When you think about demand generation, you don’t immediately think about content, at least not in the traditional demand gen model. Of course, content is an element of demand generation, but it hasn’t been looked at through a strategic lens until recently. But times are changing, and content is taking a higher seat at the demand table. This was the topic of a panel at the Metadata.io DEMAND conference.
Devin Reed, Head of Content Strategy for Gong, Erin Balsa, Marketing Director at The Predictive Index, and Camille Trent, Head of Content at Dooly shared their insights on building a strong content program, and there were some good takeaways.
Go big on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the go-to social network for B2B marketers. Two out of the three panelists shared their approach to LinkedIn. Balsa said that social isn’t a big part of the company’s strategy as they have more significant commitments through partner channels. However, she sees LinkedIn as an essential channel and trains other employees to build their presence (plus she’s there herself).
Reed talked about Gong’s content marketing strategy and its LinkedIn presence. He said Gong created the Gong Research Lab around five years ago with the goal of creating something different to build a strong point of view. Gong’s goal is to help salespeople be more effective. To do that, the firm analyzed user data from their product, figured out what was working, and started blogging about it bi-weekly. Gong blogs don’t just talk about what’s working; they explain how to put the insights into action.
On LinkedIn, Gong reproduces and recycles content from the Research Lab into audio, video, graphic, and text content. Reed also helps employees build their LinkedIn presence. He said it’s critical to get leadership on board and empower employees. He does lunch and learns to teach employees how to work with LinkedIn.
For Dooly, Trent talked about entertaining people first to get their attention. Once they get that attention, the idea is to get those people to dig deeper. It’s also important to have employees build a presence on LinkedIn, Trent said. One of the first things she did was provide a content strategy. Then, as part of her job, she champions creators in the company, supporting them with production help.
Measuring is important
You have to know how your content marketing strategy is performing. Measuring performance is key to understanding the impact on your demand generation strategy. To do that, Balsa said her team at Predictive Index aligns with the RevOps team. They meet to discuss campaigns, build shared dashboards, and share results. She said it’s important to understand what data you need to see and ask for it as you do not have to know how to pull it all yourself. You need to build that data muscle, Balsa said, to understand the customer journey. Then you can figure out what you need to do to move leads through the pipeline.
But not every company is at that point. For example, Dooly is in the early stages of measuring content and building out its dashboards. For Gong, it’s about volume right now: MQLs, SQLs, SQOs (sales qualified opportunities), and pipeline. Reed also said they are looking at taking the content experience to the next level - think Netflix binge-able experiences via Uberflip or Pathfactory – and that will mean different ways to measure performance.
Gated v. ungated
This topic always comes up when you are talking to content marketers. For example, Predictive Index has a Learning Center with ebooks and guides - behind a log-in. But Balsa doesn’t think all content should be gated. Instead, she said to ask yourself if a piece of content is valuable enough for someone to give their information. Things like research reports, virtual events, a learning center - that’s all valuable content worthy of an email address. The rest, she said, you should give away for free.
For Gong, it’s a mixed bag, depending on where the content lies in the funnel. Thought leadership at the top of the funnel is gated, whereas product marketing in the lower funnel is not gated. Everything that comes in between takes an asset upgrade approach (research is free, but you can get tactical “cut and paste” content related to that research if you provide your information).
Scaling the content creation process
There are never enough hours in a day to create all the content you can think of. And everyone has ideas they want to share with the content marketing team. For Gong and Predictive Index, the key is to make it easy to share ideas with the team - typically through a form and workflow. Integrate the form with your project management software, and you have a way to capture ideas. The next step is to review and decide what to pursue. Along with the form process, the Predictive Index team also holds biweekly brainstorms for specific needs.
Trent shared something important she learned about scaling content - don’t worry about it! Your first goal is to have something worth scaling. Build the content, get the data, and then you’ll know what to scale. Double-down on what’s working, she said, and pick one to two channels, don’t try to be everywhere at once.
Content is central to all marketing programs. But there is still this struggle for content marketing to be recognized as strategic. As we start to see more companies increase their budget for demand generation strategies, we also see more conversations around content as a strategic asset within those strategies. And it’s not all product-based content. It’s a solid mix of thought leadership, tactical advice, and product marketing. The key is finding the right combination to get the attention of target audiences. That, I think, is where the real work happens.