We had a great webinar recently on content marketing with Toby Murdock, CEO and Co-Founder of Kapost, and Jason Miller, Social Media Strategist at Marketo. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to answer all of the questions about content marketing that our audience asked during the webinar. So, we wanted to do a follow-up blog and share our answers to all of our readers.

Can you talk more about gated vs. ungated. Shouldn’t white papers be gated?
There is a clear trade-off between gated and ungated content: gated content wins a new lead for your database; ungated content is more accessible and is more helpful in building an audience. So while it is tempting to put a gate in front of everything, you have to be sure not to put the cart before the horse: you have to build enough audience in order to generate enough leads. And since ungated content is more shareable, it helps build the thought leadership and trust that it takes for a visitor to decide to fill out a form.

So how to decide what to put in front of a gate, and what behind a gate? There are no hard rules, and you have to find your own balance to meet your own audience and lead goals. Consider not putting your early stage content in front of a gate. At Marketo we typically only put industry and analyst reports in front of a gate and sometimes mid-stage content.

How many whitepapers or fact sheets should be syndicated on average to improve funnel conversion?
Syndication is a strategy to build authority and your audience. There is no specific number of content marketing assets that should be syndicated. Rather, use syndication in your mix if it is an appropriate way to build your audience.

For example, let’s say you have a surplus of content but not that much budget to do paid media to grow your audience. Then take some of that content and syndicate it out to properties that you buyers frequent. Allow them to get to know your brand on those properties, and provide links from the content back to your site to drive referral traffic and search ranking.

Are the pieces being created in the content generation process the same pieces that are involved in your lead nurturing campaigns?
Yes, you want to have one central content marketing process. It is creating content for the top, middle and bottom of the funnel. Your content is used to drive visitors to your website, to nurture leads in marketing automation campaigns, and to help Sales to close deals.

Generally, the higher up in the funnel, the more the content should be about your buyer’s interests; and the lower in the funnel, the more permission you have to focus on your brand’s products and services. But manage all your assets through a central Content Marketing Machine.

It’s a hard sell to my management to allocate budget to paid media promoting thought leadership content about my prospect’s interests vs. directly promoting our product. Any tips?
At a theoretical level: we all have to recognize that the buyer now has a long, sophisticated journey to becoming our customer. Management may impatiently desire for every campaign to directly and immediately result in new revenue. But that simply is not the case. Instead, our objective must be to engage the buyer, build trust, and steadily nurture them to becoming a customer. Using paid media to promote content achieves that engagement and trust.

At a practical level: it simply works better. How often do you click through an ad that urges you to “buy product X”? Data shows that such ads perform horribly. So try it out yourself with a small pilot with little budget at stake. You will certainly find that your paid media dollars go farther promoting content than products. Take that evidence to your management, and thus win approval to invest further in this tactic.

What are the most important success metrics in content? Any difference between social, SEO, etc?
The KPI’s that marketers are accountable for are becoming more tied to the bottom line than ever. Marketing is not “sales support” any more; marketing instead is an equal partner in the revenue-generation operation.

The ultimate objective of content is to drive visitors, leads, opportunities, and revenue. Thus the most important metrics for every content campaign are:

  • New site visitors generated
  • Leads generated
  • Opportunities generated
  • Revenue generated

All of these metrics can then be viewed on an ROI basis (e.g. Leads generated per dollar spent promoting and creating the content).

Systems are starting to automate the scoring of content for how it impacts the funnel; the integration of Marketo and Kapost does provide such a lead gen score for each piece of content.

Want to learn more about how to build out your content marketing strategy? Download the complete ebook How to Build and Operate a Content Marketing Machine.