by Erin Hogg
DB Squared, a business finance company, specializes in two products that service two very separate verticals. For B2B companies, it provides a product called Receivables Invoice Factoring. On the other side, it provides a Business Cash Advance Financing, typically used by retail companies.
The five-year-old company hired its first marketing team member in April 2013, and her main responsibility was to get DB Square's online presence caught up to marketing practice standards for success.
"Everything was in its infancy. For instance, they had a website, but it was not optimized. It didn't even have meta tags, and no keyword optimization in the content," Elizabeth Kraus, Marketing Manager, DB Squared, said.
Kraus was brought onboard with a background in small business marketing and working under the constraints of a limited budget. Kraus is an avid writer and had seen the power of content marketing in her previous work.
"Content marketing was kind of my wheelhouse, and when I came in here they were thinking they needed to do email marketing, a lot of different things, but I said first, we need to pull the website apart and put content on there that search engines can find," she explained.
The biggest challenge Kraus faced when coming onboard the DB Squared team was that the company didn't have a way to generate leads apart from the sales team contacting prospects directly.
"Cold calling is really an inefficient way to generate leads today because buyers self-educate, and generally, by the time they're willing to talk to a salesperson, they already narrowed their buying decisions down," she said.
Having seen content marketing strategies work at previous companies, Kraus needed to bring that strategy to DB Squared to provide better content for prospects, which would nurture them through the sales funnel.
Her goal was to generate leads that would be handed off to Sales instead of having that team cold calling their way to success.
The main channel of lead generation in this effort was to create website-traceable leads with content.
With two distinct products, DB Squared has a wide and varied audience. With its invoice product, the company targets any type of business that invoices a customer for payment. For its business cash advance, this product is targeted toward a retail business looking to grow its business through financing.
Step #1. Revamp what's there
In the first step of creating a content strategy for DB Squared, Kraus analyzed the content already on DB Squared's site.
She looked at the approximately 50 pages already online and discovered none of them had unique URLs, meta descriptions or page titles.
"Part of it was going behind the page and adding that optimization that should have been there from the beginning," she said.
The next part was analyzing the keywords in the content itself.
Kraus performed keyword research to find the key phrases to strategize ways to increase search engine result page rankings for each and every DB Squared webpage.
She looked at what phrases people were really using when they searched and what key phrases and words would help a page rank.
This initial stage, in an effort to optimize the content that was present at the time, took two months.
Step #2. Create content
Once the content already on the site was optimized, Kraus began creating content marketing tools to help prospects find DB Squared and began educating them. The site experienced a quick redesign and implemented a company blog for DB Squared.
DB Squared's blog was seen as an optimal channel to help drive more traffic to the site.
"[We] use a blog article to not only pull people in with the content that are in our target markets, but to help push them into the site a little bit further using each of those pages to link back to a particular product," she said.
For instance, if Kraus produced content for salon marketing ideas, there would be a link in the content to view how salon financing can help prospects build their business further.
"It really starts with the webpages as a hub, and then the blog helping to pull people in and push people back to those product pages," she said.
Also, around once a month, she publishes press releases, focusing on a related news article or statistics relating to one of DB Squares products to drive additional traffic.
She also produced white papers, typically focusing around a topic relating to helping companies in their marketing efforts.
"Those are good tools to engage people, especially on LinkedIn … You have those e-books that people want with good, helpful, actionable tips for small businesses," she said.
In further optimizing new content created for DB Squared, Kraus followed guidelines set out by Google and other search engines.
"There is great advice out there, and a lot of it is very step by step," she said.
Kraus strives to write for real people but finds actionable ways to integrate key phrases into titles, page headers and alt-tags used for images.
"We want to give search engines every chance to find our content first," she explained.
Content for lead gen
Kraus is producing content that is both more general interest and content that speaks to prospects deeper in the sales funnel.
For a general interest piece, this could entail talking about business strategies and ways prospects can grow their business. These are prospects in the pre-purchase phase, educating themselves and performing research in finding a solution that fits their needs.
For prospects deeper in the funnel, DB Squared provides more information about one of its financial products and how it works.
Once a lead is passed on to the sales team, the conversation becomes more one-to-one, with DB Squared providing content such as an e-book that's relevant to the prospect's needs during conversations with Sales.
Step #3. Share on social
Kraus shares DB Squared content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter and Pinterest.
In planning out posts, she keeps an editorial calendar via a simple spreadsheet and plans out content to post, often up to four posts per day.
Using a social media platform, Kraus is able to plug in scheduled shares to post on DB Squared's social media accounts. The posted content is focused on simply serving up value for customers, and roughly only one in 20 posts is self-promotional.
In using Pinterest in particular, Kraus has found social media to be a useful way to target prospects who would be interested in the business cash advance side of DB Squared's product line.
Many of the leads in that target market are restaurateurs and franchisees, salons and spas, and many of them are women-owned businesses. With a high percentage of women on Pinterest, this channel aligned with that target market.
"It's just a matter of knowing where those people are and kind of serving up what makes sense," Kraus said.
One piece on Pinterest Kraus has found that struck a chord with her target market is motivational quote graphics
to inspire business owners.
Click here to see the full version of this creative sample
"Those quotes get a lot of shares and, over time, are starting to drive quite a bit of traffic, generating brand awareness," she said.
Step #4. Analyze results
As Kraus spearheaded the content marketing effort at DB Squared, she has reviewed analytics every step of the way, every day.
She analyzes email reports to discover what links people are clicking on, performs tests with email subject lines and keeps a close eye on social networks to see what is being shared.
"You just learn what topics are resounding with your client niches. A lot of that is we really have a really good idea of who our prime target industries are, and we're able to write for those industries as opposed to just putting out a general 'we do business finance' piece," she said.
Kraus has found that the more focused the content is in terms of what industries and verticals are targeted, the more the content can be tailored to speak a prospect's language and fit the problems they are facing. This leads to more credibility and trust with those markets.
In learning from her efforts, one challenge Kraus faced was ineffective timing of content, email and social pushes.
"You start building up this momentum, and then a national holiday will occur and everything falls to pieces. Or Friday will happen and Web traffic dies at 11 a.m.," she explained. "It's those moments where you did a ton of hard work but, because your audience wasn't listening, nobody heard."
While some of those instances cannot be avoided, she advised that it's a matter of refining your own rhythm and being patient.
Kraus lives by "content wins over time" and explained that a content marketing effort takes time to see results.
"You might not have money, but you've got time. And you need to do it. It doesn't cost you anything. It just costs time. You can even throw up a website for free and put content on it. Anyone can do content marketing in my opinion," she said.
Since implementing a content marketing strategy for DB Squared, Kraus has reaped in the achievements of greater brand awareness and increases in engagement on the DB Squared website.
The results garnered include year-over-year increases in:
- 253% number of sessions
- 310% number of unique users
- 415% number of pageviews
- 47% number of pages per session
DB Squared also achieved a decrease in bounce rate from 60% down to 20%.
In addition, since starting this content marketing effort, DB Squared went from 800 to more than 5,000 social followers for its profile pages on social channels.
Regarding its success from content marketing, Kraus advised marketers to be consistent in their messaging and hone in on main audiences.
"Every business has target markets, but within those target markets you have ideal buyer personas," she said. "For content marketers, one of the things that can be helpful is to think that you've got that ideal buyer sitting across from you, and what would you advise them?"
In future efforts, Kraus is looking to do another site redesign, implementing responsive design, as well as providing more video and interactive content ideal buyer types would be interested in.
One idea is to help small business owners, seeking cash advance financing as an end goal, be able to use an app through DB Squared to remodel their business and serve what the estimated cost would be to them.
This would be a tool to help prospects envision their perfect business, while giving them some planning tools to turn that dream into reality.
"We feel like we can do what we want because we're not in a big corporate mold. We can make our own culture," Kraus concluded.
- Pinterest motivational quote
— DB Squared's social media posting tool
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