Author: Rachel Foster

Rachel Foster is a B2B copywriter and CEO of Fresh Perspective Copywriting. She helps her clients improve their response rates, clearly communicate complex messages and generate high-quality leads. Rachel has taught white paper, sell sheet and case study writing for MarketingProfs. She is also one of the Online Marketing Institute’s Top 40+ Digital Strategists in Marketing for 2014. You can connect with Rachel on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter or check out her B2B marketing blog

By rachel-foster published October 19, 2011

5 Editorial Calendar Keys to Keep Content Marketing and Publishing on Track

If you had the opportunity to attend Content Marketing World, or if you’ve been following this blog and checking out all of the amazing videos from the event, you may have lots of ideas on how to improve your content marketing.

However, many organizations fail to see ROI from their content marketing because they don’t create a plan for getting everything done.

This blog post will show you how to get your content marketing efforts moving forward with the help of an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar provides you with a quick overview of your content marketing strategy and outlines exactly what tasks need to be completed.

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By rachel-foster published October 10, 2011

Diagnosis: Reimagining the Tried-and-True White Paper

Interactive white papers and video white papers are helping revive the reputation of the B2B marketing workhorse.

Some say the value of the B2B white paper is slowly eroding under the weight of its success. White papers were once the simple, functional, unfussy marketing tactic of B2B. These days, so many businesses are pushing out poorly conceived and unprofessionally written white papers that some marketers are questioning the format itself.

Recent research says otherwise. The B2B Content Marketing 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report revealed that 50 percent of marketers find white papers valuable. If you’re in technology, they’re even more important. According to the Eccolo Media 2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report, 83 percent of technology buyers say “white papers were moderately to extremely influential in helping them make their final purchase decision.”

So, how can you create white papers that excite and influence your target audience?

One answer: Use technology to reimagine the classic white paper. Let’s explore two trends that are changing the way we think about this marketing tool.

Interactive white papers

Today’s buyers spend more time conducting their own research online before they contact a sales representative. They rely on content to gather information, gain corporate buy-in and make purchasing decisions. That’s why it’s vital to provide your prospects with information that addresses their concerns and encourages them to take the next step in the sales cycle.

Interactive white papers are emerging as a way for you to engage your audience, provide highly relevant content and stand out from your competition.

Here’s how they work …

A website visitor completes a form to request a white paper. The form may contain three to six questions about the visitor’s industry and role—not very different from the questions someone would answer to download a traditional white paper. Based on the visitor’s responses, however, the user will receive a customized white paper that focuses on his or her interests and concerns. For example, a white paper on B2B content marketing will contain different sections depending on whether the reader is the owner of a small business or a marketing director for a large corporation.

You can think of interactive white papers as the marketing version of “choose your own adventure,” where readers are in control of the content they want to explore.

“White papers are still the fuel that fires the marketing campaign,” says Tom Pisello, chairman and founder of Alinean, a company that develops interactive white papers. “However, many tend to be one-size-fits-all and too long. By adding interactivity, white papers can be shorter, more relevant and deliver the right content for their readers’ needs.”

Early adopters of interactive white papers report impressive results.

According to Alinean, its first campaigns have attracted 350 percent more prospects to a website and generated 120 percent more qualified leads than traditional white papers.

Ready to get started? Here are the top three things to consider when you develop an interactive white paper:

  1. As with any project, start by defining your goals. Do you want to attract more leads? Support prospects already in your sales funnel? Build your company as an expert in a particular area? Having clarity about what you’re trying to accomplish will inform the level of detail and customization you want to provide.
  2. Define the areas of customization you would like to achieve. Consider this from your audience’s perspective. What particular types of customization would be most valuable to your audience? For example, would your prospects prefer to be defined by company size? Role? Industry? All three? What sections of the white paper will you customize for each of these dimensions?
  3.  Scope out your project. Providing interactivity may mean that your overall scope of work is larger. Prepare yourself by creating a content storyboard for your “choose-your-own-adventure” white paper. The storyboard will likely have some sections shared among all readers and others that offer detours to provide more customized, relevant content.

Interactive white papers are still in their infancy, as marketers develop new ways to use them and maximize their ROI. In the future, they will include more multi-media, social functions and peer-support options.

Video white papers

Since white papers often address complex topics, adding video can make your messages easier to digest. Here’s how a video white paper works:

Viewers complete a short form embedded in the media player to access the video. Then, they can watch the video all the way through or jump to the most relevant sections. Links along the bottom of the player allow viewers to download a text version of the white paper, submit a question, complete a survey or share the content with their friends.

“A huge benefit of online video is the ability to track your results,” says Ann Roskey, vice president marketing and audience development, KIT digital, a provider of end-to-end video technology services. “You can see how long people watched and what segments they watched. This tells you how well you’re engaging your audience. You can’t get access to this information with a text-based white paper.”

Biomni, one of KIT digital’s clients, tracked the results of its video white paper and learned that the average viewer watched 81 percent of the content, and 76 percent of the viewers downloaded the text version of the white paper. These results suggest that video can engage your audience for longer periods, allowing them to learn more about your product or service than they would from a traditional white paper.

Video white papers are still a new concept, with marketers just starting to explore their possibilities.

“We’re always envisioning something new and exciting to do with the technology,” says Ginger Shimp, marketing director, SME marketing, SAP America Inc. “For example, we put together an interactive video for industries with 19 different segments. Branching technology guides prospects through a decision tree where they can explore solutions for either their own industry or a related one. We find that using video makes our message more entertaining and thus lowers the barrier to engage with SAP. The use of video is also more compelling and helps us capture our prospects’ attention.”

By rachel-foster published September 14, 2011

5 Ways to Improve Your Landing Pages for Better Conversions

As a content marketer, you put a lot of effort into getting your target audience to visit your website and opt in for your white papers, videos and reports. However, if your landing pages don’t entice people to request your content, a lot of your hard work will be lost.

That’s why I wanted to provide advice on how to improve your landing pages. For this article, I’m focusing on tips that will get people to download your free content, as the techniques for selling premium content can be different.
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By rachel-foster published July 6, 2011

Podcasting 101 for Content Marketers: An Interview with The Podcast Guy, Dave Thackeray

People have said Dave Thackeray, The Podcast Guy, sounds like Ewan McGregor, but Dave is happy being known simply as the Podcast Guy who is a broadcaster, journalist and marketer passionate about all things audio. I recently interviewed Dave, who helps marketers construct powerful radio programs and Internet radio stations to create unprecedented levels of trust, engagement and loyalty among their customers. Dave provides valuable advice about how to use podcasts to engage your customers and how to get started with podcasting.

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By rachel-foster published May 26, 2011

3 Keys to Creating Social Media Content That Converts

According to a recent study by FUSION b2b, the top B2B marketing priority for 2011 is lead generation. This supports what I’ve been hearing from my clients and peers – that their biggest challenge is attracting high-quality leads their sales teams will love.

More marketers are turning to digital channels to connect with great leads. In fact, the FUSION b2b study also revealed that an amazing 96.9% of B2B marketers plan to increase their use of social media this year.

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By rachel-foster published April 11, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Tweeting at Live Events

I recently had the pleasure of attending a TEDx event. Many of my clients, friends and tweeps were interested in the content, so I told them I would tweet live from the event. However, ten minutes into the first talk, I realized I was missing too much of the presentation and gave up on tweeting.Continue Reading

By rachel-foster published February 23, 2011

The 3 Big Myths of B2B Content Marketing

Content marketing is hot right now. According to the B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, 51% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets within the next year. That’s because publishing compelling content can help you attract customers, increase your brand awareness, promote your thought leadership and bring more visitors to your website. And that’s just a short list of benefits!

However, you may have come across a few myths that are preventing you from getting the greatest ROI from your content marketing efforts. If you’re in the early stages of a content marketing strategy, you may believe at least one of the following myths.Continue Reading