Thought Leadership Interview: Ardath Albee Shares More Secrets to Content Marketing Effectiveness

Ardath Albee’s section of The Quintessential Marketing Automation Guidebook shared several     approaches to help you Use Content Intelligence to Drive Pipeline Momentum. I recently caught up with her to collect a few additional tips you’ll find useful for improving your content marketing programs. CD: Can you talk a bit more about how to use questions to generate right-time content?

AA: There’s actually a series of 10 steps you can use to make this easier.

  1. Select a target audience, segment or persona.
  2. Identify a priority problem these buyers need to solve that your offerings address.
  3. Put yourself into their shoes as much as possible before you start generating questions. Remember that it’s about their perspective, not yours.
  4. Start brainstorming questions they may have about the problem. Make a list.
  5. Once you have your list, organize them from early stage questions to later stage questions. When you do this, you’ll see that certain questions must be answered first to provide the knowledge that spawns the next questions.
  6. Take your list to sales and have them verify that the questions you have are indeed relevant to your prospects and ask them to add any others they’re hearing out on the street.
  7. Take this consolidated list to several customers who’ve solved the problem and ask for their feedback on relevance and order.
  8. Create your final list.
  9. Determine which formats will help you build momentum. For example, are there 3 questions that create a lead-in for a bigger piece—like a whitepaper, eBook or webinar? Are there others more suited for a casual tone and shorter form like a blog post or 2-minute video?
  10. Now, take each question and draft content that answers each question. Are there different angles you can take to create several versions based on differing perspectives?

CD: How can you use lead activity as a sign to extend additional content offers?

AA: Transitions are a great time to add an additional content touch. What I mean by this is if the prospect has read 3 articles about why solving the problem is important, this may trigger an automated offer for content that discusses approaches for solving the problem. If they respond, they’ve just moved into research mode—that’s forward progress.

Another way to approach this is if the prospect has registered for and attended a webinar. What additional offers can you make to attendees given the information the webinar exposed them to?

Think about what would be a logical next step given the content they’ve interacted with to date. One thing to be careful of is overdoing additional offers. Be careful about the frequency and don’t push them faster than they want to go. This is something you’ll be able to refine with practice and by monitoring response.

CD: How do you convince salespeople to use content developed by marketing after the handoff?

AA: Marketing automation can be the key to convincing salespeople that the content you’re offering them is actually working. If you’ve involved them in the process of developing the buyer questions (see question one, above) they’ve already had some exposure to how leads are being engaged. At the handoff, provide them with an overview of lead activity that includes recommendations for content that continues the story you’ve already been telling them. Show them which questions—that they agreed to—the content is answering.

Over time, as you follow leads from generation through to closing the deal, you’ll be able to point to content use patterns that show your content’s ability to influence and drive progression across the buying stages. Plus, with evidence it works, you’ve just taken a load of administrative work off your sales reps plates.