No Theories Allowed: Managing Content Marketing for B2B Brands
Event: Content Marketing World 2011
Session description: Experts from DuPont, HP and Vertical Measures talk about how they manage the process of content and give tips and tricks on how you can best manage content for your website, blogs, social media, email and more.
- Gary Spangler, Marketing Manager, DuPont
- Michael Procopio, Social Media Strategist, HP Software
- Arnie Kuenn, CEO, Vertical Measures
Things in quote marks are direct quotes. Other statements are paraphrased. (Things in parentheses are my thoughts.) For more from this session and others at Content Marketing World, search the #cmworld hashtag on Twitter.
What they said
Arnie’s up first, and explains that his background and interest in content comes from a search perspective. He asks for a show of hands from people with an SEO background. No hands. He asks if people know what SEO means. More hands and a few laughs. (Still, to help everyone: Content marketers, meet SEOs. SEOs, meet content marketers. Get to know each other; you guys have a lot in common.)
“All of you non-search types, it starts with research!”
- Start with keyword research: This should be the foundation of content ideas. Brainstorm for keyword phrases your customers use when searching. Use tools like Google keyword suggest and Instant Search—see what Google fills in for you and get ideas there; Google AdWords keyword tool; Bing’s Commercial Intent.
- Then do online market research: Check trending topics on Twitter, Yahoo and MSN. Go to question and answer sites such as Yahoo! Answers, Quora, LinkedIn or Facebook with your keyword phrases. Enter them and you’ll find questions your customers are asking. “Think about how you can answer those questions with content.” Check sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and Mixx for your keyword phrases and you’ll see what kind of content is being liked or voted up in your industry. You’ll see whether or not images or videos are most popular, for example. Also, check Google’s Discussions in search.
- What works for your competitors? Use a tool like Open Site Explorer to see what content is most popular for them—the content that gets them the most links.
- List the possibilities and put together a calendar.
- Remember the long tail! “You’re better off being in the seventh position for long tail than in the second position for short tail” on a Google search results page.
Next, we hear from Gary, who needed DuPont to understand the importance of content and created an easy-to-imitate group to help the entire company. A few early thoughts:
- “The faster the frequency of the content that needs to be posted, the smaller the team should be. If you’re going to be on a short cycle, be small.”
- “DuPont doesn’t just have websites, it has web properties.” These include the company site, Facebook, YouTube and other social networks. Gary always uses “web properties,” never “website” anymore in conversations about content.
- But that said… “A lot of our deeper content still needs to be on our websites…The website is still critically important, but we can’t have content that’s a year old and try to drive people back to it…Our website is as much a part of social media as our social sites.”
A content marketer needs:
- To fill in the gaps in the content process
- A consistent message
- Alignment of business stakeholders (PR, marketing, legal)
- To manage the pipeline of content
To do this at DuPont, Gary created the Website Editorial Board: W.E.B. (Gary, maybe you should call that the Web Properties Editorial Board… ) This group meets face-to-face, for one hour, to talk about what’s coming up in the next 30 days. Members include stakeholders in marketing, technical service, PR, customer service, IT, web development and the “coordinator.” The W.E.B. coordinator role is critical: to schedule, take minutes and report key web property metrics.
At the meetings, Gary says they talk about these things:
- Metrics: these include KPIs, conversions, trends, things qualitative and quantitative
- Marketing Communications Editorial/Event Calendar: everyone learns what promotions, press releases and other things that involve content are coming up in the next 30 days
- Marketing Objectives: everyone makes sure content meets business objectives
- Content Management: the group discusses ideas and placement—should that piece of content be a video? a web app?
- Inquiries: what did we get through our contact forms?
Gary cited a couple of examples of how content meets business objectives, especially as it relates to inquiries. One stakeholder was complaining that, all of a sudden, he was getting fewer phone calls about a particular product. Gary asked if the timing coincided with a white paper that answered common questions about the product. The stakeholder said yes, the timing did coincide… but that was 15 fewer calls. Gary countered: but 50 people read the whitepaper. We have doubled our qualified leads, and now the calls you’re getting are more qualified, too, because they’re from people who have more detailed questions about the product.
Finally, Michael took the microphone.
He has many, many steps for an integrated content marketing campaign, but some of the easy-to-practice-yourself ones include:
- Research and prep: Survey your target audience—look at their challenges and needs, digital habits, content vehicle preferences, purchase decision processes. Do LinkedIn research. Start asking questions about what you plan to talk about market in LinkedIn Groups, review questions and answers, start polls, get customers to ask questions.
- Design integrated content package: Use Radian6 and other social media tools (like Raven!) for relevant research on what people are talking about.
- Find influencers: These people can help spread the message. He uses Klout, checks out their Twitter followers, uses hashtags to find new people.
- Create a “Tweet Sheet”:HP uses a “Tweet Sheet” for content that they want a variety of people to promote. Put out a sheet with sample tweets. Busy bloggers can cut and paste, or rewrite slightly.
HP uses HootSuite to tweet automatically each new blog post to each kind of content group—they have about 15 on Twitter, all named by content type. “We get about a 30% increase in readership” on things HP promotes with Twitter.
Michael also reminds us not to forget free promotion. YouTube for video, obviously, but he has found that Facebook also is good for videos. LinkedIn is good for white papers. Twitter is good for Top 10s and some white papers. HP has had phenomenal success with SlideShare.
As for paid promotion, GoViral was a successful paid tool for HP’s social advertising. LinkedIn was also very strong, because they targeted carefully. And something interesting about YouTube promoted videos: the number of those who clicked was very low, but the number of those who converted from those clicks was very high.
Michael, it sounds like you have a lot of resources in terms of support. What if you don’t have that? How would you scale it down?
I have done everything all by myself. I used to write on four blogs for HP software. I have had a topic, I have researched it, I have written the blog post, I have gone to LinkedIn and YouTube and Twitter. It could not be done with 15 companies I was showing you, but it can be done with a single blog post. To some degree it’s a matter of scale.
How do your web groups fit into high-level, strategic plans for disaster planning? Have you been brought into that group? How does your content management fit into that plan, which I’m sure you have?
Michael: Well, you would think. (Laughter.) For anything vaguely negative, we usually get an email that says no one can blog or Tweet about this subject as an HP representative. It has happened when we hired the new CEO. Every time we do an acquisition. The PR folks will do things. The corporate master blogger is in PR… they will write about it. It’s a company from 1939. They’re conservative.
Gary: We work closely with public affairs. PR and marketing are now about the same today.
When we’re doing keyword research, we find that some people are looking for information like pricing, but our C-suite doesn’t want us to put the information on our site. What should we do?
Arnie: Education industries are very controlled about what they put out there. Another large client we tweet for, we have to put every tweet into a database, where every tweets gets edited and then they choose from those which ones to promote. I understand the control issue. But in the end, it’s either you or your competitor that a customer is going to find.
What is the role of Facebook in B2B content marketing?
Michael: My strategy for Facebook is what I call the “stumble upon” strategy… we will be there in case people stumble upon us.
Gary: First off, brands are like personalities. Facebook is very open to brands being on Facebook. But if you’re not resourced for frequently updating it, you don’t want to be there.
What do you think of this idea about real-time marketing?
Gary: It’s already there. There are DuPont subject matter experts who are ready to answer questions online. If we’re comfortable with them answering questions on the phone, we should empower them to answer those questions online. We do ask them to keep track of what they do and post so we can audit it.
Michael: We had a real-time marketing situation not too long ago. We came out with a press release, and the blogger alerts showed us “What the heck did they say?” I took the sentences out of the press release and wrote a blog post explaining what each sentence meant.