Want to stand out from the noise? Then you have to say goodbye to the status quo. Because doing something “the way it’s always been done” will leave you in the dust.
In 1807, John Wiley & Sons, also known as Wiley, began publishing American literary greats like Herman Melville and Edgar Allen Poe. That’s 208 years of publishing. Today, we’re a global publishing company known for quality non-fiction and reference brands, including our For Dummies brand. We’re committed to modern marketing, and position ourselves as the go-to digital publisher, research institution and knowledge-provider for B2B brands.
And, even with a 208-year-old history, we didn’t get there by saying “that’s the way it’s always been done.”
Revamping Our Go-To Market Plan
As the top learning resource in publishing, focusing on our For Dummies branding, we knew that in order to keep Wiley relevant in the ever-changing publishing landscape, a refresh of our marketing was in order.
The For Dummies B2B Custom Solutions sales cycle is not short—often ranging anywhere between six to nine months. This lengthy sales cycle usually requires us to provide the prospect with additional insight into our solution along with consistent check-ins from the sales team. Calendar reminders just weren’t the right solution for distributing relevant content along the buyer’s journey.
So, we did a refresh. We explored new marketing automated technology and planned a go-to-market strategy that focused on high-quality content that engaged our prospects and drove lead conversions. With the help of some new tech solutions and a solid plan, we embarked on our biggest Dummies B2B demand generation campaign to date.
In order to deliver the right content at the right time for our For Dummies B2B Custom Solutions brand, we took a forward-thinking approach that kept our customer top of mind. These are our five keys to success.
1. Clearly Define Your Objectives and Goals
Before we launched this campaign, we knew we needed to take the time to assess our current strategy to ensure sales and marketing alignment moving forward.
The majority of our marketing efforts were focused on costly bottom of the funnel tactics with no nurturing. The content being produced was disjointed, product-centric and centered too heavily on the “For Dummies” brand recognition.
The result? Many of our marketing qualified leads (MQLs) weren’t sales-ready, and thus, we weren’t converting to sales qualified leads (SQLs) at a high enough rate. We needed to:
- Improve the quality of our MQLs
- Improve conversion to SQLs
- Improve sales velocity
When you take the time to assess the successes and failures moving forward, you can create a campaign that avoids the trap of falling into a pattern. Remember “the way it’s always been done” can be your worst enemy.
2. Focus on Buyer-Centric Content
Product-centric content wasn’t getting us the results we wanted so we pivoted our focus, centering our content strategy around the individuals making the purchase—our buyer.
This was a fundamental, necessary change in how we positioned the “For Dummies” brand to our customers.
Setting out to better understand our buyer, we learned our target prospects were marketing professionals who specifically worked in the tech, healthcare and finance verticals. Armed with this knowledge, we could move forward, working directly with sales to craft our buyer personas.
Through the process, we sought to map each piece of content to a stage in the buyer’s journey, creating experiences based on questions our customers typically had. What are the buyer’s pain points? What motivates them? Where does the buyer turn to validate their decisions.
When making a customer experience map, it’s essential to know that you are not required to create all new content. This is the step in the process where a content audit is most helpful. Performing a content audit allowed us to find pre-existing content and align it with the customer experience. We also could very clearly see where our content was falling short so we could fill in the gaps and modify content to better fit the customer experience.
How We Did It:
After thorough research of our buyer personas, one particular pain point stood out. Our buyers were struggling to find creative ways to raise product awareness, while differentiating themselves from their competitors. Our prospects were hungry for marketing solutions that told their brand story in a new and different way.
To solve this pain point, we focused on creating case studies that outline how For Dummies B2B Custom Solutions solved this very problem. We clearly articulated how, when companies partner with us, we provide a content channel and strategy that cuts through the noise. We then tied that to clear, measurable results for the business—because we knew the pain point was about more than just awareness.
3. Planning Big Initiatives Takes Time
It’s just not realistic to think you’ll have a robust demand generation campaign done and delivering results in a short period of time. Building a robust campaign takes time, resources and intentionality. The key to a successful campaign is making sure you take the time to plan it out, everything from your personas, buyer’s journey, product offering, content and components of outreach are critical.
For us, the actual campaign creation took seven months to complete, from concept to launch. Before we began discussing the campaign, For Dummies spent six months conducting in-depth, one-on-one market research with our client demographic to better understand their needs and pain points as well as building a web page that best met their needs, showcasing customer solutions services. Additionally, we thought it was vital to build out consensus to ensure we ran a successful, buyer-focused campaign.
As soon as the campaign strategy launched, we used Kapost B2B marketing technology in order to allow multiple teams to collaborate in one spot. As the hub for the campaign brief, personas, buyer’s journey, content mapping, emails and landing page design, Kapost allowed our once siloed teams to stay on track. Custom workflows, where we could build in time to test and troubleshoot issues, were essential to our team avoiding bottlenecks and meeting our tight deadlines.
4. Take an Omni-Channel Approach
Your buyers are in control. Content needs to be strategically aligned and distributed across channels to provide a consistent customer experience.
That’s why we didn’t rely on a single channel for directing our prospects into our campaign funnel. You need multiple sources to direct people to your campaign. This doesn’t mean you need to create multiple pieces of content or landing pages, but instead, that you’re meeting your customers where they are to then direct them towards your campaign.
When choosing your channels, don’t guess where their hanging out, ask them via surveys and research. We chose Twitter, LinkedIn, Paid Google Ads and Outbrain Ads to reach our prospective buyers. Each of these aligned with an email nurture campaign to make follow up consistent, timely and on-message.
5. Analyze Results Often
Even the best campaign can stagnate, so it’s key to analyze your results often. If you’re not tracking your results, you won’t know what’s working—and what isn’t. Analyze your results weekly, at least, so you can quickly iterate.
Because we were analyzing our results on a weekly basis, we were able to capture methods that were falling short, quickly pivoting to meet our high goals. A month into the campaign, we decided to pause the sponsored posts on Outbrain and instead redirect the budget to paid sponsorship posts on LinkedIn. Although Outbrain worked well for the B2C side of our business, our results were showing it as a less than effective tool for B2B.
Additionally, we changed our Google Ad campaign. We started with an ad that directed to an Eloqua landing page, but the form fill was too large and asked for a first click. So, instead, we redirected the search campaign to our B2B Custom Solutions homepage at Dummies.biz, which led to a 12 percent increase in traffic.
Our results were two-fold. First, there were the short-term results we looked at on a weekly basis to determine how our content was performing. We looked specifically at:
- Email: Open rates and form submissions from gated content (e.g., white paper)
- Site traffic: Unique visitors and net new names from a contact form on the website
- Social reaction to the content, namely, sponsored content on Twitter and LinkedIn
Second, we looked at our long-term results, these are the revenue-driven results that filter further into the sales funnel. This is the good news.
Year-over-year results demonstrated an increases in MQL by 64 percent, a 132 percent increase in SQL and $1.1 million in potential new business in the SQL pipeline. Our campaign isn’t over yet, and we’ve already closed $200k+ in new revenue.
Whether your organization is old or new, large or small, it can be all too easy to fall into patterned ways of approaching your marketing. But this line of thinking can hold your team back from creating revenue-driving marketing content. When you focus on investing in new solutions and buyer-centric content, you’ll fundamentally change the way your company does marketing, boasting a customer experience that engages prospects and grows your business.