Congratulations! If you’ve followed us this far into our summer Content Marketing Hack series you’ve learned who your prospects are and how to talk TO them, not AT them.

Next up, how to develop a brand persona that is relatable, compelling and shareable.

Why bother with such an exercise? Isn’t content marketing just about getting good content published online and into the hands of your customers and prospects?

Content marketing is definitely about ensuring you have the right content in the right hands to help support your branding and sales initiatives. Yet without some kind of brand personality, you will always struggle to connect with your audience in a meaningful way. Without a well-defined personality, your brand may struggle to stay top-of-mind when the time comes for a buying decision.

So how do you go about making your brand personality more memorable?

Say hello to your customers!

Maybe you have done your buyer persona homework, maybe not. Frankly, however, the best way to figure out how your customers talk is to, well, talk to them! That’s a no-brainer, right? Actually you’d be surprised at how many marketeers never get a chance to actually meet and talk with real live customers. One way around that is to have your marketing team (or at least your main writers and or editor) travel to meet clients at trade shows, conferences, seminars and other places where your customers hang out. By mingling with customers, your marketeers will learn how to strike the perfect balance of tone, style and industry lexicon in everything the write for your brand.

Do they eat queso or fromage?

Do most of your customers come from Paris or Paris, Texas? How you create your brand personality partly depends on whether you should be talking more about local topics of importance or those which are strictly related to an industry. Even if you service an international clientele within a niche industry, nothing stops you from personalizing your brand with occasional references to your local surroundings. For instance, both Paris and Paris, Texas have an Eiffel Tower, but only one has a big red cowboy hat on the top. Guess which one?

Risky business

When creating a memorable brand personality you have to be willing take risks. I’m not suggesting you say something outrageous or offensive. That’s a sure-fire way to hurt your brand reputation. On the flip side, however, you should not be too timid or afraid of taking a controversial position on a topic of importance in your industry. Say, for example, you’re an IT security company focused on the mid-market and the majority of competitors are pedaling solutions made for larger enterprises with deep pockets. Let the world know you think the SMB market is taking it on the chin, not getting value for its IT security investment. Just be prepared to back up what you say with facts and figures or you may find yourself out on a shaky limb in the middle of a storm.

Wonder Woman saves the day

Part of making a brand memorable involves drawing on relatable topics ranging from pop culture to trending business topics. Is there a point you can make relative to your brand and the new Wonder Woman movie to appeal to a variety of demographics? Not all of your blogs need be a boring read for starched-shirt MBA grads. Quite frankly, many of today’s MBA grads grew up on Pokemon, Marvel movies and social media apps. So use your golden lasso to spin out a few references to the newest Marvel franchise.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Brand personalities, just like our own personalities, are the culmination of many different experiences and experimentations. We didn’t come into this world fully formed, so don’t expect your brand personality to be perfectly developed and articulated overnight. The key is to keep at it, building your brand personality layer by layer until you have a marketing masterpiece.

Hire an editor

A key part of creating a memorable brand personality is finding an editor with lots of experience either in the field of journalism or content marketing. An experienced editor will ensure your content meets your brand guidelines and is well-written and free of common grammatical mistakes. An editor can also help craft a strong brand voice from scratch all the while managing content writers and keeping your content creation on schedule.

Make it conversational

One way to get the attention of your audience and make your brand stick in their minds more is to make it a conversation. The tone and sentence structure of your writing can make the reader feel like he or she is included in your content as opposed to feeling like an outsider. For instance, using words like ‘you’ and ‘us’ can make a reader feel you’re writing about him or her. Also, using short or incomplete sentences makes your content feel more like it’s a back-and-forth dialog. Heck, even the occasional slang term or curse word (only for the right audience) can go a long way toward making your brand relatable, sharable and entertaining.

Lights, camera, action!

Video is fast becoming a key part of the brand marketing mix. With the explosion of live video channels and social media platforms like SnapChat, companies have more ways to create a unique brand personality than ever before. Not every company, especially ones focused on B2B technology, should be concerned with Facebook live and SnapChat. Nevertheless, video helps drive traffic, increase time-on-site and improve search engine rankings — a powerful trifecta in a digital marketing economy.

If your brand persona looks more like a page out of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, then why not give us a shout? We can create the perfect voice for your emerging brand, one your prospects and customers will enjoy following and sharing.

Content marketing should talk TO prospects, not AT themOur second post in our Content Marketing Hack series involves how to talk to your prospects, not at them.

A common content marketing mistake made by B2B businesses is that they create content for the sake of creating it. We’re not saying that having fresh content on your website is bad. Quite the opposite. A good content marketing strategy underpins an effective SEO strategy. Search engine algorithms like fresh content on a website. It’s the digital equivalent of a pulse, a sign of life that can be indexed and shared based on relevance to keywords used in organic search.

But creating content for search engine algorithms ignores your most important end goal: Converting prospects into leads and gradually moving them farther down the sales funnel until your sales team can close them. That’s a big reason why we’re not fans of letting SEO (and, frankly, SEO agencies) dictate the approach to content marketing.

But how about getting the best of both worlds? How do you win at the SEO game while also setting the hook on prospects who visit your website?

Here are a few items to keep in mind when figuring out how to talk to your prospects, not at them:

Understand them

Last week in our first content marketing hack we wrote about how to get to know your prospects and their needs. Often this takes the form of buyer personas — traits you’ve observed about your customers and how to aggregate them into accurate and predictable customer archetypes. Once you understand who they are, what their pain points are, and what their information needs are, you can do a far better job at creating the content that satisfies their needs.

“Life is like a box of chocolates”

Another trick to talking to to your prospects is learning how they talk. No, we don’t mean whether they talk with an accent or talk real slow like Forest Gump. It has far more to do with understanding your prospect’s role inside his or her company and at what altitude he or she views the company. A C-suite executive will want to see the 30-thousand foot perspective, themes addressing how your solution or product will improve the efficiency or revenue potential of the company. If you sell an XaaS (anything as a service) solution then you should avoid delving too deeply into the technical weeds when sending a case study or newsletter for her consumption. On the other hand, a UX research professional in all likelihood deals with nitty-gritty issues in the trenches of design and really cares more about how he can improve the overall user experience of a website or app. A blog post that stresses how to incorporate user research into sprints will be right up his alley, and you can cram in all the technical terms you want.

All this is to say that you should know who you are creating content for well before you begin. You can accomplish this by creating an editorial calendar listing all of your content pieces (blog posts, case studies, white papers, product videos, etc.) and mapping your buyer personas to each one. This approach will help you avoid creating content for only one buyer persona, a common trap many B2B tech companies fall into. By courting only one buyer persona you risk losing the interest of other buyer personas, and in the process losing out on other potential leads. Also, by knowing who you are targeting beforehand, you will know what stylistic tone and theme to stress, and what kind of buzzwords to use.

[Caveat: While customized content that serves the needs of your various buyer personas is critical, it should not be done at the expense of your company’s overall brand. We recommend consulting with your brand guidelines to ensure you are not veering off course.]

Home sweet home

Just about anybody can write copy. But not everybody can write it well. And fewer still can write it so that it seems like a story you just have to read. A good storyteller can add the right embellishments to make your copy engaging, impactful and even captivating.

Wait, B2B tech copy that’s captivating? Absolutely! It all depends upon the buyer persona and nature of the content piece. For instance, a blog can and should endeavor to be captivating. It can entertain even as it informs. It’s perfect way to show off your brand personality and clue new website visitors into what makes you different from the competition.

Just about any tech company would benefit from having a copywriter on staff who can turn a phrase just so. Many B2B professionals may tend to be left-brained by nature, but they too can appreciate a well-written post, one that conveys the essential ideas in an authentic way. There’s a reason why we like a home over a hotel. Both have beds, showers and TVs, but a home reflects who we are and what we want around us. A good copywriter will know how to turn a dull blog post into something that can read like somebody really gets us, knows our pain points and maybe even our sense of humor or outlook on the world.

Drill, baby, drill

This isn’t about opening up the Arctic to the oil companies. It’s about staying on message and consistent in your production of content. The editorial calendar we discussed above can help you stay on course with your message and content output frequency. Both are essential to keeping your prospects coming back for more information over time and ultimately converting into customers.

Follow the leader (of the pack)

The longer you stay in business, the greater the chance your offerings will change with time. That also means the prospects you should be talking to will change. Don’t forget to review your buyer personas annually to ensure you are communicating the right messages with the most appropriate style and format.

If your business has gone from working primarily with SMBs to servicing large enterprises, it may be time to rethink your previous brand personality. The larger the average organization size you serve, the more you have to pivot your content marketing towards a higher professional standard capable of passing the scrutiny of 7-figure decision makers. It’s not that execs at global enterprises have lost their sense of humor or that your content will fall on their reading list with any regularity — in truth, it may never be read by them. Rather, it’s because an entire organization takes its tone from the top and striking the right chord with the top dogs will resonate with the rest of the pack.

If you build it they will…

This is the moment of truth. If you have built your content marketing strategy around the advice we have given over the past two posts then you will enjoy the results you seek: More website traffic, more leads, more engagement in all of your marketing channels. If all you hear are crickets chirping, then you may need to review your buyer personas and overall content marketing strategy to ensure you’re on the right track. Just keep experimenting and watching the results on your analytics app as well as the quality and quantity of leads entering the top of the sales funnel.

If you need help mapping out your company’s content marketing strategy, feel free to shoot us an email at info(@)manzercommunications dot com.

content marketing: know who your prospects areOur first content marketing hack is about knowing who your prospects are. So, do you know who yours are?

And why is it so important to know who your prospects are for your content marketing strategy? After all, you’re in business, you have customers, and perhaps you have seen impressive growth. Your blog gets decent traffic, you hold webinars, create occasional white papers and have kept up with social media. It’s all good, right?

Here’s the rub: If you are looking to improve on that growth and make it sustainable over time, you will have to know who your prospects are and how to talk to them (not to mention keep them interested!). Especially if you hope to stay top-of-mind when they are ready to make a purchase.

Without a proper understanding of who your prospects are you run the risk of committing one or more of the following mistakes:

  • Not knowing their true needs and wants
  • Not knowing what role each prospect plays in the overall customer journey
  • Not knowing what content they need at each stage in the sales funnel
  • Not knowing the most effective writing style, format and call-to-actions

So how do you go about learning who your prospects are so that your content marketing lands more punches and helps your sales team rack up more sales?

Name, rank and serial number

One way to learn who your prospects are is to obtain as much information on them as possible. Start by asking any new website visitor to join your newsletter contact list by installing lead capture software on your website landing page and blog. Just ask for a name, email and company name. Asking for too much info at this stage risks scaring them away. It’s a good start and you will get more information from them over time.

You can ask for more contact details from people interested in downloading a white paper, webinar or other content asset you have featured on your website. Because these are typically middle-of-funnel (MOFU) leads, it’s reasonable that you ask for more information: Name, title, company name, email and even a few lead-qualifying questions like organization size, specific industry, etc. Just keep in mind that the more fields you have, the fewer the responses you will get as people are generally reluctant to give out too much information about themselves, especially if they are TOFU or MOFU leads.

Talk to your current customers

This approach is often overlooked, in part because it’s so obvious that we forget it’s an option. It’s also because the marketing staff in many technology companies rarely have direct contact with clients. Fortunately, you can get some of this information directly from a CRM app. Other details, such as what kind of information they prefer to consume when it comes to content related to your industry, will probably require the help of an account manager. These answers will go a long way toward helping you understand your prospects and deciphering their unique needs. If possible, consider setting up one-on-one interviews with 1-3 key contacts at several different customers to get a fuller picture of who uses your product or service and who was involved in the customer journey and when.

Buyer Personas

Developing buyer personas are absolutely essential to understanding who your prospects are and how to communicate with them. We could devote an entire blog post on how to create buyer personas for your company but for the sake of brevity we’ll just focus on the highlights.

The key to building accurate buyer personas is to come at it from a variety of perspectives. For starters, follow our point above on talking to your customers and cataloging as much information on the different customer contacts you have. You can also consult your CRM for any notes about customers, including what they bought, marketing information they downloaded, webinars they attended, special notes a salesperson may have taken. Don’t forget to layer in personal demographics such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education level
  • Geographic location
  • Key pain points or issues faced
  • Other pertinent information you can come up with (e.g., trade or business publications they regularly consume)

Finally, develop as full a persona as you possibly can with the information at hand. To personalize it even more, consider giving your persona a name that is somehow reflective of a specific archetypal buyer persona and tell a story about that person. For instance, if you sell sophisticated financial reporting software utilizing AI to predict future capital investment requirements for a company, then you may decide to make a persona called Frank the CFO, Carol the Controller and Antonio the financial analyst.

Antonio could have been your first point of contact at the client as he may have been tasked with finding a solution to the company’s growing reliance on spreadsheets and homegrown programming. Once Antonio found your solution, he probably shared any information he obtained — case study, product information, white paper — with his boss, Carol the Controller. Perhaps he and Carol signed up for a webinar on predictive analytics and how to build them into the annual capital budget. Later, once it became clear your company was a true contender to solve their particular capital investment problems, Frank the CFO may done a bit of his own snooping around by downloading a case study, reading a couple of blog posts and scanning some customer testimonials.

At the end of the day, the needs of each buyer persona will vary based on the role they play at a company. Antonio is stuck in the weeds and bears the brunt of the work. He works late massaging spreadsheets and praying his homegrown visual basic coding doesn’t crap out as he struggles to hit the quarterly capex forecast deadline. Carol is Antonio’s boss and probably pulls out her hair trying to hit the deadline and make sure the manual process delivered accurate results for her report to the CFO. If the forecast is an epic fail, her reputation is on the line. Finally, you have Frank, who wants accurate reports to ensure he’s not stuck asking for more money from the CEO and Board because his team underestimated the capex needs of the company for Q3. Frank wants to know his team has this process on lock-down and that his negotiations with banks and shareholders won’t be impacted by a bad forecast.

Word to the wise: Have your account manager review the buyer personas to make sure it squares with what he or she has observed when working with the client.

Lead Attribution

Lead attribution continues to be a hotly debated aspect of demand generation and digital marketing in general. When did the client first hear about you and make contact? Was it at a tradeshow booth when a ‘passerby’ picked up a product slick but never left a business card? Could the client have run across a LinkedIn Pulse post made by your CMO then delegated the early research to an intern? In other words, it’s a challenge to know with 100% certainty how a prospect first heard about you and even made first contact.

While it’s far from an exact science, lead attribution does help you zero in on what parts of your content marketing strategy are driving actual leads versus ones that are dead zones. Be sure you add a “How did you first hear about us?” to contact forms for MOFU and BOFU content pieces, as well as ensure your sales staff know to ask it and, if necessary, prod the client to verify the source of the first contact. Most clients may simply respond with, “Oh, the Internet.” The problem with that answer is that there are numerous ways to find a company through the Internet — Google AdWords, referral sites, retargeting, organic search, etc. Don’t be shy about pushing for detailed responses. It will pay off in the long run.

Website Metrics, Analytics and Trends

Google Analytics can be your best friend when it comes to determining how prospects behave on your website. Although it’s not the best analytics tool when it comes to pinpointing behavior of identifiable prospects on your site, it can still tell you a lot about your prospects, specifically what information they tend to consume the most. Your blog is an especially effective content marketing asset when it comes to discovering what topics generate the most traffic and engagement. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to test call-to-actions, develop your brand personality and speak to your different brand personas.

At the end of your research, you will know exactly who your prospects are. You will know what kind of content appeals to each and why. You will know where in the sales funnel they tend to enter and how instrumental each one is in the overall customer journey. Because you know who they are and are speaking ‘directly’ to them, they will find your company relatable, trustworthy and a clear favorite for their business.

If you need help decoding any aspect of your prospects are, feel free to shoot us an email at info(@)manzercommunications dot com.

 

content marketing on vacationEven though there will be plenty of vacationers hitting beaches, hiking trails and theme parks this summer, it doesn’t mean your content marketing should take a vacation too. After all, content marketing serves multiple purposes for a business, which means it should be consistently maintained throughout the year. Failing to do that could lead to negative repercussions well into the fall and winter.

Here are five reasons why you should keep your content marketing working tirelessly through the summer:

Search engine rankings may suffer: Search engines don’t take vacations, which means your blog should stay hard at work all summer long. While your blog is not solely responsible for your search engine rankings, it does play a key role. Even if you blog just weekly, your search engine rankings will benefit more than if the blog sputters its way through the dog days of summer.

Newsletters lose steam: Content marketing comes in all shapes and sizes. Newsletters make up an integral part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. To be effective, newsletters must go out on a consistent frequency, if only to stay top-of-mind among your audience of prospects, customers and followers. Since newsletters are your chance to share your latest company news and drive interest in your new products and services, don’t miss out on this opportunity to keep the inbound marketing tap flowing all summer long.

New inbound leads dry up: If you are not careful to mind the ‘content marketing store,’ you could see your rate of inbound leads begin to dry up by the end of the summer, causing a nasty dry spell in the fall when you’re team is back and ready to work. At the very top of every B2B sales funnel is a sieve. If you don’t continue to nurture those early-stage leads, then they will fall eventually fall out and go somewhere else.

Your reputation suffers: Like it or not, we are judged based on the little things, such as showing up on time or following through on promises. When a lead is drawn into your sales funnel, it’s the reliability of the content marketing engine that carries the biggest load when it comes to establishing your initial reputation — that and an effective PR campaign. If you send out newsletters, ensure they remain at the same high-level of quality your audience expects to receive. If you hold webinars, keep them engaging and full of valuable insight. Whatever content marketing activity you engage in, just be sure to satisfy your customers and prospects as though it were a revenue-generating service.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: That’s right, even the rules of physics apply to content marketing. In this case, Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Translation: If you let your content marketing lapse for any period of time, it will have a greater probability of staying that way. In other words, don’t stop or you may not start back up again. Avoid this from happening by keeping your content marketing machine in motion for the entire summer.

Looking for a content marketing strategy to keep your business booming all summer long? If so, drop us a line at info(at)manzercommunications.com.

Deep summer in B2B tech marketing brings to mind those classic seafaring movies about whaling schooners and man-of-wars that suddenly hit a long patch of hot weather.

Perhaps your own company’s summer sales doldrums feels the same way? Like a once-animated ship now sitting listless in a dark blue ocean, white sails hanging lifeless, an impossibly bright sun beating down on the deck. With water running low and the precious rum stores under lock-and-key, the ship’s crew is put under incredible stress. Grumblings from below deck begin to bubble up, hinting at mutiny or the search for a convenient scapegoat (sailors were a superstitious lot). Eventually the ship nears a breaking point.  At the brink of the crew’s heat-induced madness, a gust of wind blows life into the topsail, lifting the crew’s spirits and setting the ship back on course.

Okay, maybe your company doesn’t go through such a perilous downturn every summer but the slowdown of summer is real for many smaller tech companies. And many of those companies put their own version of the ship’s stores under lock-and-key.

As you enter this summer, I recommend that you avoid the same draconian measures as those memorable sailing movies — the bosun handing out 10 lashes, mutinous crew clapped in irons, etc.

Instead, make a plan to keep your content marketing busy working for you. It’s the equivalent of keeping a bored, listless crew hard at work swabbing the deck, mending the sails and scraping away barnacles.

I’ll post something later this week on how to ensure your content marketing does not go on summer vacation with the rest of the world. After all, you never know when a hot prospect may be lurking in those deep, calm waters waiting to surface and give your company a record haul.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech digital marketing & PR agency specializing in integrated digital marketing & PR for tech businesses in 2009. Feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.

 

In the not-too-distant past, only the largest companies in the world used to be able to receive global PR support for their various initiatives.

That’s because it almost always came in the form of expensive budgets provided by large, multi-national agencies with offices around the world.

Now, thanks to PR & Marketing networks formed by smaller, nimbler agencies, even tech startup companies like our newest customer, DRONE HOPPER can get localized support at a trade show in Dallas thousands of miles away from its home in Madrid, Spain.

We promoted DRONE HOPPER at the XPonential conference last week. XPonential is an international trade show dedicated to promoting and introducing applications of drone technology to a wider array of industries.

We learned of DRONE HOPPER thanks to Art Marketing, a Spanish agency and member of our global Associate Agency network. The Spanish drone startup is developing a first-of-its-kind firefighting drone platform that could make fighting wildfires a safer, more efficient process than it currently is.

A full functioning prototype of the drone will be available as a demo on the American market in July, with a full production version available for sale in fall of 2018.

[A picture of the DRONE HOPPER prototype.]

We helped DRONE HOPPER turn XPonential into a success through our package of trade show PR services, which included:
  • Message design
  • Copywriting of press alert and press release
  • Spokesperson coaching
  • Pitching and follow-up of journalists
  • Media monitoring
  • Social media coaching

[Fire Rescue 1, with 630 thousand monthly unique visitors, was first to publish news of DRONE HOPPER’s attendance at XPonential.]

There were two categories of media that matter to our client: the first responder press and the UAV press. Outlets from both categories hopped on the story. Here is a sampling of media coverage we were able to obtain:

Congratulations to DRONE HOPPER for its successful trade show appearance!

white paper

Is your company looking to leverage its next trade show with an integrated marketing and PR strategy?

Download our comprehensive B2B tech trade show guide for valuable insights and helpful tips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcasts have turned mainstream over the last couple of years. According to a Pew Research Center survey in 2016, 21% of all Americans over the age of 12 listen to at least one podcast each month. With the proliferation of podcasts also comes an abundance of opportunities for podcast ads and sponsorships.

The price of podcast ads on the top shows can run up to $100 CPM. For mid-tier podcasts the cost can run up to $50 CPM. The cost of podcast advertising is pretty steep compared to a lot of advertising alternatives such as social media banner advertising (on average $1- $4 CPM) and magazine advertising (on average $8 – $20 CPM) (check out Chron for more information). On the other hand, the specialization among podcasts allows for an efficient targeting of audience segments.

Here are some tips to help you out if you want to take the plunge in podcast advertising or sponsorship.

Pick the right show(s)…

Do your homework and make a careful pick of the show(s) that are right for you. This is less about chasing numbers of listeners and more about reaching the right listeners. If you are on the verge of advertising in a podcast you have never listened to yourself, you should hit the pause button. You’ll be far better off if you are already familiar with the podcast to ensure it is consistent with your advertising goals as well as brand image and ethos.

but avoid (perceived) conflicts of interest

Sponsoring a show that brings news on your industry might seem tempting at first, but there are reputational risks involved. People who listen to the podcast might come to wonder if the people who produce the show are fully independent in the way they cover the industry and, more specifically, the role you play in it. In other words, this kind of sponsorship always comes with the risk that people think you are trying to ‘buy’ your way into favorable coverage. A recent Wired article addressed the issue of sponsorship conflicts of interests. It cited an example of a freight shipping company that sponsored a podcast covering the Port of Oakland and how this represented a challenge to the (at least perceived) editorial independence of the podcast producers. In other words, occasional advertising comes with much less risks of such independence perception problems.

Apply a direct response strategy

There is a reason why there are so many direct response ads that run on podcasts. With this type of advertising you can measure the return on investment of your advertising spend much better than using the traditional metric: downloads. After all, a download does not accurately measure how many active listeners there are or how many hear your ad (as opposed to skipping it). Building in a call-to-action at least provides you a way to measure a podcast ad’s reach and effectiveness. Consider taking it a step further by using a dedicated landing page to more accurately measure traffic generated by the ad or use a coupon code as a special offer to the podcast’s listeners.

Hone your message

A podcast host will typically not read ad scripts verbatim on air. He or she will use your bullet points and turn that into something that has a more organic feel to the show. A podcast ad broker will be able to help you hone your message. The tried-and-true laws of good advertising also apply to podcasting: think outside-in, focus on the benefits of your product or service and add a sense of urgency to your offer.

Evaluate and redirect

Will you spend thousands and thousands of dollars on podcast ad campaigns only to evaluate the impact of your campaign twelve months later? We hope not. Some shows might prove to not be a good fit, but you won’t know unless you are monitoring the key metrics you assigned to measure the initiative. Perhaps you went astray with your messaging or failed to make your call-to-action enticing enough? Continuous monitoring will tell you when you are hitting the mark or need a mid-flight adjustment.

 

As a marketing communications agency for B2B technology companies, we pride ourselves on knowing a few things about building optimized landing pages.

We recently ran across a webinar landing page that we thought would help us show how to design — or in this case how NOT to design — a well-optimized landing page.

Keep in mind that the purpose of a webinar landing page is simple: convert visitors into registrations as quickly as possible. With such clarity of purpose, it stands to reason that a landing page should be singular in focus, messaging and design.

Here is a screenshot of the landing page:

 

Here is the same screenshot, but marked up with our observations:

 

Our main take-aways:

  1. Title: Shorten it to one line and make it a stronger benefit statement with a high-impact action verb.
  2. Clock: Ditch it. The effort to create a sense of urgency is lost on most visitors.
  3. Call-to-action: Move it to the middle where the clock is. The goal is to convert visitors, right?
  4. Webinar content list: cut it down to main 3 points; you have seconds to make your case, so don’t add too much content. Focus more on benefits, less on feature statements like ‘Business process definition’ as it doesn’t tell us WHY we should attend.
  5. Bio of presenter: a great opportunity to solidify the value of the webinar by showing the presenter’s bona fides is lost with a muddled layout. Make the picture bigger and put it below the text so that it takes up some of the white space below.
  6. Design elements: we found the color contrasts weak and made the landing page look bland; a different header picture could have helped by providing sharper contrast to give more attention to the important text messages.

 

It’s high time Austin had its own crowdsourced map of its diverse startup ecosystem. That’s why we are launching Startup over Coffee today.

Why now? Over the past decade it’s hard to argue that any other metro area in the country has risen in the ranks of most every startup statistic as much as Austin has. We came in at #1 in the CNBC Metro 20: America’s Best Places to Start a Business in August. We cracked the top 10 on the 2016 Kauffman Index, which measures the entrepreneurial vitality of the 40 largest metro areas on the country. Austin also hit #1 on the Forbes list of The Cities Creating the Most Technology Jobs 2015.  

One of the keys to the success of Austin’s startup scene? A well-established startup ecosystem made up of all kinds of businesses, organizations and media!

Claim your spot on the Startup over Coffee map!

This map is intended to be crowdsourced and maintained by those who make up the Austin startup scene. From coffee shops to co-working spots and startup accelerators to media outlets, we want to democratize the map’s content in order to make it as relevant and up-to-date as possible.

For any organizations who want to claim their pin, it’s easy to do. Just follow these steps:

  1. Click your organization’s pin (you must represent the organization to be approved)
  2. Click ‘More Info’
  3. Click ‘Claim Place’
  4. Sign-in (you will need to create a MapMe account)

Any organizations that support the Austin startup scene not already on the map can easily add a pin by following the instructions found here.

But don’t just take it from us!

Our friend and local startup expert Paul O’Brien had this to say about the Austin startup scene:

Driving Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is the incredible diversity of creativity. Where places like Silicon Valley thrive as a result of their innovative technology entrepreneurs, Austin thrives because it’s the convergence of technology with design, art, music, architecture, gaming, and the experiences that we love. Finding success in Austin is a matter of finding your node; balancing your own resources and needs and finding the community ideal to what you’re doing.  Austin lives to work and our entrepreneurs are in coworking spaces, office parks, working from home, and in coffee shops throughout the city; connecting opportunities with talent, resources, and ideas.

Can you help?

Startup over Coffee is an attempt to capture the richness of that startup ecosystem and share it for anybody who is looking for a way to plug-in, network and contribute to the Austin startup scene. That’s why we need your help!

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It is a decision that needs to be made up front in every B2B content marketing strategy: which content assets will be completely free for all (ungated) and which ones will require a contact form to be filled out prior to making the content available (gated).

This blog post you are reading is ungated. Anybody can read it, with nothing asked in return. On the Manzer Communications site you will also find a series of white papers covering topics as diverse as crisis communications, trade shows and social media campaigns. We love to make this content available, but in return we ask for just a little bit of information.

No sales without leads…

So what is the logic behind choosing whether content needs to be ungated or gated? Do companies randomly decide to make some content freely available and others not? The answer of course is: no. The ‘gates’ in the form of the sign-up webforms are meant to collect information on the person (and company) who wanted to access a certain kind of content.

In content marketing speak, gated content is meant to identify the person who shows an interest in a particular marketing piece and ultimately understand to which buyer persona he or she belongs, what is motivating the search and where in the sales funnel to place the lead.

… but no leads without awareness

A general rule of content marketing is that the more perceived value a piece of content has, the more a prospect will be willing to share about himself or herself in return for the content. A 200 page booklet can be made available at a higher ‘price’ than a 10 page white paper.

The 2015 Form Conversion Report by Formstack showed that there are on average 11 fields on a lead form and that the average conversion rate of the form amounts to 17%. By most lead gen standards, 11 fields is a very high number, if not completely unrealistic at a 17% conversion rate. Perhaps there is even a disconnect with the study or a research bias but what is not disputable is that lead conversion rates are impacted by the number of required fields. In our experience, it’s better to keep the number of required fields below five unless you have a content piece that is based on intensive industry research.

So while gating content is important for lead generation, it does not mean that you can and should pass on ungated content. Websites generally contain more ungated than gated content for a reason. Search engines cannot index content that you put behind a gate. That means gated content won’t contribute in any significant way to your site SEO strategy, unless you provide a summary page as part of your landing page.

Gated content cannot be shared with a single click so with that easy social sharing is out the door. You need the ungated content to create broader awareness and encourage more social shares among your prospects.
The advantage of ungated content is that it fills the ‘top’ of your funnel and thereby increases the number of prospects who will be tempted to consult your gated content, thus becoming leads. Ungated content can be ideated from the start as ungated content, but it can also take the form of a repurposing of gated content. An example of the latter is when you make a chapter of an ebook freely available on your blog or through LinkedIn Pulse.

Two illustrations: a gated webinar of Salesforce and a collection of ungated manuals of Harte Hanks. The Salesforce form asks for among others the job title and the size (as measured by number of employees) of the company.

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And the winner is…

There is a time and place for both gated and ungated content. For many B2B marketers, the right balance may vary greatly based on the perceived value of leads versus raw website traffic. What is indisputable is that ungated content will pull in more website traffic while gated content will assist in lead capture and converting leads into new customers over time.