By Justin Gray
Content marketing is something that has garnered a ton of accidental attention as of late. I say accidental because I feel like many of those that have latched onto the need for content marketing, have done so as a response to the painful realization that they were lacking content to power other initiatives.
Marketing automation, for example, has been one area that has given many marketers pause on their journey as they recognize that they are grossly un-prepared, from a content perspective. The fuel to the fire of software like marketing automation (MA) is good, multi-channel content. MA has many benefits, however the one that most executives seem to latch on to is lead generation. Some marketers buy MA to create a scalable process, some buy it to better segment data, others make a purchase to up their lead scoring IQ – however if you survey most executives they will still say that lead generation is at the top of their list. Frankly, that’s a terrible expectation, and somewhat akin to buying a car with the goal of building roads. MA can be very effectively used to create interest in your prospect universe – problem being that you have to have that content universe – that house list – for MA to market to.
In an attempt to meet lead generation goals, marketers are latching on to content marketing as a way to create interest and therefore a house list to market to. Lead nurturing works, but on the path to get there they swiftly encounter the catch 22, the chicken and the egg conundrum – content. If we are serving up messaging to a prospect over a long period of time, we better have something to say. Before we dive into lead nurturing we first have to garner those names and build that house list. This is the question we are asked probably 99 times out of 100 – can you help us build a database of names, some call them leads – I call them names. I realized that I was literally turning blue in the face trying to explain this to our clients and prospects so I decided to evoke an old proverb – if you want something done, do it yourself. This is where the idea for 30 days of Content was born. I wanted to focus on creating enough content to disseminate a new piece out into the world – my small world of B2B marketers – one new piece everyday, for the purposes of new name acquisition.
I should put a disclaimer out there that there is no one area of marketing that will mean success. Long before 30 days of content, long before we employed MA, and long before LeadMD began – we formulated a fishnet. A system in which we could catch interest and route it properly. To do this we built a website from the ground up based on persuasion architecture, conversion points driven by a short/long form methodology, integrated those entry points with our sales process and then finally tied it all together with Marketo. As a disclaimer, you can use any MA tool, hell, you can attempt to do it manually – but you need to find your hedgehog and stick to it. We, like our clients, had to feel confident that we had a lead process. Now, the fun part begins.
When I began formulating 30 days of content I took a look at our early stage content funnel and evaluated the types of content that had been most effective. I’m not a fan of doing things that don’t work – so I stuck with a plan that had been proven. My goal was to add new names so I knew early stage content would support that goal. Short, concise, compelling – this was going to be fun to create. After briefly putting some structure and a schedule behind this (I say briefly because I have ADD and despise analysis paralysis and dove in head first).
About mid-July I started creating new content and also searching for new ways to repurpose parts of old content that still had self-life left on the expiration date. I dove into the high production items like video first. We have a sister company that performs our SEO – and you guessed it – films videos. Those were cranked out in about 2 days. Next I went through our article pipeline and placed articles strategically according to topic – we use our PR agency to get article placements and have developed a good degree of success with B2B marketing outlets. Next I started putting together a few presentations to host on Slideshare, also a few blog posts – quick and dirty, but effective. Next I knew I was speaking at a few of the Marketo roadshows so I transformed that topic into a social media guide. I topped the whole thing off with a few new case studies we had developed that I had waiting in the wings and finally I assembled a few MEMEs for fun and boom(!) I had my content.
The first day of content came while I was still assembling content but no worries, I knew I had time. So what now? Well, the goal was new name acquisition and the call to action was our Pigs Fly Marketing Automation best practices series, so I chose to disseminate these content pieces only through social paths – twitter mainly, also LinkedIn and Facebook. Fortunately during this process I was approached by the CEO of a company called GaggleAMP – strange name, but awesome product. GaggleAMP allows me to create a group, or Gaggle, as they call it, and the system then makes it easy for those who belong to the Gaggle to share content that we as a company put out. Of course I started with our own employees, then I branched out to colleagues and friends. Each time I put out a content piece socially, those members, and their friends, and their friends of friends amplified the message.
As I mentioned earlier I have ADD and an intense need to know, right now – about everything. Long ago I set up an alert that notifies me when a new name enters the marketing database. Of course I also have reporting that shows me this data in a bit more consolidated manner. Point being, it was awesome. With each content piece I was able to add between ten and forty-five new names to our database. Our best practices series also grew substantially at a slightly higher rate as some of the responders were already in our database. I was really shocked, not at the success, but at the consistency. I was also interested in the time frames, like weekends where many of our new name acquisitions were taking place.
When the 30 days was over, I was exhausted but we had added 532 new names to our database and grown our Pigs Fly series by 9% for a total increase of 1041 subscribers. Keep in mind I spent almost nothing on the content assembly other than my time and sunk costs I was already spending. I consider it a very successful experiment and I’m considering turning this whole ordeal into an eBook – ok, maybe just an eBrief – I’m kind of burnt out.
About the Author
Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMD. He founded the company in 2009 with the vision of transforming traditional “grassroots” marketing efforts through the use of cloud based marketing solutions. Gray sees grassroots marketing dollars shrinking and traditional branding efforts being strewn aside in favor of a true Conversational Marketing approach.
With 13 years experience in the industry, Gray has seen the potential for growth in this space and the willingness other corporations had to join the SaaS revolution; Gray began to strategize the formation of a true Marketing-as-a-Service corporation, which specialized in outsourcing the core functions of a marketing department either through on-demand solutions, consulting or both. Since that time Gray has emerged as strong voice for Marketing Automation and Conversation Marketing industry.
See Justin Live!
Justin will share more insights on turning content into cash at Conversion Conference Fort Lauderdale 2012 on October 9th and 10th in Florida. Join him in his session on “Why Your Killer Content is Not Making Your Business Money.” See the full agenda or read more about this session. You can also follow Justin on Twitter for some pre-conference networking.
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By Justin Gray