Ep. 120 | How to Optimize Your Content Marketing Strategy to Drive More Leads

This week, we chat with Phil Bosley of Tactical Marketing about how to optimize your content marketing strategy to drive more leads.

With a good inbound strategy you should have at least 10 percent known visitors on your website. Unfortunately many businesses struggle with only a 3-4 percent known website visitor rate.

Phil shares his insights on how to optimize your content marketing strategy to drive more quality traffic to your website, which will drive more conversions and create more marketing qualified leads.

Nathan: Welcome back to the Rethink Marketing Podcast. I’m here today with Phil Bosley, founder and CEO of Tactical MA. Phil, welcome back to the show. Can you remind folks who you are and what Tactical MA is all about?

Phil: Thanks, Nathan. Yeah, so I’m Phil Bosley, founder and CEO of Tactical MA, MA Marketing Automation. I founded Tactical after working with Act-On customers for about five years as an Act-On employee and I just realized that there were a lot of good agencies out there but they just didn’t have experience working with marketing automation. Which changes the way you think about marketing, the way you think about customers, the way you think about prospects.

And so Tactical was built out to be a cutting edge digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing automation use cases.

Picture of Phil Bosley for the Rethink Marketing podcast where he talks about how to optimize your content marketing strategy to drive more leads

Why are businesses failing in their inbound marketing strategies?

Nathan: We’ve talked a lot, and we’ve covered the fundamental three, and things to do in your first hundred days of a marketing automation platform. In our last interview, we were talking about analytics and you mentioned that a good inbound strategy, a good content marketing strategy should have at least ten percent known visitors on the website, and that the known website visitor percentage is your favorite Act-On metric. Unfortunately, you also said that many businesses struggle with only about three to four percent known website visitor rate, and so I’m wondering, why are businesses failing to get to that ten percent mark, and what you call the minimum viable healthy rate for a company.

Phil: It’s a great question Nathan. Here’s the big question, for the Act-On listener right now the report that we’re talking about is the Website Visitor Report. So you navigate in Act-On left side navigation down to Reports, and there’ll be a Website Visitors as one of the reports that’s available. Click that, load that up, refresh it, and it’s going to show you all of the cookies that Act-On is tracking. And it’s going to give you, as the second line in that report, your known visitors and it’s recorded as a percentage.

So Nathan, as you said, most people get to three to four percent and that’s about as far as they’re going to get. And what we’ve seen is that’s actually largely driven from your email content. Email is driving that three to four percent known visitor traffic to your website and that’s great. That’s traffic you wouldn’t have had without your Act-On email campaign, so kudos. But what it is, is when I see that rate, what we’re actually seeing is a catastrophic failure in your inbound marketing strategy.

So the first thing to check, the very, very first thing to check is are your forms connected to Act-On, that was part of the fundamental three. So many Act-On customers are using Gravity Forms or they’re using Ninja Forms. Some CMS form tool that they prefer to Act-On forms, and that’s okay. At Act-On, we believe that the tool is there for you. You don’t exist for the tool. So Act-On’s open market ecosystem has a really, really easy way to integrate those forms and the conversion of known visitors with Act-On. It’s actually in their university as a documented method. So that’s number one.

There are many companies that have great inbound marketing, they just didn’t connect the technology. So that’s the first place we check. But, by far, the exceeding majority of companies just don’t understand content marketing. They don’t understand inbound marketing. That’s why it’s a gap. And it is this complete absence of content marketing that results in the dismal rate that we’re talking about.

Check out our additional related content:

Creating a Content Marketing Strategy:
6 Best Practices That Work

What is inbound marketing?

Nathan: These are subject matters that I know a lot about, but a lot of businesses don’t. They know manufacturing, or they know their finance, or higher education, healthcare, whatever it may be. Can you just give us a level set and just kind of define what is inbound marketing?

Phil: Absolutely. Before I do so, for our listeners, I want to highlight, if you’re sitting there going: I don’t actually know what that is, 83 percent of digital marketers have no formal marketing education. They learned on the job. And so what marketers get very good at is using the right language without really understanding the principles. So this question of what is inbound marketing, I think is exactly the right question to ask.

When most people think about inbound marketing, what they’re actually thinking about is a contact us form. They think: I put a bunch of brochure information on my website and I have a contact us form, and people are going to love the brochure information I put on my website. And they’re going to submit the contact us form and ask to buy something. That’s not inbound marketing. That is absolutely, unequivocally, not inbound marketing. It’s a piece of it, but it is not inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a branded term. One of the big tech players branded this term and it was a great, strategic move on their part, but really inbound marketing is a provision of the term content marketing which is actually born from the great Seth Godin’s permission-based marketing.

And the idea is very simple. A bunch of people have problems. I am going to design marketing to help those people solve their problems and my marketing will include my offer as part of that solution. So when I, the buyer, am Googling how do I solve this problem? I find your very helpful resources in solving this problem. For me, the buyer, to get at that resource, I give you my information. My first name, my last name, my company name, my email address, I give you some exchange of information for your solution. And then I, the buyer, continue on my merry way.

What you, the company, have just done, is generate exactly the right kind of speed. You have generated the right industry, the right type of company, the right buyer, and that person has given you their information and said: I have the kind of problem that you, as a company sell a product to solve. That is, inbound marketing.

Image quote from Phil Bosley about the importance of optimizing your content marketing strategies

How has inbound marketing evolved over the last 10 years?

Nathan: You mention that this was a branded term that was created by a tech company and that was about ten years ago. Act-On has been around for about ten years, just over ten years, I’m just wondering how inbound marketing has evolved in that ten year period of time. What are the things that marketers should be thinking about with inbound marketing today that they weren’t really thinking about, or they just had to have changed over the last ten years?

Phil: So inbound marketing term that has existed for the last ten years or so. Content marketing was actually invented in the 1800s. The most classic example that everybody knows about is The Furrow. Well, not everybody knows about it, but it’s very a very populated [inaudible 00:07:47] with Furrow marketing you’ll see all sorts of write-ups on how this idea of content marketing is actually very, very old. As technology has changed, people have basically taken their direct mail tactics and put that online. Their brochure, their flyer tactics and put that online. And over the last ten years, the biggest difference is marketers have become saturated, inundated with these buzz words without really understanding the fundamental differences in the way these impact their day-to-day marketing efforts.

Phil:                       So marketers go: oh, we need to do inbound marketing, so let’s put a contact us form on every page. Now we’re inbound. Marketers hear: oh we need content marketing, so let’s put our sale’s flyer behind a form gate. Now we’re inbound. And what the biggest difference has been the proliferation of these words without understanding what they mean. And the sad thing about that is that technologies like Act-On have exploded throughout the marketplace and Act-On was designed to equip you to do better, more strategic, more targeted marketing to help with these content marketing exercises and creating these leads for your sales team. And the marketplace is just left all that sitting on the table and said: no, no, no, I wanna send sales flyers via email. And so this inoculation, people using the buzz word without actually understanding how great the strategy is, that’s the change we’ve seen in the market over the last ten years. Honestly, it’s really sad.

Check out our additional related content:

Content Marketing:
3 Essential Ways to Use Content Marketing for Generating Leads

How do you optimize your content marketing strategy to drive more leads?

Nathan: So to remedy that, you want to develop your content marketing, you want to develop a strategy. How do you define a strategy, and what are some of the steps to get started with creating your own strategy?

Phil: Oh such a great question. So how do you find a strategy? First, you set your goal. You have to define the goal. What are you trying to accomplish? Now, inevitably, that goal is: we want to sell! We want to sell a lot of things. Any marketing team who doesn’t understand that they are simply an extension of the sales team is missing the business case for their department.

So marketing is sales at scale. So the goal is to sell. Well, how do we sell? Well, sales people have known this forever, they’re very, very good at it. First, I have to define my buyer. I have to know, who am I targeting and why. So I define: this is my target audience. I build out my persona, I ask the magic three questions: what problem do they have? How am I going to help them solve that problem? And why am I the best option?

Now, a lot of companies, they append to this why me, why now. Think all great expansions. But for content marketing, the goal is building a relationship. So I said: this is my target audience. This is who they are. This is how they think. This is the problem they have. This is the solution I offer. This is why my solution is their best option. When you’ve defined that, and then you compare that to your website, you compare that to your content, you compare that to your eBooks, white papers, PDFs, whatever you call that, you are going to go: oh. These things don’t match. What I have built doesn’t have anything to do with who my audience is. I’m just sitting here bragging about how good my product is. And then you go: OK, based on this target audience, what do I need to do to get their attention? How do I resonate with their problems and what does that look like?

Then you go build a bunch of content for that. Now your lead is dialed. Say OK, how do I position my solution to them? Then you go build that. Now your lead nurture is dialed. You say: why are we the best option? You go build that. In line with the personas that you’ve developed, and now your sales enablement is dialed. And now you have just optimized every single step of your funnel using inbound content marketing strategy as the driving force. And the difference is, it’s not about you, the business, it’s about them, the buyer. And when you make that transformation, we’re talking exponential growth. It’s gorgeous to watch this transformation in organizations.