How to Measure the Performance of Customer Stories

Customer stories are at the heart of social proof. But how do we know if they’re impacting sales and revenue? Read our interview with Alison Bukowski, Head of Customer Marketing at PeerSpot, to hear how she measures the performance of her customer stories.

Interview with Alison Bukowski from PeerSpot

Customer stories are at the heart of social proof. They also demonstrate to prospects that if your solution worked for one successful customer, it could also work for you. But how do we know if they’re impacting sales and revenue?

We interviewed Alison Bukowski, Head of Customer Marketing at PeerSpot, to hear her perspective on how to measure the performance of customer stories, along with other topics like:

  • how Alison got her start in customer marketing
  • her biggest customer marketing challenge in the past 12 months
  • her advice for someone new to customer marketing

Alison Bukowski interview

Alison Bukowski

Name: Alison Bukowski
Job title: Head of Customer Marketing
Company: PeerSpot
Location: Delano, MN
Degree: BA, English Language & Literature

Fun facts about Alison Bukowski:

🥙 Food you’re craving right now: Chips & salsa (now and always)
🎵 Your favorite musician/band is: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
🐼 Your favorite animal is: Hippopotamus (as determined by my kids)
🎞️ Your all-time favorite movie is: The Shawshank Redemption
🌍 Top 3 places you want to visit someday: Maldives, Africa, British Columbia
🗨️ One of your all-time favorite quotes is: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e.e. cummings

What did your journey to customer marketing look like? 

Alison Bukowski: Writing has always been a big part of my life. When I was 10, I wanted to be a children’s book author and I wanted to do my own illustrations. I was a journalism major in college until I realized that journalism wasn’t creative enough for me so I got an English degree instead and everyone assumed I would end up teaching. 

My first gig out of college was as a technical writer and a grant writer within academia. Then I was in nonprofit for a while doing more grant writing, but also taking on marketing communications.

Since then, I’ve been a content writer, editor, and manager on numerous occasions for different marketing organizations. Case studies became a big focus for a while, and that was the customer hook for me. I loved talking to customers and celebrating their stories. From there, I really didn’t look back. I’ve been working in customer-facing roles that involve direct interaction with customers ever since.

What is your job and what does your day-to-day look like?

Alison Bukowski: I’m the head of customer marketing at PeerSpot and I’m very excited because our marketing strategy is entirely customer-focused. As part of my role, I work with multiple areas in the organization with different goals and needs. For example, I work with our sales team to:

  • find out where the voice of the customer will help them
  • what content they need that will help make an immediate impression and connection with prospects
  • generate content that will also address any objections that might come up during conversations 

I also work very closely with our customer success team. We are in the midst of launching our customer advocacy program right now. It’s the fourth one that I’ve launched and each one gets a little bit better and each one is customized to best fit the organization and the customer base.

I’m excited to help the customer success team strengthen relationships with our customers, expand our footprint within an organization and deliver value to the people we work with every day.

The most unique and best part of my job is that everything we do within marketing is customer-driven and customer-led. Whether it’s the content I am developing, the events we create for customers, or thought leadership/training materials we share–it must have the customer involved or it’s not going to be on my list of priorities.

What’s been your biggest customer marketing challenge in the past 12 months?

Alison Bukowski: One challenge is the reconnection, post-pandemic, with customers. We got very used to doing everything virtually during the pandemic. 

But reintroducing in-person events has come with a whole host of challenges since we were so used to disconnecting and then having to learn how to connect in new virtual ways. And I think a lot of good came out of that, but it also put us into a very tough spot because the reconnect hasn’t happened like we thought/hoped it would. So that has been challenging and has forced us to be a lot more creative. 

I think a lot of us have changed our programs and approaches to accommodate virtual and in-person activities. But I also think we’ve had to change our expectations, which is probably harder to do.

What’s been your biggest customer marketing accomplishment in the past 12 months?

Alison Bukowski: We held an in-person event recently, which was lovely to do, but for the first time, I got to bring together marketers, not just customer marketers or advocacy professionals. We had field marketers, demand gen marketers, customer marketers and advocacy professionals all in one space.

This may not seem that exciting, but the energy and the conversations were incredible, and this light bulb went off for me, like, wow, they don’t always talk to each other. And that’s a bummer because, really, we should be. We should be connected and leveraging the work of each other. And to host that event and be that “spark” was exciting. 

Why are customer stories so important for you and for your company?

Alison Bukowski: Customer stories are absolutely important. Sales never stop asking for them. It’s an opportunity for the customer (the person, not the logo) to share their expertise and their experience. It’s a way to make them a hero within the story. And that is way more interesting and far more powerful than “Customer A had this challenge and here we came to save the day.” People see right through that. That’s not interesting. It’s not human. 

What’s challenging about producing customer stories?

Alison Bukowski: It’s really 3 challenges for me when producing quality customer stories:

  1. Relationships with customers take time. You have to have them. You aren’t going to get good stories if you don’t have relationships built on trust. And this takes time. 

  2. Relationships with internal partners take time. If you don’t have a relationship with a customer, you need to rely on your internal partners. Especially if you’re just starting your advocacy program or are new to an organization, your first focus should be on those internal relationships. They are the essential ingredient to your success in capturing and creating customer stories.

  3. Budget and resources. This one is a no-brainer. You need the budget and the resources to develop good content.

How do you measure the performance of customer stories?

Alison Bukowski: We measure the performance of customer stories in 5 ways:

  1. Web performance. It’s important to have a solid web analytics tool to see where traffic is coming from, how many downloads you’re getting if your customer stories are gated, and how long people are spending on your content. You have to look at the data regularly, make assessments and then you have to act.

  2. Campaign analytics. If you’re leveraging customer stories or voice of the customer content within your campaigns, which you absolutely should be, track that and find out what was successful. 

  3. A/B testing. I love AB testing. I like sending out two versions of something to find out how the content performed and which option was more successful. 

  4. Social analytics. This is one that I’m pushing for right now, but I’m finding it’s a little tougher to get buy-in. Maybe internally it’s just not viewed as a tried-and-true analytical tool yet. 

  5. Content use. This one’s on my wish list too. I’d love to have the ability internally to track how our sales team is using the customer stories. A content management database, or something similar, would allow us to see what content gets checked out and how it is leveraged.

What advice would you give someone just starting in customer marketing?

Alison Bukowski: I speak with a lot of professionals getting started in customer advocacy. I love listening and coaching where I can to help them be successful. My advice is very straightforward:

  1. Know your worth and be confident in your work (you were hired for a reason).

  2. Understand very clearly your goals and those of your stakeholders so you can be successful.

  3. Document your goals and prioritize the work on your plate so you can push back when scope creep sets in (it always does).

  4. Keep the lines of communication open with your manager and internal partners; customer advocacy is still founded on relationships, both external and internal.

P.S. Want more customer marketing insights?

If you’d like access to more customer marketing insights like this, sign up for our newsletter to catch all of our interviews with customer marketing leaders. 

No spam, we promise—just two value-packed newsletters about customer marketing and case studies every second Monday. 

Plus, if you’re also interested in content marketing, you can opt-in to receive two more monthly newsletters on alternating Mondays where we chat with leading content marketers.

And just in case you missed it, check out our 2024 Customer Story Trends & Insights Report, where we surveyed 115 customer marketers to gather their insights and experiences with customer stories.

Here’s a preview:

B2B Blog Strategy: How to Craft a Winning Strategy in 7 Steps

If you want to stand out from your competitors in the rapidly growing B2B SaaS market, you need a strong blog strategy that helps you increase brand awareness, drive conversions and generate revenue. Learn more about why you need a blog strategy for SaaS, and uncover 6 tips to help you create one.

Updated February 2023: Stand out from your competitors in rapidly growing B2B markets with a strong B2B blog strategy that helps you create attention-grabbing content. Your blog content should provide value to your readers by:

  • educating them on topics related to your industry
  • helping them solve problems
  • keeping them engaged with compelling writing as they move through your marketing funnel

In this post, we’ll dive deeper into what a B2B blog strategy is, why it’s crucial, and how you can create a strategy in 7 straight-forward steps.

What is a B2B blog strategy?

A B2B blog strategy is a plan that outlines how you will deliver value to readers, attract qualified traffic, and achieve marketing and business goals through blogging.

A blog strategy details key processes, like how to develop a content calendar, conduct keyword research, fill out a content brief, create engaging content, and publish and promote the content.

A blog strategy for B2B focuses on creating and distributing content tailored specifically to businesses rather than individual consumers. This strategy helps you provide valuable information to potential leads and nurtures them toward purchasing by increasing brand awareness and trust.

Is a B2B blog strategy crucial for your company?

Gone are the days when cold calls and direct mail dominated the marketing industry. Today, blogging is a foundational component of any B2B marketing strategy.

It enables companies to increase brand awareness, drive conversions and generate revenue. However, for any content marketing tactic to be successful, it requires purpose and planning, which is why it’s essential to have a B2B blog strategy for your company.

64% of successful B2B companies have a content strategy, compared to only 40% of all B2B companies. In addition, 50% B2B marketers expect their content marketing budget to increase in 2023 which shows that marketers are ready to invest in effective strategies to get returns, such as lead generation and increased website traffic. 

However, blogging isn’t all sunshine and roses. Creating a B2B blog strategy takes time and effort. And doesn’t provide instant gratification in the way running paid advertisements can. 

Blogging, and driving organic traffic to your website as a result, is a long game. Stick to your blog strategy and you’ll see results over time. You’ll also build stronger relationships with your audience than you ever could through advertising alone, thanks to high quality, interesting and educational blog content.

What makes a good B2B blog?

A compelling B2B blog covers content that appeals to your target audience and delivers value. The blog should focus on providing useful, actionable information that helps you establish authority in your industry and differentiate your company from competitors. Engaging blogs also include fresh insights and perspectives from experts and thought leaders.

How to create a B2B blog strategy in 7 steps

7 Steps to Creating a B2B Blog Strategy

A B2B blog strategy is at the heart of your content marketing efforts. Here are 7 steps to developing a blog strategy that drives results: 

  1. Determine a budget
  2. Consider your audience
  3. Conduct keyword research
  4. Talk to your sales team
  5. Plan your publishing schedule
  6. Measure performance and adjust
  7. Create a repeatable blogging process

1. Determine a budget

33% of B2B companies that describe their content marketing as ‘very successful’ spend 50% or more of their budget on content marketing.  

Your blogging budget will need to cover writing the posts, creating branded images and videos, developing social content to promote the posts, and likely an SEO agency to conduct the keyword research and optimize the posts. 

Remember to also budget for time, and keep in mind that if you choose to have an internal staff member execute on your B2B blog strategy, it may be a challenge for them to dedicate time to writing blog posts if they have other projects on their plate. Outsourcing to an external writer can free up precious hours for your team—and help you avoid the cost of a new employee.

2. Consider your audience

It’s crucial to ensure the blog content you’re planning to create will resonate with your audience so it can successfully drive leads and sales. While your B2B company likely already has audience personas drafted, it’s important to refer to the personas regularly and keep them in mind when crafting your blog strategy and choosing topics to write about. 

Pain points and common industry or product-related questions make excellent blog topics. Make sure you’re connecting with your audience frequently to gather this information. And don’t just assume what they want to read based on your company’s existing personas.

3. Conduct keyword research

Keyword research is critical to any B2B blogging strategy because it helps you understand what topics your prospects and customers are searching for online. This enables you to provide relevant information through your blog posts and drive organic traffic to your website.

78% of B2B content marketers use keyword research tools for SEO during the content creation process, which helps them boost website rankings. Keyword research helps you create content that performs well in search engines and attract higher-quality leads.

Search Engine Journal says it well: “Good keyword research enables users to find what they need:

  • Shoppers who want to buy something can find the right product page.
  • A user that wants to know ‘how to’ can find a page that explains a process in-depth.
  • Users who want to research a person or brand can find out about that entity.” 

So, don’t let your efforts go to waste and let your target audience know what you’re offering.

Consider your audience personas when you’re conducting keyword research. For example, if your company sells legal software, you could look for search terms related to compliance. Once you have a list of terms your audience searches for, then you can write blog posts around them.

4. Talk to your sales team

While keyword research is important, if you want your B2B blog strategy to really shine with content that converts, you’ll need to have several in-depth conversations with your sales team about what truly resonates with your prospects at the Decision Stage.

Ask questions that dig deeper than simply gathering feedback on the features of your products. Find out how your solutions impact your customers in a bigger way. And then tell rich stories in your blog posts that create an emotional connection.

5. Plan your publishing schedule

Don’t create a B2B blog strategy then just start publishing posts at random. You need a content calendar to accompany your strategy and to ensure consistency in your blogging efforts. A publishing schedule determines how often and when you’d like to post, taking into account any seasonal or industry trends. 

You should also consider using scheduling software. A good platform lets you publish posts to social media in batches, so you don’t have to do it manually.

So, how often should you post a blog for B2B? For B2B brands, a B2B blogging strategy that includes publishing blogs 11 or more times a month results in 1.75x more leads than blogging 6 to 10 times a month. The magic number is 2 to 4 posts per week—it results in the highest gains in traffic per dollar spent. And publishing more frequently also increases leads for B2B companies.

Impact of monthly blog posts on inbound traffic

After this, think about where it makes the most sense for you to distribute your blog posts. For example, promoting content on LinkedIn is an excellent way to reach B2B audiences. And 40% of B2B marketers surveyed consider LinkedIn the most effective channel for driving high-quality leads.

6. Measure performance and adjust

It’s essential to track, measure and improve the performance of your B2B blog posts on an ongoing basis. This allows you to adjust your blog strategy as needed to make it more effective. This process is called content optimization. It involves gathering insights and identifying the concrete fixes you need to make. By completing these tweaks, you’ll get the longest lifespan and greatest ROI out of your blog content.

Something else to keep top of mind is how relevant and effective your calls to action (CTAs) are. To find out which ones resonate best, see these 12 CTA examples from B2B SaaS companies like Zendesk, ServiceNow and Snowflake.

7. Create a repeatable blogging process

A systemized approach to your B2B blogging strategy makes it easier for you to execute your content strategy every week, month and quarter. You can break down the process into steps such as:

  1. Researching topics
  2. Identifying keywords
  3. Writing blogs
  4. Editing and proofreading
  5. Optimizing posts
  6. Scheduling posts
  7. Repurposing content
  8. Measuring performance

Also, audit your blog strategy periodically to fix broken links, optimize for SEO, and identify content gaps. 67% of media planners say the results of their content audits have had a moderate to significant impact on their media planning strategy, which shows the power of content audits.

Put your B2B blog strategy to work

Need a hand writing your blog posts? Check out our blog writing services.

3 Biggest Challenges Facing Content Marketers Today

Creating quality content that expands your customer base, grows traffic and boosts sales is easier said than done. Read our interview with Parthi Loganathan, CEO of Letterdrop, to hear his perspective on the challenges facing content marketers.

Interview with Parthi Loganathan, CEO of Letterdrop

Creating quality content that expands your customer base, grows traffic and boosts sales is easier said than done. There are many challenges facing content marketers today—and these challenges can hinder your company’s growth and search rankings.

We interviewed Parthi Loganathan, CEO of Letterdrop, to hear his perspective on the challenges facing content marketers. Read his interview below.

Parthi Loganathan interview

Parthi Loganathan, CEO of Letterdrop, talks about the challenges facing content marketers today.

Name: Parthi Loganathan
Job title: CEO
Company: Letterdrop
Location: San Francisco, CA
Degree: BA, Computer Science

Fun facts about Parthi Loganathan:

📚 Book you think everyone should be reading right now: This is Marketing by Seth Godin
⛸️ Your top 3 hobbies: powerlifting, cooking, photography
🌍 Top 3 places you want to visit someday: Antarctica, New Zealand, Angel Falls
✒️ Your favorite author is: Douglas Adams
👪 You’re a parent to: a dead plant
🗨️ One of your all-time favorite quotes is: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be”

How has your life’s journey led you to where you are today? 

Parthi Loganathan: I used to be a Product Manager at Google. I learned how search worked on the Search team and how businesses thought about productivity while building products on the Google Workspace team. I got tired of the big company bureaucracy so I decided to forge my own path. 

I left to start my own company, but initially, I didn’t know what I wanted that company to be. So I spent about a year and a half launching 15 different products in different spaces before I landed on Letterdrop. 

What is Letterdrop and why did you create it?

Parthi Loganathan: When I was working on those other products, I hired an agency. While working with the agency, I was surprised to learn just how many different people, tools and tasks were involved to make marketing work, especially content marketing. This is how Letterdrop was born. 

Letterdrop is a software platform that helps B2B marketers create and distribute 32% more content, faster, and without headaches. It automates and streamlines workflows to make content a revenue driver for businesses.

What are the 3 biggest challenges facing content marketers today?

Content Marketing Challenge #1: Operations

Content marketers are spending a bunch of time on operations, tactics and manual work when they should be spending their time listening to customers and figuring out how to construct a story that resonates with more customers—that’s really content marketers’ secret sauce and where people excel, so they should automate all of the more mundane work.

Content Marketing Challenge #2: Purpose

Content marketing is code for educating your customers. Instead of asking “Do you want to do content marketing?” ask yourself, “Do you want to educate your customers?” The answer is probably a “Hell yes.”

And so I think people need to understand what the purpose of content marketing really is. It’s not just getting traffic or SEO. Really, it’s guiding your customer through this journey of being problem-aware and product-aware and then shepherding them through your buying journey.

That needs buy-in from lots of folks at the company, from your sales and product marketing teams to your exec team. Getting more people to participate in educating their customers at various touchpoints is going to be really important. Content marketers should be advocates for customer education.

Content Marketing Challenge #3: Communication

The marginal cost of content creation has basically gone down to zero with AI. But no one really asks the question of what happens once a person gets to that page that you created to rank higher on Google. 

The only way your brand or company is going to stand out is if you actually have unique insights, you truly understand your customer. A lot of marketers don’t talk to their customers at all, which I think is a tragedy. They operate in this zone of second-hand knowledge.

I think content marketers really need to get back to their roots. They need to really figure out the answers to these questions: 

  • What are our unique insights and perspectives as a company? 
  • What are the things we’ve learned from our customers by doing the hard work? 
  • And how do we share that with the world? 

Because that’s the kind of stuff that AI can’t create because all it does is rehash what’s on the internet already.

What content marketing mistakes are you seeing companies make?

Parthi Loganathan: Content marketers and heads of marketing need to get more aligned. 

A lot of content marketers I meet are creatives, and they really care about trying different formats. They care about trying to build a media business, and they perhaps don’t spend enough time thinking about ROI and metrics and how they can tie it back to business value so they can get buy-in.

On the flip side, I see a lot of heads of marketing and C-suite folks thinking very short-term and thinking: how do I get pipeline today?

There’s this tension between content marketers and heads of marketing, and I think both of them have to see the other side of the coin. Content marketers have to become more metrics-driven, and heads of marketing have to understand content marketing is actually customer education. It’s a long-term investment. It’s something you need to do even though you can’t track it in the same way you do with ads. 

What are some of the key metrics that content marketers need to pay attention to?

Parthi Loganathan: Every person at a business should find a way to tie their personal metrics to revenue. What do I mean by personal metrics? For example, for an engineer, personal metrics are the amount of code pushed per week, or for a designer, it’s the number of mocks per week or the quality of mocks.

Maybe your mocks are not tied directly to revenue, but you need to figure out how many steps there are between a customer paying for something and your mocks as a designer. You should understand the number of steps, how removed you are from that, and you should try to compress that as much as you can.

You should also make sure that if your number of mocks created increases, it also increases revenue. I truly mean that for every part of the business—not just people who are working on the sales side. As a content marketer, I think your metrics should be tied back to revenue. 

What advice would you give to someone new to content marketing?

Parthi Loganathan: Be customer-centric. Build empathy for your audience. Technical skills are secondary if you have the patience and willingness to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of putting yourself out there and listening to your customers. That understanding is way more valuable than knowing specifics about keyword research or optimizing podcast distribution.

P.S. Want more marketing insights?

If you’d like access to more content marketing insights like this, sign up for our newsletter to catch all of our interviews with content marketing leaders. 

No spam, we promise—just two value-packed content marketing newsletters every second Monday. 

Plus, if you’re interested in customer stories and customer marketing, you can opt-in to receive a two more newsletters on alternating Mondays where we chat with leaders in customer marketing.

Speaking of customer stories, have a look at our 2024 Customer Story Trends & Insights Report, where we surveyed 115 customer marketers to gather their insights and experiences with customer stories.

Here’s a preview:

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