The benefit of digital marketing is that we can now track results in a very transparent way. Why don’t marketers make more of use of this? I’ve spoken to Matt Hodkinson of Influence Agents who is a very passionate advocate of transparency in content marketing, to get some ‘clarity’ on the issue.
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Tell us about Influence Agents and what you do?
We’re an inbound marketing firm specifically for B2B companies. We’re a HubSpot partner, specialising in marketing automation and sales technology. We really excel at putting together strategies for acquiring more leads and more sales using content marketing, putting a layer of transparency on it so clients know what’s working and what’s not.
What’s the difference between inbound marketing and content marketing?
I think they’re interchangeable terms nowadays, there are probably 25 different terms that describe what we do. This is a bit of a trend in itself that marketers are always trying to reinvent and reposition what digital marketing, content or inbound marketing really is. The reality is that content marketing is all of marketing, you can’t market without some form of content. Inbound marketing is about attracting a targeted set of buyers, as opposed to pushing out your content.
Tell us about transparency in content marketing?
Many marketers cite attribution as a major hurdle for them to overcome, attributing the success of their campaigns back to a particular activity. Lots rely on “last click” attribution and take a rather blasé approach to anything else. There is a certain laziness creeping in, with people making the assumption that customer journeys are less trackable than they really are. With the right technology, it’s possible to interrogate someone’s previous touch-points with your business and its digital properties, and fill in a lot of the gaps that marketers take for granted.
How is marketing in the world of recruitment different?
In speaking to clients and prospects in the recruitment, HR and employer brand sector, one trend emerges time and time again is that candidate-focused marketing comes more easily than client-side, and the latter sometimes just never happens. It’s never been easier to “attach” your recruitment/HR brand to a particular sector, via content, but it takes an element of specialism and niching, which is a natural turn-off from the start. The braver companies are making strides, and the reality is that they’re no better set up than any other company, to steal a march in this area.
By taking a niched approach across a number of different verticals you’ll have much more success than a generic piece of content. When I talk about content I mean e-book, white papers, reports and videos. The winners in recruitment marketing will be the ones that take a niched approach.
What are the 5 steps to transparency in content marketing?
- Start with people (should come easily to recruiters) – get access to the right marketing talent, in a core set of roles, to support a digital content-led approach: copywriters, developers, designers, marketers as the base team. Also spend time defining your buyer personas (most businesses have 3-5) and get under their skin through research and conversation. Don’t forget your own profile as a company – core values, culture, story/journey, goals – all go to inform your positioning.
- Technology – access the right tools to support your inbound marketing like your CMS, CRM, email marketing, email marketing automation solutions as well as analytics tools. But realise that it’s a game of 90% people and process and 10% of technology.
- Customer journey – define it. Understand the stages that every prospect must go through in order to engage with your company. Don’t be afraid to create a “velvet rope” mentality and turn the tables. I think too many companies in this sector relinquish all power to the client, and it devalues you as a service provider, and makes yours a commoditised offering. If you’re truly experts at what you do, act like it! Have people feeling like they need to work a little, in order to get on your books – not the other way around.
- Content – don’t create it for the sake of creating content, but do make sure you’re able to produce relevant and powerful, targeted content when required. Every single piece of business you’ve ever done, I’ll wager, can be attributed to something you wrote or said.
- Measure – analytics has moved on from the numbers game. Use the right technology to inform you of behaviours and actions taken by your prospects. You can even get alerted when they perform certain actions on your website, or if they achieve a lead score. Predictive lead analysis is more common now, too – big data is changing the way we convert new business.
Talk us through a campaign you have executed?
We’ve done some work with Papirfly here in the UK, who provide employer brand management solutions, both here and globally, to some of the world’s household names. They’ve produced some groundbreaking content this past year, including an Employer Brand Insights Report that has been lapped up by the industry, and looks set to become an annual feature of their content cycle. They’re enjoying great success in business as a result of combining this with offline events and PR activities – they’ve gone straight to the head of the table in their sector.
What’s the ROI and how do you measure it?
The marketing automation technology we use allows us to track all inbound leads and activity through to sale via an integrated CRM. We can attribute closed deals to source, including inbound activity, and a simple calculation versus spend on content creation and resource gives us the ROI. I can’t talk specifics, but I can say that it compares favourably to most other popular channels.
What tech could you not function without?
- HubSpot – the tech that manages everything from marketing to meetings, CRM and sequences.
- Trello for project management, we use scrum to get projects done and it visualises progress.
- Slack for instant messaging and collaboration, we have a lot of remote workers.
- Todoist is effectively a to-do list which sits in the cloud, perfect for creating quick tasks on your phone.
- PandaDoc we use for proposals and signing terms of conditions, can’t live without this.
- Xero for accounting, it’s become the market leader for cloud accounting.
What brands inspire you and why?
- Dollar Shave Club – they came to the fore a few years ago and brought out a video that was intended to raise funds and it went viral because of the humour factor. This is a great example of content marketing, the company was acquired by Unilever in the end.
- Microsoft – I have to give them props for their resurgence in the tech sector. A lot of this comes down to their content marketing, their positioning and their messaging. They still do some Apple bashing but apart from that they deserve a lot of credit.
- HubSpot – for the “eat our own dog food” factor, they are a content marketing company and they’re great at it. They have created all the pieces of content that a marketer would ever need. They also use Trello by the way.
What’s the next big thing?
Without a doubt: AI. The number of chatbots and the complexity of what they can achieve is astounding. I wouldn’t be surprised if us marketers are out of a job in a couple of years time, and the machines take over because they are getting that clever.