If there is anyone that can leverage a rock and roll metaphor for content marketing, it’s Jason Miller @JasonMillerCA, Senior Manager, Content Marketing at LinkedIn (LinkedIn is a TopRank client).
And at the first ever Minnesota Search Marketing Association Summit, he did not disappoint.
Content marketing can often seem like a never ending sea of songs, and only the best tunes emerge as a hit. To separate the harmony from the noise, companies need to start with a content strategy that begins at the top of the funnel. With high-level and in-demand concepts, marketers can attract customers in droves, like fans to GnR show. Attracting attention and creating demand at the top of the funnel will keep your content tour rich with new fans. But how?
In his presentation at the MnSummit conference, Jason Miller provided attendees with the answers to how and more.
The current situation
Miller argued that the current content experience can be best compared to Times Square during rush hour — in other words, a complete mess. Content is regularly churned out without much connection to the buyer journey, and serves little function other than initial customer attraction.
This is the stasis stage of content marketing, where content is created merely because it’s required. No marketing initiative should linger in the stasis stage for too long, or else the company will quickly appear irrelevant with the audience.
Relevance is key
The key to better top-of-funnel content isn’t quantity, but relevance. “We don’t need more content — we need more relevant content,” Miller said. “The data’s out there — we just need to create a personalized journey for the buyer.” LinkedIn needed to change its perception as an online job resume, so the Marketing Solutions team worked to create top-of-funnel content promoting their identities as content marketers.
Miller referenced some helpful words from MarketingProfs’ Ann Handley. Getting to relevance requires stepping into your customer’s shoes. Innovative top-of-funnel content should be useful, enjoyable and inspired — will your audience get anything from the content, will they be entertained or enlightened, and will they be inspired to take further action?
Starting with the blog
Miller argued that your organization’s blog serves at the main gateway for content production. The blog is the social media rug that ties the room together (to borrow a reference from The Big Lebowski), and unique blog content should reach every aspect of the top-of-funnel buyer journey.
Miller’s content metaphors shifted from rock bands to food types, where he highlighted the various blogging food groups that make up their weekly content strategy. Miller’s team assigns a different food group for each day — with varying levels of “filling” content:
- Monday: Raisin Bran, Spinach — Content that is east to dish out, including How To posts. This content starts the conversation light and doesn’t overwhelm the early-week worker.
- Tuesday: Meats — This content is slightly denser, focusing on thought leadership connections.
- Wednesday: Roast — This is your “Big Rock” content, where most of the research and effort are directed. Miller cautioned attendees not to write these pieces like instructional manuals, but rather as strategic posts that direct users toward the next stage of the funnel.
- Thursday: Tabasco — You can start a little fire heading into the weekend, challenging readers and pushing against regular assumptions.
- Friday: Chocolate Cake — The fun stuff
The beauty of this metaphor is that these concepts don’t need to be wholly original — you can take one piece of content and create five different meals from it.
Make the most of your meaty content
If you’re sitting on a wealth of bottom-of-funnel content (white papers, I’m looking at you), Miller argues that there are multiple ways to re-purpose that content:
- Initial white paper or eBook (Big Rock content)
- Social amplification
- Visual amplification (SlideShare, which Miller argues is “one of the most underutilized tools for B2B”)
- The blog (add interactive elements where possible)
The buyer journey rarely starts at the bottom of the funnel, so content created at the bottom shouldn’t stay there — bring it up to your attract-level audience as well.
How do you know it’s working?
Data drive the content creation process, though certain data provide better insights. Miller argued that marketers should avoid the “vanity metrics” and orient their tracking strategies to focus on:
- Non-branded keyword referral traffic: This helps determine whether someone is reaching your page without typing in your company name to get there. Miller argued that non-branded is more insightful than branded, as it means your audience is actively searching for campaign-related terms instead of just your company’s name.
- Social Engagement: How will you amplify your content, and get the audience to do the same? This strategy should be developed before any content is created or curated.
- Higher quality leads: It’s definitely possible to gain high-quality leads with top-of-funnel content, provided you outline a direct path for users to follow toward a reasonable conversion point.
Miller concluded with the essential top-of-funnel perspective: People want to be entertained, and businesses want to harness the new audience for quality leads. It’s not as difficult as you might think — and this is the level where you can experiment to find the best content for your audience.
Here’s the full presentation deck from Jason Miller:
For more information from the MNSearch Summit, check out this post and this post too from other members of the TopRank Online Marketing team. You can also download the entire digital marketing keynote presentation from Lee Odden here.
Top photo credit: @MnSearch