Sean Hargrave
Sean Hargrave 6 April 2020

Coping with Coronavirus Part 4: Getting Granular with Content

In part four of our “Coping with Coronavirus’ series, marketing experts reveal the power of taking a big content idea and then refining it to appeal to verticals and job roles.

With industry events continuing to be cancelled into the summer, martech and adtech businesses are turning to webinars and content marketing to get leads entered into the top of their sales funnel.

This is what marketers contacted by Digital Doughnut have told us. It raises two huge questions, though.

How do you stand out enough when every other marketer is doubling down on content marketing? Also, how do you go from beyond getting initial interest into developing leads and turning them into prospects?

According to Wilson Raj, Global Director at SAS, the best strategy is to start off with a big idea and then break it down into smaller, granular pieces of content that focus on issues which a potential type of customer may be facing.

For example, he explains the big idea at SAS for 2020 was “The Future of Marketing”, for which a major piece of research was conducted. This acts as a top-level piece of thought leadership which then feeds a sequence of ebooks and webinars on more focused topics.

“We start off with the big idea, which is basically our anchor text,” he explains. “We then break it down into business issues which marketers are facing, such as loyalty, privacy and customer experience. We can then further refine content and webinars to apply those issues to different industries, such as retail or personal finance.”

For Raj, this means the brand can populate the top of its sales funnel with a major piece of thought leadership. Then, to encourage people to move through to the middle of the funnel, content is focused to provide expert voices answering the issues each industry faces. The goal is to then move a prospect towards end of the funnel where the conversation goes one-to-one.

Data-driven content choices

To help leads through the funnel, SAP does not rely on gut instinct and experience alone. As one might imagine, a CRM database sits at the centre of all decisions, allowing the content marketing function to put the right content asset in front of the right person at the right time depending on what their job is, what concerns they have, and where they are in the sales funnel.

“We use a lot of propensity modelling to understand what content will work best to reach out to a lead with,” he explains.

“We have a lot of data on the journeys existing customers have taken and so we can build up models of lookalike customers and see what has worked in the past. We use this propensity modelling to score a lead and then to rank the piece of content they should be shown next, typically over email. If that content isn’t engaged with, then we know what other content was next in line, and we’ll try that.”

Targeting job roles, as well as verticals

The need to gear content around different types of readers cannot be stressed too highly, agrees Christelle Fraysse, CMO at CRM platform, Workbooks. For her, getting granular is just a case of marketers practising what they preach and segmenting their audiences, just as they advise clients to.

She ensures content marketing strategy always uses a key message which is distilled into verticals. However, where she thinks some businesses let themselves down is in not further refining content to job roles within each industry.

“As you move through the sales funnel you have to personalise content to smaller segments,” she says. “You can bring people in at the top of the funnel with ebooks and blogs talking about the pain points you solve. However, you’ve got to then segment and get under the skin of different categories of customers.

“We do this by building white papers around different industries and what is important to their vertical. We then further refine content down by job title and what pain point someone in an industry is having according to their role. This can change between someone in marketing, sales, finance or customer services. You can really get granular with their concerns.”

Partner up to syndicate, and be kind

Pure360 CEO, Mark Ash, reveals the email marketing platform is not only going granular with its content. Where possible, it is going a stage further. Once a marketer has identified verticals his or her technology is used in, his advice is it’s time to get an industry-relevant partner to help with syndicating content to get a message amplified.

“We’ve been doing some work with ABTA because obviously travel companies have huge concerns at the moment,” he says. “We’ve been looking at the day-to-day challenges that the industry faces. We’ve also had our annual email tracking research which we work with the DMA on, that gives us huge additional reach with the content to hit marketers.”

A point Ash is very keep to point out, though, is that whether it is your own email list or whether you are syndicating granular content through partner organisations, there is a need to consider tone of voice. Right now, people are less likely to be in-market to buy. They are far more likely to be very concerned about their company’s future and their role within it. It means content should get to the pain points each industry and job role is facing but it should do so in a caring way.

“It’s a time to be more helpful than salesy,” he says. “It’s a great time to be looking at different industry and various positions within companies and offering hints and tips each audience will find truly beneficial. People want to know what they need to be thinking about to survive. They need a platform’s support more than a sales message.

“We’re combining this approach of putting help above sales messages with following up with interested customers and prospects and offering free one-to-one advice on strategies and campaigns.”

So, the experts are agreed. At this highly unusual time, granular content is a great way to get people in the funnel and ease them through towards the sales end. However, with so few people in-market to buy right now, one way of keeping interest could be to simply offer help and advice in a move that will see a brand remembered fondly when we get back to normal and people start to make platform investment decisions again.

See other posts in this series: 

Cancelled Events Put The Lead Generation Spotlight on Compelling Content

Coping with Coronavirus Part 2: Tailoring Content to Each Stage of the Sales Funnel

Coping With Coronavirus Part 3: Content Syndication, Email and LinkedIn

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