by Bob Hebeisen
I did quite a lot of blog-writing myself at Dimensional Insight, and I reviewed and edited just about every post that was published. But my favorite blog was the series I did about using spreadsheets for business analytics. It was Dimensional Insight’s most popular blog post of 2013 and it continues to draw a steady stream of viewers to the Dimensional Insight web properties.
Here are 5 reasons I love this blog post so much.
#1: Highly Leveraged Content
First of all, it wasn’t just a blog post. It was a 6-part blog series that was inspired by a white paper. As with most marketing projects it was a group effort and I want to tip my hat to my other marketing colleagues who contributed greatly to this effort: Frank Smietana co-wrote with me and edited the white paper, Kathy Walsh edited the white paper, and Kathy Sucich co-wrote and edited with me the 6 blog posts.
The white paper was not just promoted on the blog. We distributed the white paper on our website and as a trade show handout. We promoted the blog and white paper extensively by email and in our e-newsletter. We also pushed it out through social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). But the secret to the blog’s success was that it got picked up independently for discussion in a LinkedIn group which drove traffic from an extended network on LinkedIn. So the content was leveraged all over the place.
#2: Expanding the Definition of Who Our Competition Is
Successful marketing is only very rarely the result of something brand new and unique — that’s why experience is important… that’s why measuring results and documenting best practices matters.
The approach we took at Dimensional Insight of positioning ourselves against spreadsheets (rather than against other BI tools that better fit the classic definition of our direct competition) was derived from a similar successful campaign we ran at my previous job at Mathsoft (acquired by PTC in 2006). At Mathsoft we realized that the single largest competitor for our engineering calculation management product, Mathcad, was not another mathematical product like Matlab, Mathematica, etc. Instead, it was actually everyone’s good old friend Microsoft Excel. Engineers were using spreadsheets to perform calculations for structure and strain of the products they were designing. And Excel’s limitations were exposing their products to risk, as was illustrated by many high profile product development and manufacturing failures and independent research. Many engineers didn’t even realize there was a problem with using spreadsheets for performing engineering calculations, or that a better alternative was available. So at Mathsoft we created a white paper entitled “Moving Beyond The Limitations of Spreadsheets.” You can still find that white paper on some of the websites of PTC’s resellers if you Google it (though it seems to have been scrubbed from the PTC website). It was the #1 all-time best lead generator for Mathcad.
Similarly, at Dimensional Insight we recognized that many of our potential customers were using spreadsheets to crunch the numbers and monitor the performance of their business, instead of using Business Intelligence to do it. And they didn’t realize the dangers or that a better alternative was available. So I borrowed the approach we had used at Mathsoft, and voila…
#3: We Had Some Fun
I came up with the idea to use graphics from Someecards, the online e-cards that feature retro images with snarky headlines. Someecards were a fairly popular meme at the time and I thought the audience would find them visually interesting and funny and worthy of sharing. The graphics were used on the blog posts and in social media.
#4: Special Navigation for Long Form Content
When you have a lot of content (like from a white paper) and you want to leverage it in a blog, you need to carve it up into smaller “bite-sized” pieces. But then you face the challenge of stitching it all together so the reader of one blog post in the series can easily navigate to the other related blog posts. I came up with a simple navigational tool at the bottom of all the related blog posts that enables that navigation.
#5: Lead Conversion
For any blog post, it’s important to provide readers with a logical next step of engagement. The obvious next step here was to get them to download the companion white paper which had a more formal treatment of the subject matter and was easy to pass along to other stakeholders in their organization. You can see from the screen shot above that we placed a banner promoting that white paper at the conclusion of each post in the series. This white paper resulted in the highest number of website form submissions in 2013.