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Best Practices

3 Tips To Whip Your Content Strategy Into Shape And Get Results

Today’s society is a health-conscious one. People work hard to keep their minds and bodies in shape whether through meditation, yoga, kickboxing, or Crossfit. Regardless of the form it takes, a healthy habit will only stick when solid strategy, proper form, consistency, and a set of achievable goals are put in place. After all, buying a gym membership won’t produce results if you never actually go to the gym…

The old adage “if you don’t use it, you lose it” applies to marketing as well. You develop scores of quality, well-intentioned content to educate your customers and help guide them along their path to purchase. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars go into creating this valuable content; however, it often ends up hiding on your website or resource centre in the hope your ideal buyer will find it – which they often don’t. This is what’s called a “passive” content experience… the couch potato version of content marketing.

The good news: there’s a workout regime that can whip your passive content into shape and guarantees results–it’s called “content activation”. Content activation is like Crossfit for your content marketing strategy. It ensures all your amazing content is doing the job it was created to do–educating buyers and helping them progress through their journey.

How National Instruments used content activation to fix a passive content problem area

National Instruments (NI) accelerates the development and performance of automated test and automated measurement systems through an open, software-based approach. The products we produce enable forward-thinking companies from all over the world to get their job done faster and exceed their goals. And it’s our job as marketers, to make sure our content sends this message in a seamless, educational journey.

You can’t leave an ab roller in the basement and expect someone to use it

If you have something useful for someone, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to use it for its intended purpose. Originally, we weren’t seeing the content engagement we wanted because we weren’t delivering it to our customers in the best way possible. There were a couple reasons for this:

  1. Developing content to educate prospects on such a wide variety of very technical products has its challenges. Previously, we were delivering content via one-off emails and as part of multiple nurture streams a la a spray and pray approach–trying to get several pieces of content to different verticals in the hopes they would open, download, and read.
  2. Our social team could only post individual pieces of content with landing pages and the content wasn’t optimized for mobile despite the fact that the majority of our traffic comes from mobile.

We needed a better way to serve prospects content and measure their intent by focusing more on real engagement insights and less on a ‘hope and a prayer’. We needed to get our amazing content out of the proverbial basement and get it to start working for us and yielding results.

Do you even activate content, bro?

When we discovered content activation, it was like finding a perfectly designed, fail-safe workout regime for our content. Using PathFactory’s (formerly LookBookHQ) Content Activation Platform, we started putting our content into content tracks. The tracks allow us to deliver a higher volume of content to our database with a single email since there is always a clear next step for the prospect–they will never experience a dead-end. We also incorporated content tracks into 2 of our multi-touch nurture streams to deliver more content per click.

So now, when a prospect clicks the CTA in an email…

National Instruments Guide to Smart Test Trends Report download prompt, beige blue and yellow on a white background

they’re led to a content track containing multiple pieces of content so they can self-educate at their own pace:

Blue and Grey example of a PathFactory Track, with National Instruments branding

We began with 2 higher-funnel campaigns that were less product-related and more focused on industry trends and thought leadership: Automated Test Outlook (ATO) and Trendwatch.

We translated the campaigns into 10 languages so they could live on different localized versions of ni.com and we distributed the tracks across multiple channels–website, social, email, newsletter… you name it! This way, viewers always have a relevant ‘next best asset’ to consume so it’s easier to binge (consume more than 2 pieces of content) in a single session.

Considering the majority of our visitors are on a mobile device, it was critical to develop a mobile-responsive version of the ATO campaign to provide customers with a seamless and frictionless experience. Activating social content allowed us to tailor copy and target social posts to specific accounts and industries, rather than just sending them to the main campaign page.

Put in the work, get results

Like a 30-day boot camp to get beach ready, content activation seriously whipped our content into shape! Our campaigns are tighter, healthier, and have more longevity than ever before.

Targeted content tracks allow us to deliver a higher volume of content that we previously could with one-off product emails sent to our database or social campaigns leading to dead-end experiences. Our prospects also have the freedom to consume content on their schedule (not ours) and at their own pace (also, not ours).

But let’s look at the numbers:

  • The rate of content bingeing grew 1779% in only 2 months (no, that’s not a typo)
  • The ATO campaign generated higher lead-to-MQL conversion than any other program within the same business unit
  • For both the ATO and TrendWatch, we have binge rates between 40% and 65% across all of the localized versions

Results like these are within your grasp. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your content and campaigns.

4 tips to whip your content into shape

1. Fail to plan, plan to fail

The key to a successful workout plan is just that: The Plan. The same applies to developing a rock solid content activation strategy. Before you jump in, you need to think carefully about your goals, the resources you have available, and how you’ll measure your progress.

  • Do a content audit. Make sure what you have is relevant and informative. Don’t be afraid to update or retire assets, or even produce more when necessary.
  • Look for new ways to use existing collateral. Are there opportunities to repurpose assets? For example, turn a whitepaper into a blog post or combine separate testimonials into a one-pager of quotes.
  • Be as strategic as possible. Think critically about what content makes sense to group together and the logical order a customer would consume it in.

Content activation doesn’t require a huge arsenal of content. Even if you have just 12 pieces of content in your library, there are hundreds of thousands of combinations you can use to create to craft different journeys for different buyers.

2. Flex every muscle

If every day was arm day, we’d live in a world full of Popeyes… so like any good routine, make sure you’re flexing all muscles.

  • Promote your content across multiple channels. For a truly well-rounded campaign, try to meet your prospects where they live – and tailor the type of content accordingly.
  • Use the right equipment for the job. Ensure your buyer’s journey is fully paved from top to bottom of the funnel. Use the right type of content to help customers educate the best way possible. That could look like top-of-funnel blog posts or ROI calculator and case studies at the bottom.
  • Test as many channels as you can. This way, you can discover where your target audiences is most active and interested.
  • Constantly iterate. Continuously improve your marketing mix based on which channels are performing best/worst

3. Step on the scale at regular intervals

As with any new regimen, you need to know if what you’re doing is working. Measuring results can be the most fun (or frustrating), but it’s necessary.

  • Set benchmarks. Before you begin, make sure you know what ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’ means to you so you can answer the question: How is my content performing today?
  • Select a few, meaty KPIs to measure. Avoid vanity metrics like clicks and form fills and focus on Engaged Intent – which people consumed your content, for how long, and how much more sales-ready they become as a result.
  • Test, test, and test again. A/B test help you prove your hypothesis and set better benchmarks down the road.

Your content is amazing and can do wonders to educate your prospects and move them along in their buying journey. But no matter how amazing your content is, it’s not powerful in a passive state. Our content activation journey at National Instruments taught us that content activation is a lot like having a personal trainer for your content. It gives you the best foundation to help you whip your content marketing into shape, and generate more meaningful engagement from better-qualified leads.

Written By
Jill Stachura & Tiffany Mueller
Jill Stachura is the Senior Global Contact Nurturing Platforms Manager and Tiffany Mueller is the Global Contact Nurturing Campaign Manager at National Instruments. National Instruments Corporation, or NI, is a producer of automated test equipment and virtual instrumentation software.

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