On Content Performance and Selection: A Q&A between a Fortune 500 Company and NetLine’s VP of Audience

David Fortino, VP of Audience Development, recently discussed content performance with a client, including the types of content that typically perform well and how to choose the right content to generate both quantity and quality of Leads.


F500 (Fortune 500): Can you share insights around top performing content types?

Fortino: eBooks tend to be the best performing content type we consistently see across all vendors. While they are almost always still technically a PDF, they’re positioned in a fundamentally different manner. An effectively executed eBook takes an otherwise complex topic and efficiently ‘humanizes’ the topic in such a manner that it is easily digested for the busy professional. With that being said, it’s critically important that you stay true to your goals as we’ve witnessed poorly executed eBooks attract an overabundance of response that clearly fell outside the ideal targets. It’s always difficult to manage the line of giving content a personality vs. going completely too far in either direction.

Below are few other tweaks on the notion content humanization. You’ll immediately recognize that they all are technically being fulfilled in a PDF format. It’s simply the external positioning that has changed:

  • Top 10 Tips of …
  • Best Practices of…
  • {TOPIC} in 2013 – What you need to know…
  • 6 Questions for…
  • 2013 Guide for….
  • {TOPIC} for Dummies

F500: Why do you use 3rd party white papers over authored white papers? What about solution briefs?

Fortino: 3rd party validated content certainly provides an added level of trust to the user for obvious reasons. Alternatively, they tend to be some of the most poorly positioned documents we distribute. They often consist of quality content and attract highly qualified users yet typically lack the appeal to drive the volume most vendors would like to see. Solution Briefs often under perform for us as well. As with all content types, there will always be those that break the mold.

F500: We typically utilize a large number of content assets (Over 100/year), some which don’t generate any downloads. What are the main factors that influence the content you decide to promote?

Fortino: Part of the analysis is science, part is art, and the final component is an editorial decision made by my team. The editorial decision is fluid and doesn’t generally have parameters other than we attempt to identify content that synergistically addresses the needs of our audience at the given time while simultaneously still addressing the needs of the client’s given campaign.

F500: Can you tell us what contributes to content that receives very low response rates?

Fortino: In addition to the above criteria, sometimes assets simply under-perform and/or fail to find resonance with users. As long as we’ve been doing this, we’d be foolish to say that we’re 100% correct when forecasting which content excels and which content struggles. That being said, NetLine has over 18 years of experience running demand generation campaigns so we have a good foresight into what content will perform well.

Fortune 500 (F500): Should we be removing this content and replacing it?

Fortino: That’s entirely up to you. I’m personally of the mindset that great content doesn’t always equate to high-volume. The type of content and what stage of the funnel it is directed towards can have a big impact on quality vs. quantity. Consequently, I’m always going to support the continuation of an asset that struggles to generate volume but consistently attracts high quality leads. So long as the client also has content in play that addresses their volume requirements as well. It’s all about balance.

F500: Are there standard qualities related to content that perform well/resonate strongly?

Fortino: There are a number of factors that drive this behavior. It primarily starts with audience/publisher resonance. That response level is then taken and extended dynamically throughout our recommendation logic/systems which in turn drives more success. Via direct client feedback, our Client Services organization has the ability to directly interlace your requirements into our system thereby giving certain assets less or more exposure based on your needs. They will also work cross-functionally with my team to further fine tune the campaign and its extension to our audience.

F500: Does NetLine align content to the buyer journey? (Awareness/Consideration/Decision)

Fortino: This is done on a case by case basis and it generally only works well when the content is pre-disposed/positioned towards speaking to the challenges of each stage of the journey. Taking an asset that holistically addresses a topic and expecting it to only attract users of a certain persona/stage will likely be inefficient. One needs to develop content specific to pre-defined buyer personas and their relative stage in order to properly execute a campaign of such degree. We commonly leverage lead nurturing and event driven drip campaigns to best align content to the defined persona as the lead escalates through the process. Obviously, a good amount of thought needs to be put into mapping out that process prior to launching the campaign to achieve optimum effectiveness.


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