Consistently creating great content with a small team is a common challenge for many marketers today. As a three-person inbound marketing agency, we're in the same boat.
It can be pretty daunting to sit back and think about creating 12 months of content. Sometimes, you face creative overload when topics won’t stop rolling around in your head. Other times, it is like trying to draw water from a long-abandoned well.
So how does one boil this down to a manageable process? We'll help explain how you can develop a kicking lead generation campaign around a simple, effective piece of content. Let's dive in!
Step 1: Plan campaigns around cornerstone pieces of original content.
Thinking of your blog in campaign terms is helpful. A campaign is a collection of content shared on your blog, email list, and social media that all points back to a similar offer. Creating a cornerstone piece of content first makes the process of building out ebooks, blog posts, emails, and social updates incredibly easy.
A cornerstone piece of content should be an original piece of content that is focused toward a specific vertical or pain that your target market is facing. Typically, these pieces of content can take a hefty investment of time and resources to produce. These can be online, like an in-depth industry report, or a traditionally offline piece, like an op-ed or seminar series.
As an example, I recently wrote an article for a magazine. The topic was inbound marketing for industrial businesses. This was written to help business owners and marketers create an inbound marketing game plan to help them find qualified leads in the industrial B2B space. After sending it off to the publisher, this article served as a cornerstone piece of content and fueled a three-month campaign.
Step 2: Repurpose a cornerstone piece.
Planning your campaigns out for the next 12 months will help you and your team to break down the content creation process into manageable chunks. Creating a cornerstone piece of content allows you to get the heavy lifting associated with creating an original piece of content out of the way. This opens up the door for amazing opportunities with content repurposing.
From a cornerstone piece of content, it is easy to extract blog posts, ebooks, webinars, SlideShare presentations, and more. If your cornerstone content piece isn’t a download that will help you generate leads, find a way to repurpose it and place it on a landing page. If it isn’t generating leads, there is no way to measure your ROI.
I pulled the copy from my article into PowerPoint and started reformatting it as a checklist. The result was a 45-page resource called "The B2B Marketing Checklist." The repurposing process was easy. I simply took the action steps I originally shared in the article and broke them down into more detailed descriptions.
Step 3: Generate blog posts.
Creating amazing content is only the first step toward success in marketing. Promoting the content is just as important. It may even be more important.
Blogging is an obvious platform to begin promoting your offer. Coming up with the ideas for these blog post titles is easy because you have framed them within the context of a campaign. Break down your content offers and use blog posts to expound in greater detail. Think of your buyer personas and the unique concerns and questions they have around a similar issue.
Taking these persona considerations into mind can help you create 3-4 blog posts from a single idea expressed in a content offer.
With "The B2B Marketing Checklist," I took the PowerPoint file and printed out the 45 slides in handout format. This made it really easy to go through the content in the checklist and identify points that we could break down in even further depth in a blog post.
After reviewing the checklist, we had outlined 55 blog post titles! The crazy thing was, it wasn't that hard. It was the context that was key.
Step 4: Unlock your marketing context.
As you're creating epic content, there's always the underlying goal of providing the reader with a clear next step. While you're creating blog posts, it can be a stretch, at times, to provide a related, next-step resource to the reader.
By starting with the content offer and working backwards, you're able to produce blog posts that are extremely relevant to your downloadable resource which you leverage to convert visitors to leads. This simple shift can help you greatly improve your conversion rate, but more on that in a little bit.
Step 5: Turn it into a system.
This process has allowed us to created a large volume of quality content in a short period of time, while still expanding our reach to new audiences. Not only have we shared these posts on our blog, but we have also reached out and shared several of these posts on other blogs, like here on the HubSpot blog.
Think of this system like a tree.
As a marketer, you’re essentially managing an orchard. Each tree that you plant is a new campaign that can grow, flourish, and bear fruit for the organization.
Think of your central piece of content like the trunk of a tree. In our case it was an article for a trade publication, but it could be any number of things: a presentation from a conference, an in-depth industry report, or a course taught through your local chamber of commerce.
Branches then shoot off from the trunk in multiple directions. The branches are content offers placed on landing pages. These can be ebooks, webinars, checklists, buyer guides, and so on.
From the branches of your tree, shoots emerge. These shoots are blog posts -- the leaves that attract the sunshine and nourish the entire tree. Each blog post is an opportunity to rank for new keyword phrases and answer questions from members of social communities.
If the shoots are strong enough, they flower and their sweet fragrance attracts new visitors back to the website. This takes shape via social shares, comments, +1s, and inbound links.
We saw a marked increase in visitors and leads.
The tree metaphor is cute, but it isn't worth much if it isn't backed up with statistics. Here are some takeaway points from our campaign around "The B2B Marketing Checklist."
In terms of traffic to our website, we saw almost a 30% increase in visitors and our lead quantity also increased almost 40%.
The more we blogged and shared the resource, the more leads began converting on "The B2B Marketing Checklist." Not only did the number of leads converting on the offer continue to rise ...
... but the conversion rate on the landing page also continued to rise, too:
We also A/B tested the calls-to-action we shared at the end of the blog posts on GuavaBox.com. This brought out some interesting data to help us make better marketing in the future.
As you can see in the chart below, we created two different designs that linked to "The B2B Marketing Checklist" landing page. Each one had a similar color scheme and text, but one design significantly outperformed the other.
The benefits of this system can be great.
Managing content and your inbound marketing system is a challenge for marketers everywhere. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be working in unison.
This system can help you quickly outline and plan campaigns for months in advance. With this plan in place, you're still free to supplement your editorial calendar with curated posts or the latest industry news. It will bring you peace of mind to know that your team isn't pressured to come up with unrelated creative ideas every few days.
By beginning with your persona in mind and focusing on creating one solid piece of outrageously helpful content, you can supercharge your content creation. Make it rain, old sport!
Andrew (@AndrewJDymski) is the VP of Inbound & Co-Founder of GuavaBox, an inbound marketing agency. GuavaBox is focused on helping companies in the industrial B2B market reach new customers through content and inbound marketing. He is also the CEO & Co-Founder of DoInbound, a software system helping inbound marketing agencies manage, track, and scale their business. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.
Originally published Dec 11, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017