The Best of the Best in B2B Content Marketing
After evaluating hundreds of B2B brands, we narrowed it down to the best of the best. The 2016 Kapost 50 are top-notch marketing teams, learning to integrate strategies, create full-funnel content, and value quality over quantity—all to thrive in the digital age. Dive in to read their stories of world-class marketing.
Their team thrives in the digital age using strategically repurposed content, a cutting-edge, brand-supportive design, and data-driven decision making. They begin with top-line goals— figuring out specific measures of success to see how everybody on the team can support high-level goals. Then, the content journey is mapped to buying cycle and personas, ensuring the content they’re creating really resonates with their target audience.
In the past year, they initiated an entire rebrand and website overhaul, while also producing an array of content, from webinars and ads, to direct mail. By partnering with key players in the field, like Harvard Business Review and Laszlo Block, their content is able to extend to even more likeminded people.
If content is king, than content pillars are queen—and CEB is true royalty. They took their meaty, white paper entrée pillar and broke it down into snackable appetizers and desserts to support multiple channels (e.g., live events, search, and automated flow email) and formats (e.g., blog series, interactive quizzes and webinars). The modularity enables regional marketing teams to tailor the campaign mix to suit their local market.
They’ve nailed the content lifecycle, too. To ensure their content is discovered by their targeted prospects, they have weekly kick-off meetings to discuss planned content, while their digital experts weigh-in with best practices. Our favorite example is their content pillar, The 2016 Enterprise Analytics Study, which they turned into a handful of additional assets, like infographics and bite-sized blog posts. It deserves an A++ in our book!
By focusing on the online lives and behaviors of their prospects, the Eventbrite marketing team thrives in the digital age. While they’re at it, they’ve radically reengineered their marketing function, building a scalable demand generation machine with content. Thanks to internal alignment meetings and external collaboration with world-class partners like Facebook and Hubspot, they’re creating eBooks and webinars that provide authentic value to customers. Embracing the concept “build measure learn,” Eventbrite moves quickly to execute, distribute, and analyze their content while rapidly iterating to drive sustainable growth.
One of our favorite examples is this gorgeous, integrated music content campaign structured as a content pillar. The mighty thought-leadership asset, The Driving Force Behind Today’s Growth in Music Festivals, was pulled apart to produce a gated landing page and eBook, infographic, blog posts, emails, and more. They’ve also leveraged the research used to secure speaking opportunities at major industry events. How do we sign up?!
Flexshares offer investor-centric ETFs (exchange traded funds) specifically designed with real-world goals in mind. Their investment experts create new fund summaries each quarter. David and his team are tasked with creating a comprehensive digital marketing campaign to promote these fresh ideas. Their overall goal is to build an authoritative voice in the ETF vertical. In order to do so, they create logs, social media posts, SlideShares, webinar scripts, and email threads to help promote the summaries.
Leveraging OneSpace, a talent management platform with a pool of freelancers, they scaled their content creation efforts through an army of writers— allowing Flexshares’s lean content operations team to become incredibly nimble and competitive in a market saturated with large marketing budgets.
Their team used a combination of stellar branding, smart content, and partner initiatives to make this Allocadia’s most successful campaign to date. More importantly, they left their computer screens and talked to their customers, which turned into a foundation for the campaign. At tradeshows across the country, they asked marketers how they #RunMarketing for a chance to win running shoes. They also hosted an online contest asking for written and video entries on how they #RunMarketing. For the blog, they interviewed customers about how they run marketing like a soccer pro, an entrepreneur, a film director, a relay racer, and a pilot. This goldmine of crowd-sourced content was shared across social, and everything was supported via targeted email outreach and online advertising.
It looks like Allocadia #RunsMarketing pretty darn well.
Their team took an uber smart approach to content operations, shifting their strategy to updating and re-promoting previous posted content—versus throwing all their efforts and energy into writing new pieces. They also make what is sometimes seen as a dry topic compelling through educational videos, infographics, and gifs. The results? The blog saw 50% more traffic and 18% more conversions than in 2015, and the Tools & Resources section had a 44% increase in traffic and a 10% increase in conversions.
Those numbers really are in good hands.
They’re covering topics like millennials shaping the future of business travel and tips for how to stay sane on long flights. Perhaps the coolest piece of content is their whitepaper, The Generational Divide in Traveler Satisfaction, which comes with an interactive, ridiculously clever landing page that’ll make anyone excited to click-through.
American Express GBT has big plans to turn The Atlas into one of the top global destinations for business travel content, establishing it as their voice in the market and an ever evolving asset for American Express GBT.
The conference materials included a multimedia opening ceremony presentation with seven videos and three presenters, 32 breakout session powerpoints, and a pre-conference meeting for their operations team, including a video and two powerpoints. That’s a lot of content.
The marketing campaign for the conference included a B2B blog on amsurg.com, multiple forms of internal communications for corporate employees and conference attendees, and a digital signage campaign for registration. Their team also conducted a post-conference survey. And get this: Their team of five people executed the campaign seamlessly, completing everything within a three month time period. Now that’s an impressive content operation.
However, these B2B pros know it’s not just about writing and publishing. Their team of content marketing experts streamline operations through custom fields and metadata to conduct campaigns, field events, and push content through their digital channels. Customers consume content they’re specifically interested in, and all assets are controlled by a central hub. They also don’t miss a beat with what’s #trending—see this article on how to code, which draws examples from what else…but Pokemon Go.
Their content is just the tip of the iceberg for how they leverage unique network data to produce original health care journalism. They’ve seen amazing results through valuable opportunities like owned audience, earned media coverage, sales engagement, and accounts based marketing nurture. Athenahealth has definitely used content to position themselves as true innovators in a traditional space.
BOL worked closely with a client to develop marketing dashboards that allowed deep insight into the performance of their efforts across paid search and display channels. They implemented a closed-loop reporting system that revealed 53% of new opportunities were marketing-influenced and there was a 367% return on ad spend for their paid search and display campaigns.
Can we get a heck yeah?
Through strategic thought-leadership, CSC crafted a series of in-depth position papers detailing its strategy on transformational digital technologies like cloud, modern apps, and workplace, written for a business-savvy audience. They didn’t stop there. CSC then communicated this transformation both internally and externally through an integrated campaign. “Journey to the Digital Enterprise” blended the papers’ messages into social media, PR, and demand-generation efforts around the world.
But it’s 2016 baby! The DCustom team, despite growing their staff nearly 40%, was able to move quickly, efficiently, and with precision, through the combination of implementing smart workflows and transforming their office into a digital and cloud-based company.
They also realize it takes a village to make a mature content operation work. They have a collaboration-rich environment within and between departments—from the president down to the intern. They begin with a strategy to discover content goals and audiences and align all of their content to that strategy. Then they utilize multiple check points along the way through workflows, to ensure they stay on message to achieve business outcomes for clients. Once the content is published, they continue the process with promotion and amplification, and then close the loop with monthly reports that provide specific concrete recommendations to optimize content moving forward.
A mature content operation indeed!
The FedEx Freight® box is a product that introduces a simplified and affordable way for customers to ship stuff with a flat-rate box. Sounds great, right? But even the most helpful of products are useless unless there’s a smart marketing plan in place. The team went to work, launching an interactive freight box landing page on the FedEx Small Business Center, as well as several supporting assets. In addition to the landing page, they got the word out to existing and new customers through targeted emails, driver handouts, customer leave-behinds, ads, events, and (a lot) more. If this doesn’t scream “sophisticated marketing operation,” we don’t know what does.
In nine short months, marketers at GE Digital produced powerhouse content, centralizing over 1,500 assets, while also creating unique workflows and custom fields to support their metadata structure. To ensure alignment with GE Digital’s overall goals, the team created cross-team visibility into their content marketing strategy. One of our favorite finds is their customer stories section, where you’ll find innovative content like how GE developed an app to drive real-time improvements in athletic training for the Brazilian Canoe Federation (yeah, that’s a thing).
Don’t just take our word for it—see how the team videotaped conversations between clients and mobile experts while riding in a branded minivan through the streets of Barcelona—illustrating their mantra of “putting your business in motion” quite literally. As a result of their team’s efforts, the strategy led to a 490% increase in video views. Not too shabby, if you ask us.
Influitive’s Director of Customer and Advocate marketing, Truman Tang, set—and wildly achieved—his goal to drive over 1,000 referrals to Influitive. The foundation for his success began in aligning the marketing, sales, and customer success departments across the company. This was a serious endeavor, and a critical one.: Overall, their team used referrals to their benefit, so far seeing higher conversion rates, shorter sales cycles, and greater customer lifetime value.
Shifting to agile marketing resulted in some serious gains along with valuable lessons. To name just a few interesting examples, they doubled the number of emails sent per month while increasing click-through rate by 62%. They also shifted focus to creating more landing pages, and saw a 342% increase in page views—plus a 565% increase in form completions. Talk about some crazy growth. Still, one of their biggest learning lessons is that to increase leads, they need to increase the specificity and decrease the length of content to help with search results. In this example, less really is more.
Their team focuses on targeting using content based on where prospects are in the funnel, while ensuring consistent messaging across channels. They also target specific accounts further down the funnel. They use technologies like Marketo and Terminus to create hyper-personalized email and display campaigns that work in concert with offline touchpoints like direct mail and SDR outreach.
Hungry for more? Look no further than Invoca’s 2016 Call Intelligence Index campaign, which was based on analytics of over 50 million customer phone calls. They worked with their Business Intelligence team to collect the data, and then analyzed, wrote, and managed the design of a beautiful report and arsenal of derivative content, including their Call Intelligence Index Infographic. If it doesn’t light up your B2B content marketing hearts, we don’t know what will.
Look no further than this landing page and content pillar that includes elements such as eBooks, blog posts, emails, and smart keywords, to drive small business lead captures. A particularly cool asset is their Health care 101 eBook, which is chock-full of information every small business owner should know about in health care—a topic we all know can be super confusing. For something a little lighter, head over to their Food for Health blog, and warm up with a bowl of lentil soup.
For a global team, detailed initiatives and meta-tagged content is key to collaborating well and breaking down silos. Throughout the entire content lifecycle, they’re able to report on progress and activities all the way up to their CEO in a cohesive and organized way, while syncing up initiatives across platforms and maintaining consistency in the messaging, look, and feel of the content. Just take a look yourself—this campaign is chock-full of compelling videos, media hits, and human stories that bridge the gap between people and product.
The success of their content operation starts with early planning and coordination between their content producers, product, and creative teams. They also include a feedback system into their content scoring and creative review. Time to market has been key to their success—they saw a reduction of two weeks in average content production time after implementing their new processes, including using custom fields and a CMS integration to drive publishing automation. All of these smart efforts not only allow them to efficiently measure performance, but also to reach all of their campaign goals.
Can we get a #winning?
Here’s the play-by-play. They created a banner ad promoting their Audience Optimization (AO) solution, pointing to a specific landing page to download a case study about the product. They targeted this banner ad to an audience of website visitors who had read or expressed interest in the AO solution. They then captured behavioral data on the people who engaged with the advertisement, fed it into the system, and were able to narrow down the target audience to focus on only those most likely to click. They were also able to see what their interests were, how they interacted with digital content, and what messages might resonate with them best. Talk about knowing your audience.
The results have been fed back into their AO algorithm and are being used to refine the product for even better ROI. Through this experiment, they’ve nailed how content, creative, and targeting play a vital role in successful digital campaigns—something we all could get better at!
That’s how the Flowchart Fridays campaign was born. Whether a new movie release, the latest sports hype, or the newest election drama, every week they craft creative copy on a trending pop culture topic that’s put in a beautifully designed flowchart. See ‘em all!
Their top flowchart on crafting the perfect fantasy football league has over 200,000 page views, and a recent Hamilton flowchart received more Facebook interactions than any post in Lucid history. They’ve also been picked up by CNET, Huffington Post, and Gizmodo. Looks like finding your niche and creating top-notch content really does pay off.
They leveraged content to educate their users on how they can detect and combat ransomware. Through an eBook, comprehensive guide, infographic, webinar, and a handful of blog posts, they not only garnered $1.5M in their opportunity pipeline, but also undoubtedly kept their customers feeling secure.
Within a month of launching a new and improved content operations, they had more than 100 users across 16 teams globally. Within that, they produced a content library that delivered over $1M in production synergy within its first four months, and created a planning support group that provided audience insights and performance optimization recommendations to increase the effectiveness of their content. A great example of their content operation in action is the campaign they created around their Manulife Vitality product, delivering compelling brand and product benefit narrative through best-in-class health and wellness content, like how you can control your age through stress management and diet (sign us up!).
Over the past year, they recruited over 10 freelance writers and 11 physician bloggers who provide fresh, innovative, and SEO-friendly content for both their website and print. They’ve also tied each piece of content to a unique social media strategy, ensuring the right assets are delivered to the right channels and audience. Our favorite project is how they leverage web content in print by repurposing relevant, tip-based or slideshow articles into tear-out check lists for doctors. Out of the many killer data-points they’ve collected, a favorite is a steep reduction in bounce rates on their site.
In one year, Med Economics has gone a long, long way. They make every decision based on analytics and incorporate content marketing techniques to ensure their readers engage with all the awesome material they’re producing.
Through all of this change, they realized these four key goals were key to their success: bring order and transparency to program management, introduce standard processes and timelines to campaign creation, provide transparency to the organization about marketing’s activities, and, finally, set the stage for more dynamic and organized planning.
Recent evidence of their success was an integrated campaign that took the results of a survey they conducted. Collaborating on the survey itself, they developed the creative for survey emails, produced a visually compelling infographic summarizing the results, and implemented a smart promotion campaign through email, website, and social media. The campaign was an immediate success and directly impacted their lead pipeline and closed sales.
Despite all of their organizational shifts, it looks like they’ve clearly nailed integration and collaboration.
Still, easier said than done. To keep campaign momentum going, MuleSoft’s digital marketing team invested in a smart integration strategy, achieving great results when all of their digital channels where working together. For starters, their SEO team altered their metadata structure and audience segments, resulting in a hefty increase in organic traffic to their website. Their marketing leads instituted real-time personalization, and their social team increased revenue a whopping 115% through expanding Account Based Marketing (ABM) efforts. They also prioritized creating a top lead-converting asset by recycling old assets into a long-form book. The results? You guessed it: stellar sales and revenue performance.
In addition to killing their integrated marketing game, they also aren’t afraid to go behind-the-scenes and write about their culture, too. Don’t miss one of our favorite blog posts: Putting our culture of innovation into practice.
As calculated as B2B marketing can get, what we love about PFL is their willingness to bend the rules. In addition to their robust digital, multi-channel marketing strategy, they’ve also added direct mail into the mix. Most recently, they created a 12-week nurture campaign that combined email and targeted display ads, along with direct mail sends and phone calls.
By mixing it up a bit, all of the pieces worked together to provide not only a cohesive, but fun, user experience. The best part was they saw their digital engagement rates soar; compared to those who didn’t receive direct mail, they generated a 258% engagement lift, and ignited their sales, which led to a huge increase in revenue and ROI. The return of snail mail has arrived!
In the last year, they had four Buyer Maps that guided the development of four books (print and electronic), a handful of webinars, blog posts, Youtube videos, demos, white papers, analyst reports, and lots of social content. Phew! Yet, the idea is super simple: If their entire marketing team uses the same map to base their activities, their team and their prospects will end up at the same place. And if there is smart content operations, they’re better able to align, execute, distribute, and analyze the success of their efforts.
Still, how do they thrive? The answer is through a stellar, streamlined workflow. They brought together a small, tight-knit team to streamline their content operations—from topic generation through writing, publishing, and measurement. Their editorial approach thrives on strategic collaboration, too. By employing a hub-spoke model, involving a small team of dedicated marketing strategists supported by a broad network of freelancers, they have near-instant access to veteran writers across every industry being transformed by IoT. Whether talking about enhancing patient safety or how to transform your business with IoT, the time between concept and creation is only a matter of hours.
With the ultimate goal of “demystifying IoT” for general business readers, ensuring the use of timely and relevant content is key for the Microsoft team. They work with internal R&D teams, industry experts, featured customers, and the entire Microsoft partner ecosystem to identify the best stories that make the IoT vision understandable and achievable. This all-inclusive approach to developing content with an obsession on the customer is core to making IoT accessible to everyone. They do this by telling customer-driven, not product-driven, stories: “Our audience doesn’t care about how great we are; they want to know how we can help their business thrive, and all our content decisions are fixed on that need.”
Drops the mic.
As a global company, they quickly realized being able to share, translate, and measure marketing materials is a big task, and that an efficient workflow is key to effective content. This year, they implemented a marketing operations framework they call Global Theatre Local (GTL), where all global content is hosted in one place (Kapost!) and various workflows are set up so content, requests, and data can be funneled to the right people and teams. See their success for yourself in their hefty resources section on their website, overflowing with infographics, case-studies, webinars, and guides.
When talking about Account Based Management (ABM), B2B experts agree the journey from theory to practice can be a bumpy road. Alas, even though AMB represents a great opportunity to get marketing closer to your targeted account list, many ABM programs fail.
This year, Panaya introduced ABM—and thrived. With an integrated program that included programmatic ABM and innovative technologies coupled with world-class account level metrics and a unique content strategy, they mastered the ability to automate and scale their marketing strategy. Better yet, they received management buy-in and are now engaging sales on an account level and seeing wild success. If ABM is all the hype, Panaya’s proved that a little hype can go a long way.
Their team created a Brexit content hub after the June UK referendum in order to help their clients understand how it would affect international operations. Their marketing team played a critical role as part of the “Brexit task force” in organizing an integrated, long-term campaign built upon the expertise of Radius CEO, Stephen Chipman, and advisors in HR, Global Mobility, and Tax and Legal. The campaign includes a series of blogs written by experts in each practice area, “Ask Me Anything” webinars, social media, a live event series held with Radius partners in major U.S cities, and a Brexit Action Assessment tool that advisors use to walk clients through steps to prepare their companies for the UK’s exit from the EU. Radius’ PR agency was able to use this body of content to secure press mentions for Radius execs and experts in the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Express, Crain’s New York, and more.
What’s more, all Brexit content is strategically tagged and available for Radius client teams to use for their benefit. The campaign to help clients navigate the complexities of Brexit will continue for at least two years as Brexit events continue to unfold, and their content hub is set up to align, distribute, execute, and analyze all of their assets accordingly.
Launched in May 2016 with five candidates, the tool evolved along with the presidential race, where they then created head-to-head categories like email list size, open rate, and complaint rate for the final two candidates. In addition to the data reported in the Email for President tool, Return Path also performed an in-depth analysis of various aspects of the candidates’ email strategy, including fundraising tactics, welcome emails, and unique campaign creative. Much of this exclusive content has been published on the Return Path blog and promoted through social.
To round out this multi-channel campaign, their team conducted extensive media outreach around the election data, and insights related to Email for President have been featured in hundreds of news stories, including top-tier media outlets like The Washington Post.
Ahead of its 2016 survey, the internal communications team sought to increase awareness about positive, sustainable changes implemented in response to the last engagement survey, conducted in 2013. To accomplish this, the team launched a multi-channel, internal marketing campaign based upon three core strategies: market to gain attention, nurture to build understanding, and measure to optimize results.
The centerpiece of the campaign was a mobile-friendly interactive, infographic-style engagement report—a first of its kind content approach for the company. To attract employees to the report, the team designed a series of communications, including personalized emails, videos, blog posts, social media posts, intranet articles, and pop-up banner advertisements. The campaign far exceeded the team’s goals, including getting just under 5,000 employees to access the report, 425 employees to raise their hands to be advocates, and over 1,000 unique downloads of various materials on the interactive site.
For starters, The Expert’s Guide to Email Marketing is an awesome, educational guide created with input from multiple SendGrid customers. They also put together this uber-robust report, SendGrid’s Global Email Benchmark Report, based on the billions of emails that are sent each day—creating one of the most accurate reports about email engagement in the industry.
In addition to producing high-quality content, their team also collaborated to crush the distribution game, promoting through emails, blogs, a press release, Twitter campaigns, follow-up interviews, webcasts, and video. That’s one huge content pillar if you ask us!
Obtaining information about your audience isn’t always easy (or fun). That’s why SnapApp created Content Land, an engagement survey coupled as a quest, which uses interactive content to deliver relevant information to prospects. This was part of an integrated marketing campaign that crossed several channels and combined both their content and demand gen teams. In order to produce the content, they formed a dialogue and communication cadence. After the campaign launched, they actively reviewed it to make tweaks and improve performance.
Still not convinced a game is the way to go? See this from the source: “At SnapApp, we think your marketing must offer a similar experience. No longer is it enough to just produce more of the same—not yet another white paper, probably a PDF, with a lead gate thrown in front.”
Kudos to them.
Collaborating across teams, TDAI landed on a creative concept, Get Up, Stand Up, which included targeted landing pages, a multi-touch promotional email campaign, social, paid media, and direct mail. The best part? The campaign featured real advisors, hitting at what their customers really want to see and what they totally trust.
To boot, the campaign resulted in an 11% increase in Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and a 32% increase in active opportunities over the last year.
Terminus had major content wins this year, including publishing the first-ever book on ABM, Account-Based Marketing For Dummies, and hosting three major #FlipMyFunnel conferences in the US. Perhaps most impactful, though, was the launch of Terminus Cloud for ABM, a program designed to help marketers design comprehensive ABM software solutions with product options that integrate with existing marketing technology ecosystem—allowing them to create a comprehensive ABM software solution or cloud.
It’s safe to say Terminus is crushing the ABM game.
This year, they made significant platform improvements to their company blog, including a full redesign and website integration. Instead of housing their blog, Accelerating Science, on a microsite, it now sits on their company domain, creating a better customer experience while driving more people to their content. What’s more, the blog is also Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) enabled, so the reading experience is frictionless, regardless of the device they’re using. All of this has lead to huge traffic gains, motivating their internal team to make even more great content to share with customers.
TUNE’s integrated marketing campaign, “Deconstructing the Mobile Marketing Funnel,” does just that, diving into how the two funnels compare, along with tools and tactics to nail mobile marketing. The campaign, another beautiful example of a content pillar, includes a webinar, eBook, SlideShare, conference presentation, blog posts, social media and more. Now, the marketers they’ve captured are empowered with a crystal-clear understanding of the mobile funnel.
With these efforts, their marketing team now has the visibility and ability to take their content, obtain insights from digital behaviors, and deliver additional assets based on how engaged a lead is within the campaign. Vantiv now delivers discrete content to leads depending on where they are in the journey—letting the lead decide how and when to consume the story.
The hero of their campaign was the interactive assessment, which allowed video marketers to answer a series of questions in less than two minutes, to determine their level of video marketing maturity. For lead gen, the assessment was gated, and all subsequent information was collected and integrated into their tech stack so they could follow-up with their leads through hyper-targeted content. What’s more, Vidyard’s sales team was armed with unique content packages for each level of the maturity model.
To distribute the assessment far and wide, it was promoted through email, a blog post, YouTube advertising, organic and paid social, SlideShare, SEM, Vidyard’s website chat, and a segment in Demand Gen Report’s Report on Video Content in B2B—ensuring video marketers all over had a chance to see how their skills stack up. Not only was the assessment helpful for marketers, but it allowed the Vidyard team to identify, cultivate, and deepen relationships with prospective and current clients.
Pre-launch, they created a dedicated website with smart SEO to tease the product and collect names until the email campaign was ready to go. They also cultivated contacts using website sign-ups, third-party lists, and opt-in from social campaigns to build an audience. Using infographics and a gated technical paper, they were able to get information on prospective customers. The final asset was a video promoting the software assets, which was followed with a software demo offer—the final, and most important step.
The campaign was so successful, it’s been developed into a playbook that can be quickly implemented for upcoming products in the pipeline. That’s a double win in our book!
A recent webinar, Modernizing Finance: Technology for Finance Teams in Today’s Economy, is a perfect example of an insanely mature marketing team. The webinar was promoted through five advertisements that drove registration traffic. In addition, email invitations, social media, and landing page supported the campaign simultaneously. Post-webinar, a SlideShare presentation with two supporting advertisements, as well as an engagement email, were created to extend the life of the content. All of these activities—planning, drafting, approving, publishing, tracking—happened across teams, breaking down silos and promoting crystal-clear collaboration.