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This visual was inspired by a recent Newt Barrett post on Content Marketing Today – Six Steps to a Successful Small Business Content Marketing Strategy. Quick question: Have you benefited in terms of speaking engagements from sharing your Slideshare presentations?
I'm a Digital Strategist that uses a practical, no nonsense approach to help companies learn how to leverage the dynamics Web 2.0 to achieve organizational goals and create business value. Educating your customers and prospects is a great way to generate the right kind of leads — and, often, to fulfill your organization’s content marketing mission. Many CMI contributors have written about the vital role that education plays as part of a powerful content marketing strategy.
Schneider Electric’s Energy University is a free, online, educational resource that provides vendor-neutral courses on energy efficiency and other information that helps organizations improve their energy efficiency. In addition to serving as a helpful resource, Energy University also generates millions in lead opportunities globally, as courses are translated into over 13 languages. Opening up an entirely new, effective lead generation channel is a marketer’s dream —so how did Energy University do it?
For example, when people understand the refrigeration cycle, they’re going to come away with a better understanding of cooling products, overall. Key takeaway: Content focused on customer education can benefit your organization in ways that reach far beyond the sales and marketing department.
Schneider Electric brings the right thinkers to the table to ensure each course is packed with useful takeaways — Lorna heads up a dedicated team of in-house educators who have Master’s degrees in subjects such as instructional design and adult education. Key takeaway: Your competitors may be blogging, tweeting, and writing white papers, but are they providing quality, comprehensive continuing education? Key takeaway: To build trust, ensure that your educational materials would apply no matter which product or service your audience members prefer to use. Energy University creates brand-agnostic technical drawings to illustrate a product’s functionality. The education team draws information from college textbooks, reliable sources in the public domain, and in-house subject matter experts.
Key takeaway: When your content marketing program relies on education, the information you distribute must be accurate and beyond reproach. Key takeaway: If you invest the time and effort necessary to gain accreditation for your educational content programs, it likely will pay dividends in the consumer trust and support your organization gains. Key takeaway: Any educational program should work together with all of your other marketing efforts — that way, both audiences grow.
As Schneider Electric has grown and acquired other companies in the last decade, Lorna has observed “a real corporate emphasis on creating one Schneider Electric brand.
Energy University — and the educational content marketing strategy it was founded on — has reached the unique and elusive point where money and mission are in alignment. Join Over 150,000 of your Peers!Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program FREE! Great article, I’m a big fan of Schneider Electric’s thought leadership activities and this clearly represents a great edu-training effort! Just as is the case with other marketing tactics and in an integrated marketing approach, a content marketing strategy (not to be confused with a content strategy) is essential to succeed if you want to approach content marketing the correct (i.e.
Admittedly, sometimes content marketing is used in another context, for instance the pure publishing sense whereby the creation, distribution, management, reporting and interaction with the content are put in the center.

Some content marketing software platforms such as Cadence9, look at content marketing the publishing way and are essentially all about the idea of creating, managing and publishing across multiple platforms, including some other enterprise content marketing features. The journey (and multi-channel customer experience) is closely related with the so-called funnel. But when building a content marketing strategy (with a focus on organizational goals and the customer) or a strategy whereby relevant content plays the role it deserves, we need to work with the customer journey, mappings with touchpoints and buyer personas, etc.
That’s why a content strategy (more or less the strategy to execute the content marketing plan) is in a sense different for each buyer persona and it’s certainly different for each business.
Today the industry focuses a lot on content formats that work or not from the format perspective and from the viewpoint of opinions, averages (what research mainly is about), etc. On top of that we innovate and test new and hot stuff but usually from a budget perspective it’s more limited.
And it also looks like the infographic below I stumbled upon , posted by the people of Adido. I use a practical approach to teach organizations how to achieve business objectives using the dynamics of Web 2.0 Please drop by with a blog comment or feel free to connect with me on Google+. My wife and I have somehow never made it to Vancouver, but it’s on our travel bucket list, for sure. Energy University currently has over 350,000 active users, and more than 800 courses are taken every day.
Let’s take a look at some of the insights Lorna shared on the program, and how their techniques can be applied to a content marketing strategy of any scope, for any industry. Start with your mission: Energy University began as Data Center University, which was started in 2004 by a company called American Power Conversion (APC).
Educating your customers can save you time — and make you money: Buying efficiency products for a large structure, such as a data center, is complex, Lorna explained, so Energy University teaches its users about the processes involved in making their products work. When customers are educated, they can make more informed purchasing decisions without needing a lot of assistance from your sales team — in turn, this reduces product returns and increases customer satisfaction rates.
As Lorna explained, there simply aren’t a lot of organizations offering that level of high-quality education in their industry — let alone for free. Don’t trick your audience into enduring a glorified sales pitch: Have you ever signed up for a webinar you thought would be educational, only to find out that one particular product or service is pitched the whole time?
If you have the wonderful problem of creating an overwhelming volume of leads, consider adding a few qualifying questions to your registration or download forms, to help your team drill down to the pain points each lead is most likely to need help with. Still, her advice is to consider editing your recorded content into shorter snippets to see if this leads to better response rates. Implement a rigorous approval process so you don’t get caught delivering bad information. Offer your courses free of charge (whenever possible): A few years ago, Energy University experimented with charging a fee for its courses — and registrations went down. However, even if it isn’t feasible to offer all of your courses for free, you can still reap many of the branding and lead generation benefits provided by an educational content program. What can your company do to demonstrate its concern for customers and simultaneously uncover new business leads? Tracy is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. It includes more touchpoints via different channels than before or in many cases more contact moments via a limited number of touchpoints.

The average CEO of a major corp, for instance, is not that much of a social B2B buyer (yet) as the maybe younger or more digital-minded marketing manager influencing part of his buying decision. In the end, Data Center University was so successful that Schneider Electric decided not only to continue the program, but also to expand it into Energy University.
Instead, focus on teaching users about how to solve the problem your software addresses in a more general way.
Every course goes through an approval process that involves both instructional and subject matter experts. Some courses even qualify attendees to sit for in-person exams that are offered through third parties. Yet, Energy University also brings a lot of users in via word of mouth — and those users are then added to the company’s database to be used in its other marketing activities. Such a strategy is typically built around the buyer journey or customer journey during which buyers consult several content sources.
The idea of touchpoints originated in the CRM world and is now used by many large organizations. But to make it more visual and using the ‘traditional funnel’ instead of funnel it looks very much like the famous content grid by Eloqua, even if such grids are merely models.
Energy University works directly with these organizations to make sure its courses are in compliance with the strict guidelines required for accreditation. Offering the education for free shows how invested Schneider is in their customers’ needs.
Schneider Electric tracks leads, how users are coming into the site, and where users are coming from.
And there are different ways to express and map that famous journey in content marketing and beyond.
You can read a bit more about it here and view some typical graphical representations here.
You can find them on the sites and blogs of companies such as Altimeter, Gartner, Dachis Group (now Sprinklr), Forrester and many more (and on some of my other blogs and blog posts). The marketing ROI of less predictable content formats and strategies, in function of the customer journey and the buyer personas, can be amazingly high. There are also tools to map the different touchpoints and customer experiences buyer personas have across their buyer’s journey. That’s why working with touchpoints and with an integrated marketing approach as we keep defending is so cool.
So you manage risk and make sure you have the fundamentals right in your content marketing strategy first.
Because that’s what generates sales, improves customer satisfaction and enhances customer experiences.

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