Killing it With Content – Generating millions in 6 months
As of Spring of 2017, mobile insights company Tutela had no brand awareness or content strategy to speak of. They were a niche business, quietly working with a few clients in North America.
But fast forward six months, and content marketing had enabled them to sign-up 6-figure deals with big new global customers and become an internationally recognized player in their industry.
This is the story of how they made it happen…
Tutela helps mobile carriers and network operators gain a better understanding of their customers’ (and their competitors’ customers’) network experience.
They do this by crowdsourcing anonymous network, usage, and performance data from app developers who run Tutela’s software in the background of popular mobile applications, which are installed on phones across the world. Tutela then transforms that data into useful insights, web-based dashboards and reports, delivering insights to telecom companies that are actionable immediately, so that they can improve their networks.
To help give a sense for the scale of data Tutela draws information and insights from – their software is currently collecting anonymous data from over 250 million devices worldwide.
The exponential growth of Tutela’s content marketing success – adding millions of revenue in only 6 months – would be the envy of pretty well any founder or scale-up company out there. So how did they go from nothing, to having world-class leads delivering themselves to Tutela’s front door, in such an accelerated time frame? We met with Tutela’s VP Sales & Partnerships, Tom Luke, to find out.
Cold emails suck
Tom is responsible for all things growth at Tutela. That may sound overwhelming, but many tech companies in the early stages of scaling are likely to find themselves in similar situations. This vast range of responsibilities, combined with the importance of moving revenue up and to the right, makes efficient allocation of time all that much more important.
If you’re going to pursue a new strategy, the decision needs to be backed by a compelling “why”, along with key metrics to help the team determine whether to double-down on the strategy, continue testing, or change focus altogether.
For Tom and Tutela, the key metric for their content marketing is “new qualified leads”, and the why driving them along is that “cold calling sucks”.
“Over the years I’ve learned the hard way: that cold calling (and cold emailing) sucks. It sucks for everybody involved. It sucks for me, because I have to send the hundred emails to get a couple of responses. It sucks for the customer because they’re just getting emails from me and most of the time they’re not interested, and as a result they have a bad experience with our brand.”
Unless you’re Leo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, cold calling does suck. It sucks even more as a one person team, because the only way for things to scale is by adding more of your own time.
The reason Tom started Tutela down the path to creating a content marketing strategy was to generate qualified leads, and enable him to spend his limited time selling in the most efficient way possible.
“Our entire content strategy was designed from a sales perspective. I began with “what sales outcomes do I want?”, then worked backwards to design the marketing functions that can lead to achieving them. The best deals come from inbound rather than outbound initiatives. Knowing that, and knowing that we had a very small team, we had to come up with a globally scalable approach.”
The foundations of content marketing excellence
One of the things Tutela got right from the start was having a clear picture of their target customer and the target audience they would be designing content for.
In both cases, this audience is decision makers at telecom industry-leading companies.
“We sell our insights and data to telecoms companies, like Telefonica in Spain. With Tutela’s help they can see things they previously could not, like “how was network quality in Madrid last week, versus competitors?” So it was important to us to design our marketing content to attract those personas”
As many marketing professionals know, once the target audience is known and defined, the challenge becomes to design a content creation strategy that appeals to them. Ideally, the content should also provide value that is aligned with that of your company’s product or services – so that the content can also serve as a reliable means of qualifying leads.
The other part of the challenge, is to make the entire process manageable, so that a limited-in-size team doesn’t become overwhelmed and give up before the results have a chance to be realized.
Tutela is in unique position for content, in that their business naturally generates the building blocks for amazing content each and every day.
“We’re in a luxurious position at Tutela. We’re a data company, and because of that we’re bursting with content. The hardest part for us is taking the billions of data points and turning it into a insightful and useful digestible content for our industry. That’s something we’re continuously trying to improve.”
Tutela’s ingenious solution was to create regularly published, highly valuable content, which are essentially teasers of their paid offering – which comprises detailed monthly reports, data, and interactive analysis tools for telecom companies’ performance in their respective regions.
If you visit Tutela’s blog, you’ll see content titles such as “USA: Verizon leads on speed but T-Mobile delivers best overall 4G quality”, “France: Orange provides best 3G and 4G speed but SFR delivers best overall network performance”, and “Super Bowl 2018: Live Mobile Network Performance”.
If you work for a telecom company in one of those countries, delve into those reports to learn more.
Tutela may be fortunate to have the data for these reports being naturally generated as a result of their operations, but as Tom said, the difficult part is taking all that data and turning it into a compelling story, and in turn into content that provides greater value than readers can get anywhere else – and at that Tutela has done an amazing job.
The content marketing funnel: a guided journey to understanding Tutela’s value
Another aspect of their content marketing strategy that Tutela nailed (and continues to refine) is their content funnel.
A properly structured and supported content funnel can aid the business in many ways. The funnel can guide users to better understanding a company’s offering; it can track the efficacy and ROI of each step and event along that path; it can identify who the most interested and engaged leads really are; and of course it can drive an increase in a strategy’s key metric (which for Tutela, is new qualified leads).
Worth noting – Tutela uses HubSpot to perform, monitor, and analyze the majority of its marketing and sales activities. According to Tom, “Everything is around HubSpot. I love HubSpot because it integrates everything together. We create our blog posts on there, it’s our CRM, our sales funnel, our email marketing. Two of the best decisions we’ve made at Tutela are to focus heavily on content marketing, and use HubSpot”.
The are many elements to a content marketing funnel, and supporting activities that go along with one, including lead scoring, creating, and adhering to a content posting schedule. It can take a considerable amount of time, effort, and resources to put all the pieces into place, but when it’s done right, the results speak for themselves.
“We started our content marketing in June and almost out of nowhere we had a pipeline of 20-30 seriously interested companies. Then over the next 4 months, those leads went from no awareness of Tutela, to technical evaluations of our software, to price negotiations, and all the way to signing contracts.”
Sounds impressive. Let’s take a closer look at the typical key steps in Tutela’s content marketing funnel that made those results possible:
Step 1: Potential leads come across a teaser blog for one of Tutela’s monthly reports (Tutela’s content distribution strategy is covered in more detail in the next section – see one of these “teaser” blogs here).
Step 2: To get access to the full report, leads sign up for Tutela’s “Insights Portal”. See the Insights Portal registration page here. Once signed up, users can access all of Tutela’s monthly reports in full, for free, anytime – lot’s of value to them for only a small commitment.
Once users create an account, not only does Tutela capture their email, name, and company, and know that they are interested, but they can also begin tracking every report the user reads, how often they come back to read more, and the type of report they are most interested in (more and more detailed lead qualification and profiling, all occurring automatically).
Step 3: Leads continue to be nurtured via Tutela’s weekly newsletter. Each newsletter highlights the latest monthly reports to have been released (Tutela posts two reports each week) – providing regular reminders of the value Tutela offers, and keeping them top of mind.
Step 4: Qualifying leads are engaged in conversation. Tutela gets inbound enquiries from leads via their contact forms and also uses lead scoring (for them this is done via HubSpot) to determine which leads are most ready for a conversation. Lead scoring points are assigned for a wide variety of actions – including newsletter opens, report reads, etc – and this helps Tom ensure that he is spending his one-to-one outreach time as effectively as possible.
Step 5: Tutela gains engaged and satisfied customers, and can then rinse and repeat.
That all might sound simple, but the importance of having high quality content at the heart of the funnel, which potential customers actually derive value from, cannot be overlooked.
“Our focus is always on creating content that is genuinely useful. Content that adds value, and that customers will actually want to have. If I was instead to write subjective vanity posts like “Tom’s Top Tips”, nobody is going to read them.”
Tutela’s content distribution strategy is actually fairly standard, for it is the quality of their content that makes them stand out.
Tom outsources the repeatable aspects of content distribution to PR company Champion Communications. That PR company creates the “teaser” blogs out of the larger monthly reports (based on titles and key takeaways outlined each month by Tom), and then distributes the content via a few key channels:
- Blog posts on the company website
- Posts on Tutela’s social media profiles
- Boosted posts on LinkedIn
- Tutela’s weekly email newsletter
- Earned media (PR) – Since the subject matter of their posts is appealing to a healthy variety of media companies, and regularly will see extended distribution via this channel.
By delegating these repeatable tasks to a PR company, Tom is able to focus more of his time and efforts on higher impact activities.
Rapid Fire Q&A with Tom
A service like HubSpot is expensive, and there are probably many startup marketers or sales people out there who wish they had access to something similar.
How did you convince your CEO to make the investment?
Getting HubSpot was an easy decision from a functional perspective, but it is expensive, and it was a hard sell internally. Our CEO, who spends company money carefully, was hesitant at first, but we concluded that having the best available solution would mean that we would need to hire fewer sales and marketing staff and spend less time integrating and configuring different tools. Overall, it is probably the lowest-cost way to achieve these results.
How do you learn more, or find inspiration for your content strategy?
Apart from that, I also take inspiration from what other organisations in our industry are doing and test it out at Tutela.
What’s next for Tutela’s content marketing strategy?
Two things we are focussed on right now are 1) Making the content even more valuable and useful to customers and 2) Personalisation, in particular around the website and email marketing, so that content distribution is more targeted and relevant to each reader.
We also want to make use of that content and do more to educate readers on Tutela’s product offerings (in a non-intrusive manner).
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There you have it, the story of how Tutela went from having no content marketing strategy to speak of, to adding millions in revenue in only six months.
It all might sound simple, but in the end that’s the point – creating a repeatable, measurable, and scalable system for delivering reliable results. In Tutela’s case it was by devising an efficient way to create and nurture high quality leads each and every month.
“Our content marketing is just about stacking the odds in our favour and growing efficiently. I always figured I could work super-hard now and get the marketing machine running, then in the future I can relax and make the success look effortless!”
Above all else, Tutela’s success revolves around first creating the best content on the internet in their area, and then building robust systems and infrastructure around it to create a funnel that simultaneously provides added value to users, and nurtures new qualified leads for Tutela.