This was back in 2015, a time when MobStac was still working on getting its B2B lead generation plan in place. We had just switched domains from the highly competitive mobile apps space to beacons, a BLE technology that was already stirring up the proximity market space like no other before.
Being a SaaS company that has always openly adopted the content-driven strategy to drive itself forward in the market, we at MobStac were very sure that focusing all our efforts into nailing the right B2B lead generation is the right step ahead.
After all, MobStac was one company that tested the waters in the beacon marketing space by publishing a series of highly insightful blogs (that continue to see a lot of traffic to this day), way before we decided to switch from the mobile domain. These were the blogs that helped us engage with business leaders across various verticals and get a feel of the potential that a beacon solution would hold for them.
Before we dive deep into how we made the leap and sprung our lead generation plan into action, here’s a sneak peek on the kind of challenges that we were faced up against. This will help you gain a better understanding of why our content strategy plan worked flawlessly.
If you happen to be working at an early stage SaaS startup, chances are that you have probably run into one of these challenges yourselves at some point of time.
(1) The shift in company objectives
Back then, Beaconstac, our beacon platform was still in its early days. Everyone at our product team was busy tweaking the platform in order to make a full stack beacon solution that would cater to the proximity marketing needs of businesses across various verticals.
Needless to say, with the product getting fast in shape, our company objectives soon shifted from ‘Brand Recognition and Exposure’ to ‘Lead Generation’. And we, at the content marketing team of Mobstac, found ourselves up against a tight deadline to make this shift happen — in a little over a quarter, or in other words, a little over a span of 3 months.
(2) Small team, Big goals
Like any other startup, the content marketing team at Mobstac then constituted of a small group of dedicated content champions. We were a team of five people — a Content Marketing Manager, a Senior Marketing Associate (yes, that’s me), two Content Marketers and a Graphic Designer. At that point of time, in Nov 2015, we were generating a total of about 365 leads/month, with a blog traffic of about 9,596 users.
But in order to make content fuel our company’s growth while driving sales at a higher rate than any other marketing tactic, we needed to rev up our content marketing strategy. Needless to say we were looking at increasing our lead counts by 2x by the end of Q1 2016.
(3) Being an early bird has its cons
When MobStac made the switch into beacons, we had the badass advantage of being one of the early companies to be blogging highly insightful pieces on the impact of beacons in the proximity marketing space and how they were fast changing how businesses reached out to their customers. We also did a few guest blogs on leading media publications such as Internet Retailer, Proxbook and so on.
While all of that went a long way into helping Mobstac make a brand name for itself in the beacon market, it didn’t really back us up much on driving our lead generation plan to the next level.
We were under high pressure to ideate and come up with content pieces that would connect with our target audience, faster than ever before. And being one of the early companies to actually kick start a blog dedicated to everything about beacons, we didn’t have much of places to look up to for inspiration.
How we put our content strategy plan into action
Needless to say, we found ourselves in the dire need to come up with a content strategy plan and put it into action, if we were to help MobStac tread ahead on the road to world domination. To make things more challenging we were up against a tight deadline. Here are few of the major highlights on how to set the ball rolling:
(1) Equipping every writer on board with an extensive content marketing arsenal
In most companies, a content writer’s job is limited to writing blogs or other forms of content, editing those content pieces and publishing them — all while sticking to a tight deadline.
However, at Mobstac, we have realized that blog writers need to be fueled to do a lot more than solely focusing on getting the next piece of content to market by deadline. They need to have a deep understanding of critical content performance insights such as:
- How do leads generated by various forms of content scale on in terms of being an MQL (marketing-qualified-lead) or a SQL (sales-qualified-lead) ?
- Which blogs generate the most traffic?
- What are the keywords that your content already ranks high for? And what other keywords should you be aiming at?
- Is referral traffic driving leads into your system?
- Is there any correlation between blog format and channels that generate most leads?
In order to empower our content champions with the same, we ensured that they are involved in everything, right from pitching topics to writing and publishing blogs to coming up with blog promotion plans, to lead gen analysis and content analysis.
Effective content marketing isn’t a ‘hit or miss’ practice. This data driven approach empowered our content writers to step out of the dark and gain a solid understanding of what parts of your content strategy plan are and what parts aren’t working. Digging deep into such metrics played a critical role in helping them work on their content shortcomings and churn out top-notch quality content pieces.
As a result, we were able to grow our leads by 107% while focusing all our efforts solely on inbound marketing. That’s right! We were able to pull it off without having to shell out our marketing budget on any kind of paid marketing campaigns.
(2) Generating more meaty downloadables
One of the easiest hacks to catapulting your lead generation plan to new heights is to gate your quality content pieces such as Webinars, Ebooks and Whitepapers. To fuel our mission we decided to schedule a total of 4 gated content pieces — 1 Ebook, 2 webinars and an online course — in Q1 2016. Now, this might sound like a lot of work for a team of 4. That’s where the need to work smartly comes into the picture.
Instead of working on an Ebook or Webinar from scratch, we simply chose a topic around the theme for the quarter, and then worked backwards on it. The theme chosen was based on the rising trends in the beacon market (from Google Trends) then. Google had just launched Eddystone and businesses were still touting the idea of building an iBeacon app to incorporate beacons as a part of their marketing strategy. As result we came with the following content pieces :
- Ebook 1- A Developer’s Guide to Building an iBeacon App
- Webinar 1- 7 Ways Brands can use Beacon Tech to Make it Big in 2016
- Webinar 2- Will Eddystone take on iBeacon in 2016?
- Online Course- iBeacon app development course
We then brainstormed ideas over blog topics that could later be stacked together to create each of these downloadables and accordingly planned out our editorial calendar for Q1 2017. This way, we ensured that our team wasn’t spread out too thin and that our content writers didn’t burn themselves out trying to keep up with the daily content crunch.
We even came up with a detailed promotion plan for each of these content pieces. This helped us ensure that we could pause a particular promotion initiative if it wasn’t performing as expected and switch to another one or tweak it to perform better. This also helped us iterate faster, while sticking to our tight deadlines.
The traffic to lead conversion rate of our Beaconstac Blog grew from 3.8% to 4.9%, over a span of 4 months. To add on to that, as a result of our enhanced content promotion initiatives, the Beaconstac blog saw a 59% rise in the total number of new visitors, from 8,918 in Nov 2015 to 14,205 in March 2016.
(3) Extending our focus to insightful pieces that explore the Beaconstac platform
We extended our focus to churning out more content pieces that gave potential customers an insightful peek at the wide array of features offered by the Beaconstac platform and how customers could leverage these power-packed features to engage their customers better.
As of Q4 2015, we published up to 2 campaign posts (a blog post that takes a user through the step-by-step process on how to leverage the Beaconstac platform for running a beacon campaign) per quarter. But Q1 2016 saw us make the switch to publish a min. of 2 campaign posts every month, thus resulting in a total of 7 campaign posts. We then plugged in these posts into our content ecosystem (drip campaigns, quarterly newsletters and inbound link shares) to utilize these posts to their utmost potential.
Publishing a couple of more campaign posts per month, helped us increase the blog count and in turn drive more leads into our system. Now, while this worked perfectly for us, deciding to publish more posts can be quite tricky at times.
For example, what if you notice a decrease in the average number of views per post inspite of publishing more blogs? This could be an indication of the fact that you might be sacrificing quality for the sake of quantity. This is one the reasons why it is important to experiment and find the right mix between blog quality and quantity. To top it, these campaign posts also got us a lot of demo requests around the highly talked-about platform features.
(4) Evaluating content pitches against a number of validation pointers
It goes without saying, that a significant chunk of boosting your lead count to new heights requires a content team to focus its heart and soul on churning out great, insightful content pieces. In order to ensure that the quality of our posts were never compromised on, we put in together a set of pointers that every blog pitch had to match up to. These primarily included:
Ensuring that every topic that was pitched had a strict threshold to cross in terms of SEO helped us boost our blog traffic to a great extent. As a result, the Beaconstac blog saw a 56% rise in organic traffic along with a 55% rise in new visitors from these organic sources. And by writing top quality blogs that employed the right set of keywords, we were able to make the most of this surge in traffic by driving a 48% rise in leads from organic sources, over a span of 4 months.
(5) Setting up a more streamlined process for content management
Most marketers are of the opinion that setting up a streamlined process for content pitching and management is something that only big corporates should be bothered about.
However, having a similar process in place can help a small team of 4–5 people get things done faster while making a note of the hiccups in the system. For example, if the generic content promotion plan doesn’t seem to be quite effective for a particular blog, the writer could then come up with a list of sites that would accept syndication content or a list of slack groups and forums, where they could engage in discussions with the target persona that the blog was aimed at.
We used Trello to pitch topics and map out our entire publishing schedule in advance. It also helped us keep track of which stage each content piece was at (awaiting pitch review, writing, editing, final review, publishing, promotion, analysis). Any kind of image requirements for a given blog were also added on the same card. Also marking due dates on each of these cards, made it easy for us to keep track of tight deadlines.
Our efforts at engaging better with our target audience via comments on other media publications and syndication content pieces resulted in a significant increase in referral traffic. As a result new visitors via referral traffic grew by 111%, from 1,035 in Nov 2015 to 2,185 in March 2016.
Are you are interested in becoming a part of Beaconstac’s exciting journey with Content Marketing? We have a few openings in Marketing. Feel free to get in touch with email@example.com to discuss this further.
Written by — Devika Girish, Content Marketer @Mobstac