On-Target Marketing

May 11 2011   10:07AM GMT

How Fiberlink Uses Content Marketing to Connect with Prospects and Customers

StephanieTilton Profile: StephanieTilton

Last year Fiberlink’s main focus was on traditional management of laptops and desktops. In late 2010, it shifted its focus to mobile device management (MDM) and its bi-weekly, educational-focused webinar attendance skyrocketed. Here Jonathan Dale, Product Marketing Manager, and Joe Pappano, Director of Customer Platform Services, of Fiberlink share insights into how this 200-person strong company uses content marketing to connect with prospects and customers.

1. Who is responsible for Fiberlink’s content strategy?

Two teams within Fiberlink share ideas and develop content. The first is a combined product and product marketing team focused on understanding market needs and setting product direction. The second team, under Joe, is a combination of technical support experts and customer platform services (those who onboard new customers).

On any given day, the product-focused team is on prospect calls with sales, hearing directly the “voice of the customer.” And Joe’s team works directly with sales and customers. We also hold a weekly call between sales, product, and product marketing and always talk about what we need to do to better enable sales. The answer is usually developing new content to better help prospects understand a certain topic. The side benefit is you get validation of your product map!

Plus, our product, product marketing, and customer platform services groups are constantly talking to sales to find out what questions or objections they’re hearing, and how we help prospects better evaluate their options. We also conduct post-mortems on sales wins and losses. This consistent stream of interaction helps us understand trends and these voice-of-the-customer insights feed heavily into the content we develop. There is absolutely no substitute for this type of interaction. It takes a very dedicated, team effort.

2. Explain your content strategy and approach.

We spend lots of time identifying keywords, creating resources, and tracking the performance of our content.

Because MDM is a new and rapidly changing space, people need to be educated so they feel comfortable making a buying decision. Our content is focused on lead nurturing through education, which helps prepare prospects for talking with us.

Our educational approach eliminates the need to identify a lead, and make a cold call to try to set up an evaluation. Prospects will typically attend a webinar, download some content, and then try our software evaluation. Then when sales follows up, they know what content the prospect has consumed and where to start the conversation.

As another example: we exhibited at the Technology Managers Forum in New York and gave product demos. The audience included numerous folks from major companies who said they had attended our webinars. After sitting through our 3-minute demo, they asked for a meeting. If they hadn’t already been educated through our regular webinar series on how we solve industry problems, they likely wouldn’t have made that request. It’s nice to be known as a valuable resource, not just a company that wants to sell you something.

3. Fiberlink offers a wealth of content on its MaaS360 site, including trials/demos, the MaaSters Center featuring a forum, training videos, video and audio webcasts, white papers, case studies, and a blog. How did you determine which content would be best to offer?

We conduct research to understand information and content preferences mapped to the buying cycle. While we’ve nailed this down for prospective customers of our desktop management solutions, we’re still refining this for our MDM market.

From a theme and format perspective, we evaluated what leading companies are doing to attract and nurture prospects and build loyal customers. These best-in-breed companies have a content strategy featuring multiple dimensions and offer a variety of content that is quick, easy to digest. We talked to some of these companies and came up with a best-of-all approach that we thought we could realistically handle.

4. What was the process for developing all of this content?

We now have a roadmap for content. But early on, we had to get employees into the habit of sharing knowledge and asked them to describe how they solve problems, what information they share with customers, etc.

Using WordPress, we launched the MaaSters Center at the beginning of 2010 in stealth mode. We brainstormed the content we thought would be valuable and recruited employees to write it. We focused on simplicity by being loose with guidelines and aligning with people’s expertise. For a few months, we held weekly meetings to review content assignments. We quickly generated a few hundred pieces of content of 1-3 paragraphs each that we posted in the center. We knew we were successful when we saw that people were posting our content on other sites.

We also transformed some of the resources we had used internally or to help our customers into free tools we offered on our site. One of our most popular pieces of content is an MDM glossary that we had originally developed for employees. We came up with a consistent framework for how to market through these resources, such as by pointing users to our trial landing pages, and asking them submit questions and suggestions.

When we started our bi-weekly webinar program, we made a conscious decision to make it different than most other programs by

1) limiting each webinar to 30 minutes at most, and

2) focusing on education instead of sales pitches.

By keeping the webinars to 30 minutes, they’re more appealing for both our subject matter experts and attendees. And because we stay away from a sales pitch, we find that prospects are more likely to sign up for an evaluation. In fact, within two hours of giving a recent webinar, we had 250 of our 800 attendees sign up for an evaluation of our products. After each webinar, we email attendees with links to a PDF of the slides, the webinar via YouTube, and to the Q&A and polling results in our MaaSters Center.

5. How many participate in/visit your online forum?

Virtually all our customers have consumed MaaSters Center content in one form or another. On average, we get tens of thousands of visits per month. In fact, the number of visits grew tenfold from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011.

Part of that momentum is a result of interest in the mobile device management space. But we’re also offering the type of relevant, timely content that people are hungry for.

We also take a journalistic approach to creating our content and respond quickly to significant events. By being opportunistic, we drive more traffic to the site. This opportunistic approach is harder to pull off since you can’t always plan for it. That said, there are some industry events you can plan for, such as when Apple is going to make a major announcement.

6. While your webinars and case studies are free to view, you point folks to a registration form for your white papersHow do you decide which content to gate?

We’re still trying to figure out the right mix. If the content is about Fiberlink and our products, we don’t gate it. If we’ve spent lots of time creating valuable content for lead generation or if we sponsor a third-party analyst report, for example, we gate it.

Recently we’ve implemented progressive profiling via our marketing automation solution. We still need to trim our registration page, but we now can do progressive profiling, which will further impact how we handle registration.

7. Describe your lead generation and nurturing programs.

To ensure that content is relevant to prospective buyers, we map the first three touches of a lead nurture campaign to the source of the lead, whether from a marketing event, outbound rented list, inbound lead from the MaaSter Center or our free tools, or via a Google keyword search or LinkedIn ad. After these initial touches, depending on a variety of factors – including how much information we have about a lead, lead score, and purchase intent – we enter these contacts into 30-, 60- or 90-day campaigns aligned with our core products.

While our ultimate goal is to get leads to sign up for a free evaluation or trial, we don’t push those as our primary offer. But we always include those options as a secondary offer.

We are continually engaged in an internal debate about this, wondering if we’re missing out with this soft-touch approach. That’s why we balance an educational offer with a secondary offer, so prospects know how to reach us when they’re ready to talk.

8. You maintain a presence on Twitter, facebook , and LinkedIn and you maintain a blogWhen did you get involved in social media and how did you determine the best strategy for doing so?

We’ve had a presence on Twitter and facebook for the past 12 months and are still trying to figure those channels out from a B2B angle. We mainly use them to spread the word about our free tools and press releases, and industry news not directly related to us. In one instance, we tweeted about a tool and someone reviewed it and it was accessed by thousands within a couple of days, so the promise is there.

We post relevant, educational information on LinkedIn groups. For example, we recently launched a new free tool targeted to those who administer Microsoft Exchange. We posted about it on Exchange-related groups on LinkedIn and it ended up being the most popular post on a few groups for the week.

9. You conduct polling on your site and blog. How do you make use of the data you collect?

We’re stunned by how much reuse we get from our polling data. We carefully think through the questions, asking Fiberlink employees what’s important to find out or what we think others will want to know about.

We blog about results from the polls we run in our webinars, on our site, and in the MaaSters Center. We also share the results with analysts and reporters. Here you can see we share the results in a blog post. After making certain editors aware of the post, we were invited to submit a byline article to one trade publication.

10. How do you measure the effectiveness of your content?

Ultimately, we want to determine how our content contributes to revenues.

We review weekly stats for site visits, page views, and average time on site. We use heatmaps of our site to see what people find interesting and when we change our site, we monitor these heatmaps to see how site visitors respond.

We also track how many times each piece of content is accessed, the registration rate, how much time people spend with our content, and the exit rate after consuming our content. If we see significant interest in certain content, we try to figure out why. Similarly, if certain content isn’t popular, we’ll remove or alter it.

And if we’re running PPC ads, we measure click-through rates.

We capture open rates on email invitations and the sign-up rate for webinars. Based on webinar attendance, we can project how many people will sign up for an evaluation.

It’s challenging to piece all of these measurements together but that’s what we try do.

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  • Samuraiwriter
    re #7: "We are continually engaged in an internal debate about this, wondering if we’re missing out with this soft-touch approach. That’s why we balance an educational offer with a secondary offer, so prospects know how to reach us when they’re ready to talk." The answer to that question would be very useful! Do Fiberlink use multivariate testing as a way of honing in on what works best re these types of offers?
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