How integrated content marketing and sales outreach generated $13M of pipeline

Pete Morgan

10 June 2019

B2B brands use content marketing to build trust and credibility, but it can also generate sales. We helped a Fortune 500 client increase revenue and sales velocity by integrating content marketing and sales outreach through our proven demand methodology.

Content marketing is established as part of the B2B marketing mix, enabled at scale by marketing automation platforms that offer personalized distribution of content and allow marketers to demonstrate return on investment (ROI).

As their value has been proven, content marketing investments have increased. In a recent survey of B2B marketers by the Content Marketing Institute, 50% of respondents reported an expected rise in their content marketing budgets this year—with more than a third (34%) anticipating a double-digit rise.

These investments aren’t limited to content creation. They are also increasing budgets for content promotion. In fact, 36% of respondents reported an increase in their paid promotion spend last year.

However, while more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) reported using content marketing to generate leads, less than half (45%) are using it to explicitly generate sales and revenue.

Accelerating the impact of content marketing

Most content marketing aims to nurture targets toward conversion, but this takes time. And the success of email marketing deployed through automation platforms can often feel attritional, even when it is proven to work. B2B marketers must identify and pursue shortcuts to revenue.

To show the value of content in revenue generation, Metia Group worked with a Fortune 500 client to demonstrate how content marketing can help achieve short-term sales targets— in this case, generating sales opportunities among large global customers.

The characteristics of the project made it an ideal test environment. End-to-end ownership of the campaign meant revenue attribution could be chased through paid media marketing, into the sales cycle, and eventually to outcomes in CRM. In addition, we had a relationship of trust with a client who also believed in an honest, data-led, and evidence-based approach to marketing performance.

Building the campaign

As a first step, we used our unique Micro Profiling methodology to analyze the client’s target audience of IT decision makers in order to isolate the optimal prospect’s digital DNA—the common attributes and behaviors that define them.

From this insight, we developed highly focused targeting profiles based on the precise attributes that made them desirable to our client’s salesforce because they have the greatest potential for revenue. To provide incentive for lead generation, we created a Fair Exchange of Value through a selection of long-form content assets aligned to the motivations and pain points of the target segments.

We used data from Metia’s Performance Benchmark System (PBX) to forecast ROI and develop the media strategy. PBX data highlighted that social media campaigns in Asia experience high drop-off rates, with a lower percentage of clicks making the intended destination than we have seen in other regions. To mitigate this risk, we focused our investment on LinkedIn, using its built-in lead capture functionality to minimize wastage.

Through our Active Optimization techniques, we developed 168 hypotheses to test in market—unique combinations of campaign variables through which we analyzed the impact of ad creative, content, and targeting.

Once live, we analyzed campaign data in real time to identify the hypotheses generating the most value to our client, with budget realigned to those streams.

$3M in bookings, with an additional $10M of opportunities

The campaign generated 200 leads, which were fed directly to the client’s sales teams for follow-up. The content itself helped to qualify each lead—providing a conversation starter for the sales team, ensuring the follow-up by salespeople was relevant, and continuing our principle of always offering a Fair Exchange of Value.

The ROI has been remarkable: $3 million generated in booked revenue and another $10 million of sales opportunities added to the client’s CRM. Every $1 of marketing budget invested has contributed $565 to the sales pipeline.

Obviously, it is great to design end-to-end campaigns that allow accurate measurement and tight alignment to the sales process—that’s the purpose of the demand team. And it’s fantastic when the data points gathered are so compelling.

But the best aspect is working with client organizations that share a similar ethos around both the purpose and practice of marketing. The purpose ultimately is revenue. The practice is always informed by data. And measuring, learning, and testing are the key ingredients to success.