Content marketing: Trigger conversations, achieve conversions and create customers

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Recently I presented at BtoB's Digital Edge Live Conference about Tellabs' content marketing. You can find my presentation here. Tellabs focuses on three steps in content marketing:
  1. Surround the customer with content
  2. Be thought-provoking
  3. Turn content into conversions.

Surround the customer with content.

Wherever customer eyeballs land, we want them to find our content in the channel they choose. We work to deliver a clear, consistent, relevant message about how we can help them succeed.

We aim for compelling content that wins the battle for customers' attention. To advance our message, we employ an array of media.

Customers decide which content is best, so we must compete with trade media on editorial quality. That's why we hire well-known telecom reporters to write Tellabs Insight magazine.

We circulate Insight through trade media, electronically and in print. For example, trade publisher Total Telecom distributes Tellabs Insight across Europe.

Total Telecom's top 10 downloads of 2011, compiled by Nielsen NetRatings and audited by BPA, showed that:

  • Total Telecom reporters wrote 2 of the top 10 stories.
  • Tellabs Insight reporters wrote 2 of the top 10 stories.
  • No one else had more than 1 story in the top 10.

The Tellabs iPad app, which includes Insight and our annual report, is fun and user-friendly. It links instantly to our tablet-friendly website, blogs, videos and more. We offer a print version of Insight because print improves readers' focus on content.

We tell our story through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, blogs, e-mail newsletters, speeches, events and tradeshows. We maintain dialogues with news media, bloggers and industry analysts. News releases offer prominent, embedded links to videos, blogs, infographics and white papers.

To attract customers to our website, we employ search engine optimization, e-newsletters, advertising and promotions, social media and third-party content from news media and bloggers.

White papers pull customers in, especially when they address basic questions. Our “Why 4G?” white paper is top-ranked in a Google search of “why 4G” because it speaks to a specific customer pain point.

Make your content thought-provoking.

Thought leadership is no longer enough. Customers expect companies to bring them insights into their pain points and ideas to improve their business. That's a key to making the challenger sale.

Our thought leadership begins with executives and experts who speak publicly. For example, Tellabs' CTO Dr. Vikram Saksena recently spoke at Mobile World Congress on how mobility and cloud computing will converge to improve the user experience.

We work with industry experts and analysts to develop trend stories that look several years ahead. Such stories deliver the insights that customers crave. For example, we released a study that showed mobile operators could reach the end of profitability in 3 years.

How could our customers' profitability end? Because average revenue per mobile user is flat, but mobile data usage is up due to tablets and smartphones. Higher usage means higher capital expenses, so profits get squeezed. Obviously, our customers wanted to see this study, all the way up to CXOs.

A newer study showed mobile operators that by building smart networks and offering smart services, they can double their cash returns on invested capital. Higher returns potentially lead to a higher stock price, which CEOs and CFOs find compelling. Such studies generate inbound calls from potential customers we'd never worked with before.

That's why we believe that content needs to go beyond thought-leading to thought-provoking.

Convert content to conversations to commerce.

As we share content to start a conversation, we work to stimulate soft conversions. Soft conversations include viewing a video, reading a blog or magazine article, or subscribing to our blog or magazine.

To trigger hard conversions -- when customers go through a registration page to obtain content -- we offer white papers and e-books. Drawings at trade shows also drive hard conversions.

Overall, Tellabs' conversions have tripled in the 12 months ending in February. 

As a next step, we score inquiries and pass “A” leads to the sales force for follow-through. We incubate B and C leads with relevant content until they're ready to engage with sales.

Driven by content marketing, we cultivate leads, build a sales pipeline and generate revenue. We recently achieved our first LinkedIn conversion to revenue, a six-figure sale.

In the end, what counts the most is high-quality content that triggers conversations, drives conversions and creates customers. The ultimate measure is revenue.

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