August 18, 2016

Joe Pulizzi: Content Subscribers Make Better Buyers

Written by
Chris Klinefelter
Tags: Podcast

Joe Pulizzi, the CEO of the Content Marketing Institute, was a recent guest on our podcast, B2B Nation.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • The essence and value of content marketing  
  • How to measure content marketing efficacy
  • Tips for companies just getting started with content marketing
  • Content Marketing World 2016

Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.*

Content marketing is not sales promotion.

“How do we create valuable and relevant information on a consistent basis in order to drive value outside the products and services we offer? If we do that well over a period of time, then we should see more profitable behaviors from our customers. They might buy more. They might stay longer as customers. They might talk more favorably about the company. Content marketing has been around for a long time. Well over 100 years through print and now digital.

“Here’s the big misconception: companies are sending out sales promotions through whitepapers, ebooks, tweets, and think it’s content marketing. Content marketing is driven best by media companies. They go out and target a very specific audience and deliver real value to that audience over time. The only difference is how revenue is driven. Media companies drive revenue mainly from subscriptions and advertisements. Subscribers to our content become better buyers.”

To measure efficacy, compare your newsletter subscribers to current customers.

“There are lots of ways to measure content strategy, and it depends on what your goals are. There are three main goals: Am I driving sales? Am I saving costs compared to what I’m already doing? Am I creating happier customers? If you’re really going to do this right, you’re going to push for subscriptions where people opt-in to your content.

“Let’s say you create a weekly blog post, and the post is completely educational. The CTA of the article should not be pushing the reader for a demo of your product, but rather ask them to sign up for your newsletter. You can then measure what that audience does against your customer database. Take that email subscription list, which is the asset, and look at that audience closely. Do they stay longer? Do they close faster? Set hypotheses against this set of data to see what the difference is. Most companies don’t get that far. You actually have to get through a sales cycle or a buyer’s journey before you can see the difference.”

Start with one audience, one project, one target.

“It’s great to be a content marketing believer, but you don’t want to try to institute the idea all across your company right away. You want to start small. Start with one audience, one project, one target, and do that really well as you test. Do a pilot program, just like you would for a potential client.

“Prove the concept in this way. The buy-in is a lot easier when you’re sitting down with your CEO or CMO. Create some time for yourself by asking for six months to test and have budget, then ask for another six months based on those results. If you get to 12 months, you should start to see some pretty darn good results. But don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

Make sure the process is really painful before you buy new technology.

“There is a ton of technology built around interactive content. It’s amazing, but here’s my reservation: we don’t have a technology problem. We don’t lack technology. We lack the ability to put a strategy through that makes sense. We run to technology first before we have a strategy that’s sound.

“My recommendation is to make sure that the process is really, really painful before you buy technology. I’ve seen this happen too many times where someone says they’ve got the content marketing bug and they’re rolling their strategy out. They need a marketing automation platform, so they put a lot of money into that, and they’re utilizing maybe five percent of the functionality of the platform and having all kinds of problems with it. Start small when you look at new technology.”

There’s something for everyone at Content Marketing World 2016

“We started the Content Marketing Institute in 2010, and we started listening to our audience and what they needed. With media backgrounds, they all wanted to network more and learn more about content marketing. There was no event for this, so we created the event in November 2011. We were hoping to get 100 to 150 people to come, but I wasn’t really sure if we could. We ended up getting over 600, and we’ll have over 4,000 this year.

“Everyone comes for a different reason. Some come for the speakers, others for networking, and some to see the new technology. There are 22 tracks, filled with educational sessions, and you’ll meet people in the same industry facing the same problems as you are. Whatever you need, you will get out of it. There’s truly something for everyone.”


B2B Nation is a podcast for B2B sales and marketing professionals, featuring expert opinions and advice on the most important topics in the industry. Check out our other episodes on iTunes, or follow us on Twitter: @Technology_Adv.


*Some excerpts have been paraphrased to enhance readability.