"We have a pretty scientific approach to promoting our white papers," Paul Dunay, BearingPoint (NYSE:BE) Head of Marketing for Financial Services North America.
It's a good thing too, because he and his team have to crank out a huge number of campaigns to generate and warm-up sales leads of high-level execs in giant insurance, banking, and brokerage firms who might spend six to seven-figures on IT services a year with BearingPoint.
"So far this year I've done nine white papers, six solution overviews and five case studies. I have white paper brain melt," Dunay jokes. His 8-step white paper promo system includes:
o Step 1. Landing pages
BearingPoint's Web department sets up a series of nearly-
identical landing pages -- each with a unique URL -- for
Dunay to use when promoting a particular paper so he can
track results and tweak copy for particular sources. Only
one page is optimized for search engines though (otherwise
mirror pages can appear to be spam and hurt your rankings.)
o Step 2. Press release
Dunay sends out a press release via PRNewswire, which
includes a hotlink to one of the landing pages as high-up as
possible in the copy. "I put it prominently in the second
or third paragraph, people don't read further anymore."
The release is also optimized for Yahoo News and Google News
by including keywords and BearingPoint's ticker symbol.
o Step 3. Post links on all company sites globally
o Step 4. Hotlinked notice in house email newsletter
o Step 5. Syndication via Bitpipe
o Step 6. Paid search marketing via Overture and Google
o Step 7. Internal marketing to the sales department
Dunay notes if you promote a new paper to sales reps before
it actually launches, "it's all too airy fairy for them."
So he waits a week or so he can tell reps how many downloads
the paper's already had. Then he gives them their own
download links to send prospects, and runs a webinar to
train reps about the paper's topic.
o Step 8. Client & key prospect luncheon in New York
However, despite the fact that these eight steps are more effort than many marketers put behind a white paper, Dunay began to wonder this Spring if he was missing a critical final step.
"Our approach was well integrated and well-staged, but I was looking to take it to the next level. I don't believe a white paper download is a complete call to action. You can't call the lead tomorrow and book an appointment."
He continues, "I look for three interactions to score a lead in my mind from a general awareness of the BearingPoint brand to being something I would consider a near hot lead. I've got to move them up the chain."
What ninth-step could Dunay add to the white paper promotion process that got leads to interact with BearingPoint enough that they went from merely-aware to nearly-hot? CAMPAIGN
The team reviewed one of Dunay's top white papers for Spring 2004, a 14-page PDF entitled "IT Telephony: Putting the Service Back Into Financial Services" (link to sample below.)
Then they had an "ah-ha!" moment -- why not repurpose the content in the paper to create an interactive quiz on the topic? In fact, they wound up creating a microsite featuring two related quizzes for key prospects.
Quiz #1. Quick self-assessment
Entitled, "4-Step VoIP Self Assessment", this quiz was designed to take less than a minute to fill out. All the answers were quick check-boxes with yes/no answers so users didn't have to think or type much.
According to MarketingSherpa's IT Marketing Metrics Guide the average white paper offer landing page has an 89% abandonment rate when visitors have to register to get a free paper. Dunay wanted to get peak interaction from this first quiz, so he decided to make both the quiz and results immediately available to visitors without any barriers or strings attached.
It would count as a marketing "touch", and funnel traffic to the second quiz. "We wanted to give them something meaningful without slamming down the registration barrier."
Quiz #2. ROI Evaluation Tool
Dunay figured why not let prospects sort themselves into piles for the second quiz? The ROI evaluation was much more detailed, and did require a brief registration form to enter. However, prospects were promised more valuable data, and hopefully having taken the first quiz and/or read the white paper, would be willing to leap the barrier.
He notes the wonderful thing about offering an interactive ROI tool it gives your sales team an invaluable edge to open conversations. "If someone fills in the self-assessment, all I can see is you thought VoIP is a hot topic. If you fill out the ROI tool, I get all this data. I can see your potential ROI is $13 million and I can have our telesales give you a call to say we'd love to stop by and help you formulate a business case."
However, he cautions that you'll need to get your legal department involved prior to posting an ROI tool anywhere. "Our legal disclaimer is long. We can't guarantee this blah, blah blah, blah.... My agency and I both remarked on the volume of content that came from legal. It's almost a separate Web site."
The final microsite (link to sample below) featured a link to this disclaimer on the home page, that was clear but not so eyecatching that it would distract traffic from the main purpose -- to take the quizzes.
The microsite was carefully designed with the visitor path in mind. Marketing copy describing what BearingPoint is, was tucked neatly at the bottom so the main body of the home page could be completely dominated by the click button to start the self-assessment quiz.
Dunay timed the white paper-to-quiz microsite transition carefully. First he ran his typical step-by-step promotion for the white paper from March 17th - April 30th. Then on May 1st, he launched the microsite with a similar promotion, including:
o Paid search marketing -- "I tried the InStyle magazine approach with copy - the 5 hairstyles of the stars, the 5 hidden ROIs of VoIP."
o Text-link ads reading, "Ready for VoIP? Take the Self Assessment" and banners (link to sample below) which ran on CMP's TechWeb network.
o A luncheon for 27 top IT and corporate telephony execs at Le Cirque in New York -- "The theory is you get a viral aspect out of the event because when attendees go back to work they tell people 'I was at Le Cirque'."
"We do have some great results to date," says Dunay.
27% of all microsite visitors took the first assessment quiz, and 25% of these on average then moved on to register and complete the second quiz, the ROI tool.
Plus, of the 73% of visitors who didn't take either quiz, a large number forwarded links to colleagues. "One of our largest sources of traffic was 'no source specified'. They were cutting and pasting the URL to send to friends." This was despite the fact that the site clearly offered a "tell a friend" link -- people just prefer to cut and paste rather than going through a formal link. (We've seen this in many Case Studies.)
The text-link ads and banners worked fairly well, but the paid search marketing campaign didn't. Dunay feels this was because he used a fairly generic term - VoIP - for search ads and too many clickers just weren't qualified. The problem was with a less generic search term, the traffic would have been so tiny as to not be worth the trouble in his ultra-busy schedule.
He cut off the search campaign within 10 days and concentrated media buys on what was working. "The worst converter we had was Google, and the second worst was Overture. Text links on vertical sites were performing 10 times better."
Will he try this campaign again? Absolutely. "For the timing next time, I would say possibly wait a bit longer between the white paper promo. Let it breath. I'm a big fan of hitting the market hard -- I like a lot of punch." But, if you're going for a one-two punch, perhaps a two-month spacing would do even better than 45 days. Useful links related to this article:
Sample of quizzes microsite and the banner ad that led to it, plus the original white paper:
e-tractions - the interactive agency that BearingPoint used to create the campaign and microsite: