In our earlier blog post, 4 Examples of B2B Content Marketing that Rock, one of the exciting examples I cited was from Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), a leading provider of information availability through managed IT, cloud and recovery services.
Sungard Availability Services provides serious mission critical services to some of the world’s largest corporations.
But as I noted in my post, their content is entertaining, and “…full of interesting, colorful blog posts with tantalizing headlines and interesting, useful facts, all presented in an easy-to-read blogging style.”
I was intrigued enough to reach out to Sandra Patterer, Sungard AS’s Director of Digital Content, who graciously agreed to be interviewed for the blog.
Sandra become Sungard AS’s digital content director in January, but she has been with Sungard for over 4 years. She was previously Senior Manager of Marketing Programs and oversaw a team that developed and executed campaigns that maximized potential selling opportunities within targets and customers for their Enterprise Cloud Services.
This is my interview with Sandra.
Sandra, tell us a little bit about what you do for Sungard AS in your role as Director of Digital Content?
Patterer: I oversee a team that manages and contributes content to three blogs for Sungard AS: The SungardAS Voice on Forbes.com’s BrandVoice property, the Sungard At the Speed of Business blog on CIO.com’s Brand Post, and the Sungard AS Blog.
Additionally my team creates content assets for SEO and SEM, for the marketing programs department to use, and for our content syndication program.
Before I became director our content team was creating content to generate awareness with folks responsible for making technology decisions within our target market. [My predecessor’s] team wanted to get creative by tying our solutions with events that were relevant to people at that particular time.
For example, when the World War Z movie came out they created the Zombie Apocalypse campaign (with the help of marketing firm Bulldog Solutions), which garnered several awards as well as a lot of PR and attention on social media.
They also created the successful Holiday Resiliency campaign to attract attention during the holidays.
These programs were great for awareness, and we had a nice influx of people into the database as a result of these programs.
But when I became director we decided to take a different approach in 2015, and now we’re focusing on keywords. We’re working closely with our SEO and SEM team to focus on what keywords people are searching for that pair with the solutions we offer so we can show measurable results for those service areas.
Tell us a little bit about your approach to this content/keyword/service pairing?
Patterer: We’re coming up with interesting ways to present our content and titles. For example, let’s look at cloud migration keywords. We could write a blog post called “5 Steps to Cloud Migration,” but we realized that kind of headline wouldn’t get any attention.
But if we used something interesting like “3 Experts Speak About Cloud Migration,” that would be a little more compelling.
We’re trying to come up with more compelling and interesting approaches and angles.
Sandra, your team is publishing on a daily basis – how are you coming up with so much quality content?
Patterer: We have a number of ways we’re feeding the content pipeline. My predecessor established a content review board. We meet on weekly basis to review all content that comes to us, and decide which channel it should be published on.
Articles come from a number of different sources (or come in a number of different ways). For example on our Forbes blog we publish general “lifestyle” content, or light IT business articles. We have a team of freelance lifestyle writers who are part of our extended team, and they will pitch us on different topics and work with our internal team to review and choose topics and what we’ll publish.
We also leverage in-house subject matter experts who come to us when they’re interested in writing a bog post. We’ll work with them to brainstorm on different ideas based on their expertise. Many of them can write, and they choose to write, but the majority will ask to work with a ghost writer who will transcribe their thoughts and turn them into a blog post.
The third way we obtain articles is that we plan content based on our list of target keywords and our differentiated approach to content, and we’ll work with our writers and match them with a subject matter expert to create a compelling post on that keyword topic.
The result is articles such as Leave Your Laptop In Your Car and 9 Other Bad Cyber Security Habits, or like the example I used of “3 Experts Speak About Cloud Migration.”
Getting executives and other subject matter experts to contribute seems to be such a challenge for so many companies. How do you motivate your subject matter experts to contribute content?
Patterer: A lot of them come to us voluntarily with ideas, and their managers also encourage them to publish as it’s part of their annual performance goals.
So how is the new strategy working out for Sungard AS?
Patterer: Because the keyword-focused content strategy is so new I can’t give you specific percentages, but I can tell you that the leading indicators, in terms of click rates and open rates when we leverage our blog content as part of the nurture email program, we’re seeing higher opens and clicks than the previous awareness campaign. Hopefully signs of future success to come!
What other types of content is your team creating?
Patterer: We repurpose a lot of our content, such as executive briefs and webinars, across our other channels and for our marketing programs team.
We work together with our marketing programs and conversion teams, and we’ll look at our target keywords and blogs and ask: “if we turn this into a checklist, will you be able to utilize this? Where in your process can we coordinate and leverage different content?”
How do you feel you’re doing compared to your competition?
Patterer: We of course see our competitors are putting out content and we monitor that, but we feel we’re one of the few who publish fresh content on a daily basis.
I was really inspired by my talk with Sandra and I think what she’s doing over at Sungard AS provides a model other B2B technology and consulting firms can follow in their content marketing efforts. By leveraging a native advertising approach using sponsored blogs on Forbes.com and CIO.com, they’re getting their content out to a wider audience.
And they’re also leveraging a keyword strategy with content on their own blog that’s interesting and a little more daring and fun to read, taking almost a Buzzfeed-like approach to headline writing. They actively encourage readers to subscribe to their blog as part of their nurturing strategy, and the marketing programs team leverages Sandra’s content to qualify prospects, leading to more conversations for the sales team.