A Content marketing case study
This is the story of the transition from traditional interruptive based marketing towards inbound, pull based marketing with a focus on using great content to help drive growth. Did it work? Was it successful? Read on and find out, you may find a few parallels with your own current situation.
GPS technology was opening up new opportunities in several market sectors, most notably, chipset design and PC & mobile device integration. Many suppliers including Spirent, one of the worlds’ leading suppliers of test solutions for the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) markets needed to get closer to these new and emerging markets.
The issue was how to target a global audience with diverse needs, attract new customers and develop value and credibility across five continents, with limited budget and resource and engage with an audience we didn’t know and who didn’t know us.
The only certainty was that the current traditional marketing methods used e.g. print advertising, direct mail, email blasts, events and tradeshows would only target a small percentage of the total target markets and consume the entire marketing budget without achieving our stated aims.
After a series of discussions and online research the proposed solution was through a mix of:
Content marketing uses various types of content to try and persuade the reader/viewer to change their opinion or to take a decision and the content is targeted at prospects within various stages of the buying cycle.
Inbound marketing uses content in conjunction with search marketing and social media marketing to pull visitors to a site in order to persuade them to make a conversion.
The worry was whether this would work across different cultures where English was not the first language. But I decided to proceed and set about updating the current marketing plan, detailing how to reallocate activities, resource and budget in order to achieve the key marketing objectives. The plan was amended to include the following three stages
- The creation and distribution of value based marketing content
- The promotion of that content
- Measurement and analysis
A key step in the plan was to move away from taking a product based focus and concentrate efforts on promoting the benefits and solutions on offer that could resolve the issues faced by customers and prospects. The success would be measured against agreed key metrics that would allow the management and analysis of activities and results.
The intention was to use content to:
- Position the company as a “Thought Leader” within its marketplace helping it to stand out from the crowd, rise above its competition and make it difficult for each competitor to directly compare their offerings.
- Generate a specific value based proposition for each market segment being targeted.
- Provide more compelling information to customers and prospects to ensure the website became a useful hub and drive repeat visits.
- Generate and increase sales leads leading to higher conversion rates and more sales.
Over a period of several months the content of each web page was re-written to emphasise the benefits, value, experience and expertise on offer. Key phrase research was undertaken to ensure the web pages were optimised to increase the likelihood of being found by the search engines. A blog and an editorial calendar was introduced that incorporated the creation of blog posts, video promotions, case studies and ebooks, each targeted at buyers who would be at different stages of the buying cycle and key influencers within the decision making unit (DMU).
The plan considered where, each piece of content created, could be recycled or repurposed to gain maximum exposure and to get “more bang for each buck” and improve the return on investment (ROI).
As well as ensuring all web pages were optimised for search, they were also optimised for conversions by including call-to-action (CTA) blocks on each page promoting the ebooks, video and case studies. Sign up forms were modified to only include necessary information fields e.g. name, company, country and email address and “thank you” pages provided visitors with another opportunity to engage by offering an invitation to sign up for newsletters, blogs or connecting via social networks icons.
The activity plan consisted of a number of multi-layered marketing campaigns, incorporating email marketing, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and social media marketing, targeted at both existing customers and prospects. Emails were sent out to a segmented database of existing customers and active prospects. Pay-Per-Click campaigns (incorporating remarketing) were set up and targeted at Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific regions to drive visitors to optimised landing pages, designed to persuade them to download and view the content created. Where appropriate these landing pages included video content and case studies supporting the call to action. This content was published on various social media sites to increase reach and encourage engagement.
The example sales funnel (below) shows how traffic gets driven to a website and the various stages that an audience may take as they move through the funnel becoming leads, prospects and ultimately customers.
A lead management process ensured that all leads were captured and those designated “hot” were passed directly to sales. Email autoresponders were set up to encourage prospects along the buying cycle e.g. anyone who downloaded content targeted at the top of the sales funnel was sent additional content to help them progress through to the middle of the sales funnel, if that additional content was downloaded, it was recorded and additional content was sent out until either the prospect contacted the sales team directly or a decision was taken, based on lead scoring, to forward the lead to the sales team for follow up.
Incorporating analytics tracking code in each email link and setting up Goal tracking on each PPC landing page enabled Google Analytics to record the traffic to each landing page, each video view, click-through and conversion as well as the general website traffic to the site. This allowed the monitoring, tweaking and amending of content and campaigns and provided the ability to see what worked and what didn’t. Resource and budget could be redirected to those areas that were more successful, almost in real time.
“Andrew was a strong advocate of content marketing. He put together a marketing strategy to build a content library and then used that content very proactively to raise our profile on the search engines and via other digital channels including social media. Through this strategy we generated contacts and leads while improving our recognition and brand in our key target markets”.
John Pottle, Marketing Director Spirent
It took around 4 months for the effect of the efforts to kick in but over a 12 month period traffic to the website and blog grew rapidly. The graph below shows web traffic that was in a downward spiral make a strong recovery and grow dramatically. Traffic shown is from visitors who either spent more than 30 seconds on site or who viewed more than 3 web pages e.g. the engaged visitors. The rest of the traffic has been filtered out.
Over that 12 month period over 2200 email addresses were collected in exchange for an ebook download. The actual figure was far higher but the results were again filtered to remove emails from:
- The competition (one of the downsides)
- Personal accounts such as gmail and Hotmail
- Nonsense addresses such as micky mouse
Around 70% of these emails were from people and companies who had not done business with Spirent before.
During the latter part of the 12 month period, buoyed by the success recorded by Google Analytics (and sales), a second content generation and promotion phase was introduced and several more ebooks, video clips and case studies were created as well as a webinar plan.
The results at the end of this 18 month period were incredible:
Over an 18 month period
- More than 4800 emails were exchanged in return for an ebook (again filtered)
- 83 blog posts were published
- More than 7000 datasheets were downloaded
- 10 case studies were published
- Videos were viewed more than 1400 times
- Webinars were viewed more than 1000 times
- There was some form of engagement across more than 70 countries
All of this activity fed a steady stream of qualified leads into the sales team.
None of this would have been possible within the timeframe and with the allocated budget through traditional marketing means.
It’s not possible to say hand on heart that all of the significant sales growth achieved was down to content marketing but it certainly had a massive impact on the growth of the contacts and leads captured from these emerging markets and you can see from the figures above that it certainly drove traffic to the website and increased engagement and conversions. It also created an ability to reach out to an audience that hitherto had been unreachable or was only available via 3rd parties (at significant cost).
But like everything in life, what you tend to get out is related to what you put in. If you want to implement a content marketing plan you need to be aware of the following:
- It’s not a quick fix but needs to become part of your marketing activity over the medium to long term
- You need a plan and you will need some resource and budget, mainly for the content creation but perhaps also for content promotion via PPC
- Note: None of the above was achieved through additional budget but was implemented by the re-distribution of existing budget to new activities (yes, tough decisions may need to be taken)
- For the plan to work, it needs an owner who can run with it, drive activity and keep it on track. Especially if you need input from people outside your department or function
- You need to incorporate search (SEO and PPC) and social media marketing into your plan
- It helps if you have a lead management process in place to help filter out the dross and prioritise the hot opportunities
- Content marketing is not just for medium to large sized companies. It creates a level playing field for small businesses to thrive as you eliminate 3rd parties and deal directly with the user
- Finally, everything you do needs to be based on the underlying principles of marketing strategy. Content marketing is not a substitute so make sure any external agency or consultant you deal with has that experience
At Rame Marketing I currently offer a number of services where I create marketing and content strategies on behalf of my clients. I also offer one-to-one marketing workshops to empower you to create your own bespoke marketing, content or digital strategy.
If you need any help with your marketing strategy, content marketing planning, search marketing, social media marketing or marketing campaign management, get in touch. Call me today on 01803 413481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org