Last week, fellow content creator Molly Hoffmeister and I teamed up to present a webinar on the content marketing strategies that work for our team at Pardot. We discussed our strategy for thought leadership, then dove into a few of the ways that we enable our internal sales team with content. (If you missed it and are interested in listening to the recording, you can check it out here.)
We had a great time joining forces with SnapApp CEO Seth Lieberman, but unfortunately, there were a number of questions from the audience that we weren’t able to get to at the end of the webinar.
Never fear! When it comes to content, we try to leave no stone unturned, which is why we jotted down all of our unanswered questions so that we could respond to them today.
Attended the webinar but didn’t get an answer to your question? Take a look at our responses below. (And if you didn’t attend, take a look anyway! You never know — you might find the answer to a question you didn’t know you had.)
1. How do you track the results of each marketing tactic? Do you use a customized call-to-action or unique URLs?
To track the results of our marketing tactics and content campaigns, we create custom URLs that are all tied to the same content campaign. Each of these URLs is unique to the channel that it will be used on. This allows us to look at how our content performs at the channel level, but still gives us the big picture view we need at the campaign level.
2. How do you take a company that has done mostly traditional marketing and transition to content marketing? It takes time to build your content strategy and results, so what is the ideal transition plan, from a media mix standpoint?
This is a tough question! It depends on a number of variables, namely: who is your target audience? What pain points are you trying to solve? Where is your audience most active? Understanding the answers to these questions can help you begin to put a content marketing strategy in place. As you transition from traditional marketing to content marketing, you’ll want to think about A) the aspects of your marketing that you can carry over and repurpose into content and B) how you can best meet your buyers’ needs through content.
My suggestion would be to start small with a few pieces of content that you know your buyers need. (Talk to your sales team if you’re not entirely sure what type of content would best address your buyers’ pain points.) That might mean starting with a few case studies and blog posts, or building out more robust pieces like an e-book. The key is to be intentional about every piece of content you create.
3. How do you go about thought leadership in the social space? Should you ever engage in relevant conversations on social media, and if so, how?
In the social sphere, thought leadership is all about engaging in meaningful conversations, the majority of which have nothing to do with your product. If you’re using a social media monitoring tool, set up filters for topics that are related to your product or service, and keep an eye on the questions and conversations that come up. If you feel like you have something to add or contribute, jump in with a response!
Another suggestion for thought leadership on social media is to share articles and content from outside your company. Recognize other companies or thought leaders that you think are doing great work. This shows that your company is more interested in being a resource than selling a product.
4. We are a B2B digital marketing agency. While we don’t have a specific industry focus, our client base tends to be in the financial/professional services industries. We are interested in trying to include more industry-specific content in our content program this year. Have you guys had any success creating industry-specific content?
Yes! We are huge fans of targeted content in general. At Pardot, we have customers that come from a variety of industries, so it’s important for us to provide content that’s specific to their use cases. A financial services customer is going to use our product differently than a healthcare customer, for example. One way that we do this is by creating case studies that are categorized by verticals, so that our potential customers can learn more about how our current customers from their industry are already using our product.
Another tactic we’ve found works well is hosting webinars that are targeted toward specific industries. In these scenarios, we’ll often have a Pardot client join us to speak about their specific use case. (This can extend to in-person events too!)
All in all, I would certainly recommend trying your hand at industry-specific content if it’s right for you, even if that simply means a few blog posts.
5. In terms of getting people to focus on quality over quantity, any recommendations for A) changing the mindset of a marketing group that is too focused on putting out fires, and B) being more strategic up front before launching a campaign?
This is another tough one. Unfortunately, if your team is already set in their ways, you might have your work cut out for you. Here is what I would suggest:
Make a list of all of the content that you’ve recently created and what you were able to do with it. What was the value that each piece of content offered? Were other teams within your company able to use it? Were you able to promote it on a number of channels? What has the response from your audience been like?
Now, make a separate list with a few of your new content ideas on it. If you want to shift to a “quality over quantity” mindset, make sure that these are big ideas that can really meet the needs of your audience. Next to each idea, write down all of the ways that you can get the most out of that single concept. The idea is to demonstrate that with fewer, better ideas, you can get more value out of what you’re creating.
For example, let’s say you want to create an e-book that features tips collected from your customer base. Using this single asset as the basis for your campaign, you can then create a SlideShare presentation or a graphics series with individual quotes on it. You can turn it into a blog series or have some of the featured customers speak on a webinar. You can promote it across a number of different channels. With more time to devote to this single campaign, you can even create email templates for your sales team and encourage other internal teams to use your content.
Put these two lists side by side, and present them to your team. Show them what you’re currently doing and why you think it’s ineffective, and then show them what you could be doing if you were to focus on being more strategic from the get-go.
6. I’m launching a new company from an existing program within our current company. How can I use content effectively to create brand awareness but also differentiation?
To start, focus in on exactly what makes you different. As you’re building out your brand awareness efforts, these differentiators should form the basis for your content. There’s nothing wrong with using some of the halo effect from your current company to give yourself a boost when it comes to brand awareness, as long as you’re clear about how your new company is different from your existing one. Try creating content that is unique to your new company — something that your previous company hasn’t done — whether that’s a video showcasing your mission or a blog series profiling other companies that inspired you. (Keep in mind that creating content that’s focused on other companies or industry thought leaders allows you to tap into their promotional networks, which can be invaluable as you’re building awareness around your brand.)
7. How do you get people who aren’t on the marketing team invested in your content development goals? I can’t seem to get my sales reps to “buy in” to the importance of our inbound/content strategy.
This is something that we’ve talked about a few times on our blog. At Pardot, we’ve found that if our sales reps are ignoring our content, it’s for one of a few reasons: 1) they can’t find it, 2) they’re overwhelmed by the quantity, and 3) they don’t understand how and when they should use it.
One of our biggest success stories as a content team was creating a content library designed specifically for our sales team. You can read more in-depth about our process in this article, but the basic idea was to put a system in place where our reps could search our content library using common keywords. Each piece of content in the library also had a description, a list of pain points that it addressed, and an email template, so that our reps could better understand how to use it. Once the system was up and running, we presented it to the sales team and showed them exactly how to navigate it.
As far as proving the value of your inbound content strategy, my suggestion would be to put a lead qualification process in place for those inbound leads, if you haven’t already. At Pardot, we use lead scoring and grading (as well as prospect activity) to demonstrate how lead quality is affected by interacting with our content. The more content that a lead interacts with, the higher their score becomes. This ensures that by the time an inbound lead is assigned to the sales team, they’re already educated and are ready to speak to a sales rep.
As your sales reps become more comfortable with your content and see the value that it provides, they’ll begin seeking it out and sending it to prospects of their own accord.
8. When you say measure content growth, which areas of growth do you suggest we measure?
As I mentioned in the webinar, your shares, page views, and content downloads are typically considered vanity metrics. However, if you look at these numbers from a percent growth perspective, they can still give you a good bit of valuable information. For our content team, we look at our social shares, social followings, content downloads, and content pageviews on a month-over-month and quarter-over-quarter basis. This helps us see trends in the data and ensures that our growth is always heading in a positive direction. If we see something trending downward over time, we know that we need to dig a bit deeper.
9. Can you define “demand gen”?
Sure thing! We use “demand generation” at Pardot to refer to the process of driving brand awareness and generating leads. To break it down even further, that typically encompasses our inbound marketing efforts (specifically, the content that we are gating on our website and landing pages), search engine marketing (display advertising, social media advertising, retargeting, etc.), email marketing, and event marketing.
10. Would you go into detail on the distribution cycles you used to promote the Minute Clinic?
For those of you who were unable to attend our webinar, Molly did a thorough overview of our internal sales enablement campaign called the Minute Clinic. This is a way for our marketing team to educate and enable our sales reps with content so that they have all of the marketing resources they need to sell our product (and furthermore, they know how to use that content). The Minute Clinic itself is an email digest containing short, one- to two-minute videos about a topic sales reps care about, a few bullet points, and links to even more helpful content.
To promote the Minute Clinic to our sales team, we use a three-pronged approach. First, we use a Minute Clinic nurturing campaign. New sales reps are enrolled in this nurture program as a part of their new hire training, so that they start receiving educational content on a regular basis as they get ramped up. Second, more seasoned sales reps have the option to sign up for an outbound list serv through a landing page. This allows our marketing team to keep in touch with sales reps on more timely issues, like a new product release or new content to address a known sales issue. We’ve found that this works better than adding timely content to the nurture program and waiting for it to trickle out.
Lastly, we have a dedicated Chatter group where sales reps can go to ask questions, start discussions, and access all of the Minute Clinic videos and resources.
11. What are the tools you mentioned to measure online content consumption?
There are tons of tools that you can use to track how your content is performing, compare your content consumption to your competitors, and more. We rely heavily on our own product for measurement, but have also had success (or heard success stories from our clients) using tools like Google Analytics, Excel (for data manipulation), Facebook Insights, Kapost, and TrackMaven.
Stay tuned for more Q&A with Seth Lieberman!
Didn’t see your question answered here? Keep an eye out for a follow-up post from Seth Lieberman, CEO of SnapApp, where he will be answering some additional webinar questions from our audience.
Last but not least, don’t forget to check out the recorded version of the webinar here!