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Oct 28, 2015
Case Study

B2B Marketing: Content strategy results in 50% of qualified leads being inbound

SUMMARY: "Without good content, you don't get anybody in the hopper," Matthew Lacroix, Director of Brand Marketing, Newell Rubbermaid (LENOX), said.

The LENOX team faced a challenge many B2Bs have too much of Sales' time was being spent finding and chasing leads. To remedy the situation, the marketing team launched a content-fueled strategy that allowed Marketing to track the effectiveness of its content. Learn how this effort increased Marketing's contribution to the Sales' pipeline and resulted in 50% of qualified leads being traced to inbound.
by Kayla Cobb, Reporter

THE CUSTOMER

LENOX, a division of Newell Rubbermaid, is a B2B that manufactures industrial saw blades, power tool accessories and hand tools to companies that have metal cutting needs. Founded in 1915 with just 10 employees, LENOX has grown to employing over 900 people and serves more than 70 countries. Its parent company, Newell Rubbermaid, has grown to over $5.7 billion in revenue.

For this particular campaign, the LENOX team was targeting metal cutting operations, Matthew Lacroix, Director of Brand Marketing, Newell Rubbermaid (LENOX), said. These are businesses that cut metal for a living.

"It can be a steel service center, it can be a forge, it can be a fabricator, it can be a machine shop, it can be somebody who is actually manufacturing metal," he explained.

Because LENOX offers many high-end metal cutting options that tend to be expensive, the typical customer is looking for a high-powered and long-lasting sawing solution.

"The [customers] that make the most sense for us are those that really care about productivity, and they want to find ways to optimize their business," Lacroix said. "So when people want to get better, they want to increase the productivity, they want to save costs. For us, that's our ticket in because we have the largest sales and service network in our industry."

CHALLENGE

Before this campaign, lead generation and qualification were tasks that fell more on Sales than Lacroix preferred. The LENOX team wanted to alleviate this tension, making these two tasks more of a Marketing effort than a Sales one.

"Ultimately, what we were trying to do was to take the burden of lead generation and lead qualification off of our sales force, so effectively Marketing [is] taking a larger role in demand generation so that our sales team can go out and focus on what moves the needle for our business," Lacroix said.

"So we want [salespeople] talking to end users, running trials and ultimately helping them achieve their goals, which is going to translate into business for LENOX," he said.

This shift in lead management would serve two purposes. First, it would free up the sales team's time, allowing them to talk to more end users who are ready for a sales call. Secondly, taking a more marketing-centric approach would allow LENOX to track its lead generation and qualification investments better.

"We did not have that tracking in place years ago and the system has helped us to get our own business to that next level so now we can start making smarter strategic choices about where to place our bets," he said.

CAMPAIGN

To transform its approach to lead generation and qualification, LENOX and its vendor developed a content marketing campaign, which would allow Marketing and Sales to connect with customers in new and more personal ways.

This approach served to give the customer a better experience through the buyer's journey, alleviated the stress of prospecting from Sales and provided Marketing with insights into what content strategies worked best.

Learn how this content marketing effort lifted Marketing's contribution to the Sales pipeline from single digits to almost 10% of its revenue growth.

Step #1. Build out specialized personas

Because the LENOX team knew exactly who they wanted to reach through this campaign, the first thing they had to do was gather information about these personas.

The company gathered this information by asking its targeted customers specialized questions with the intent of building out a persona for that specific customer type.

According to Lacroix, these questions focused on:
  • What role these employees had in their company

  • What their company did

  • How the company could apply LENOX's blades

"We had to develop a system of questions that would help qualify [customers] and identify whether or not they're hot or warm leads," Lacroix said.

The system was later designed so that as customers move through it, they accumulated points on the Marketing side. After a customer had achieved a certain number of points, they were qualified to talk to Sales and passed on as a hot lead.

"So depending on that persona, they'll get certain content. So we track the leads, track the hot leads and ultimately we track to the point where we can flip something to our sales team and say, 'Okay. This is an opportunity for you to go set up a trial,'" he said.

Step #2. Develop content

After these personas were constructed, the team had a better idea of what content would be valuable to their target customers. LENOX built several pieces of content, including:
  • Case studies

  • Whitepapers

  • Benchmark reports

  • Blog posts

  • Testimonials

Specifically LENOX's blog, the Industrial Metal Cutting Blog, has been a great entryway tool for getting customers into the lead generation funnel.

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This blog is updated fairly regularly, and each post covers a pain point or challenge in the metal cutting and metal-working industry.

Another key piece of content is the site's case studies. Case studies are located in the LENOX Solutions part of the Resource Center and chronicle success stories from LENOX's customers. These case studies are designed to teach potential customers about the benefits of the company's products by showing another customer's success.

View the Creative Sample


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"You're delivering case studies that are interesting but also help them and are ultimately going to help [customers] in their business to lower their costs some way and increase productivity in some way," Lacroix said.

"Once they're in the system, we're trying to work with them to deliver other relevant content," he said.

Step #3. Develop the site on the backend

After this specialized content was developed, it needed a place to live on LENOX's site. The Industrial Metal Cutting Resource Center was developed and placed on LENOX's homepage.

View the Creative Sample


Click here to see the full version of this creative sample



This easy-to-navigate resource center divides LENOX's content based on what customers are looking for. At the time of publication, the top of the page is divided into four categories:
  • Metal Cutting Operations (includes benchmark surveys and managing cost)

  • Improving Performance (includes resources on finding the right blade and managing the human variable)

  • LENOX Solutions (includes case studies from LENOX's customers and whitepapers)

  • LENOX Blade Trial (includes an option to request a blade test)

This resource center also includes LENOX's blog, which focuses on specialized topics such as:
  • Fabricators

  • Metal service centers

  • Machine shops

  • Forges

  • General metals industry

Having this system of specialized content in place allowed the marketing team to track prospects as they were moving through the funnel. Marketing was able to assign prospects scores based on where they were, allowing them to hand leads to Sales at the right time.

This also had the added bonus of, over time, showing Marketing which pieces of content were more successful to lead generation and qualification than others.

Step #4. Hand off leads to Sales

Determining whether or not a prospect was ready to be handed off to Sales did not only involve inbound efforts, however. According to Lacroix, there were several outbound efforts that were also utilized.

"Once you had the system, you had to figure out how you are going to fill it. How do you fill the hopper with potential leads that can work their way through the system and consume that content as they worked their way through?" he said. "So we've done a mix of inbound and outbound activity to try to fill that hopper."

As a prospect goes through these marketing efforts, they accumulate points on the Marketing side, which are used to sort out the hot leads.

"We track the number of engaged leads that we get, and then as they move through the pieces of the content hopefully they're picking up points and showing us they're interested. Eventually, they work their way down to a warm or hot lead," he said.

Once hot leads are identified, those prospects are then moved on to a salesperson, who can help them find the LENOX solution that best suits their needs.

"Some of them will even raise their hand and say, 'Okay. I need somebody to talk to me live,' at which point we'll have a person contact them just to say, 'Okay. Is all the information you've provided valid? Are you understanding the material? Do you have any questions? Are you ready for one of our technical salespeople to talk to you and understand your operation?'" Lacroix said.

Step #5. Continue content and track metrics

Lacroix emphasized that LENOX's content strategy, and any effective content strategy requires a constant stream of content. He and his team are always finding ways to better and refine the company's content to make it effective as possible.

"I'd say content is king. You've heard that before. You have to keep working on content and making sure that you're delivering important information to [customers]," he said.

The team utilizes a mix of inbound and outbound content, including email blasts, list rentals, paid advertising, search engine optimization, trade shows and its blog.

"We do a mix of that stuff every month regularly to continue to deliver content to users and try to be a valuable thought leader," he said. "That's really going to help them because, as they are devouring this content, it still doesn't mean that they're ready to start talking shop yet."

The team also takes care to track the effectiveness of all pieces of content and campaigns when it comes to lead generation and qualification.

"What we've found it really is an evolving process. We have to go back and look at the content we're delivering. Is it effective, are people reading it, are people following it all the way through, downloading it and sharing it?" he said.



RESULTS

As a result of this content marketing strategy, LENOX has seen an improvement in its lead generation and qualification efforts. Through this campaign, Marketing's contribution to the Sale's pipeline grew from single digits to nearly 10% of its revenue growth.

The company has also seen that:
  • 29% of LENOX's engaged-state leads are inbound

  • 50% of qualified leads are inbound

  • LENOX's Industrial Metal Cutting Resource Center and landing page regularly earned top 1-3 search positions through targeted content

This campaign has allowed the LENOX team to see what was really working when it came to lead generation.

"Not having that answer has held us back to say maybe we shouldn't be investing here because we don't know what the returns are going to be," Lacroix said. "But now that the system is in place, we can start testing some of those things and rolling out campaigns to try to [determine] whether or not it is effective for us."

He also credits the relationship between LENOX's Marketing and Sales as a key factor in the strategy's success. Now, due to Marketing's efforts, the team can confidently pass on a lead that "is truly a hot lead and somebody that we want to pursue."

When asked what advice he'd give other B2B marketers thinking of implementing a content marketing strategy, Lacroix focused on the importance of content quality and growth.

"You can do as much email blasting as you want or blogging as you want or advertising, but if you don't have the content to support it, you're not going to get people consuming it."

"Like most things, you are going to work on it and there's continuous improvement, so I would say you probably need a solid system that can help you organize the information and organize the spend and track," he concluded.

Creative Samples

  1. Industrial Metal Cutting Blog

  2. LENOX case studies

  3. Industrial Metal Cutting Resource Center

Sources

LENOX

ANNUITAS, LENOX's vendor

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24

Content Marketing: Healthcare B2B generates 9 million impressions through multi-channel effort

B2B Marketing: Virtual display saves money and increases engagement for complex solution

B2B External Communications: How IBM conveys the value of complex products, spotlights innovative employees and entrusts employees with social media [From the MarketingSherpa blog]

Event Marketing: Fuji Xerox achieves 240% of sales target via a fashion show



See Also:

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