Buyers are consuming information in a variety of new ways — especially in the B2B community. Podcasts, in particular, have received a lot of attention in the B2B world as marketers look to find new, resonating ways to engage prospective customers. Research from our annual Content Preferences Survey Report shows that close to two-thirds (64%) of B2B buyers prefer podcasts at the top of the funnel.
Ipswitch, a IT management software provider, has seen award-winning success after evolving its blog and incorporating podcast content to provide relevant information that its target audience wants to learn. Sr. Content Manager Greg Mooney joined the Ipswitch team in 2015, at a time where “the company had essentially no blog.” With an IT audience in mind — specifically system administrators, CSOs and CTOs in the healthcare, finance and government industries — he and his team spent 2016 producing roughly ten blogs a week to attract that type of audience. With that painstaking output, his team initially saw an “increase in traffic from a 1,000 annual views per year to 10k views in the first year.” Mooney and his team have since moved to launching a podcast series to further engage its audience.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Greg to chat about how he developed Ipswitch’s blog, as well as its “Defrag This” podcast, into an award-winning, top-funnel campaign powerhouse that is now responsible for roughly 25% of all of the company’s organic traffic. Here are five takeaways from the conversation that can possibly help your top-funnel campaigns drive more engagement and create a healthy brand community.
1) Get Buy-In
Getting buy-in from not only the leadership team, but also the sales team, is the hardest part, according to Mooney. “How do you get sales on board? Especially since this isn’t the cheapest [content] option,” he said.
Buy-in requires proof of a potential ROI, and that can be tough with top-of-funnel content. However, Mooney and his team had early buy-in from leadership, which helped get buy-in from sales. The conversation with sales required an explanation of the goals of this content, which was “focused on brand awareness and providing information to IT people to become a trusted brand,” Mooney said.
It was also important to highlight how experimentation can lead to benefits and results. “The blog is 25% of all our organic traffic,” said Mooney. “Just by showing that to our sales team helps them understand how valuable this blog and podcast have been to the organization.”
2) Consider New Channels
To build off the company’s 2016 efforts with the blog, Ipswitch built the “Defrag This” brand and started to build out the podcast. Mooney noted that other IT-focused blogs were struggling to gain any traction, but he felt confident in the team’s strategy and what their goals were.
“We’re seeing the future in video and audio; if you’re on the train going to work, it’s easier to listen to a podcast than read an E-book,” said Mooney. “Podcasts give us a way to amplify the blog and give our audience a different way to digest our content.
“I knew there was a need for it, and I felt there was an opportunity to expand beyond the written word here,” said Mooney.
3) Consider Differentiating Brands
In 2017, the company decided it wanted to brand the blog to something that was more than just Ipswitch, according to Mooney. “You go to vendor blogs, you know it’s a vendor,” he said. “We want people to hang out with us and not feel like they are on a vendor blog.”
While still connected with the Ipswitch brand, “Defrag This” offers the company an opportunity to provide relevant, contextual content to its target audience without giving off the common “vendor BS” vibes that marketers struggle to alleviate.
“Think of it more as a community where folks can get content to do their job better instead of learning about the products,” said Mooney. “These were things IT people are searching for and looking to learn more about.”
4) Amplify Via Social
Ultimately, Ipswitch’s ability to amplify its content via the appropriate social channels was what won them their Killer Content Award this year. The company’s process for identifying its target audiences and personas, then using that insight to effectively target content towards them in their social feeds led to a great boost of traffic.
“Content and social come hand in hand; nobody is going to consume your content unless you have a way to amplify it and get it out there,” said Mooney.
Paid social, in particular, was a huge aspect to Ipswitch’s initial success. Mooney noted that this was crucial to making sure that the right IT people were consuming their content. Now, 25% of the company’s organic traffic is driven by the blog and podcast.
“A lot of the growth was kicked off by paid social,” said Mooney. “We don’t use as much paid social now because it has been taken over by the organic growth. If you’re not hitting the right people, nobody is going to listen to it and you won’t get any traffic.”
5) Position Teams To Move Towards Tying Campaign To $$$
ROI can be measured in multiple ways. But the cream of the ROI crop is tying your campaign to actual revenue. Mooney discussed how he and his team are working to address that goal. He noted how his team began working with The Pedowitz Group to help formulate the right processes and frameworks to effectively tie marketing efforts to revenue.
“The Pedowitz Group helps give us more visibility into what our blog is driving,” said Mooney. “It’s just a matter of showing the data in a way so sales can digest it and see that there’s actual influence.”