You know how they say “first time’s the charm”? Ok, maybe that’s not exactly the right saying, but it was true for my content marketing agency when we first deployed marketing automation for one of our clients. In fact, this “first” was also one of our greatest success stories.

A brief bit of background: My agency is Symbolscape Media, a content agency based in San Francisco. The client I’ll be talking about is in the manufacturing services sector – they provide several complementary solutions for the manufacturing supply chain.


The “Big Bang Theory” of Content Marketing

We set to work with the client on our standard content marketing model, or what some marketing folks know as ”the Big Bang Theory of Content” – essentially creating a central point of content that can be reused and repurposed in an infinite number of ways.

We deployed our tried and true “build content like a product” development process to produce high-value core content for the client’s main service. In this case, we put together a long-form “how-to” guide that provided engaging and informative tutorials for customers.

Following our standard content model, we supplemented the offer by repackaging the constituent pieces of that main content into smaller bits. This “repackaging” took the form of tutorial videos, with each video corresponding to a different chapter or series of chapters from the larger guide.

The campaign launched. The client was happy with its performance, so they engaged us for a second cycle to produce similar campaigns for their remaining product verticals.


Buying Peanut Butter Without Jelly

In the midst of ramping up for the second content offer campaign, we began looking at the behavior patterns of new customers who had converted through the first campaign. Surprisingly, most of these new customers were not really visiting any of the product pages for our client’s additional services.

When we checked in with the client, they confirmed that they were not getting many sales out of their complementary products, but that customers were buying their main solution. Because these complementary products were such a natural fit, we wondered why so many customers were bypassing the opportunity to secure both services from the same vendor.

If you’re buying peanut butter, chances are you’re also in the market for jelly.

After long hours of analysis, we concluded that these existing customers must not even be aware that our client was offering additional services. Since the client is known mainly for its core services, we determined that the customers simply didn’t realize that they could buy both the “peanut butter” and the “jelly” from this same shop.

We determined that it was much more cost-effective for our client to sell products to existing customers than to find new customers.

In fact, researchers at Bain and Company have determined that, on average, it costs anywhere between 5 and 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. So, while Symbolscape’s content marketing services are useful for helping our clients capture and convert new leads, there’s no reason content marketing can’t help us cross-sell to existing customers, too.


Marketing Automation + Content Marketing = Results

The beauty of a robust marketing automation solution like SharpSpring is that it makes it possible to segment lists according to on-site behaviors. Needless to say, we relied heavily on marketing automation when we formulated our cross-sell strategy.

Once our new content campaigns were built, we compiled a list of our client’s existing customers who had not purchased additional services. Using website visitor history, we determined which ones were probably unaware of the additional services. Then, before we launched the content offer campaign to the public, we tweaked the email copy for this very specific group, and launched the campaign as a beta test.

The results were phenomenal, beyond even my own wildest expectations (which, as an optimistic marketing geek, is saying a lot)! Our hypothesis that these existing customers did not know about the additional services was immediately proven true. After we adjusted the email messaging for this group, new orders started rolling in with requests for those additional services.

In the first three months of this campaign, our client reported over one million dollars in new revenue tied to this campaign alone.

I’ve done a lot of rewarding work for many clients in my career, but this result is perhaps the most significant for me. It affirmed that the work we were doing was truly helping our clients, and it was proof that content marketing combined with marketing automation just plain works. In fact, I would venture to say that marketing automation is the jelly to content marketing’s peanut butter – some things just go better together.


Travis Simpson
Travis is a content marketing consultant and president of Symbolscape Media, a boutique content marketing studio based in San Francisco. He works with clients to create and deploy custom B2B content marketing solutions on the marketing automation technology backbone.