Third party content postings can be a great way to bring life into the top of your pipeline. The programs get quick results, are easy to kick off and often are highly customizable to get just what you need. Here are some tips:
- Before you start, set an objective, particularly on revenue predictive metrics like number of meetings and opportunities. These objectives will help you calculate how many raw leads you need to meet your revenue goals and what you can afford to spend on each lead. If you haven’t got any history to help you figure this out, make your best guess and use this day forward as a chance to test and validate your benchmarks. Don’t skip this step and be tempted just to go for a huge number of leads.
- Next, get very specific about the target audience you want. Which companies are most profitable for your company? Break that down into selectable attributes like geo, company size, industry and titles. If you have other criteria (a certain tech stack, area of interest, number of engineers or recruiters, etc.), note it down. If you have a named account list, grab it as well.
- Now document that audience and reach out to potential programs. Ask them to share how they are going to be able to meet your goals and if you can filter leads to just what you need. If you don’t, you may just get proposals that focus on quantity. If you only sell in North America, ask for a geo filter. If your product is only appropriate for Enterprise, ask to filter to companies with 1,000 employees or more. It may mean you are paying a bit more per lead, but an unusable lead doesn’t help your ROI and will ultimately will waste more resources in marketing and sales.
- That doesn’t mean you have to eliminate any programs that don’t offer lead filtering. For almost every client, I have a favorite where they don’t provide any lead filtering and they work great – they just charge less. Normally, these programs focus much more on the topic or industry like Heavy Civil Engineering, HR or DevOps. So, if the programs aren’t pricey, test them knowing you’re going to get things like non-corporate email addresses or respondents that aren’t in your geo. Just take those leads out before you nurture them or send them to sales.
- Need ideas on where to find programs? Think like a prospect and see where you’d go for information, education and events. Look in your inbox and see what industry publications you’re getting, especially if any have ads from your competitors. Ask everyone in marketing to forward you every email they got in the last few months offering sponsorships or leads – maybe someone is trying to sell you something smart! And check out your press list. If you want coverage from a publication, you probably want your content there too.
- To pick programs, set them in priority order of those that you feel have the most promise and run a test. Not all programs work – some deliver leads slowly, some provide unreliable data, some are just too pricey. Most vendors will let you run a test program for $10 or $20K. When you test, track all the way down the funnel before you pick your winners.
- Watch for how leads are generated. In my experience, leads where the prospect takes the initiative work best – clicking an email link or responding to an ad or website posting. I’m wary of telegenerated leads. While a lot of publishers use outbound calls to bring leads in quickly, often the prospect doesn’t remember the asset – they just agreed to get content to get off the phone. It’s not a deal breaker, but track any leads that are telegenerated by performance and what your SDRs have to say when they make follow up calls.
- For content, focus on top of funnel content – the type that addresses the pain your product solves. Things like “State of”, “Top Tips” and “Dollars and Sense” usually pull well. Sales oriented content like data sheets, sales assets and pricing usually don’t. You can always send those once someone has engaged. You need 3-5 pieces of viable content to kick off a program and while it needs to be polished and professional, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Take a great blog and rework it as a one or two page PDF. Or take the deck from a webinar and create an infographic. And if you have some choices, ask the publisher of the program to tell you what they think. They know their audience best.
- Before you get the first lead, have a plan in place for what to do with them. Most of the time someone who downloads a piece of educational content isn’t ready to get a call from sales. Consider putting them into nurture offering content that follows their pain points to warm them up before you send them to sales.
- No matter when they go – when they’ve engaged with content in nurture or right away, prep sales. Be crystal clear on what the program is so there isn’t a misunderstanding on how warm the leads are. A content download is not a “contact us” form, so a follow up isn’t going to be the same and conversions are going to be lower. Sync with sales right after they get the first batch or two to get anecdotal feedback. Often this is your first way to see if there’s a problem with the program.
- Track your results and compare the return to your objectives and use those results to determine whether a program continues. Always have your next experiment queued up – new vendors, new content, new titles, etc. since those learnings will ultimately be what supports a tight and effective program.
Not sure of how to start? Let me know if I can help!