In a recent Content4Demand webinar, Research Campaigns: Tell Stories With Data for “Campaigns in a Box, we shared a great deal of information about how Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing at TrustRadius, used research campaigns to identify and target specific new audiences. Last week, we recapped the first half of that webcast, discussing how Allyson set those campaigns up for success.
In our previous post, we recapped the first half of that webcast, in which Allyson spoke with Brenda Caine, VP of Content Strategy at Content4Demand, and Alexis Carroll, Content Strategist at Content4Demand, about how she set those campaigns up for success.
According to data from the Content Preferences Report 2022 from Demand Gen Report, today’s buyers rank research and survey reports as the most valuable sources for researching B2B purchases.
Today, we’ll focus on the many ways those research reports fueled TrustRadius’ campaign strategy for an entire year—in everything from public relations to lead-gen campaigns and bottom-of-the-funnel content.
When do you start doing content ideation? How and when do you plan your derivative content?
Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing, TrustRadius:
We do our marketing planning in six-months-or-so sprints, if you will. When I think about it, I think about, again, what is the message that we want to put into the market? What are these key themes that we want to put out into the market? What are the pieces of content that are going to support that? Then I think about distribution channels.
Everything I do from a marketing perspective is in an integrated fashion. I call it our integrated marketing strategy. This report was created long before I came to TrustRadius, but we did it in a very different way than we’ve done it in the past. In the past, it was just one gated piece of content, and they used it for demand gen. It was living in a silo.
I thought, “This is our opportunity to really insert this thought leadership into the market and then have everything we do really ladder into it and use the data to solidify what we’re trying to say and really build credibility with the B2B marketers,” which is who we sell to. When we built out the report and we started working with Content4Demand, it started right away.
You can’t just have a report and then not think about the entire content strategy from the report. Don’t let it live in a silo and say, “Great, we have this piece of content. Let’s gate it and let’s put some paid media behind it. Okay, we’re done.” It really should be like, “Here’s the story that we’re trying to tell.” The report is just a part of that.
The other thing that we did is [used all these graphics] in social. It fed our entire organic social strategy, and it continues to. It fed our entire blog strategy. We built entire email cadences off the report. It all starts with your core message that you’re trying to put onto the market, that story arc, how the report supports that. Then your content strategy should be at the same time as the ideation for the report. Because, again, if you’re not creating that story that you want to push in all your other channels, then there’s not really a point to doing it. Think about it like that. It should be an entire integrated marketing strategy.
Alexis Carroll, Content Strategist:
Feeding the beast of social media and blogs can be exhausting. If you know up front that you’re going to be producing content for that, then it actually takes some of the stress off of the entire marketing department.
When we’re working on ideation for reports, I usually want to think through what else we want to accomplish. What kind of people are we reaching and what kind of content is going to best speak to that? Now, after you’re done with the report, you may go back to that ideation and say, “You know what? We could also be creating a webinar with this. We could also be adding in different levels,” but I think that having that planning at the beginning and having the buy-in from everybody in leadership that that’s what you’re going to do with this report helps get a lot more flexibility and resources put to it on the front end.
Alexis, I remember when we were talking about this, this is not only demand-gen assets. I’ve been talking a lot about the demand-gen side of the house, but we use this in our PR. We are pitching this to media. We’re using it for SEO and backlinks. Try not to live in just that one-dimensional world of, “This report is going to do X, Y and Z.” It just expanded our entire marketing strategy and really fed it from PR all the way to bottom-funnel demand-gen content.
One of the things that we did that I thought was really creative from my team is we created a blog format out of it. This is where we got our SEO, the backlinks and just the overall awareness of the report, and then we had a downloadable asset as well that then was the demand-gen and lead-gen component.
It doesn’t have to just be the PDF or the interactive PDF or whatever. We opened it up as well. You get the best of both worlds from an awareness standpoint. You want the eyeballs on it—as many eyeballs as you can, but then you can also have that lead-gen component as well. The possibilities are endless. Opening up your frame of reference and not just putting it into one bucket is really important, as well.
Brenda Caine, VP of Content Strategy:
I’m starting to see that this is several campaigns in a box, not just one. That’s such a good point that you don’t have to limit it just to your demand-gen campaigns or a specific campaign. You can use it all over your business to really support the story that you’re trying to tell.
Why did you choose in this case to collaborate with an outside agency on this project rather than doing it all in house?
There are a couple of factors. Like I said, having a new perspective, having some help in terms of being creative and thinking outside of the box, and getting help with the survey. Also, bandwidth. If you think about agencies and why they’re so—I love agencies. I’m a big, big fan of agencies, because you can scale up, you can scale down. It really helps you as an extension of your core in-house team.
Our research team had a lot of other things on their plate. There was a bandwidth issue there. I was pretty new to TrustRadius at the time. I was looking for some external help. When you look at it from a bandwidth perspective, and also just to get that fresh perspective, an agency just seemed like a great call. It was awesome collaborating with this team.
I think they also help you on the campaign piece. The social—working with them on the graphics and, “Great, we’re going to use these graphics in the report, but we’re going to use it for social,” and having that extra help to build some of the other pieces of content was awesome. It’s not just the report that you guys helped us build, but it was like, “Hey, we need these social graphics. We need X, Y, and Z.” The team was super helpful with that. Expanding what you can do besides just within your in-house team.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have marketing and then research in house partnering with us, because we had so many different perspectives and we were able to check each other on, “Is this data valid? Does it compare to the other things that we already know?”
The other part of it that is really magical is, TrustRadius has been doing this research and reporting, but since they had not been leading with it, we know that they’re thought leaders in this space. Now everyone knows.
In order to have the bandwidth to do that, having an outside team to collaborate with makes a big difference. But again, it all boils down to, the more brains you get into the room, the more effective your final product is going to be. The story makes more sense. The way that you communicate that story makes more sense.
Then you get the ideas of, “Oh, wait a second. We did this with another client. This is what was successful for them,” or “Let’s not touch that with a hundred-foot pole because we are afraid of what we’re going to uncover there, or it’s not going to necessarily get us the results that we want.” We always love working with our clients on things like this.
How do you decide which content formats are the best? Are there instances where it's important to use interactivity to explain some of the data?
Interactivity has a whole lot of benefits. I think most exciting is that when you’re having the user drive their own experience, they’re creating their own adventure. They’re the ones that are really diving in. It’s easy to draw yourself into a rabbit hole if the information is good. I think an interactive experience is digitally interesting and a little bit different and can really draw whoever is reading it into the information that is most suited to their needs.
Rather than saying, “Okay, well this piece of content is really excellent for CFOs,” you can have one piece of content that is really strategic messaging for a whole host of different audiences all within one space. I love that. I think that is great fun.
We also see that people are still reading reports. That narrative is important. When they’re looking for thought leadership, it makes sense for it to be in report format. It adds some credibility. We still want to have that, but this is the beauty of having the “campaign in a box” idea is, you can go ahead and take any approach you want and just reconfigure the way you’re sending out the report and messaging—regardless of which stage of the buyer’s journey and which audience members you’re trying to reach.
I totally agree. You have to think about, who’s your audience? How do they learn? How do they like to consume content?
With a lot of the visuals that we had, if you’re more of a visual learner, the graphics are there. But we also had a lot of that narrative in there as well that really leans more toward the media side of the house, their PR. They want to read a lot of it. They want to cite a lot of that content. Just make sure that you have a variety in there for how people want to consume content, because that’s just going to get you more of those eyeballs, more people digesting it, and the holy grail, really.
We reached out to a ton of B2B marketing influencers and got the report to them. The more that they want to share it and quote it, the better. And you want to make sure it’s interesting, make sure that it is shareable. You want to have those quotable things in there. That was something that we really paid attention to when we thought about the structure of the report.
We were at a conference and we saw people that had taken screenshots of some of the graphs. We realized we could have created a media kit around this so people could build it into their presentations.
One of the other things that we did that was really creative is, we do these executive business reviews with all of our customers. We put a lot of the data into slide format. We could tell our customers, “Here are the trends that we’re seeing.” It leads really great into, “Here’s your business review of your partnership with TrustRadius.”
We used it in a bunch of our sales conversations. We also enabled our customers to use it. A few customers wanted to talk about buying trends and they thought that this would be a great session for their sales team. We built stock slides for them and distributed that to a lot of our customers, and they used it as their sales kickoffs.
Just think about that when you’re thinking about the report and the structure of it—the shareability—because like I said, that only really starts to solidify you as a thought leader when people are using your research, especially in a presentation, especially externally. It’s super helpful to really put that stake in the ground.
I want to add one thing that I always love about interactivity. If you have an interactive piece, you can track engagement of your audience with the piece. If you want to see what part of the asset are they engaging with, where do they drop off? That can also give you a lot of insights into your market.
Any final comments before we wrap up?
Your report doesn’t have to live in a silo. It can be a part of your entire integrated marketing strategy.
Don’t be daunted. It may be an enormous value to you. We can partner and work step by step through it, and you will be surprised at how not only is it really painless, but how much you learn about your own organization and your own buyers through doing this process. It’s absolutely worth it. Just make sure that when you dive in, you’ve got the team around you that can help you get there.
Holly Celeste Fisk is an accomplished marketing pro with 20+ years of experience in B2B and B2C. She’s responsible for Content4Demand’s internal marketing efforts, managing everything from content creation and email marketing to events and sponsorships, blog publishing, website management and social media presence. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sliding into third at softball, buried in a book or practicing her Italian.