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Takeaways from the Great Content Marketing Experiment

Quick tips on SMO

Last week, John Bottom (@basebot) from Base One Group in the UK took a unique approach to his presentation at the IDM conference. He designed an experiment to show 150 B2B marketers the impact that can be achieved with content marketing.

He asked attendees to answer the following questions before the conference:

What the single biggest benefit of social media to your brand?

What is the single biggest obstacle to achieving it?

His firm then compiled all the responses into an eBook, Opportunities & Threats with the goal of getting it downloaded 1,000 times in real time during the conference.

The experiment fell short of the 1,000 downloads, achieving 570 during the allotted time period, but I'll bet there's more to come.

Take a look at what was accomplished:

Doing a search on Google for "Great Content Marketing Experiment" returned 320 results. That's how many people John was able to persuade to publish content about the experiment - from blog posts to media coverage to videos, etc.

Taking a brief look:

The number 1 result is a post on Mark Schaefer's blog {grow} that was tweeted 40 times.

RebeccaS posted it to Sphinn (a bookmarking site) where it was Sphunn 11 times.

A video taken asking attendees at IDM the questions used for the eBook was viewed 92 times.

The video John made explaining the experiment was viewed 172 times.

Social Media UK published a post with a slideshare about Convincing the Skeptics that was viewed 70 times and garnered 10 Tweets.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

In looking at the statistics on http://bit.ly/cUOsuY - the link to the PDF - it shows that 571 unique downloads happened with a total of 607 clicks. It also shows 63 tweets were made promoting the link.

But the interest generated didn't stop there. The link to the live blog where John posted about the experiment during the conference was clicked 477 times and Tweeted 92 times.

The hashtag #GCME was adopted and many more Tweets talked about the experiment.

That's a heck of a lot of exposure and engagement!

Here's what's surprising. Companies spend months planning launches. John sent his first email requesting support from his network on May 14th. The experiment took place 5 days later.

Some Takeaways for B2B Marketers:

Seeding is critical. This is why it's important to establish a presence on social media to build a network of people interested in what you have to say and share. Building credibility in advance of needing it is the key to John's success with this program. There's no earthly reason B2B marketers cannot create this type of response from their own networks if they work toward that goal.

Social Media is about more than lead generation. Because John spends more time being helpful than asking for stuff from his network, many of us were happy to help and trusted that the content he would provide during the experiment would be relevant and valuable to our interests. He did not disappoint. And, now, when we need some help, guess who will likely be first in line to give back? Yes, John.

We've got to get past this idea that social media is all about what it can do for us. The key is to always give more than you get. Just like you do with your best offline relationships. Online doesn't change that. It's just the medium.

Goose the Gate. If there had been a form in front of the PDF, do you think 570 people would have downloaded the eBook? Doubtful. But that doesn't mean John can't find out about a lot of the people who expressed interest.

  • He can see who Tweeted and determine whether they're potential prospects.
  • He can follow blog and Twitter comments.
  • He could have placed a call to action in the PDF and monitored response to that.
  • Or - and here's the big one - he could count on the contagiousness of his content to inspire people to reach out and connect with him. Yes, that happens with really good content promoted to the right target audience.

I know that the experiment was focused mostly on the download goal, but so much more was accomplished that it should inspire B2B marketers about how to create solid content marketing programs that drive results.

This does not mean that you enlist your network every time you have a new content asset. But, if you consistently produce contagious content, focus on sharing and helping others spread the word about what's important to them, what you'll find is that this type of thing just happens.

With social media in the mix, marketers don't have to go it alone. Grow your networks and inspire them to share your content. That's the new way of building awareness in a peer-driven, digital environment. All it takes is the willingness to let go of a bit of control and the creativity to create great content that your audience finds relevant and valuable.

Thanks to John for bringing this experiment to us. It set a great example for content marketing.

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.