Is your marketing doing its job and helping you not only generate quality leads, but also convert those leads into customers? Getting inbound leads is one thing, but making sure they’re viable and turning those leads into sales can be something else entirely.If you’re struggling with making these conversions, today’s episode is for you!Our guest is Brittany Berger, head of content and public relations at Mention. She’s pulled together a great strategy to generate inbound leads and nurture them toward a purchase decision. She’s worked on this strategy through trial and error, and today she’s going to share how you can generate good leads and convert them into sales.
“Our goal is really on optimizing the lead nurturing funnels... to improve conversion rates.”
“Email is the most effective way to reach someone on a regular basis. It’s not as crowded as social media.”
“There’s no set or right way.... It’s easy to create unnecessary content, so I’m glad we started small and waited.”
Nathan: Marketing exists to sell a products or service, am I right? Is marketing helping you convert qualified leads for your business who are super likely to become future customers? That’s the question Brittany Berger, the head of content in public relations at Mention has been solving recently. Together with her team mates at Mention, Britney has pulled together a complete strategy. Her plan helps generate inbound leads and nurture them deeper into the funnel toward that ultimate purchase decision. The way she has approached this process is really, really cool. She didn’t do everything at once but rather published some content to look at that data and later focus her efforts more on the projects that were really pushing the needle. Britney is going to share how you can generate and nurture qualified leads like the rockstar marketer that you are.Hey, I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I’m really excited to dive in. Let’s just let Brittany share her story on this episode of the Actionable Content Marketing podcast. Hey Brittany, thanks a lot for being on the podcast today. I’m really excited to hear more about how you’re generating leads at Mention.Brittany: Thanks so much for having me.Nathan: Awesome. Brittany, let’s get down to what is Mention?Brittany: Mention is a software that lets you monitor your brand, your competitor, anything you want online. Media monitoring and social listening tools, track the web, social media, lots of different sources, and there’s also engagement and analytics and everything, all that good stuff that influence your dashboard. It’s really helpful for marketers or PR firms or anyone who’s big part of their job requires being clued into online conversations and stuff.Nathan: Yeah. And I think it’s a pretty amazing tool in one that we really like to use at CoSchedule especially for listening and responding to what our followers are sharing about CoSchedule online.Brittany: That’s so great. Happy to hear that.Nathan; My next question. What are some of the things that you do at Mention as the Head of Content in PR?Brittany: I manage all the team’s content, obviously in the name. From strategy through promotion of new pieces. That involves different projects for us like managing the editorial calendar, we do a lot of publishing posts and collaborating with different companies and promoting them on social media, forums, wherever else is best for that personal article. Also kind of the kind of the resident red pen. Editing kind of everything, most of our team is actually in France, a lot of translating and proofreading content that was originally written in a different language, stuff like that, just kind of the grammar nerd.Nathan: It sounds like you have a lot to do.Brittany: Yeah. We also do a lot of dated content as well that ties the blog back to our overall business goals, I’m involved in that as well.Nathan: What’s your favorite part of the job?Brittany: This kind of isn’t a specific duty or anything but I really like finding small wins. Not even accomplishing the small win which is usually kind of easy but the process, hunting for it, finding the gaps in your marketing strategy, figuring out what content needs to go there, and then creating that. I just really like the treasure hunt. I don’t know, it’s really fun.Nathan: I think that ties into exactly what we want to talk today with generating leads with your process. Just to dive a little bit deeper into the conversation that we want to have today, there are lots of different kinds of leads and I think that term has the potential to be confusing at times because of that. Could you describe what lead generation means to you?Brittany: Alright. For us with our current focus in business goals and everything, it’s mostly collecting emails to nurture and warm up for sales who then you’ll contact about the demo request. Right now, we’re really focusing on our enterprise features and the bigger plans. We’re looking more at like demo requests, then something like signing up for our premium version, that’s where our focus is in terms of our lead. In the past it’s been free, now it’s an email, someone to nurture.Nathan: That makes a lot of sense. I’m excited to explore this topic way deeper with you. What was the biggest challenge you had there that you were facing with lead generation as you sought to improve this?Brittany: For us, it was just kind of that we were almost starting from scratch with a ton of content that it was all kind of focused around something else. And, we also had a ton of use cases that we really were important, that we needed to address right away. It was just kind of a scenario where everything felt like top priority and everything needed to get done.Nathan: Prioritization is key.Brittany: Our primary focus was just building out content at a minimum, like one piece for each stage of the buyer’s journey for our most important use cases, getting them out into the world and then we went back and turned them into nurturing things, added more to them, stuff like that but we just try to get the bear minimum out there first so that we could start bringing in at least a few leads while we were doing the rest of it.Nathan: Yeah. I really like that idea of basically applying a startup mentality of the minimum viable product to project management in a way.Brittany: Yeah, definitely. And that influences all parts of our process too. We also create the content in sprints and just our overall culture influences our content creation a lot.Nathan: Yeah. I love that. I would say it’s the same for us here at CoSchedule, the way we manage projects is a lot driven by product management strategy. Brittany, I’m wondering, what was the goal that you had as you looked at solving this lead generation challenge?Brittany: We wanted to initially like I said create the minimum viable thing. That was like the ebooks, the cheat sheets for our most important use cases and creating a resource hub. Creating something that would just bring in leads for us while it did the rest of the job, now our goal is really on optimizing the actual lead nurturing funnels once we’ve collected someone’s email address so that we can improve the conversion rates of the people going through everything right now. Improving the overall funnel, focusing on other areas.Nathan: Right, right. Getting the right kind of qualified leads in so that you can later on make sure that they’re getting into the right funnel, I guess.Brittany: Yeah.Nathan: Excellent. I’m sure there were a lot of things that you could’ve done to meet that goal and you just mentioned prioritization. I’m just wondering, what was the number one project that you prioritized to solve that problem with just initial lead generation?Brittany: The first project was definitely just content creation, having enough stuff to even have a resources page. Looks kind of sad if you have like three ebooks on it or something, one ebook. The other content marketers work together to build up their resources page. And that was the first project in terms of content creation, and then in terms of targeting, we were focusing on the specific personas in use cases that sales needed. What they were primarily looking for, we made sure to get content for that up first.Nathan: Nice. I would also think that you’ve done several other things than just the resources page to generate leads. Could you just give me a high level overview of some of the additional tactics or strategies that you use to solve this problem?Brittany: Sure. We did it all on a few different stages. I’ve already explained the first one which is that the resources page and the funnels because if we don’t have the emails, the other work wouldn’t matter yet. And then once that was taken care of, I kind of called them mini launches, where we went back in and added calls to action to everything to download the ebooks to old blog post specifically ones that were performing really well or that were really relevant to the topic. And then we also launched on social and stuff like that, did a little bit of outreach for certain pieces, it sums up about the main things.Nathan: Now you have some more leads, let’s just say that your promotion has worked and you’ve got more in the door, what did you do actually to encourage those leads to try Mention, you had mentioned getting them deeper into the funnel. What exactly did you work on?Brittany: We have a pretty robust HubSpot account for our company now. Each asset on the resources page, each piece of content we launch has the landing page and the thank you page. But then further more, they’re interconnected into these overall campaigns. Once someone downloads an ebook and signals that they’re interested in using Mention for competitive monitoring, we would then use the other competitive monitoring pieces that we’ve created, now that we don’t need to convert them and get their email, we then use them instead in nurturing emails and we also have some other content like talking about blog posts and webinars that we’ve done and just keeping them really engaged.Nathan: It sounds like you need a lot of content to do that, you need the inbound side, you need the data piece and then you need some content once they’re in the funnel to give them later. The last time we chatted, you hinted that you use blog posts to help you do that. I’d like to dive deeper into that, how did you repurpose your blog content to do this? To help your leads go deeper into the funnel?Brittany: One thing that I was really worried about was being able to maintain our blog stuff and our other projects while we were doing so much for this. What I would do was before I created an editorial calendar for the month, I would look at what we were already going to be writing so that we would be working on a blog post and an exclusive piece of content almost at the same time so that I can easily switch back and forth and topics were really relevant to each other which would be great for conversions further down the line. We actually did a lot of repurposing the other way around too to help promote the lead gen content. Since we didn’t have a lot of existing stuff that was perfect for this new stuff as I explained before, we are shifting our focus a bit in targeting new people. I made sure just for every single piece of content that once it was finished, that all the best headlines, all the best sub heading, the ideas, chapter titles, also ended up on our editorial calendar as repurposed pieces so that we were working on the same idea and the same information at once and then it would get used in two places at the same time.Nathan: That makes a lot of sense. I think the word that we use for that is content maximization here at CoSchedule, you put a lot of time into creating a single piece of content, how can you use it in many different ways to make the time you invest into it completely worth it?Brittany: Yeah. I really liked that phrase, I’m taking that.Nathan: Yeah. Nice. Feel free to steal. All of that makes me curious about how you knew, and I know you’re talking about writing some new stuff, but how you knew, what kind of content deserve to those leads that are getting them deeper into the funnel. What did you actually track to understand who to target with specific messages?Brittany: Our HubSpot and our overall user tracking is insane. It’s super technical and fancy. We can track most of what people are doing on our website and stuff like that to combine with the insights that we can get from there and talk to our sales and support teams a lot. We are organizing the campaign around use cases instead of general topics. That made it easy in terms of targeting as a writer in terms of organizing the content, I know my audience instead of I knew the topic.Nathan: The last time we talked, you had mentioned personas a little bit and how you’ve combined use cases with personas. I’d like to know just a little bit more about that. How did you use personas to make your strategy super successful?Brittany: We sat down with sales to build buyer personas based not on who our current customers necessarily were, but the ones that we wanted to bring in with all these new changes that were going to be happening to the product. And then we also did a lot of customer interviews with some of our most successful customers, figuring out what made them successful, what they were doing with it. Then of course, shameless plug, obviously we were using Social Listening to find out what people wants.Nathan: Yup, that makes a lot of sense. I bet that ties in really nicely to the tracking that you’re doing. If you can see a certain persons does a certain action and converts into your enterprise plan, you know that that sort of content is working to attract the sorts of leads that you need.Brittany: We’re still continuing to work really closely with sales to find out which content is working and for whom. That will guide most of our plans going forward now that the kind of base is there, adding base on their feedback.Nathan: Yes, excellent. I think all of this is really great advice and I just want to hear it from your perspective that jumping back to the beginning of this, why is building an email list an important step in generating customer conversions?Brittany: With the parts of our business that we’re focusing on that I‘m sure you are and so many software companies are, with these big packages and a lot of people using it, the pretty long sales cycle. We can’t expect someone to just come, read a post, and sign up. That might have worked well for us in the past, but it wasn’t going to fly here. Since email is the most effective way of reaching someone on a regular basis, it’s not as crowded as social media. It’s easier then to pass over to sales and directly contact them, best way to really nurture someone.Nathan: Brittany, as you went through this strategy, what was one of the biggest lessons you learned from implementing your lead generation strategy?Brittany: It kind of sucks, but I learned that there’s no set or right way. I wish there was just the framework that we could always follow, but for some when we started building out the campaigns more, we started with one piece and for each stage at the funnel and then it would be awesome if we can figure out a way that awareness is going to have this many pieces and they’ll be this, but we found from just looking at the analytics, talking to sales, that there will be some campaigns that need five pieces of awareness content and one for each other to perform successfully, other ones only need one awareness piece but they need a ton of pieces further down the line and stuff like that. That makes me really glad that we started off small instead of creating five awareness pieces off the bat for a use case that didn’t need that.Nathan: I think that’s super valuable. Getting back to that idea of the minimum viable project that you did, you just did one piece in each different funnel that sounded like so that you could use that data to understand if you should do more.Brittany: Looking back if we hadn’t done that, it would’ve been so easy to create unnecessary content and then end up with too little content in the areas that we didn’t really need. I’m so glad that we waited at the time.Nathan: Okay Brittany, that’s it. Thanks a lot for giving us a behind the scenes look at how Mention generates leads. I think some of my biggest take aways here were to really think about this as that minimum viable project where you can ship something small, get some data and feedback, and then iterate. Concentrating on projects that have the biggest impact for potential growth makes a lot of sense. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with us.Brittany: No problem. Always happy to.
Nathan is the Head of Content & SEO at SimpleTexting. He's a demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, running ultra marathons, and canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.
Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn.