Have you ever wondered how do successful companies generate leads from B2B content marketing while others suck and waste money?
Today I'm going to share with you a case study of successful B2B content marketing strategy. You'll learn:
+ How Sales Hacker increased their traffic by 268% from 90.000 monthly visitors to 242.000 in 6 months
+ The breakdown of Sales Hacker's lead generation and lead nurturing approach
+ How do they align marketing and sales team around content marketing
What is interested that Sales Hacker didn't increase the marketing budget.
They didn't have lots of social media followers.
They didn't invest heavily in the paid ads.
I invited a person who was "in charge" of this success, Gaetano Di Nardi, VP of marketing at Sales Hacker, to share with you the exact process they used.
Sales Hacker B2B content marketing strategy
First of all, let me underline the fact that we are talking about highly competitive space. Sales Hacker has strong authoritative competitors as Hubspot, Marketo, Salesforce, who were already ranked for most of their target keywords.
Gaetano decided to produce high-quality and highly optimized content for very specific keywords that aren’t difficult to rank for, then produce the best possible content on the topic.
For example, the biggest driver of organic traffic growth was ranking #1 for very targeted keywords as Sales operations and Sales Skills. These keywords generate Sales Hacker lots of quality traffic.
But you'd understand that the increased traffic colume impacted Sales Hacker's pipeline and revenue indirectly because Sales Hacker doesn't have a specific product.
Their business model is generating high-quality B2B leads for their partners.
That's why we don't share any revenue numbers here.
Learn how to attract and nurture high-quality B2B leads on LinkedIn without spending a dime on ads or sending cold emails.
Here is a list of my key learnings about Sales Hacker's B2B content marketing strategy.
Sales Hacker content team looks at the content that already ranked #1 on Google. If they can’t produce 3x-5x better content, they don’t add the topic to their content plan.
It takes 3 to 6 months to start ranking for target keywords. You'd be patient.
Don’t try to target for keywords that already ranked by companies with a strong domain authority (like Hubspot or Salesforce in Sales Hacker’s case).
Tips for the companies who are just starting with inbound marketing.
When Gaetano started at Sales Hacker, they already had the engine process, but it was broken a bit, so he just needed to fix it.
If you are brand new or early-stage startup and want inbound marketing to be a part of your strategy, you need really commit to it. You can't be one foot in, one foot out.
You also need leads coming fast.
The best way to start inbound marketing is just to hire one person working on it and involve your sales team into outbound lead generation.
Don’t ignore outbound and go all in for inbound. Inbound marketing won't generate leads quickly, but the compound interest and ROI will be significant over time.
B2B Content marketing metrics that Sales Hacker tracks
What’s the difference between B2B content marketing metrics and B2C?
Sometimes marketers ask me this question, so I want to highlight the difference.
In B2C, you focus on the conversions, deal value, and content ROI while in B2B, you should focus on the number of marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads.
There are still common metrics like bounce rate, time on the page, search rankings which show you how engaged your website visitors are.
Let's review Sales Hacker B2B content marketing metrics.
The North Star metric of their B2B content marketing strategy – email list growth by directors and VP’s of marketing.
1. New email subscribers by leads source ( where the most quality leads came from) and unsubscribe by the leads source.
Example: Sales Hacker did a co-sponsored event. They got new email subscribers from that event and tried them to double opt-in.
Only a few of them opted-in, most just unsubscribed.
This way they evaluate the efficiency of the marketing activity and make decisions about what works for them and what doesn't work.
2. Overall month list growth by percentage.
Sales Hacker breaks this down by the audience segment.
What’s the engage rate and growth of VP's of sales compared to VP’s of marketing? It dictates what they do around content strategy.
3. Campaigns from UTM.
Sales Hacker wants to see the ROI from Facebook ad campaigns, co-marketing events, webinar registrations and attendees, and registration from sources.
4. Weekly newsletter performance.
Here they track overall engagement as open rates, click rates, delivery rate, bounce rate, etc.
5. Month over month organic traffic and organic keyword growth.
Sales Hacker tracks the trajectory for the traffic based on their target keyword positions and volumes.
6. Paid acquisition.
Sales Hacker tracks impressions, clicks, and conversions from FB ads.
B2B lead generation strategy
Sales Hacker lead generation approach is very different from traditional B2B lead generation.
They don’t do any outbound sales: cold calling or cold outreach email. They heavily promote the content from their blog and focus on getting people to sign to the email list.
What really surprised me that they don't use at all the most common tool for converting website visitors to subscribers as pop-ups.
You'll never see at Sales Hacker's website gigantic pop-ups like «Do you want more traffic? No, then you suck at marketing».
Even Sales Hacker's north star metric is email list growth by directors and VP’s of marketing, they don't use pushy methods.
Sales Hacker believes (what became the foundation of their B2B content marketing strategy) that if the content is really good and valuable for the target audience, they’ll decide to signup to email list anyway.
After people subscribed to Sales Hacker's email list, they activate and engage with new subscribers with a help of marketing automation. Sales Hacker developed a specific buyer journey and send very specific content to each market segment.
First of all, Sales Hacker sends a welcome email with a video what Sales Hacker is about, and asks to fill in an enrichment survey.
Survey asks about specific job role, department, business experience, topics subscribers are interested in, size of the company.
The average response rate is15% that is really good.
If new subscribers don’t fill in the survey, Sales Hacker sends their data to Clearbit and try to enrich there.
Every quarter they check the database and add to separate segment subscribers, who weren't enriched.
Then Sales Hacker sends these subscribers again enrichment survey and asks them to fill in. The email is very simple like «We want to learn more about you and personalize your experience».
When the survey (Sales Hacker uses Typeform) is filled in, the information transfers automatically to Active Campaign.
Such enrichment and proper segmentation are critical to Sales Hacker as they host events to the very specific audiences and mass email blast can provoke huge unsubscribe rate.
At this point, you might ask: what do they do with the subscribers who don't fit Sales Hacker's ideal customer profile?
Sales Hacker don’t delete them as these subscribers still engage with the content, share it and recommend Sales Hacker. On the contrary, Sales Hacker tries to nurture and make them the brand advocates.
Sales Hacker has 2 different segments for lead nurturing.
1. Activation for content and engagement.
Before starting to send them any offers, Sales Hacker passes you through drip email series based on your interests. They don’t send any offers like many companies do because this doesn’t work.
Before the subscriber is considered to be activated they need to meet several engagement criteria: complete onboarding survey, get classified in the database, time bound - subscribers must be on the list for 90 days and you sign up to a webinar or read the long-form guide for 1m 30 sec.
2. Leads' qualification for partnership program - B2B SaaS.
1) They go to a partnership program and fill in the form. Sales Hacker has there a questionnaire where leads can be qualified.
2) They can request a meeting with the head of sales via chatbot.
3) They passed Sales Hacker's content journey and are hyper-engaged - they read lots of content and sign up for several webinars.
Let's look at the Sales Hacker's sales funnel.
When the subscriber is activated, head of sales at Sales Hacker gets a notification. He checks whether this lead fits an ideal customer profile, what content did he engage with, what are his current challenges.
If the lead fits ICP, Sales Hacker sales team try to find this person on LinkedIn and start a conversation. The approach is very similar to what James Carbary from Sweet Fish Media do to generate leads from the podcast.
The sales process is very simple.
Sales Hacker just share the case study and all the stats:
+ What kind of event they arranged for their partners
+ What was the topic
+ How many leads sign up for the webinar and how many attended it
+ How many leads Sales Hacker's partner generated from the event
+ How did they promote the event
This way Sales Hacker's prospects clearly can see what results can they expect.
That’s how Sales Hacker aligned marketing and sales team around content marketing.
When Sales Hacker finishes campaign for their partner, they send a report with all campaign stats.
What is really great in their approach is they try to host a post-campaign session where ask their partners:
+ Did the campaign met their goals?
+ What are their feelings? What could be done better?
+ Are they satisfied with everything?
+ Do they want to schedule a new campaign?
At the end of the session, head of sales asks a partner whether they know some companies who might benefit from working with Sales Hacker?
Every single time they get 2-3 recommendations and introductions.