Getting Into the Flow with Content Marketing

You know the old saying, “it’s about quality, not quantity”!  But that adage isn’t entirely true with regards to content marketing in B2B or B2C spaces.  It’s about quality AND quantity!  Because your audience and people in general, are always looking for good stories and snippets that educate, entertain and inform.  And over time, as your content stream is recognized as being valuable and interesting, your prospects and customers will return and stay engaged when you have a more compelling call to action. 

Case in point, during my last product marketing role I had two email streams, one for Microsoft and one for Red Hat.  Given my company’s long history in the Microsoft training space, our email campaigns typically had much better engagement and open rates than similar Red Hat emails.  Approximately 30% to 35% better open rates which is pretty significant. Our Red Hat training portfolio was resell meaning we didn’t have any Red Hat expertise on staff.  

Thankfully I had and built up a relationship with an external Red Hat consultant and analyst, Kerry.  As Red Hat prepared to launch Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7), a key release of their flagship offering, I really wanted to take advantage of this big news.  My expectation was that there would be a lot of excitement and pent up demand for education and training on RHEL 7.  

Working with Kerry, we created a very thorough content stream of blog posts and whitepapers leveraging the beta version of RHEL 7 about 3 – 4 months before the product would release.  Lighter weight RHEL 7 blog posts were easier to develop and would drive social media efforts on twitter and Facebook.  As we got closer to GA, we went with more technology rich content like whitepapers for stronger, value-add assets.  

While blog posts and whitepapers are great for passive, inbound marketing, these same great stories are also perfect for outbound emails.  Leveraging the same content and topics, I created an email campaign that would first announce to our customer base about the release of RHEL 7 with great fanfare.  And of course, point to all the associated content we had available for people.  The core training Red Hat training portfolio was a secondary Call to Action.  My next email focused on those key training classes.  Email number three moved to the certification story and then finally the fourth email spoke to higher-level Red Hat training and associated exam prep products available to support the foundational RHEL 7 classes.  

As this cadence of content and emails continued for a span of six months or so, I noticed open rates and click-through rates on our Red Hat emails increase steadily.  By the end of the six months, there was about a 45% increase in Red Hat email engagement.  Those numbers had been pretty steady-state for the previous 2 years so I can comfortably say that the Red Hat content stream really helped drive that customer engagement.  Our customers had started to expect valuable news and information in our marketing content stream.  

One of the key marketing mantras I rely on is repeating your message over and over so it’s digested properly.  You need to go out not just once or twice but many times over the course of a campaign to drive your message in.  By the end of this campaign for the launch of RHEL 7 training, our email open rates had surpassed our Microsoft list and had our Red Hat training business out of the gates, fast!  So when you think of content marketing, focus on quality AND quantity!  And then leverage that great content in a consistent and repetitive fashion for your outbound and customer communications.  You’ll start to see the results if your content is being received by your audience resulting in a stronger pipeline of leads and engagement!  

Ron Wen



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