Case Study: How to Double Organic Sales Leads with a Content Marketing Refresh

Case Study: How to Double Organic Sales Leads with a Content Marketing Refresh

04 September 2020

In only 12 months, EveryoneSocial used content marketing to increase its sales leads by 10-15%.

By taking a holistic approach to content marketing, EveryoneSocial is getting a big payoff for its investment of time and effort: a significant uptick in organic b2b lead generation. The program has been so successful, the company is adding another sales rep.

EveryoneSocial is a software program and app that makes it easy for employees to serve as brand advocates on major social media channels.

Employee advocacy is “the promotion of a company by employees who share their support for a company’s brand, product, or services on their social networks.” When done well, it helps lead quality, recruiting, and close rates for sales teams.

The goal of employee advocacy is to “inform, educate, and engage” potential clients by serving as “employee advocates.”

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The primary goal is long-term results, building the kind of brand awareness that will position EveryoneSocial as a reputable voice in the employee advocacy space.

In a B2B market with big competitors (LinkedIn and HootSuite) and a small marketing team (of one), the immediate need was to replace the haphazard approach to content generation. To build a system that puts the right content in front of the right people.

Todd Kunsman—the sole member of EveryoneSocial’s marketing department—had a difficult, two-part challenge:

  1. Position EveryoneSocial as a leader in the employee advocacy space.

  2. Be seen as the premier solution—even when compared to the solutions offered by much bigger competitors such as LinkedIn.

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Todd Kunsman of EveryoneSocial

His efforts over the past year have made significant headway.

EveryoneSocial now ranks in the top five results for “employee advocacy” searches on Google, and organic search results have increased over 100% when compared to the same period in 2017.

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Kunsman shared his process with us for refreshing the company’s approach to content marketing, which includes everything from developing content ideas and SEO strategy to promotional work and metrics.

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5 Steps to a Content Marketing Refresh

As the first traditional B2B marketer at EveryoneSocial, Kunsman was essentially starting from scratch. He used his previous agency and freelance marketing experience—with companies such as IBM, Treehouse, and others in B2B tech and SaaS—to his review what marketing resources were available.

A combination of existing blog posts, white papers, case studies, and sales materials contained some great information. So, he chose to use posting—blogs, guest blogs, forums, etc.—as the starting point.

Step 1: Review Existing Content Marketing Materials

An analysis of the EveryoneSocial blog posts receiving the most traffic was Kunsman’s first priority. One of the most popular, written in 2016, still drives a significant amount of organic traffic every month: Your Definitive Guide to Snapchat.

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The traffic numbers are great, but Kunsman also noticed that the post didn’t generate a lot of demo signups or any leads.

It’s the “right topic” (social media) but the “wrong audience” (consumers), he told us.

Some other posts had topics that were better targeted to EveryoneSocial’s ideal customer, but they were too short—sometimes just 200 to 300 words—didn’t include any lead magnets, or had large chunks of text.

Nearly all were missing attention-grabbing headlines and adequate metadata. All of these elements combined meant EveryoneSocial had a lot of opportunities to improve results from organic traffic.

Kunsman also learned from blogs he likes and follows—such as Moz’s blog—which he studied for advanced SEO tips.

“I looked at what others were doing in either my space or just blogs that were well written, well done,” he said.

His guidelines for updating old posts and new content read like a simplified guide of content marketing best practices:

  • Word count target of 1,300+

  • Break up large paragraphs to add white space

  • Include visuals (images, bullet lists, etc.)

  • Add link magnets to related EveryoneSocial content (case studies, guides, etc.)

  • Include a call to action (CTA) in the body of the post and at the end, but not in a way that changes or interrupts the narrative

  • Use SEO best practices such as adding target keywords in subheads and completing the metadata for every post

Step 2: Revise and Repurpose with SEO

In addition to strong headlines, new material was added to each short post.

“Obviously, you don’t want to just make things up and just add fluff for the sake of getting to a certain word count,” he said.

In the process of expanding the basic posts, Kunsman was easily able to incorporate frequently searched keywords for a quick SEO boost.

At first, he relied on Google’s Keyword Planner for keyword research. But the most effective tools for identifying the best words turned out to be Moz and Google Search Console. In addition to words getting a lot of search activity, longtail keywords and new keywords that were just starting to gain some traction were also included.

“Whether it had a lot of search volume sometimes wasn’t even the most important factor,” he said. “The most important element was that it didn’t have a lot of competition.”

This approach creates the opportunity to take early ownership of keywords before they become popular.

SEO research with Ahrefs for keywords also proved helpful, and it was a good way to check out what his competition was doing. This intel helped with crafting the best metadata.

Finally, as recommended by Moz and other SEO thought leaders, he added several internal and external links to each article. This also met the criteria of giving readers what they need—access to more information. Linking to other EveryoneSocial posts that expanded on the content created a web of connections that directed readers to additional information and helped Google find related content on the EveryoneSocial site.

Lead magnets to guides and other resources had to be unobtrusive to avoid interrupting the flow for the reader. They also needed to augment the adjacent copy to inspire the reader to click.

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Kunsman supplemented this copy with “repurposed” content from some of the company’s marketing resources, which—at the time—were mostly being used to educate potential clients about employee advocacy.

These immediate fixes quickly upgraded the content assets on EveryoneSocial’s blog—and it laid the groundwork for developing new content by identifying information gaps.

Step 3: New Content Ideas

Before writing anything, Kunsman needed a strategy for choosing and prioritizing what content opportunities weren’t being taken advantage of.

The company’s number one priority for content marketing was to qualify sales leads, giving Kunsman a clear target for his content marketing efforts.

“The sales team has had so many conversations with big companies,” he said, “They’re talking to all these marketing and sales leaders. I went to them and asked about what prospects were looking for, what challenges they believed our software could solve. Those ideas generate a lot of good ideas for blog titles, content topics, or what we might be missing.”

Kunsman took those ideas and turned them into a spreadsheet with a vast amount of information about the companies asking for demos:

  • Main job titles

  • Client pains

  • Greatest challenges (beyond the reason for the demo)

  • System requirements

The client success staff—employees helping existing clients solve problems on a daily basis—augmented the perspective with the end-user experience:

  • Job titles

  • Day-to-day responsibilities (sales, marketing, etc.)

  • Problems that needed to be solved

  • Wish-list items

An additional source was the list of people downloading resources—details from the lead forms and the most-downloaded and least-downloaded materials:

  • Which titles get more downloads? And by whom—sales or marketing?

  • What trends are reflected in the subject matter of the guides downloaded?

Reviewing content on competitors’ websites also provided a wealth of information. The topics they covered, especially those they handled poorly, were gaps waiting to be filled.

Kunsman used all of this information to develop new personas—one for sales, marketing, HR, and corporate communication—to better define the target audiences for which he develops content.

Step 4: Creating New Content

With a huge amount of research completed, Kunsman went to work, updating existing posts and creating new articles to better educate and attract prospects to the EveryoneSocial site.

One example of what the finished product looks like is Six Ways to Get All Employees Active in Social Media Marketing

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Step 5: Brand Promotion and Guest Posts

Once the initial phase of blog post updates was completed, Kunsman started looking for opportunities to promote the brand via guest posts.

Some publications allow backlinks to the author’s company site. But even those that don’t permit linking are worth pursuing, according to Kunsman.

“Of course I want a follow-link if I can get one, but if they don’t give me that, it’s fine. We’re still going to generate traffic from it,” Kunsman told us.

Every share, link, and comment builds brand awareness. And articles that educate readers can build a positive reputation while driving organic searches.

In addition to guest posts, Kunsman also started posting content to sites like Business2Community, which further expanded EveryoneSocial’s exposure. He also regularly uses Quora, LinkedIn, and Facebook groups to promote content.

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The Payoff: Sales Leads

Knowing lead generation would need time to build momentum, Kunsman set clear expectations for the sales staff: 5-6 months before consistent growth would occur.

He also uses specific lead qualification criteria to make sure sales only gets the best contacts. Here’s how Kunsman has set up this process in partnership with the sales team:

Demo requests: Go directly to sales.

Primary company targets: Notify sales of the activity.

Industry targets: Track activity. When the frequency of visits increases significantly and the downloads and page views focus on sales-related topics, a “you might want to check this out” ping goes to sales. Sales can also cherry pick leads from the list if they see someone they’re targeting.

Not-on-the-radar: Track significant activity and focus areas.

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The threshold of activity for most of the leads is a judgment call, but the content that grabs attention is a leading indicator. Those who only look at the Snapchat post are not high priorities, but those reading the post Is Your Current Advocacy Solution Not Delivering Results? are worth exploring.

The process is working, and in the last 12 months, EveryoneSocial has doubled both organic and sales leads.

At the end of our interview, we asked Kunsman what he thought was the biggest key that helped him drive results.

“Consistency,” he told us. “Content puts our brand in front of people, whether they click it or not, and that’s the point I think a lot of people miss. It doesn’t matter if some of your content doesn’t drive a lot of traffic, just keep posting.”

“Eventually, people will start to notice.”

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