A new twist for lead-generation campaigns: content optimization
Mention the phrase “content optimization” to an e-media professional, and he’ll think you’re talking about making your website search engine-friendly. But one B2B publisher is turning that definition on its ear – and into a new revenue stream for its lead-generation business.
International Data Group (IDG), a technology trade publisher, is offering a service line to audit, analyze and optimize the content that advertisers create for lead-generation campaigns. It’s a way for the publisher to use its content expertise to offer advertisers a value-added service – at a premium price.
Here’s how the audit process works: IDG experts will take a look at everything from email copy to white papers and webcasts, using a methodology called Market Fusion to gauge the potential impact of an asset on converting a lead. The Market Fusion tool analyzes more than 20 attributes of a marketing asset, such as format, type and target audience. It then applies measurements to gauge the prospect's engagement with an asset, as well as his intent to purchase.
The goal is to get advertisers to view their content as strategically as they do the marketing programs built around those assets. Frank Cutitta, general manager of IDG Connect, the IDG division that offers the content optimization service as part of its lead-generation programs, acknowledges that when it comes to lead-gen campaigns, most advertisers practice random acts of content: “They’ll say they need 100 leads in the next 30 days, and they have three white papers and two webcasts to promote, but they haven’t thought of what’s in those white papers and webcasts.”
Often, the content does not align with the reader’s stage in the purchase cycle, which can reduce the quality of the leads. “When you don’t put content first, you get a very different type of lead,” Cutitta says, “because bad content is only magnified by a format like webcasting.”
IDG research has shown that a lack of appropriate content can reduce the chance of closing a sale by up to 45 percent. The audit and optimization service has become a differentiator for IDG Connect in a lead-gen space crowded with competitors.
Over the past year, IDG has helped more than 20 clients perform thousands of audits, Cutitta says. Pricing for the audits runs between $500 and $800 per asset, depending on the number and complexity of the content attributes.
“We usually find that 20 assets is the optimal start, since a critical piece of the audit is mapping assets into some kind of logical engagement sequence,” says Cutitta. For example, technology buyers – IDG’s and its advertisers’ primary target audience – favor certain types of information as they progress through the purchase cycle, from education, to research, to developing a business case, to recommending or making a purchase.
Based on its audit, IDG will recommend a “content curriculum” that aligns with this cycle – beginning with “101”-level information and progressing toward what Cutitta calls the “Mensa level,” which is where the serious buyers are found.
“The content maps to what the actual readers want, at a really granular level,” says Cutitta. “And once you have excellent content, then you can map it to the best formats.”
IDG’s content audit often includes a frequently overlooked asset: call-center scripts. Marketers tend to forget that in an email or other promotional campaign, the call-center agent often represents the first personal engagement the brand has with a potential buyer.
“Bad scripts keep conversions low, even if the quality of the leads is high,” says Cutitta. He recommends equipping call-center agents with scripts that allow them to act as a “content concierge,” leading the prospect to more sophisticated forms of content – and closer to a purchase decision.
IDG Connect is now extending its auditing service to encompass social media such as Twitter. If an article, webcast, or some other content asset has been “re-Tweeted” several times, for example, IDG can run an analysis on it to determine the attributes that made it interesting enough for people to recommend.
“We want to replicate those attributes,” says Cutitta. And, increasingly, so do IDG’s advertisers.