by Erin Hogg
Company Folders, a B2B provider of ultra-customizable folders used for business presentations, files and a myriad of other applications, is always looking for opportunities to improve its business.
Last year, we featured the company's efforts in a major Web redesign and online form optimization effort that led to a 67.68% increase in total quotes
Since then, the company has taken to embracing content marketing to help further its efforts in connecting with potential customers in the B2B space.
The company had a blog, which launched in the summer of 2013, but it wasn’t seeing any social sharing. Overall, it fell flat in terms of readership.
The blog's targeted audience is designers at companies looking to purchase folders. Company Folders offers products that are highly customizable in terms of color, imprint methods, stock and coatings, artwork, text and more.
Designers are typically the people choosing the options of these products for their company, based on their knowledge of design aesthetics.
"We also work with companies directly, but a lot of times within those companies, we actually end up working with a designer anyways," said Vladimir Gendelman, CEO, Company Folders. "So, they still fall into the same customer base group."
The goal for the blog "was to help our clients, current and potential clients, learn more about design, learn more about artwork, learn more about different presentation folders, so they could achieve what they wanted to achieve in a better manner," Gendelman said.
On the blog, readers can find posts on everything from graphic design career advice to Photoshop tutorials and tips on design elements such as color, effects and typography.
"We decided to do a blog to actually educate those people, to help them do their job more efficiently and to introduce them to other concepts, and it was great," he said.
However, unlike the "blog of dreams," Gendelman and the team built the content, but no one came.
"Initially we thought that maybe our content was not good enough, so we worked on getting it better and better," he explained.
The team tried changing elements in the posts to make them more enticing, such as creating their own original images and choosing topics that were opinion-based to garner more engagement, but people were still not reading the blog or sharing it.
After more valuable posts were created, "we realized that content has nothing to do with this. Our content is good. We realized that we actually needed to get into content marketing to make sure that people see it," he said.
Now that the team was creating more targeted and practical content, they needed to find a way to get more traffic to the blog.
The first attempt at promoting blog content was through PPC advertising. It worked well and provided the blog with some much-desired social media engagement from that traffic.
"Social proof, in terms of likes, comments [and] shares, is a good sign that people actually enjoy reading that content. And of course, if everything goes up, that means that it works, which was building the company," Gendelman said.
However, the PPC ads were extremely expensive — well over $2 per click with more than an 80% bounce rate — and Company Folders needed to find a way to achieve more traffic to its blog in a way that wouldn't break the bank.
Even though the PPC ads were showing some improvement to the blog traffic, it was not a sustainable strategy in terms of cost. It became expensive to the point that it was not really cost effective at all, according to Gendelman.
"By the time you take in bounce rate and clickthrough rate and all that stuff, it was pretty expensive. We couldn't do it," he said.
Through a regular brainstorming session with the Company Folders team, the idea for leveraging Facebook instead of PPC arose as a solution.
Company Folders switched gears to focus on Facebook Promoted Posts to announce new blog content and target its audience with that valuable and helpful content they had worked so hard to refine and perfect.
Step #1. Determine the main network to focus on promoting blog content
"Let's give it a shot. Let's see what happens," said Gendelman.
At this point, Gendelman and his team had created useful content, and without a fair share views or shares, it would be a wasted effort.
Knowing that their content was good, the team launched into Facebook Promoted Posts to drive more traffic and garner more social engagement, particularly with their audience. In the past, Company Folders used Facebook but did not see much success in increasing engagement.
Gendelman attributed this to not having the engaging content they do now as well as not having an outreach model.
Another factor that went into choosing Facebook was that Company Folders' target audience was very active on the social network versus the other platforms.
Gendelman has found with past efforts, "as you get through a lot of things that don't work, there will always be something that does work, and that is what you stick with."
The team attempted promoting the blog through Twitter sponsored tweets, but this effort resulted in negative results and a high cost of more than $10 per tweet.
Gendelman believes that the poor engagement via Twitter for sharing blog content was due to Company Folders' audience makeup.
The team turned to using Facebook to appeal to the more visual aspect of the majority of the blog's content — graphic design tips and strategies.
Step #2. Create engaging content that better resonates with the audience
In the design realm, there is one flagship software most designers use or are at the very least aware of: Adobe Photoshop.
Gendelman knew that his audience had a big interest in this product and would likely be interested in more tips and ideas for using it, even if they didn't use the post to improve their Company Folders product.
To come up with post ideas, the Company Folders team brainstorms with a writer, editor, social media specialist, webmaster and a print designer.
Once they have come up with several topics or ideas for posts, they narrow them down based on expected social value and traffic the post would generate via organic traffic.
An average post takes about two weeks to complete, taking in account for the research, drafting, designing original images, review process, coding and specialization for optimal search engine friendliness.
The first post where the team tried to utilize Facebook Promoted Posts was for "51 Free Photoshop Tutorials for Amazingly Cool Photo Editing
," and it launched in mid-December 2013.
Gendelman and the team knew it would be an interesting topic, especially since the tips and advice were free to the audience.
The team set out on a virtual scavenger hunt and researched everything about Photoshop tutorials and tried them out to "make sure we only selected the best ones."
"My hope is, I don't want to find 500 tutorials and do it. But my idea is, I only want to deliver the best ones for you, so that you don't waste any time viewing stuff that is not relevant or not very high quality," Gendelman said.
Conversely, the goal for delivering high-quality and useful content to designers was to create thought leadership and brand awareness for Company Folders.
Even if they weren't already customers, the blog was used as a way to show potential customers that Company Folders wants to provide not just a product, but education as well.
"In order for me to achieve that, I have got to deliver information that is 100% solid, legitimate and relevant," he said.
Step #3. Promote the post on Facebook
To drive highly motivated traffic to the blog, the team determined in their brainstorming session that they would utilize Facebook to help promote new posts on the blog.
The Facebook Promoted Posts included a link to the most recent post on the blog with some brief copy, teasing what the reader would find in the blog post.The first Promoted Post
for this effort also included an image to draw more people into the topic, the free Photoshop tutorials, along with an intriguing tagline.
Segment by interest
Company Folders wanted to reach its audience as precisely as possible. After all, not everyone on Facebook would be interested in a Photoshop tutorial.
The team needed to isolate their potential customers by interest and industry.
For example, if a Facebook user's job title includes graphic designer, they would be targeted for Company Folders' Promoted Posts.
Another targeting element included people with design topics listed in their interests on Facebook.
"For instance, if in your interests, you specify that you enjoy Photoshop, you will definitely be a person [we tag to see our content]. We also, since when we sell in the United States, that is what the tag is. We tag it 'United States,'" Gendelman explained.
Step #4. Test elements in posting content
Company Folders generally only promotes posts that are brand new to the blog.
However, there instances of when the team would promote an older post to test new ideas for Promoted Posts.
"It actually had to do with the fact that we have learned something new, based on what reaches them, and we wanted to test it out on previous posts. Because the previous post, for instance, was not as successful," Gendelman said.
Elements that were changed in a possible test post included changing the tagline or perhaps changing the image that was featured.
Gendelman has found that the original images created specifically for a blog post perform better. They have also discovered through testing that copy that drives people to see how they measure up against experts engages more of their audience.
"We do that by writing copy that makes experts have to question if they are really experts and beginners have to read this because it's so important," he explained.
As for people who aren't necessarily design experts or beginners, they target posts on more broad topics, such as graphic design résumé building tips
As Company Folders learned, even the best content won't receive an audience's attention if it's not shared through the right channel.
As a result of promoting blog posts on Facebook specifically to people interested in design, the company has seen a total of unique page views reaching nearly 46,000 on the Photoshop tutorials post that kicked off the Facebook effort.
The post also currently has 5,700 Facebook likes, generating its first 2,000 engagements the first week it went live. This is a vast improvement compared to older posts, which at most generated a couple hundred social media shares.
From this effort to increase traffic to the blog as well as social engagement, Gendelman said the team has taken this success and has applied it to other efforts.
"We are constantly improving ourselves. Some of the things we learned here we actually have implemented already. And other things that we are doing right now, and learning — we are always implementing that as well," he said.
The team is looking into utilizing Promoted Pins on Pinterest and will be testing that for future blog promotions.
"We looked at Pinterest and realized that there really are not many people promoting those pins, so there really isn't much [of a] proven result that you can see from Pinterest," Gendelman said. "The situation I am in right now is do I say, 'Oh, wow, that is so cool. Nobody is doing it, so I can actually get in there and do it and hopefully get results?'"
Gendelman advised, regardless of whatever means you use to promote your content, serve your audience first and provide valuable content that speaks to their needs. When starting a blog, success does not happen overnight, as people must trust that you are doing it for the right reasons.
"Really understand who your target audience is. That is one of the most important things. And cater to them only. Don't worry about others; don't worry about people from other regions. Strictly stick to your audience in the region that you are in. That, I think, is the best of all," Gendelman said.
- Company Folders blog post
- Facebook Promoted Post
- Résumé tips Promoted Post
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