How to Optimize Your Marketing Funnel with Alex Brazeau from Coral

You are probably including a call to action on each piece of content, but are you optimizing them as part of your marketing strategy? Even more importantly, are your calls to action placing your prospects well into what today’s guest calls the “marketing funnel”?

Alex Brazeau, the public relations manager at Corel, is going to share his story of how he and his team members optimize content, create great calls to action, and use a marketing funnel to draw in prospects into conversions.

Some of the topics you’ll hear about on today’s show include:

  • What Corel does and all about Alex’s role there.
  • How Alex keeps everything organized.
  • The marketing funnel framework, from focusing on potential customer problems through comparing, acting, converting, and retaining the customer.
  • The biggest problems Alex faced when mapping out his funnel, as well as how he resolved the issues.
  • An example of what a marketing campaign might look like when using the marketing funnel.
  • The results that Alex has achieved with his marketing funnel.
  • Alex’s best advice for a marketer looking to implement a similar framework.
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Transcript:

Nathan: It’s pretty common for every piece of content to include a call to action, right? But have you thought about how you strategically optimize those calls to action to get your prospects deeper into your marketing funnel?

Alex Brazeau is the public relations manager at Corel. That name probably sounds familiar to you because their flagship design software, CorelDRAW, is literally used by millions of people all over the world. Building a user base like that requires super solid products, that’s for sure. But it also requires very strategic marketing.

Alex has been working with Corel to strategically influence profitable customer action and we all know that’s the definitions of marketing, right?

I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and today on the Actionable Marketing Podcast, Alex is sharing the story of how he and his team at Corel optimize content and influence prospects with their marketing funnel. Let’s check this out.

Hey Alex, thanks a lot for joining me on the podcast.

Alex: Hey Nathan, thanks for having me on the show. I’m really glad to be here and excited to be talking content marketing with you today.

Nathan: We are glad to be talking content marketing with you. Alex, I’m wondering if you could give me the lowdown on Corel and what you do there.

Alex: Sure. Corel’s a global software company that’s headquartered in Ottawa, Canada with a user base that’s well over the 100 million mark. If I had to guess, I would think that a lot of people are probably familiar with this. Thanks to our flagship and graphic design software, CorelDRAW is now on its 18th edition. We’ve also got all kinds of other award winning titles in house like our all-in-one photo editor Paint Shop Pro and it’s easy to learn because that’s great for video editing, video studio.

                      We’ve also got the non-Corel brands with companies or with programs like WinZip and Roxio and the newest member of our family, MindManager. As for me, I manage public relations for our family of photo and digital arts software and my role primarily breaks down into three key areas of focus. Those are media and influencer relations, social media and of course the reason why we’re here today, Content Marketing.

Nathan: I think that’s a really good introduction for what we want to talk about today because at Corel you have a lot of different brands which means a lot of different teams that are creating content. I was wondering just to kick this off, how do you keep everything organized?

Alex: You’re definitely right about that. There’s no shortage of teams producing content here at Corel. I think at the core of our content creation teams, we’ve got five product teams who create content for no less than eight different product lines. We’ve got the Corel Discovery Center, we have an in house graphic design team and we also work with all kinds of subject matter experts and freelancers from across the globe.

It’s inherent when you’re dealing with so many moving parts that keeping everything and everyone organized will be a challenge at times. CoSchedule is definitely a huge part of helping us keep on track. We’ve been using it to publish to about 25 social media accounts as our editorial calendar, for all of our content planning, to publish to our blogs, and to help everyone in our content team to collaborate in real time. On top of CoSchedule, we plan our content during our weekly editorial meetings with each product team and the discovery center and then we turn to a mix of other tools that naturally lend themselves to team collaborations. Things like Google Docs, and Sheets, and our own MindManager that we’ve been using a lot to map out our content before it even gets added into the CoSchedule calendar.

Nathan: I think that’s a great transition for what we want to talk about today because you’ve got all these different teams collaborating to create content and it’s very well organized by a process you described to me as a marketing funnel. That’s what we really what we want to talk about today, could you just give me a quick overview of what your marketing funnel framework is?

Alex: Absolutely. The model that I’ve adopted to guide our content marketing program here at Corel is designed to account for all of the different moments or stages which a potential buyer or existing customer might interact with one of our brands rather than starting with a traditional three stage funnel of awareness evaluation and then purchase that I think a lot of marketers are probably familiar with. The model that we use takes advantage of five very distinct stages.

As we get started at stage one or what I like to call the reach stage, it’s really mostly about focusing on the problems that your customer might be facing. You really only want to peak their interest in your product and I really like to call it marketing a problem and not your solution. As we get to stage two, or the compare stage, we find a buyer who knows that an issue exists and they’ll need to do something about it. They’re paying attention to your message but they really want to do their own research. Here’s where you want to focus on your solution and what you have to offer. Really break it down and tell people why you’re better than your competitors.

Our stage three is what I’d like to call act, and this is where you’re typically dealing with someone who’s about ready to buy. They’re not quite there yet but they want to start interacting with your brand to make sure that it’s going to be the right fit for them and their specific needs. For us, this means getting customers to get some hands on time with our software through our trials.

As we come into stage four, your prospect is ready to convert and make that purchase. Your job here is really to validate the decision that they’re making. You want to look to the buying process and make it as easy as possible and enjoyable as possible. Really think of things that you can do to give them that little push to say yes to making a purchase.

Finally in stage five, we look to engage and retain our user base through education, problem solving and entertainment style content that really helps us to maintain a strong user community and that will keep people coming back.

Nathan: You know Alex, I think that good frameworks like this often exist to solve a problem. It really makes me wonder what was the biggest problem or challenge that you were facing before mapping your content to a funnel like that?

Alex: That’s a really great question, Nathan. I think that when you’re creating content, a lot of people are under the impression that the problems that they’re facing are somehow strangely unique. When talking with all kinds of folks about content strategy, I found that the content challenges that we face as content marketers are actually pretty similar to just about anyone who’s creating content without an overarching strategy.

The content challenges that we face as content marketers are actually pretty similar to just about anyone creating content ...

                       The biggest thing is that a majority of what gets produced ends up being too focused on buyers at a single stage. The second is that there is a real overlap or redundancy in the content that you’re creating. For us, a lot of the content we were producing was aimed at appealing to someone who had already purchased our software. Educating them and really empowering them to become successful through our products which really should be the last stage of our funnel. When you’re in a situation like that, it can be great for engaging and retaining your base and encouraging upgrades but it also leaves new customers or potential new customers without the content that they might need to help move them through that funnel.

Nathan: I’m wondering then how you mapped out your funnel or how that has helped resolve some of that challenge that you were experiencing?

Alex: Absolutely. Moving to a documented content marketing strategy has had a huge impact on our team. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen since moving to a documented model is that it’s really helped to instill a culture of content among our team members. Everyone here seems to be thinking content first and we’re aligned behind a single plan. Each one of our teams is now focused on specific types of content which has not only helped to reduce the content redundancy but more importantly it allows us to clearly map out that customer journey and then create specific pieces of content to answer questions at each buying stage. Whether that’s driving awareness through new comers or something that engages and retains our existing user base.

Moving to the funnel model also means that each piece of content within our campaigns gets a specific call to action that’s been designed to help guide our prospect of customers from one stage into the next. By varying all of our types of content, and making sure that we stay mapped to the funnel, we’ve actually kept from getting too focused on any one stage and have become much better at moving our prospects through that funnel.

Nathan: It seems like that’s a great way to keep your team focused on creating effective work. It’s a really good framework for you guys to follow. Like you mentioned, you said that there are five stages. I was just wondering if you could elaborate just a little bit more on each of those stages for us and give us just a little bit more detail on what each of those mean and how they might connect one to the next.

Alex: Of course. Let’s take a look at them each one by one. As I said earlier, the first stage that you want to consider I call reach and you need to reach your potential customers to let them know that you exist. Generally speaking when most people go to Google or to look for an answer to a question, they probably end up typing a question rather than typing in the answer or something they think they might be looking for. This is where your content in stage one should be focused. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s really more about marketing the problem rather your solution because honestly as I’ve said a lot of times, people don’t even know that they need a product to solve a specific problem or even that that problem exists. Your goal here is to give people a reliable place to go and gather all of that information and then gently introduce them to your product.

                      In stage two, it’s time to compare. This is where the potential customer is now aware of your brand but they’re also going to be looking at your competitors to see which ones are the better deal for their particular situation. Now, you need to show them why you’re better. Highlight specific examples of where your product was preferred by a client or outperforms a competitor. Your content could be as obvious as a spec sheet in this case or it could be something a little more subtle, like a case study or user profile. The trick here though is not going to be giving away all of that content for free.

Once someone’s on your page, you want to gate that content so that you can ask for an email address and then get them onto your email marketing list. Once they are in the funnel, it gets a whole lot easier to start marketing to that group on an ongoing basis.

                      Once you come into stage three, your potential customers really become more serious about the purchase. They want to know more about your product and its competition but now they want to get some first hand experience or interaction with your brand. This is where I think my models starts to deviate from some of the others where I’ve broken out the act stage or stage three as separate from comparison. Here, we’re educating potential customers on how they can use our products before they buy them and make sure that our product is exactly what they need. These are usually tutorials and How-To projects which can be similar to our stage five content but really pushes a different call to action that encourages a trial download or gets the customer to interact with our brand in some sort of way.

                      For another business that doesn’t offer trial, this could be something like calling in for a quote or booking a meeting to get an intro look at maybe a software platform. Essentially, you really want them just to take another step beyond getting that simple email sign up that we saw on stage two.

                       By stage four, your prospect is really ready to become a customer. The goal of your content now at this stage is simply to make the buying process as easy and enjoyable as possible. Really validate that decision, as I was saying earlier. A lot of the content at this stage will probably appear on your website or in email newsletters and occasionally even on your blog but it’s mostly focused on sales, coupon offers, bundles and others are limited time offers, anything that’s going to drive your revenue. The more hurdles that you can remove along that buying path, the more likely that customer is to complete their purchase.

                     Finally, the fifth stage of our funnel, we’re engaging and retaining, as I said. You need to educate your customers on using your product or service and solve problems that arise as they get to know your product. Is there something you can help them troubleshoot or something you can help them to understand better. In our case, it’s about upgrades and learning to use the product, bringing people along from one version of our product to the next. But for someone else out there, it might be bringing your customer back for a new job or having them renew a service contract.

Nathan: Alex, that’s pretty smart. Just to connect the dots between your framework and how this really works at Corel, I know that you think about funnel for every marketing campaign that you do and how a single piece connects into a piece down the funnel. I was wondering if you could give us an example of what a marketing campaign might look like at Corel?

Alex: Definitely. Let’s break down a campaign we’re working on right now for Video Studio, our powerful, easy to learn video editing software. With this campaign, we’re going to target parents of young kids and our goal is to attract new users. Both those parents and their kids into using Video Studio.

Starting at stage one, we’re working at a guest post that would be published on a popular mommy blog and we’re calling it Five Quick Video Projects To Do With Your Kids. Ultimately, this is going to solve a problem or meet someone’s need. They are looking for a project they want to do with their kids and video editing or creating a video project is that project that they can do. Our call to action is to visit or come back to a Corel web property and it’s really more about the soft sell here then it is the hard sell.

In stage two, we look to create a user profile and title it something like Family Fun Projects, Video Editing with Lindsay and Her Kids. We’ll lock this content behind a wall and we’ll ask visitors to sign up with their email addresses to get a copy where we basically explained everything that Lindsay and her kids had to go through in a user profile to see what this was like or a case study like scenario to see how this might apply to their specific or another potential user’s specific situation. We’ll lock this gate behind a wall and the ask visitors to sign up with their email address to get their copy which really then drives them further into our funnel.

By stage three, it’s time to show them why we’re better. Host a live webinar called Teach Your Kids to Video Edit in VideoStudio Pro. We might get our product manager to come and host it or even better we might bring back Lindsey from our user profile to come and take part and answer people’s questions and really help them gather that in-depth info about why it is so great for their particular scenario. This is really more about having Lindsay or our product manager on hand to answer those in-depth questions to help start removing those hurdles that they might not have otherwise been able to get from a piece of written content. This is more about driving interaction and going one step further in stage three than we were in stage two. Our call to action is often encouraging people to download a trial so that they can follow along at a webinar like this.

As we reach stage four, it’s really time to finally remove those hurdles from the purchase process and people loves saving money. As part of this campaign, we’ll offer a special discount to all of our webinar attendees through a follow up thank you note and we’ll send out a coupon offer that will be good for a limited time and they can take advantage of that. In that same email, we’ll go and promote our stage five content, which in this case will be a contest that will encourage users to submit their family videos that they’ve edited in VideoStudio Pro. You can see how we’ve taken one sort of core idea of teaching people how to video edit and then identified a specific user group that we want to target and then creating a piece a content that will help walk somebody in that target group right through step to step and take them right through from stage to stage of our funnel.

Nathan: That’s a really smart process and something that it connects to or an idea that you’ve talked about just little bit was one that Jay Baer spent advocating, it’s actually from Google but the concept is Micro-Moments and you’re thinking about Micro-Moments of your funnel and I was wondering if you could just explain what Micro-Moments are and how you plan those specifically into your marketing campaign funnels.

Alex: Micro-Moments is one of those really interesting concepts that I’d been working really hard to implement into our strategy from day one. As you mentioned, it’s a concept that I had learned about from Jay Baer but some of it is being championed by Google and especially an absolutely crucial to content when you think about how people use search engines and use the internet today.

Essentially, a Micro-Moment is any situation or scenario in which people are most likely to turn to the internet for some kind of information related to a problem that they are experiencing at that moment. Think about your own shopping habits and Google searches and focusing on Micro-Moments really is the epitome of how people are using search technology these days. What are your customers searching for? What content can you create that will help to answer those search queries?

                       One of my favorite examples when I’m trying to explain Micro-Moments or that I’ve come across when trying to explain Micro-Moments is to take a look at a car repair shop and think of all of the different Micro-Moments that could exist for a car owner. Moments like what’s that hanging noise inside of my engine or why won’t my car start? If you can provide informative and relevant content to people at the moment they’re looking for it, your chance of making that sale or taking them or starting them along that buyer journey, which is often the most important part, becomes that much easier.

Nathan: Something that you talked about here was process just a little bit and I think when done well, process influences effectiveness. You’re nailing it with this framework of yours. What results have you noticed from implementing this framework for your marketing campaigns?

Alex: Another really great question, Nathan. I think adopting a funnel framework has had a huge impact on literally every aspect of our content operations. Whether it’s planning and production, publishing and distribution and most importantly, how we evaluate the success of our content. In terms of concrete numbers and metrics, we’re still in the early stages in the first couple of quarters since rolling out our full strategy company wide. We’re in the process of really establishing a baseline for performance at this point. I would be happy and would love to come back to chat with you guys and give you guys an update in the ACR audience an update on what’s been happening with our plans since we kicked it all off.

Adopting a funnel framework has had a huge impact on literally every aspect of our content operations.

Without the exact numbers here in front of me though, I can definitely tell you for sure that we’ve seen big improvements to our content planning processes and the collaboration between our teams has been really, really great. Taking the time to define a plan has really helped me to see the big picture of our content marketing program. In addition to aligning our content teams, it’s also revealed all kinds of internal data points and resources that we can leverage along with all of the teams that we have internally that can help us to distribute that content. Writing everything down and visualizing it all is key. It might take some time to map it all out but in the end, it’s all going to be worth it.

There’s a stat floating around from the content marketing institute that really brings this one home. They say that about 30% of content marketers are documenting their strategy and that about the same amount believe that their content marketing efforts are successful. Personally, I think there’s a really big correlation between those numbers and it’s really important that you create your plan and work it.

Nathan: I’ve been reading a book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and in that book he actually talks about a situation where patients who wrote down goals were more likely to recover from surgery faster. You can visualize your own success when you write things down. That’s a pretty good example, Alex.

Alex: Absolutely. I think that I’ve read that book myself and I like to practice what I’m preaching and I make sure that I’m always writing things down. It’s a big part of our planning process and content in general. Without having that overarching strategy and that direction, I gets very easy to not lose your direction but to just get distracted in one direction or another.

Nathan: Alex, I guess just to wrap this up, I have one more question for you. What would be some of your best advice for a marketer looking to implement a framework like this for their own content programs, where should we start to start mapping things to a funnel like yours?

Alex: What would an interview be without some advice? To be honest, I think there’s probably two main messages that I hope that everyone takes away from our chat here today. The first is that if you’re going to jump into content marketing, you really should have a documented strategy. Just having something that everyone can go back on and reference over time will be an invaluable tool as you get started. If you’re really trying to get a buy in from an executive team, having your physical document that you can take to the team members that everyone can go back and look at is a huge benefit rather than just trying to sit down with everybody and explain out your plan.

If you're going to jump into content marketing, you should have a documented strategy.

                       The other is that there really is a difference between creating content and content marketing, and that’s something that I think everyone that gets started really needs to understand. When you’re content marketing, your content goals align with your business goals and you’re making sure that each piece of content has a defined purpose. Content marketing is really all about driving someone towards making profitable action through your content and moving them along that buyer’s path.

Those are probably the two biggest takeaways I would give anyone getting started today.

Nathan: Great advice, Alex. I really like the idea behind creating content to produce results, not content as a result. With that, that really wraps it up for us. I want to say thanks for helping us create more effective marketing campaigns with this funnel framework.

Alex: Thank you Nathan and thanks to everyone for listening in. As a thank you to everyone for tuning in today’s episode, I’ve pulled together a little offer from everyone here at Corel and we’ve got a special offer on the Corel Photo Video Bundle, the ideal photo and video editing suite for content creators. We want you to check it out and we’re going to offer you an extra 10% off of our already discounted sales price all the way through until the end of March. If you want to check it out, go collect your coupon code, head over to www.corl.co/coschedule and just tell us where we need to send it. On top of that, we’re also going to throw in a little special bonus with some free you-to-me training courses for PaintShop Pro to the first 200 people who sign up through our special adding page. That address to visit corl.com/coschedule.

Thanks again for having me, Nathan and thanks again to everyone out there for listening.

Nathan: A few months ago, our frontend developer and designer Megan actually redesigned our blog here at CoSchedule. As we worked through that project, we used data to understand that our blog post themselves were more often than not the homepage of CoSchedule. A single blog post is often our customer’s first experience with CoSchedule.

As Alex talked about Micro-Moments throughout this whole conversation, that idea can translate into many different areas of your marketing funnel. Have you thought about optimizing each piece of content to funnel into something deeper? Something that will generate demand and a product or service you’re selling, like optimizing your blog content. If not, I challenge you to do it. You just might notice some huge results, just like Alex and the team at Corel have experienced.

To Alex, thanks a lot for sharing your marketing funnel strategy with us. And to those of you listening to this episode right now of the Actionable Marketing Podcast, thank you! This podcast is all about providing actionable ideas you can realistically apply to your own marketing. Good luck as you start optimizing your calls to action and marketing funnel.

You can catch this episode’s show notes and full transcript at coschedule.com/podcasts. If you haven’t started that 30-day free trial of CoSchedule yet, you should do it now! Get your exclusive 30-day free trial by signing up now at coschedule.com/actionable.

Alright Friends, I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I will catch you on the next episode.

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