few tools to consider:

  • A CRM for your blog post list such as SalesForce
  • A marketing automation tool like Marketo
  • A tool to automate emails for your daily or weekly blog post emails such as FeedOtter

The combination of these types of tools can help you put your email/blog strategy on autopilot. This will make your job easier while ensuring that your readers get consistent emails for all of your posts.

Final Thoughts

Emailing blog posts is a powerful way to generate and nurture leads. Consumers want to hear from your brand in a way that educates and entertains them, as opposed to sending out blatant self-promotional material.

Now that you have a handle on such a powerful strategy, you can sync up the right tools and start emailing your blog posts today. Sit back and watch your work in action!

Do you want to put your strategy for emailing blog posts on autopilot? Check out how FeedOtter can help!

by

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

, , , , ,

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

 

by

How DivvyHQ Became an Essential Content Marketing Platform

, , , , , ,

DivvyHQ is a content planning and workflow tool used by heavy hitting content producers like Aflac, Red Bull, Mercedes-Benz, the National Geographic Channel, and many others.

We talked to DivvyHQ co-founder Brody Dorland about how the content marketing platform company got started and how a company lines up high-value customers like the ones listed above.

Brody Dorland, co-founder of DivvyHQ

As you’ll read, DivvyHQ’s success has a lot to do with the co-founders’ strategic networking tactics. (Spoiler: Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi played a big role in the launch of the platform).

Specifically, Dorland and co-founder Brock Stechman were super smart about finding allies, building relationships with influencers, and understanding customers from the perspective of an agency and product developer.

Here’s the DivvyHQ story, including what you can do to put yourself in similar positions.

Part 1: Finding Allies

Ten years ago, digital marketing was still a relatively new concept. For many companies, it was a wholesale shift in how they marketed themselves, and the process changes proved difficult to manage.

As Dorland explained, “Email platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact were making email marketing really easy to do, websites and blogs were getting easier to deploy through platforms like WordPress, and all of the social networks were starting to explode. Companies were trying to come to grips with all these new marketing technologies. They recognized the power of leveraging all these new channels to engage customers, but these new channels required a regular flow of good content.

Dorland and his partners created their own proprietary marketing strategy process, a big part of why his own marketing consultancy took off around 2008. He had a knack for seeing how all of those new moving parts he spoke of — email marketing, blogging, SEO, social media channels, etc. — should work together.

One of the primary deliverables for new clients going through their strategy process was a starter editorial calendar which covered the first three to six months of content.

“It was all of the web, email, and social content — the actual individual topics we’re going to cover, who was responsible for them, who the audience was going to be — everything we needed to execute the new strategy we had just developed for them,” Dorland said.

However, executing those strategies was always a challenge. “It got to the point where, as the projects continued to grow in scope and scale, my hoard of freelancers got harder and harder to manage on individual projects,” Dorland explained.

Enter Brock Stechman, whose agency, Brockton Creative Group, already had a full service team — including designers, writers, photographers, and website developers — ready to execute Dorland’s marketing strategies.

Dorland and Stechman — both from Kansas City — decided to team up.

“We essentially merged behind the scenes,” Dorland told us. “Any time anything came through the Brockton Creative Group front door, they would bring me on to do the upfront strategy engagements. For anything that came through my front door, I would have Stechman’s team do all the execution. And we started doing that for every project.”

The DivvyHQ team

The partnership was a huge success, and it was the beginning of a long-term arrangement.

Part 2: Building Relationships With Influencers

In 2011, content marketing was gaining traction as a driver of strategic business growth. Not coincidentally, 2011 was also the year the Content Marketing Institute was founded and the first Content Marketing World conference was held.

(That will become important in a bit.)

Dorland, along with co-host Jayme Thomason, launched a podcast called Content Marketing and Merlot to discuss content marketing tactics and build connections around this important new facet of online marketing.

The show’s not available online anymore, or we’d link an episode for you. We did find a few old landing pages from previous episodes (even though the audio didn’t work).

“The podcast was integral in gaining some of those early relationships,” Dorland told us. “Even today, there’s still a certain amount of novelty to being asked to be a guest on a podcast. It opened some major doors to people like Joe Pulizzi and Jason Falls.”

The team usually recorded the podcast in the atmospheric cellar of a wine retail store near their office. After work, they’d buy a bottle of wine, set up their audio equipment, and discuss both the wine and content marketing concepts.

Doing a podcast about a new concept (content marketing) in a novel way (while enjoying wine) was a winning combination.

Dorland explained the content marketing part further: “We would dedicate an episode to something like the importance of proper persona development, because we were literally doing that as part of our day-to-day process and digging into what that entails.”

The podcast also helped potential clients understand the value behind what they offered. “It could be its own marketing machine by itself,” Dorland said.

Part 3: Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Developing relationships is a lot like placing bets.

You never know which one will hit, but the more bets you make (or, the more relationships you develop), the more likely one or more of them will pay off — sometimes in ways you’d never dreamed were possible.

Stechman and Dorland were developing their skills and their network — all around the topic of content marketing.

Their biggest issue was scale.

When Dorland created those starter editorial calendars to map out six months of deliverables for each client, he did it using an Excel spreadsheet.

Back in 2011, people weren’t widely using cloud-based documents (such as Google Sheets).

That led to all kinds of problems.

The calendar was emailed around between team members and clients, and no one was ever quite sure if they had the latest version of the calendar or not.

Projects sometimes got lost. Deadlines were sometimes unclear. It worked well enough to get by, but it could be messy.

That led the team to try several project management tools. They, at least, were cloud-based. They worked well for general projects, but nothing they tried had the features they really needed to manage a full content process.

“What if we just build something ourselves?” the team concluded out of frustration one day.

Their concept was to replace the Excel spreadsheets with something more collaborative: a project management tool specifically designed to organize content strategy, content planning, and production workflows.

 DivvyHQ’s 1.0 calendar interface

It seemed like a great idea to improve their internal efficiency, and they started to wonder if there was a market for a content marketing management tool beyond their own organization.

Dorland had established a relationship with Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, based on Pulizzi’s appearance as a guest on the Content Marketing and Merlot podcast. So they ran the idea by him.

“Joe Pulizzi was on the board of a company in Kansas City,” Dorland said. “We found out he was coming to KC for a board meeting, so we bought him dinner and said, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about building something. Is this something that would be a viable idea to roll out to this starter industry you’re working on?’ And he was like, ‘Absolutely.’”

 

It was at this moment that opportunity struck: Pulizzi made them an offer.

If Dorland and Stechman could put something together in time, Pulizzi said, they could demo their new tool at the first Content Marketing World event happening later that year (September of 2011).

So they got to work. Stechman led the effort to raise around $90K from friends and family to accelerate the process of developing the platform. They incorporated a separate company, created a prototype in two months, and launched the newly named product, DivvyHQ, at the event.

Pulizzi had been right about demand for a solution like this. There were several Fortune 500 companies in the audience for Dorland’s presentation.

“There were representatives from McDonald’s, Toyota, Dell, and Nokia at the event… And they immediately signed up for a beta because, as it turns out, we weren’t the only ones struggling with the painful process of creating content,” Dorland said. “It exploded from there. We got over 500 companies on our beta between our pitch at the show and promotion of the launch on Twitter.”

Part 4: Listening to Customers

In the years since that September 2011 presentation at Content Marketing World, Dorland and Stechman have raised $3.5 million between two rounds of VC funding.

They could have raised more, but revenue has been growing enough to meet their needs. “We’ve been able to sustain solid growth without getting additional funding,” Dorland told us.

One key to their success since launching their product has been their dedication to their customers.

When the DivvyHQ platform launched, they were still running an agency as well, and that gave them unique insights into the needs of their customers.

For instance, their agency clients helped them understand that teams within a single company may prefer to work independently on different campaigns and strategies. They built DivvyHQ around that idea.

“Customers were able to use a hub-and-spoke structure, so that at the hub, the executive team can see everything that’s going on in all of the different spokes,” Dorland said. “Meanwhile, the different spokes could also set up their development environments the way they needed to, with their own strategies and workflows.”

As their user base grew, they developed new features to support different types of clients.

For example, in the early days, one large client came close to crashing their system. They added upwards of 250 users and were trying to manage thousands of content projects from one account, a use case and scale Dorland and Stechman had not yet considered.

Once they saw the need, they made changes accordingly.

DivvyHQ: What the Content Marketing Platform Looks Like Today

DivvyHQ’s current calendar view

Eight years after its initial beta launch, DivvyHQ has grown into a robust platform that has defined a completely new category of software: content marketing management platforms.

Currently, the platform is used by thousands of marketers to oversee and execute content marketing strategies.

It’s an ideal choice for companies committed to content marketing — or that are looking to improve their content process.

It also has a free trial if you want to try it out.

The Power of Personal Connections

Throughout the DivvyHQ story, Dorland and Stechman expanded their network while gaining experience and insights by:

  • Collaborating with each other. They accomplished more together than they could have on their own.
  • Leveraging a channel (the podcast) that connected them to influencers.
  • Broadening their reach with agency work and product development.
  • Listening carefully to customers.

They didn’t know that Joe Pulizzi would be a key reason they’d be able to get in front of heavy hitters like Toyota and Nokia.

They were — however — working hard to put themselves in a position for those kinds of lucky breaks to happen.

When opportunities arose, they took advantage.

Whether you’re growing a business or just want to advance your career — that’s advice worth remembering.

by

How to Create Content that Converts Leads into Sales

, , , , , ,

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!

by

How Drip Campaigns Can Fill Your Sales Funnel

, , , ,

Email marketing comes in all shapes and forms. It can be a simple one-time message blasted out to all your contacts, or it can be a large-scale multi-tiered campaign carefully dripped out to specific customers at key times. In order to truly understand the how, when, and why of email marketing, you should be studying the sales funnel and consumer journey. Here, we’ll go over all the steps of the funnel, and how your email campaign can optimize the journey.

The Consumer’s Journey

First, let’s take a look at the consumer journey. There are many versions of this, so we’ll choose a general five stage model.

Awareness Phase: Prospective consumer becomes aware of your product or solution.

Consideration Phase: Prospective consumer begins research on both your product or solution and your competitor’s.

Conversion Phase: The consumer has made the decision, works through negotiations, and makes the purchase.

Loyalty Phase: Your brand continues efforts to retain that consumer and reinforce loyalty.

Advocacy Phase: Inspiring that consumer to advocate for your brand by telling others about their experience.

The Sales Funnel

The term funnel is a common one, as it implies large amounts enter the first phase in order for a few to finish the journey. It may be helpful to picture it as more of a circle, as later phases can actually aid the earlier ones.

The different stage of the consumer journey are what fills the sales funnel and helps your sales team how and when to reach out to a leads. Ideally, through keeping the consumer journey in mind, you help new leads go through the different stages of the journey and warm these leads up for your sales team.

You should also be equipping your sales team with the right content assets that they can share with their leads to convert someone from consideration to conversion.

Targeting Each Phase

Let’s focus on the consumer’s journey and how your content and email efforts can move leads along the path to becoming a new client. Each phase needs a particular strategy applied to maximize effectiveness. Let’s go through the journey with accompanying strategy, and we’ll provide some examples as well.

Awareness Strategy

At a time where the consumer is unaware of your brand, you should resist the urge to push the sales tactics and self-promotional material specific to your product. Now is the time where you want to establish your brand as a thought leader and provider of solutions, so creation of newsletters, eBooks, and informative blog posts should be a priority. Have your newsletter and/or eBook gated, so you can start adding more email addresses to your list, and make sure to promote them on social media as well. That said, you don’t want to bombard people with emails they never wanted to receive, so make sure it’s an opt-in situation. You want to establish and build trust and expertise, and not much more.

Example:  SEO giant Moz sends wonderfully curated and informative newsletters out to all their subscribers, without any pushy sales tactics. The quality of their product speaks for itself, which is pure gold for B2B marketing.

Consideration Strategy

Now you’ve got their attention, and, based on their response, they are definitely interested in your product. You still want to stay away from the hard sales pitches, though, and continue to provide informative and solution-based content. You’re developing a long-term relationship here, so you want this to be increasingly personal as the campaign progresses. This is the stage where you identify who you’re working with, and then provide them with relevant content that applies to them. Case studies, success stories, and maybe a few testimonials are good, but make sure you are still focused on providing solutions and building trust.

Example: PerfectAudience retargets social ads for businesses that are not seeing the results they want. By offering a case study to read, along with juicy success statistics in the email, it encourages potential customers to read that study, as well as continue on to their website to get more information.

Conversion Strategy

This is what you’ve been nurturing these relationships all this time for. It’s time to close, but you still don’t want to overwhelm them with sales calls. You can still provide them with content that reassures them that they’re making the right choice. A few more success stories can provide the social proof they need to make the purchase. Now that they’re almost part of the team, you can invite them to webinars or trickle them onboarding videos. And if you want to offer a welcome wagon discount, make sure there’s language to convey a sense of urgency like “one-time offer” or “limited availability”.  That could be the final gem that makes the deal happen.

Example: Here, Grammarly flaunts a little of their social proof, citing testimonials and easy-to-digest samples of how well their service works. Prime example of how these sorts of emails at the conversion stage can make the difference.

Loyalty/Advocacy Strategy

We are combining these phases into a single strategy, because the ideas are similar. Turning away from your consumers after they’ve been converted is a big mistake; retaining existing customers is worth as much or more than getting new ones. Let them know you’re still excited about their business with entertaining and engaging monthly or weekly email drips, informative posts about how to best use your product or service, and incentives to resign with your brand early. Surveys and feedback can both reassure your customers and give you valuable market research at once.

Turning your existing customers into advocates is a worthy investment, and you can get momentum going with the content you’re sending them. If you sent surveys, let them know how much their feedback meant, and offer them further discounts for referrals. Ask them for testimonials, and make sure that you are linking back to their awesome brand at every opportunity on social media.

You can see now how your efforts on the tail end of your funnel/circle can start moving the needle in the awareness and consideration phases at the front end. The key is to continuously provide great content, personalized messaging, and a trusted presence throughout.

Example: American Express, in one fell swoop, thanks their clients for their loyalty, offers them discounts, and invited them into a no-risk referral program. This covers all of the bases in a non-intrusive yet rewarding way.

Final Thoughts

The consumer’s journey helps fill your sales funnel and it’s helpful to tag leads according to what phase they’re in for both sales and marketing so that sales knows when to call the lead and so you know what content to drip them from marketing. The goal is to steer these leads through the funnel to purchasing and then once they become a client, to keep them as a client with your awesome product and helpful content.

Do you have any tips on nurturing leads according to where they fall in the consumer’s journey? Share your tips with us on Twitter @Feed_otter

 

by

3 Innovative Ways B2B Content Marketers Nailed It

, , , ,

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!

 

 

by

You’ve Created Great Content. Now What?

, , ,

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!

 

 

by

B2B Content Marketing Strategies That Increase Lead Generation and Conversion

, , , ,

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!

by

How to Create a Killer Company Newsletter

, , ,

The dreaded newsletter — It’s something that every company strives to send but also wonders if it’s worthwhile.

Most of the time your newsletter list consists of current customers or maybe even leads that weren’t ready to buy. A company newsletter is a great way to maintain brand awareness with your customers. Newsletters can also be a great asset to stay in front of those leads who are not ready to convert. It’s a subtle way to stay top-of-mind while keeping your company brand relevant. When putting together a newsletter, there are two major items to consider. 1) The design and 2) the content.

01. THE DESIGN

The biggest mistake companies can make with their newsletters is the design. While graphics and pops of color can look appealing, they should definitely be kept to a minimum. Here’s why:

  • Too many images increase the likelihood of your email ending up in spam/junk
  • Excessive code in emails can break how they render in different email inboxes
  • Heavy design elements like color, graphics, and custom fonts may not display properly on mobile

Newsletter templates should have a simple yet aesthetic design. It should easily allow readers to move their eyes throughout the content. One great way to accomplish this is by using different content sections or blocks, which can also help organize your newsletter.

                    newsletter1

These email templates are provided by BEE Free and are available for free on their website. Read our blog The Top 3 Free Email Builders to learn how to import this newsletter template into your email marketing platform.

02. THE CONTENT

The type of content within your newsletter will depend on your audience and company brand/voice. If your company voice can be fun and playful, a newsletter is a perfect place to portray it. For example, if your company is a financial institution and your newsletter audience includes clients, it may not be the greatest idea to use a playful voice. Your audience is expecting professionalism and valuable resources in your newsletter.

Contingent on your audience, the following types of content are great for peaking interest and may be a great fit for your newsletter:

Promotions

Promotional offers are one of the most common types of content in newsletters. Offering discounts or special promos can help encourage repeat business but can also help bring in new sales. Social sharing buttons or referral programs make it easy for your readers to share with fellow friends while helping you capture new business.

Resources

Resources like blogs, case studies, and ebooks are just a few examples of the valuable content you can offer your audience in newsletters. For B2B industries, it’s likely that customers will be interested in the material they can relate to their own business efforts. For example, a case study on how another company has overcome the struggle of increasing lead conversion may be valuable for others in the same position. By offering these types of resources you are encouraging your customers to build their knowledge base and in turn, customers will associate value with your company.

Spotlights

Whether you’re adding a new team member or introducing a new client, spotlights are unique content pieces to share with your audience. Employee spotlights could consist of industry related tips, fun facts, reviews, and more. Showcasing a new client may involve a brief introduction but also what your company will be doing to help them. If industry appropriate, spotlights are a great place to get fun with your company personality.

Industry/Company Updates

Reviewing the latest and greatest news in your companies industry is extremely important. By sharing industry updates you’re not only educating them, but you’re also showing your readers you keep up with industry trends and you’re ready to compete. It proves your business is continuously learning and making strides to remain relevant. Updates may also include software or application announcements, especially if your business works with the applications or are widely popular within the industry.

Events

Events are a timeless resource that can hold huge value with customers. Types of events can vary and may include: webinars, networking, fundraising, educational workshops, tradeshows, and more. Newsletters can be a great space to announce these types of events as the email list typically includes the mass majority of your database. Many times hosting or attending an event can also help capture new leads.

If you’re already a pro at email newsletters, check out 8 Valuable Content Marketing Tools You Can’t Live Without.