Should you give a Valuable Content Award to one of your own clients? If they’ve taken your advice and run with it, taking it further and making their content greater than you’d ever have imagined then YES – I think you definitely should.
We are overjoyed to present the latest Valuable Content Award to the team at Bristol-based IT services company Desynit. This is a small company with a big story that’s winning hands down with content marketing.
We caught up with Desynit’s determined, ever-creative (and totally lovely) marketing manager Amy Grenham. Here’s how their research-led content strategy is driving some really impressive sales results.
Please tell us about your approach to content. Why did you choose this route?
“We’re an IT services company. What we do for our customers is transformational really. It’s very exciting and cutting edge but also hard to communicate and quite complex. When it comes to hiring a systems development partner there’s a lot customers want to know; it can be a big decision. I think that’s why a content-led marketing approach is so perfect for us.
Content marketing is a way of taking people on this journey of understanding and supporting them throughout so you build their trust. People need reassurance and clarity at each stage of the buying decision – throughout the process of engaging with us and when they become a customer too.
We’re using our digital content to communicate why it’s worth starting this journey of business transformation, what it’s going to be like, what’s going to happen along the way, what will it cost, what are we going to need from them and importantly what is it going to be like working with Desynit. Sharing valuable content is the way we do this.”
What type of content do you share?
“We create and share a range of content – blogs, tips, guides, infographics, slide sets, animated video and now podcasts too.
- Jenny’s weekly tips have been really popular. Once a week Jenny our systems administrator will send out a tip on her blog on using Salesforce, Cirrus and Google Apps.
- I probably write about two blog entries a month, which can cover a range of topics.
- We send out a monthly email newsletter to subscribers.
- We focus on seasonal content as well – we’ll do a special piece, an infographic or something around certain events, like the Easter good egg award, our Valentine’s marketing automation infographic and lately something for the start of the Tour de France.
- We run regular events as well for the local Salesforce community (the Forcewest community) so that’s content in a way.
- Most recently we’ve added a weekly podcast– half an hour of tech chat that people can download or listen to straight from the website. It’s quite light hearted. Director Matt and Sales Manager Shaun bring in guests (wider contacts from the industry) and talk about something that’s happened during that week at Desynit.
We have one longer, more heavyweight guide on the website too – How to make Saleforce work for your business. We’ve also turned that into a hard copy, a physical booklet that we can give to people, so if we’re going to an exhibition or meeting a client we’ve got something useful to give to them whilst we’re there.
We launched our new content-based site in September 2013 so we’re only nine months into this new approach but it’s already having a big impact on our business.
What results has this brought for your business?
“The visits to our site, the curve of visitors has just grown and grown steadily. It took a big jump up when we launched the new website and is just now steadily growing.
“Web traffic has tripled.”
Traffic has more than tripled in 9 months, and it’s going up all the time.
“We now have a strong, consistent pipeline of sales opportunities we never had before.”
We get inbound leads. Because of our content we have many more leads coming directly to us, people searching on Google on relevant search terms and coming to us that way.
“We get many more leads coming directly to us.”
In terms of hard business results we now have a strong, consistent pipeline of business opportunities that we never had before. In the past we relied on business from our existing clients and business referred by the account executives at Salesforce. We were not really generating any of our own leads before.
“We have the advantage that people will have heard of us.”
Now we’ve got far greater visibility in terms of recognition; we have the advantage that people will have heard of us. If we go in to an organisation now we’re not going in cold, we’ve warmed them up – they’ve read something about us or they’ve heard about us and understand us. This makes a huge difference to the sales outcome.
“All this content makes us easier to refer too.”
We’ve had more leads through Saleforce too – because we’re more visible to them they’ve put more business our way. We’re doing very well with referrals because of this visibility and because it’s so much clearer what we do. All this content makes us very easy to refer.
To be honest we’ve actually got to the point now where we have too much work right now. I mean it didn’t look like that earlier on in the year, but now we need to work on our pipeline management. We’ve actually got more opportunities than we can resource right now.”
Example of some content that has worked really well?
“All the content has been fantastic but personally I really love the People, Platform & Partners video – a short animation clip we put together. It’s a perfect example of taking some quite complex concepts and making them simple to understand. It’s not dumbing them down –our audience are certainly not dumb – but they are short of time, so we need to communicate the main concepts very quickly and pithily in an attention grabbing way. That’s what the People, Platform & Partners video did. It’s a nice, humorous way of communicating. The customer is the hero in that film and I think that’s important. We took it to an exhibition where we got people to dress up as Cloud Heroes, which we photographed and tweeted out automatically via the Salesforce platform. It was very attention grabbing, very memorable and appealed to a very wide audience, so it was perfect in that way.
Another example of content that we really enjoyed putting together was the Good Egg Awards – an award for clients, people we partner with, our suppliers, people in the community at Easter time. There was a big feel-good factor attached to the Good Egg Awards. It was great for social media sharing. It reached a really wide audience, and we were very touched that people shared it. It felt like a very nice thing to do, and we were able to make a donation to the Jessie May Trust, which had the extra feel-good factor. It didn’t communicate a huge amount about our services, but it did communicate a lot about our values and what we valued in other people, so I was very pleased with that.
If we’re talking about great content, I must mention the podcast as well. Matt and Shaun are doing a really good job with that. The podcast is very light-hearted, tech chat for business. I always tell them that they should imagine talking to a person who just wants to understand a bunch of technology concepts, as if they’re sitting in a meeting and somebody says, ‘What’s your view on security, what’s your view on big data? What’s your view on where mobile’s going.’ They’ll have an answer to hand, because they’ll have listened to the podcast, and it’s a very low-friction way of staying on top of current topics. It’s a very current news round-up, that’s where we’ve pitched the podcast, and I think it does that job well.”
Who creates the content?
“That’s very important. The whole team works on the content. There’s no way we could generate that amount of content through one person.
“The whole team works on our content.”
You can tell that the people here really enjoy putting the content together.
There’s a huge amount of knowledge in the team and a load of enthusiasm about what we do. Everyone wants to share their knowledge. For me it’s about harnessing people’s knowledge in the right format – one that people actually feel comfortable creating and that matters to the customers. Shaun is our sales manager. I tried to harness his expertise with words on a page, but it wasn’t working. His real skill is talking around a topic and director Matt really is the same, so we tried podcasting and found it works so much better for them. They enjoy doing this, and that shows in the quality of the content. As marketing manager my job is to help them position it and filter it a bit and turn it into content that is genuinely worthwhile to the customer.
“For me it’s about harnessing people’s knowledge in the right format.”
We had a very good lead recently from a guy who works at a top insurance organisation, and he’s been listening to the podcast every week. He got to the point where he felt that this was a good time to put a call in and find out more about us. That relationship was being warmed up through the podcast. I have no doubt that we would not be in touch with them if it hadn’t been for that.
Not everyone likes reading. We use film clips as well. We have a short film which we use to promote our networking group, Forcewest, and I think that works very well. A lot of the shorter content we have is setting an expectation of who we are and what we deliver and what it’s like working with us, and it’s just an ice-breaker.”
How do you keep on top of it all?
“People are pretty self-directed now. The podcast, Shaun and Matt run that, that’s weekly. Jenny runs weekly tips. I want to become more strategic with our content and that’s what we’ll start seeing next year.
“We manage it as a team.”
We manage it as a team. Certain activities are set in stone and in place, and then other things we can layer on top, but we always commit to a minimum amount of content that goes out weekly and monthly. The monthly newsletter helps us stick to this commitment. We always get this out and it wraps up other content we’ve created in the month. We’ve made the commitment to a monthly newsletter for our contacts each month and this drives us to produce the rest of the content.”
How far ahead to you plan? Do you have monthly or quarterly editorial meetings?
“I’d like to say yes, but no. So far it’s been more reactive and responsive. That’s what we’re working towards though.”
How and what do you measure to track the results?
“We track web visits, we know our most popular pieces of content – we know this through Google Analytics and through stats on our website – so we can see what works and do more of that. We know when we send out emails – we’re able to track who reads them and what they clicked on. Every time we have a lead that comes into us, we’ll ask that lead where they heard about us and we’ll track that in Salesforce so we can see what works.”
Other content challenges?
“Measurement is a challenge. Because our pipelines are very, very long and people may be engaging with us in an under the radar way, we don’t really know exactly what they’ve looked at. If we were a bigger organisation with more contacts in our database, I would definitely be looking at marketing automation so we can track more accurately and see what their behaviour is on the website. We’re just not quite big enough for that yet, but I absolutely see the value in it. I would like to do that because I think that would deliver some very interesting insights to us, but as yet I’m not sure that the cost would justify the outcome, but we’re getting close to that.
In terms of content challenges, I think we need to be honest about the weaker points of our website and not just focus on the things that you enjoy doing. We need to review our services, and review some of our content. I want more focus on existing customers and some of the less sexy stuff like the loyalty emails that we want to send out post-engagement, the pre-engagement documentation.
We need to drag our focus away from lead generation a bit, because that’s what we enjoy and do the other stuff.”
What’s next for your content?
“I want to carefully review our customer personas, map our products and services against those and redevelop our services to match that. And then we need to overhaul our customer journey so that from the point someone picks up the phone for that first enquiry, we can set them on a journey. I want to have that completely mapped – with content for each step of the sale. There will never be any scrabbling around to do an ad hoc document for them, we’ll just have it, and we’ll be able to send a sequence of emails that will help them to understand what they need to prepare before the engagement starts. I think we’ll become more efficient and I think we’ll deliver a better customer service. I see this as much part of marketing as going to an exhibition or generating leads.”
Your most valuable tip for other businesses?
“Spend time up front on customer research at the start. We got such a lot of insight into how people saw Desynit and what people need from an IT partner, and more importantly, what we were all about as a company. We were able to translate that essential essence of the business into words and into a nice strong brand identity that underpins all our content.
“Start by determining WHY you do what you do.”
This all came together in our Good Systems manifesto. It will never matter what platform we work on – even if we stop working with Salesforce and move to a different platform – the manifesto will always be true. This manifesto is the essential core values and tenants of Desynit. I think once you’ve nailed this and it really rings true, then great content can follow. Every piece of content we create stems from here.
So determine your ‘why’ – why you do what you do – and if you can get that, then when it comes to valuable content you’re away!”
Congratulations Amy, Shaun, Matt and the whole Desynit team! We can’t wait to present your award and celebrate with you at the Bristol Content Group meet up tonight. You fully deserve some recognition for all you are doing and we’re delighted it’s getting such great results. What a company!