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Growth Marketing Conference: How to use content marketing to get new customers

Last updated on December 8th, 2015 at 02:59 pm

At this week’s Growth Marketing Conference, December 3, in San Francisco’s Hotel Kabuki, quote-to-cash solution vendor Apttus offered key insights into marketing innovations as Maria Pergolino, the company’s global vice president of marketing, discussed how one of Silicon Valley’s latest billion-dollar unicorns has used content marketing to acquire new customers and “explode revenue,” as the organizers described the session.

Even minus the hyperbole, Pergolino delivered useful marketing takeaways as B2B News Network has covered at other events.

Content marketing in B2B DNA

People can overcomplicate marketing, in Pergolino’s opinion. “At its basics, we (marketers) think about channels—TV, radio, internet, social and mobile are all just channels,” she says. It’s marketing’s job to put content into those channels, according to Pergolino. And all channels can be optimized with content to communicate with the customer.

When Pergolino worked at Marketo in inbound marketing, she says that content lived in that B2B company’s DNA. However, when she got to Apttus three years ago, she came on as only the second marketing employee at the fast-growing startup. At that time, the B2B firm had only one white paper, she says. They needed content for videos, blogs, best practices white papers and other collateral pieces, according to Pergolino.

“In marketing, the marketer always comes in and says we need white papers, videos and a volume of content,” Pergolino says. “Nowadays, (B2B companies) have volume content. Seven years ago it wasn’t that way.”

Back then actual excitement could be generated when you came out with a new white paper, as Pergolino might put it.

With the marketing cupboard somewhat bare at Apttus, Pergolino decided to take a different approach. Rather than try to manufacture an entire lineup of individual content marketing pieces, she decided to leverage the company’s “quote-to-cash” certification program.

“We’ve done one big piece of content on quote-to-cash and reuse it all the time for the last two and half years,” Pergolino says. “Apttus repurposes like crazy.”

In her opinion, B2B marketers should choose big chunks of content that have quality rather than maximize the quantity of little pieces of low quality content, a strategy not dissimilar to what B2BNN has heard from LinkedIn’s widely acclaimed content marketer Jason Miller.

‘No one watches webinars anymore’

One of the more startling assertions heard at the Growth Marketing Conference came when Pergolino seemingly declared the death of webinars. “No one watches webinars anymore,” she says. “No one has an hour to sit and watch one.”

However, while no one has the time to “watch” webinars any longer, Pergolino still finds the content marketing format productive. As Pergolino estimates, Apttus has 1000 employees who would willingly write a blog post if she asked them, but 998 would not come through because they’re too busy doing their regular day jobs. However, if you put a webinar broadcast date on their Outlook calendars, they will find the time to prepare for that format.

“We can repurpose (webinar content) into slides, blogs, podcasts and two-minute videos,” Pergolino says, whereupon she produced a slide with about 30 content types from which repurposed webinar content can be generated. “Be careful thinking that webinars are outdated.”

Slide from Maria Pergolino's talk in the Apptus session at the Growth Marketing Conference in SF. Via Apptus
Slide from Maria Pergolino’s talk in the Apptus session at the Growth Marketing Conference in SF. Via Apptus

Influencers as content marketers

Coming down the homestretch, Pergolino brought up a subgenre of content marketing that many see as a hot topic: influencer marketing, perhaps better known as advocacy marketing. Apttus uses an advocacy marketing solution from Influitive for which use cases can be read online.

According to Pergolino, it’s important for a B2B marketer to find internal and external contributors to help with the content function. Using the Influitive solution, Apttus can gain these contributors and turn them into advocates—Apttus All-Stars—by rewarding their efforts with recognition, including badges, rewards and leaderboards to create a fun and engaging experience, according to Influitive’s website.

Personalization, account-based marketing and content distribution

The remainder of Pergolino’s presentation looked at content marketing buzz phrases such as personalization, account-based marketing and content distribution.

For personalization, Pergolino advocates using customized landing pages and even personalized websites—perhaps microsites. A highly actionable step would be her suggestion to use personalized banners and videos, which can be accomplished through retargeting and other methods.

A more meaningful observation came from Pergolino regarding content distribution, because good content is not enough, according to her presentation. It is vital to promote content through email, social media, content syndication, press releases, search engine marketing, websites, sponsorships and events. After all, if you prepare a white paper and no one receives it, did you ever prepare it at all?

“Marketing needs to spend time distributing content,” she says. “The sales team should be used as a channel to distribute content.”

The problem: it’s hard to get sales to download, print and send content to their customers. An approach that works better is a company store where sales representatives can order content as well as company-branded tchotchkes. Sales goes on the site, makes their selections and passes them along to customers, according to Pergolino. In the process, sales people get points that will be reflected in the Influitive application, presumably.

Pergolino closed by showing the obligatory slide that every B2B marketer must display of her marketing technology stack. She said she did not have much to say about it, except to point out that compared to branding and lead generation, there are not many content marketing tech tools available, beyond WordPress for blogs, and CMS, in some cases.

Without many content marketing tech solutions available, B2B marketers may want to utilize her insight that to grow your revenue you must grow your marketing team.

Stay tuned to B2B News Network for more session coverage from the Growth Marketing Conference

Photo via Derek Handova


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Derek Handova
Derek Handova
Derek Handova is a veteran journalist writing on various B2B vertical beats. He started out as associate editor of Micro Publishing News, a pioneer in coverage of the desktop publishing space and more recently as a freelance writer for Digital Journal, Economy Lead (finance and IR beats) and Intelligent Utility (electrical transmission and distribution beats).