There are a lot of people creating content — really, really good content. With increasing competition, how can content marketers ensure that they are getting in front of the right people? This webinar covered methods for expanding your audience.
Janessa: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar. I'm being joined today by Elizabeth Yin. Elizabeth, are you on the line with us?
Elizabeth: Yes, I am.
Janessa: Awesome. Elizabeth is the cofounder of Launchbit and I'm the director of content marketing at RJ Metrics and today we are combining forces to help you learn how you can improve the ROI of your content marketing. Just a few of housekeeping details up front. We will be holding a Q&A at the end of the call.
If you have questions or just things to tweet about during the webinar you can type them at #ReadMyEbook. We always do an iPad giveaway. At the end of every call we will be announcing the winner. So if you're tweeting about the event or tweeting questions, you will be automatically entered to win. So yeah, stick around to hear who the winner is.
And we'll also be sending out an email follow up to everyone and that will include the recording and the slides. So you can pass it around to your colleagues or anybody who couldn't make it today. A quick recap of what we're going to be covering today. We're going to be talking about why it's harder than ever for content marketers to get heard.
We're going to be talking about the different channels that you have at your disposal to multiply the impact of your content marketing and then we're going to walk you through step-by-step how to get started setting up your first paid content marketing campaign. Before we get started a quick introduction to Launchbit, Elizabeth, I will let you take this away.
Elizabeth: Great, thanks Janessa. So hi, everyone. As Janessa mentioned my name is Elizabeth and I'm the CEO and the cofounder of a company called Launchbit. And one of the reasons why Janessa and I decided to put this together is, in running Launchbit we're a customer acquisition platform for a SAS company. What that means is we work with a variety of SAS marketers who come and use Launchbit to essentially take out paid marketing campaigns to try to generate leads for their business, leads for their whitepapers, their eBooks, their webinars, etc.
And in running Launchbit I've seen all kinds of campaigns and I've talked with all kinds of B2B marketers. Some of the very best and also some of the very worst. And I've come to be able to collect some of the insights I've learned from these marketers around what's really effective and what isn't and how do the best marketers do their marketing. So that's what I'm going to be sharing today with Janessa. Some of our clients include Intuit, New Relic, Kinvey, and RJ Metrics for our full disclosure.
Janessa: Thanks, Elizabeth and what we do here at our RJ Metrics is we help online businesses make smarter decisions with their data. The way that we do this is we get all your data in one place, whether it's your Launchbit advertising campaigns, whether it's information from Pardot, from Mail Chimp, from Shopify. From Google analytics we take all these sources and put it into an environment where you can start doing things like calculating marketing ROI, tracking customer churn, and conducting cohort analysis.
So that's a little bit about whom we are. So let's get started. We're going to kick it off with two quick survey questions, just to get an idea of who is on the call with us today. So first of all, we'd love to hear the kinds of businesses that are with us. If you're SAS, Ecommerce, or fall into another category. I'm going to give it just a second to let some of these responses roll in. Cool, so it looks like we've got quite a big mix in here. Awesome, cool. One more question. How much are you spending on paid content marketing today? So this isn't necessarily the money that you're putting into developing the content, but more just the money that you're spending on distributing it and getting it in front of a bigger audience of people.
Okay, so it looks like we've got a few big spenders on here and I'm just going to close this. Cool, it looks like that's about everybody. Great, we've got a few big spenders. It looks like most people are in the very early stages of getting started with us, which is perfect. Cool. So let's kick it off. So let's start by just getting a big picture look at what is happening in the content marketing landscape. I always like to start with Google Trends.
So what you can see here is that content marketing isn't new. It's been around for several years. Really you could argue that it's been around since the very beginning of marketing and advertising. But definitely what we're seeing here is a sharp uptick in people talking about content marketing in 2012, early 2013.
Really today, if you work in B2B marketing, you are probably doing content marketing, 91% of B2B marketer's use content marketing and the quality overall is really good. Google's continuing to raise the bar and encouraging marketers to put up high quality content. For the most part marketers are stepping up their game.
I don't know who the 8% of marketers are that don't value high quality content, but I think that these show up in every study. So I just assume that in general about 8% of marketers are just nuts. But even with all this content marketing being created, there's still a desire to do more and I think people are seeing that content marketing is working.
Here are just some of the top challenges that B2B content marketers are facing. The top three, lack of time, producing enough content, producing engaging content and these are all things that we can absolutely relate to in what we're doing here at RJ Metrics. Just like the 58% of other content marketers out there, we are also planning to be producing more content over the next 12 months.
The problem is, is that I think that in the race to produce more and better content, I think content marketers are often suffering from this unstated assumption and it's this. It's that we have this perceived reality that someone out there is looking for just what you have. So it's like if you can get the personas right and the messaging perfect and we can edit perfectly and optimize it SEO perfectly then people will just be banging down our door to work with us, and this just isn't true.
The reality looks something a lot closer to this and it's just that people are really busy and while they might really need your product and service, they probably don't really know it yet. We all are busy and we have a lot to get done in a day and usually carefully finding and reading an eBook, isn't at the top of our to-do list. So the point is this, make awesome content. Definitely make more content. Definitely I'm the last person to say that you shouldn't do that.
But we do -- I think content marketers have to give up this expectation that our audience is going to come and seek us out and we have to be actively working to get in front of our preferred audience with the understanding that the content we're creating is good and valuable and useful to them. And we can constantly get in front of them and be aggressive about finding that audience. So here's a really interesting chart.
The way to get in front of this audience isn't just with more content and better content. It's with better distribution. So what this chart is showing is the orange bar here is showing how much the average company is investing in content marketing as a whole. Then the blue line is showing the total content marketing budget that's being allocated to distribution.
What you're seeing is that ad companies invest more in content marketing. They're allocating a larger percentage of their total budget to distribution. The reason that this happens is that the market for people actively seeking your product is limited. So in our case we sell business intelligence software. And the number of people searching for business intelligence software and Googling every month, there are only so many people doing that.
The market for people who don't know what your product is and what you can do is so much bigger. And the very best way that you can increase the ROI of your content marketing is to move past the people who are looking for keyword specific searches. And start getting in front of the people who are still completely unaware of their needs. So I'm going to pass it over to Elizabeth at this point and she's going to be talking a bit more about how you can get started building that audience of people.
Elizabeth: Thanks, Janessa. So one of the reasons why Janessa asked me to join her in this webinar is that we work with a variety of marketers and some of these marketers are from very large companies. And as Janessa alluded to some of these big companies know that as they're producing a lot of content, they also need to up their game on distribution. So what I want to share with you are some of the techniques that these larger companies use, so that way you can use these techniques as well, even if you are not a large company yourself.
So let's just cover the basics really quickly. You all know about all these different marketing channels, but they generally fall under three buckets; owned, earned, and paid. So owned channels are channels like you write your blog and people read your blogs or maybe you tweet some content, or maybe you have a number of different landing pages or webpages that are optimized for SEO. These are all channels that you own.
Then there are earned channels. These are channels where you have either viral mechanisms, with perhaps your apps that help bring in more people. If you have a referral program going on with your SAS products, then maybe you just have a really awesome product and you have a lot of word of mouth going on. But these are earned channels.
Then lastly there are the paid channels. These are ad networks, like display networks, search, Google AdWords, social ads, those kinds of things, or any channel where you pay for marketing. So these are all channels you know, but also as you know all three of these channels have their challenges.
Owning your own content and just getting people to organically come is very difficult, it's a crowded space. Getting word of mouth is also extremely challenging and then paid marketing people have a negative reaction oftentimes to ads. You obviously if you're running your business, you want to get your bang for your buck.
So all three channels have their challenges, but let's talk a little bit more about these channels. I think there is this misconception, as Janessa pointed out, that if you write content people will just come and flock to it. In fact, I think in large part the biggest content marketing companies out there give you this notion and that this may be the case.
They don't explicitly say it, but they seem to make their content marketing look so easy like people are just flocking to them and that if you try hard enough you too will be able to do that. Let me tell you this is actually not the case. Even the best inbound masters are just hub spots or MAWS they all use paid marketing to jumpstart their audience.
So let's talk a little bit more about that. So with these three different categories of channels, paid, owned, earned, this is the general strategy. You eventually want to own your audience. You want people reading your emails when you do your email marketing and you want people coming to your blogs. In fact, this past week Rand Fishkin from MAWS did a great post about some of the misconceptions around content marketing.
And a lot of people believe that if you write one really awesome blog post and people read, then all of a sudden they'll buy from you. And in that post he said, "This is actually not the case. People need to read your content over and over." From their studies they've found that unless somebody is reading your content or watching your content over seven times, then people will not yet have enough brand recognition for your company to be able to buy from you.
So that means you need people reading a ton of your content and ultimately the way to get there is to own your own audience. Have your own email lists that you can do email marketing through. Have a blog that people remember to go to. Have people following you on Twitter to see your posts about your next eBook or what not. But to build an owned audience is really hard as we discussed and what the best and biggest content marketers do is they use the other two buckets of distribution channels to boost up their owned audience.
So for example, a lot of these large content marketing marketers from these large companies will use paid channels to drive signups to the eBooks, their whitepapers, their webinars, whatever piece of content it is, they'll create a landing page, use paid marketing and drive traffic to that landing page, get email signups, and all of a sudden you're starting to own your audience. This is what the best marketers do with paid. They're not trying to use ads to drive sales right away. They are trying to build an audience that they can own.
Janessa: Sorry, I skipped ahead there by accident. There we go. To your point, Elizabeth, about what you're talking about. This is exactly how it's played out for us. So here are two screenshots of our blog. One is from a little less than a year ago when we were first getting our feet wet in paid content marketing.
Then one is just the other week and while we're not getting as many tweets and shares on our post today as what we want to, we definitely always want those numbers to be higher. What we are seeing is that we're gaining traction and we're definitely starting to see the results of this. So when we hit publish on a blog post, it's going to our audience and people are sharing and tweeting that and that feels amazing.
Elizabeth: Great. So now I want to chat about "All right, let's say that you want to dip your feet into some paid marketing so that you can start to own your audience. What do you do?" Well, first let's chat about some of the different paid channels. We're going to deeper dive on this and I think there are actually a lot of misconceptions about paid marketing. In that people think that all channels are alike. They're actually not, and the biggest breakdown of paid channels actually is around intent. So high intent paid marketing channels, for example, are paid search or retargeting.
These are channels where people are actively either looking for your product or your solution, or something similar in your space. And they are almost in all cases, ready to buy when they're doing a search for this, or retargeting people are already familiar with you. They've already come to your site. It's just a matter of when they'll come back and buy.
So these people have high intent. The low intent channels are channels such as display ads, like any of the banner ads that you may see on blogs, or mobile ads that you see in apps, or perhaps even ads that you see in Facebook through Facebook's targeting system. Those are low intent channels. People are watering their crops in their virtual farms or they're reading their favorite blogs. They're not looking for you. They may not even know you.
They may not have been aware of your products existence or that they even have a problem right now. So it's really important to distinguish between these two intents. So with that in mind then what that means is you actually need a different customer acquisition process for these two buckets. For high intent audiences, for example, you can more or less just simply put up a landing page as a free trial offer, since these people already have been looking for your solution of some sort.
Then once they sign up for that, then you bring in inside sales and reach out to them and you can pretty easily convert them. Janessa, I know that RJ Metrics does a great job in segmenting high intent and low intent channels. Can you describe your process for how you guys do customer acquisition for high intent channels?
Janessa: So again, what Elizabeth is talking about here really matches our experience. So when we first got started in paid marketing, all types of paid marketing, we were driving people to free trials using Google Adwords. What we found is that Google Adwords, people converted very nicely to free trials. Which makes sense because we were placing ads on things that these people were searching for. So they were demonstrating high intent. We had an ad right there. They converted to free trials very easy.
We have never been able to get people to sign up for free trials from any other channels. So if you're putting ads on Twitter, ads on Facebook, ads on LinkedIn, we've never been able to get people to take that leap. Because to this point, they are demonstrating low intent. So yes, this is exactly how this worked out of us.
Elizabeth: This is something that's very common amongst all of our customers as well. So that's why it's really important to distinguish between high intent and low intent channels. So then diving deeply into the low intent channels and what kind of customer acquisition process you need for those if you were running display ads, mobile ads, social ads, etc., like on LinkedIn.
Again, these people are not looking for your product or your service. So trying to use a free trial as the bait is just not going to work, as Janessa mentioned because these people, frankly just don't even care about your product or your solution. They are not even thinking about it and so it's a very different customer acquisition process here and this is actually the more challenging customer acquisition process that we see a lot of at least our customers really trying to work through.
The best marketers have this process down to a T, and this is what I'm going to share with you right now. What many of our customers who are able to convert low intent channels very well do is they'll create a landing page around some sort of content offering. Again, it could be an eBook, a whitepaper, a webinar. It could be as simple as even a blog post and trying to get sign ups there. It doesn't really matter.
You'll have to experiment a lot with different content offers to be sure. I mean you cannot just throw together one landing page with one piece of content and expect that everything will work out. You'll have to try lots of different kinds of content to figure out what resonates with your audience. Then once people sign up for your piece of content, these marketers will then create some sort of drip email marketing campaigns.
Where perhaps in the next few weeks you'll get an email once a week and maybe that email will continue to teach a perspective customer about a particular either problem or solution that you are actively involved with, with your product. Then finally after a series of nurturing emails inside sales may come in and try to convert the more qualified leads based on who has been reading your content over the last few times.
Again, Rand Fishkin talks this week about how very often people need to see at least seven pieces of content in order to even be remotely qualified. So that's generally what the best B2B marketers have looked for. They try to see who is engaging with their content and then inside sales will come in after perspectives have read a lot of content, and then finally converting those people into sales. So the low intent customer acquisition process is lengthier, for sure.
But the flip side though is unlike say search ads, very often taking out ads and display are a lot cheaper. So it's a longer sales process in general, but it also can be a cheaper process, and so those are the two things to balance out.
Janessa: Cheaper and I'm sorry just to interject. Cheaper and it also gets you in front of a much bigger audience. So you get that whole audience that is searching for your content.
Elizabeth: That's a great point that I forgot to bring up. In search you may find that you are exhausting the keywords that you can. There may not be the volume of traffic for the keywords that you want to bid on, and so it allows you to reach a much broader audience. Great point, Janessa.
All right, so let's say that you want to give this a whirl. Well, one of the common questions that I get from our customers is "How much should set as a test budget for any particular paid channel?" To be clear when I say paid channel, I'm talking about any single paid channel. It could be anything. It could be a particular display ad. It could be a test budget for LinkedIn.
It could be a test budget on Launchbit. It doesn't really matter and people ask "What's that right number?" Of course, frankly actually a number will vary depending on the kind of company you are and the numbers that you have. So more specifically what should determine your test budget for a particular paid channel is the lifetime value of your customers.
Now for some of you, if you are just getting started with your business, you may not know your lifetime value of your customers. And that's perfectly fine, but you should start to get a sense and refine this number over time. And in the beginning if you don't know take your best educated guess. But let's go through a specific example.
Let's say for example that I have a SAS company and the average lifetime value of a customer is $4,500. For SAS actually there are some pretty common rules of thumb and one of the rules of thumb is the rule of one-
third, which is counted actually a lotby David Skok of Matrix Partners. He's a VC and I think four time operator of SAS companies and also Dharmesh Shah who's the CTO of HubSpot. Again, they're also a SAS company.
So admittedly this one-third rule is a little bit arbitrary but what it means is you want to shoot to pay up to one-third the average lifetime value of your customers to acquire them. So in this case, if the lifetime value of our customer is $4,500, one-third of that is $1,500. We would want to spend up to $1,500 to acquire a new customer on average and that's the rule of one-third.
Even though it's a little arbitrary you can imagine where it's kind of grounded. It's rooted in the fact that obviously you don't want to spend more than 100% to acquire a customer because then you'll never have a profitable business. You have overhead in your company that you need to pay for and then secondly especially with SAS companies, you are paying cash up front to acquire a customer, but the payback period will be over the next several months or even years.
So you're putting a lot of cash resources up front and only to make it back slowly and so you obviously don't want to put most of your lifetime value into acquiring the customer either. So that's where the rule of one-third comes from. So in this made up example, we said that we can spend up to
$1,500 to acquire a new customer. Now the other number that you need to know besides the lifetime value number is you should have a sense of all right, if you are creating landing pages for pieces of content.
Because you're trying to utilize some of these nodes and channels, what is an email sign up worth to you? What percentage of email signups to say your eBooks or your whitepapers actually end up converting into actual paying customers? So you may not have a sense of this number yet. Again, it's something that you may want to take an educated guess around, if you are a new company. But refine certainly over time as you get more data.
So in this made up example, let's just pretend that the conversion rate of email leads to sales is 2% meaning that for all the people who sign up for your eBook let's say 2% of those people end up becoming a customer. Now let me point out that there is no number that is good or bad. It is what it is. And with the two numbers that you have, your lifetime value number using the rule of one-third and this conversion rate number, you should be able to determine how much you want to shoot to pay for a lead, an email signup.
So in this case we can run some of this simple math and we said, "We can spend up to $1,500 per customer and it turns that 2% of email signups leads to a sale," which actually means that for every 50 leads, one of them will become a sale. So with that in mind, if one out of 50 leads become a sale and I can spend up to $1,500 to get that one sale, then that means that I will need 50 leads at $30 per lead on average. So that is the number that I can spend up to, to pay on a costly basis. In other words, I'm willing to spend up to about $30 to get a signup and I need at least 50 signups in order to convert one customer on average.
So this is how much you need to spend and I think it's really important to spend enough test budget, to know whether a channel is working. For example, if we decide we only want to spend $100, but we just said that we have this 2% conversion rate, I may not end up converting anybody because I don't have enough traffic coming to my landing page. So that's why it's really important to do this math, and if you guys have questions about this math, we can talk more about that later.
Janessa: Awesome, thank you, Elizabeth. Okay so step four, what Elizabeth just covered is if you do that math up front you can confidently start spending money. Now we're going to get into UTM tagging which is going to help you figure out if the money that you've spent after the fact, if it's working and if you spent it the right way. So this all comes down to UTM tagging.
UTM tagging is what will ultimately help you find out if your paid content marketing is working, so it's really important to do it right. The way we do this at RJ Metrics is we have one giant spreadsheet and then we have different tabs for each channel. So here's just a snippet. We have what you can see here. So we have our medium which is paid advertising. Our source, which in this case, is Launchbit. Our campaign which this is the webinar that you're on today.
So we actually have a few people on the call today who are leads that we acquired through Launchbit, so that's kind of confusing. Then the content type which is webinar, whitepaper, blog posting, or whatever you have. So just a few things. First of all, it's really important to use simple naming conventions. It's like as you add more campaigns, you're adding additional layers of complexity and so you want to keep your naming conventions up front as simple as possible.
Always use lowercase, Google Analytics sees uppercase and lowercase as being two different campaigns. So you will run into a huge analytics headache. Our rule of thumb is always, use lowercase. That way you're never wondering "Is the last time I ran a campaign like this was it uppercase or lowercase?" Finally it's really important to be linking the lead to specific campaign.
So if you're using a marketing automation system, like Pardot or Marketo, this happens automatically. So I can login to Pardot and see how many leads that we're getting from Launchbit from each of these campaigns. So that makes it very easy. If you're an eCommerce store you want to make sure that you're saving this information to your database.
Just another quick tip if you're not familiar with UTM tagging, you can do some more research looking at Google URL filter, and this makes it very easy to actually build these links, this is what you're building. You build this whole tag right here and add that on to your link so that you can track how well it's working.
Bottom line, tag your links. It is more work. It's definitely tempting to fudge it and pick an easy way. But if you don't tag your links properly someone else is going to wind up getting credit for the hard work that you've done getting your content in front of the right audience.
Then step number five is to just get started. Here's a sample of one of our top performing LinkedIn ads. This little guy right here and it's nothing fancy at all. Really what we've found is the most important thing with these types of ads is that the copy on the ad matches the copy on the landing page. If there's any difference there you're going to see a huge hit in your conversion rates. But other than that keep the copy simple and to the point and that's usually all you need. You can do some more optimization later on, but it's important up front to not spend too much time obsessing over the details.
Elizabeth: So bringing this all together I think Janessa has talked about how you can start to tag different campaigns so that you can better measure. I think one of the questions is "What specifically are we measuring here to measure performance?" There are six different things that generally marketers look at that I'm sure you're all familiar with. It's how much you're spending. How many impressions you're getting with your campaign.
How many clicks you're getting with your campaigns. How many of those clicks end up leading to leads for your eBooks, your whitepapers, maybe even your free signups for high intent channels. Then of those leads, how many of them are qualified and then lastly how many customers you get. Now of course, I think the strategy here is to look at these different measures of performance at different points in time.
Ultimately the most important measurement is number six, your customers. However for many companies, it's very difficult to get a customer right now today or tomorrow. Often, especially with the low intent channels, people have to think about it. They have to get used to your brand. They have to read a lot of your content and trust you, etc. and that process can take months, and so to measure number six could actually take you a really long time.
So the strategy here is you generally want to start by taking a look at the metrics around number one, two, and three. Your spend, your impressions, your clicks, these are things that you can measure immediately as soon as you start a campaign. Almost just as immediately you can also measure number four, how many leads you're getting to your landing pages.
So that is what I would look at in the first week, one, two, three, and four. Again, we went through the math around how much you can pay per lead and you want to make sure that you are hitting those goals, at least as a way to keep your campaigns in check the first week. Once you start to do this and you have your campaign going for a few weeks, you may start to notice that some of your leads are more engaged than others with your content.
You can figure out how many qualified leads you get. For many companies this happens over the next several weeks, so again, time period one, two, three, and four look at it within the first week. Number five, look at your qualified leads within the next few weeks, perhaps even in the next couple of months. It depends on the sales cycle of your products. Then lastly look at your customers. So there isn't any one metric that you should look at or others that are a shifting set of metrics over time.
Janessa: Okay so what happens once you've got your campaigns rolling and you've been at this for a few months, what comes next? So we've been doing paid content marketing for almost a year and here are a few things that we're starting to think about for the next steps. The first one is what's the lifetime value of customers acquired through these channels?
And answering this question for the most part it just takes time. So while we know the lifetime value of customers that are acquired through Adwords, we're kind of getting a good sense of what the lifetime value is for customers acquired through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Some of the newer channels that we're testing, Launchbit being one of those channels, we're not sure yet and the reason is just that it takes time. Most SAS companies have a sales cycle that can be anywhere from three to nine months. So it takes time to acquire a lead and then to convert them to a customer and then to see how that account changes and grows over time.
But you definitely want to have that in mind that at some point you're going to want to go back and find out if there was a particular campaign that was bringing in better customers than others. The other one is figuring out what pieces of content are turning paid leads into paying customers. So Elizabeth talked a lot about the importance of getting your follow up right, based on high intent and low intent and a lot of this has to do with timing.
Lead nurturing is really not a one, two, three step process, as much as we wish prospects would just follow those steps because it would make measuring our success so much easier. They rarely do and some people it will take them months and some it will take them a week. But what you can look for is that particular piece of content that is that final nudge into getting somebody to go from lead to customer.
And to measure this, you can have a lot of hunches and guesses about it, there are certainly best practices around what type of content is better at the bottom of the funnel. But the best way to know for sure is to use data and so you have to build up a list. You have to get a large enough sample size that you can actually know with certainty what content pieces are triggering that action. The third the one is a really fun one.
So I showed those screenshots of our blog earlier from a year ago and then today's. Right now what we're working on doing is being able to tie a paid lead to a share and then that way we can start thinking not just about how our paid content is getting us customers, but also how if our paid content is getting us influencers. Somebody was chatting a question, questioning how isn't engaging content the way that you get a response from your audience?
Definitely, you use paid content to get in front of those people and then if they're actually sharing and tweeting, that's a measure of whether you're delivering on that expectation. So being able to measure those tweets and those shares is going to help us get a better sense of that. So that's some fun stuff that we are thinking about for the future. It's definitely an exciting time to be in content marketing and I hope you guys learned a few things.
At this point, we are going to be opening it up for questions and you can ask those via Twitter using the #TweetMyEbooks and we will be checking there. So one question that has already come in and this is for you Elizabeth. Does the rule of third apply even with low intent channels?
Elizabeth: Yes, to clarify that the rule of third is channel diagnostics. So the rule of third is just as that regardless of what channels you use to acquire customers, you don't want to be spending really more than a third of the average lifetime value of your customers. So whether you get a customer through search or through display ads, it doesn't matter. You just want to keep that as a rule of thumb that that's how much you should be spending up to.
Now with regard to low intent channels here, then you can still spend up to one-third of that lifetime value. The question is how much should you be spending per lead based on the percentage of those leads which end up converting to customers. So those are two separate things and hopefully this clarifies that.
Janessa: Yeah, that's really good. We also had somebody asking a question just about what content marketing is. We probably should have clarified that up front. Hopefully you picked it up at this point in the webinar. But just to run through that, content marketing encompasses blog posts that you're writing, eBooks, whitepapers, this webinar is an example of content marketing. So it's this whole universe of educational pieces. So I hope that helps.
Let's see what else we have coming in here. Elizabeth, we talked a lot about content marketing and the universe of SAS companies. Is that typical or do you have any eCommerce customers? Are you seeing more of that?
Elizabeth: So honestly for Launchbit we are focused on B2B companies. So if you were selling to consumers let's say that you have a Shopify store and you are trying to sell iPad cases. That would be a B to C company and we find that in general most people who are doing content marketing at least in our world view are B2B companies. So honestly I am not really sure. If you were running a B to C company whether content marketing works well or not.
Janessa: Got it. Here's another good question. A lot of questions about the rule of third. I think you sparked some interest there. If you are a new business how do you know what is the lifetime value of your customers?
Elizabeth: Yeah, that's a really tricky one. So if you're a startup and you're just starting your business it is actually very difficult and in many cases you may not know the lifetime value of your customers for a year or two, even. So honestly I don't have a great answer around it. But one of the things that I advise startups to do -- and this even applies to my own company Launchbit because we've been around for two years. Some of our customers have been with us from the very beginning.
They're still there so they're spending more money and that lifetime value is still going up. So what I would say though is you should probably take your best guess, especially if you've been around for a few months, then you do have some data. Like for example, if you are noticing that half of your customers have stuck with you all six months but the other half drop off after two, you can average it out, and conservatively there you have a number that you can start to work with.
Maybe it's higher because some of the people who have stuck with you all six months will continue to stick with you, but that's just an added bonus for you. You want to probably be a little bit more conservative than not. So that's what I would recommend for estimating your lifetime values.
Janessa: Perfect. We had another question come in about the typical structure of a B2B content marketing team. I don't think I am the best expert on that. I can tell you how we do it at RJ Metrics. What I would really encourage you to do is to check out Kapost. They are a content marketing software platform and they have some really excellent resources about who you need to build a really successful content marketing team.
So I would definitely say head their way to look at that. We also have a few questions coming in about good ways to promote content. So what are some of the channels out there? Elizabeth, you talked about these in very broad terms and obviously Launchbit is a tool for that. So could you provide some other examples of channels that people could be looking at to do paid content marketing on?
Elizabeth: Sure, so I would start by picking a skew channel. You want maybe three to five channels, if you're starting out. If you're a little bit more established and you have more budget; then pick ten channels. But I would start by making an investment in about three to five channels. In terms of looking at what channels would be best for you, quite frankly it's going to differ from person to person because it depends on your audience.
So broadly speaking if you are a B2B company LinkedIn is a great channel. Frankly I think the clicks are a little bit expensive, but it is definitely worth trying because we've had a number of customers use LinkedIn and find success. So even though the clicks are a little bit more expensive, ultimately like I said, it comes down to what your cost per lead is and then eventually what your cost per customer is and those numbers seem to work out pretty well for our customers. So try that as one channel. It seems to encompass a lot of different audiences.
I would also take a look at different niche sites. So often niche communities if you're in the tech world, folks like Stack Overflow for example, or Reddit. Those are the kinds of communities you want to be looking at. There are definitely lots of niche communities and for all kinds of different audiences.
Then lastly I'm a little bit biased here obviously. But if you're a B2B company I would also take a look at Launchbit and we can help you out. If you have a very specific audience that we can't help you reach, we're also happy to chat with you more specifically about the kind of audience you are trying to reach and see if we can point you to the more specific channel that can help.
Janessa: Perfect, great. We also have people asking for some more resources for learning about content strategy. Elizabeth, you might have some ideas on this as well. If you are in the early stages of getting started with content marketing, I would recommend a ton of resources ranging from lists of stock photo images to the basics of how to write an eBook.
But then you can also look, if you wanted to get more into what other companies are doing, type of benchmarking content stuff, I would recommend the Content Marketing Institute. We've pulled quite a few slides from there from our presentation today and they do a huge study every year on what B2B content marketers are up to. So definitely check them out.
Marketing Props is also a good resource and I mentioned Kapost earlier and how they have some great resources around building a content marketing team. That's K-A-P-O-S-T, Kapost and they also have a lot of resources as well about how to get really good at content marketing.
Elizabeth: I would also check out HubSpot. They often talk about how they do their content marketing as well. I think almost to answer a question from earlier, if you are just getting started with content marketing, a couple of tips we've seen our customers go through this process. We work with a number of startups so many people often ask "I have very limited resources. How do I get started?" So a few thoughts.
One, again, it is really important to test different kinds of content. So if you are going to make any sort of next step into investing in your content marketing process, it is really important for you to come up with at least a couple of pieces of content. By a couple of pieces of content I mean maybe two to three eBooks or whitepapers.
It doesn't have to be long, but you do need a couple of different types of content, just so that you can start to test what will resonate with different audiences. Perhaps it's as easy as even just turning one of your blog posts or a couple of blog posts into eBooks or whitepapers and creating landing pages around those.
You can do that as a one-person marketer. We've seen lots of our customers do that. As you start to make a greater investment in content marketing what the teams end up looking like at the early stages are "All right, you go from being the one marketer doing everything, including this, to coming up with help from outsourced writers." This is a little bit trickier.
There are some companies that help you with this like Scripted is one of them, or you could go to ODesk or Elance and try to find a couple of freelance writers. This is very, very challenging. So what ends up happening is you have your own expertise. You can jot out as the single marketer at your company, perhaps you can jot out your thoughts in bullets and then try to get editorial help from a couple of folks, through these marketplaces to polish your content into good writing. So that can help save you time as you're starting to ramp up the amount of content you're writing.
Janessa: Yeah, that's great. Do you guys at Launchbit have experience doing outsourced content marketing at all?
Elizabeth: We have done a little bit, and again, it's been very challenging. What I've found is that it's very difficult, if not almost impossible to outsource the whole thing, just because you may have very specialized knowledge. So what I typically do, again, we fall under the small business category here as well. What I typically do for content that we write and launch is I will take old blog posts that I have personally written and try to organize them a little bit on some sort of document, and then work with a writer that we find in one of these marketplaces.
Frankly we actually test lots of different writers to check out writing style, like we will often give out the same tasks to several writers to test people. Then the peoples whose writings we like, we keep and continue to work with them on other projects as well and that's how we do it. But again, we don't produce a whole lot of content because we're still a small company. But we do have multiple eBooks, whitepapers, and webinar kinds of thing. I think it's important to test a few different pieces at least.
Janessa: That's great. That's really interesting. Somebody else is asking about which channels are mostly effective. So I can take a stab at answering this. What we've found is that it is very often not about the channel its self. It's about what types of content you're putting on that channel and this really comes down to having a good understanding of what people are doing on a certain kind of channel. So for example, we found that our webinar as on LinkedIn performed very well.
When you think about it, it makes sense. People are on LinkedIn for professional reasons and they see this very professional offer and it's a chance to learn from other professionals, interact with other professionals. It makes sense. So thinking through some of those things can be helpful, but in general I'd say "Don't be too quick to say a channel isn't working." It's often about not having the offer match the channel more than it is just that this channel's garbage.
Doing paid content marketing right it takes work and it takes time. What we've seen is that one day an ad on LinkedIn is performing very well. It's bringing in a lot of leads and then the very next day it'll just turn off because you've exhausted that pool. So you have to definitely stay on top of it and focus on putting out good, engaging content all the time and always making sure that your content matches the channel really well, and that's how you start seeing some results.
Elizabeth: That's a great point. To give you one data point with one of our customers. I can't say the name of this company, but they do a lot of content marketing and they're very good at it now. But when we first started working with them a couple of years ago, they were just starting to ramp up their content marketing.
It took them about eight months of trying different types of content and different channels and trying to get a right channel content match to really figure out, "Oh, okay this is the kind of content that resonates really well with our audience and ultimately leads to conversions to customers." So it will take time. If you are going to invest, just know that it will take time.
Janessa: Yeah, definitely. Okay I think we have answered most of the questions. Feel free to keep entering, asking them on Twitter with
#ReadMyEbook and I will be looking to see if I can answer anything in 140 characters or less. So I think the last order of business is our iPad winner and we have Paige Newberry. So you can just tweet at us or shoot us an email marketing@RJMetrics.com to claim your iPad. Congratulations.
Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us today. This was really good and thank you to everybody who's still on the call. You guys have been an incredibly engaged audience and really good questions, so it was a lot of fun. Thank you so much.
Elizabeth: Thanks, Janessa and thanks to everyone.