B2B Microsites: Driving Awareness and Leads - An Interview with Phillip Lin of FireEye

B2B Microsites: Driving Awareness and Leads - An Interview with Phillip Lin of FireEye
Stephanie Tilton - Thu Aug 19, 2010 @ 01:50AM
Comments: 86

In May 2010, FireEye launched a microsite – ModernMalwareExposed.org – aimed at educating prospects and customers about risks associated with malware. The site has proven popular and has driven qualified leads to the company's corporate site. Phillip Lin, Modern Malware ExposedDirector of Marketing, shares insights into why and how the site was launched, and suggestions for other companies considering a similar initiative.

Q. How does your past experience in Product Marketing inform your approach as Director of Marketing?

Many traditional product marketers work with sophisticated offerings and end up producing complex messaging that has to be then be translated into programs and campaigns. Our approach to messaging and marketing was to jointly create four high-level pillars to our product messaging with detailed supporting points to properly distinguish FireEye and best position us within the market. This framework provides more flexibility in deciding what works best in a given outbound-marketing program or campaign.

Q. How frequently does FireEye conduct Voice of the Customer research?

The one we conducted in early 2010 with the help of KJR Associates was our first. We plan to now conduct them at least annually. We also gather lots of informal feedback via the customer advisory board meetings we hold quarterly.

Q. How did you decide on a microsite as the best vehicle for delivering educational information?

During the interviews, we learned that our customers are seeking to learn more about modern malware. With an educational goal in mind, it was natural to create a microsite offering a diversity of content in several formats, such as podcasts, video, eBooks, and white papers.

Q. How much of the content for your ModernMalwareExposed.org did you create from scratch vs. repurpose?

Once we realized how much content we had to create, we determined how to best package it. We created about 2/3rds from scratch.

Q. What were the roles of the three people who developed the site?

One half-time project manager kept all key players in sync. Ken Rutsky of KJR Associates and I were the primary content owners. It took six weeks from the time we came up with the idea of the site to launching it.

Q. How did you determine the content types and topics you would offer/cover on the site? Did you map these to the buying process?

First and foremost, the site is largely educational so it's geared toward the early stage of the buying decision.

We created content that answered the major questions that came up during the survey process. We knew we needed to use multiple content formats to explain the topic – both graphics and text, as well as video. For example, some people were trying to understand how to explain modern malware and the risks to their bosses. The assessment helps with this, by providing information around the basics and a high level view of the types of risks.

We also kept in mind the audience we are trying to serve, namely IT administrators and executives. In our experience, executives gravitate to short podcasts and videocasts, while IT administrators can take the time to dive into an eBook or white paper. Regardless of whether you develop a quick video interview or blog post, or a more in-depth white paper, the core message ends up being largely the same. You just need to make sure you hit the core content formats that your audience expects to see.

Q. Did you develop and work from buyer personas as you created content for the site?

Yes, KJR Associates broke down the core audience into two key personas: the IT administrator who is the evaluator, influencer, and/or recommender, and the IT executives who are the decision makers. These execs are usually former IT administrators who need to understand how malware fits into their organization’s broader IT security strategy.

Q. How did you first promote the site?

ModernMalwareExposed.org was part of a larger product launch of our network security appliances, so we employed basic advertising and PR, and conducted a virtual analyst and press tour. Some publications covering IT security aren't interested in yet another vendor and product story. The site offered a novel and interesting angle into how to solve this security problem, and that ended up landing us great coverage in CSO Magazine, for example.

Q. How does the number of monthly site visits to the microsite compare to the number of visitors to your corporate site?

It's about even, partly because of cross-pollination. Our corporate site draws quite a bit of traffic because many in the industry find value in the level of technical information provided in the blog put out by our research team. We have created lots of good links from the corporate site to the ModernMalwareExposed.org blog and site, and do lots of cross-linking through social media.

We discovered during the surveys that no single word or term covers the topic of malware for everyone. Some call it malware, others call it botnets, and still others call it spyware. We sprinkle these keywords throughout our educational site to appeal to the audience. Going forward, we'll create more content that is specific to each of these.

As far as increasing search-engine visibility of the site, Ken and I created a terminology hierarchy based on the terms used when prospects and customers speak about the problem. This provided a baseline of search keywords to bid on for search advertising.

Those who are deep into product development are inclined to say: "You can't say that because it's not our key message." By using keywords that resonate with our target audience and describe key concepts, we can bridge that gap.

Q. What is your strategy around requiring registration in exchange for access to content? How do you determine when you will require registration?

Our main goal with this site was to get the content out there and educate the market, but we also wanted to understand who was interested in the topic. All basic content on the site is freely available. For the product assessment, we ask for an email address so we can send the customized report. We do require registration for the eBook and white paper, which are meatier content assets. We will be employing progressive profiling going forward to build up our understanding of prospects’ and customers’ needs.

Q. What happens after people register to download one of your assets, e.g., do they receive follow-on emails after getting the email with PDF?

Once site visitors finish the protection assessment, we qualify them as a strong or weak lead. If they're a good fit, we follow up with email and a call to gauge their level of interest and make sure we answered all their questions about malware. We don't heavily market to those who download the eBook and white paper because they are likely early in the research and buying process.

Q. How do you measure the success of the site?

We're looking to connect with those who are at the forefront of improving their network security. The beauty of the site is that it lends itself to leads who actively self-qualify themselves. The more they interact with the site, the better we can determine their interest. For example, the protection assessment doubles as a survey and provides FireEye reps with insight into what the prospect is concerned with as far as IT security. Based on answers to questions on the microsite, we can better gauge if the site visitor is a good candidate for our products.

The number of visits – and consistency of those visits over time – proves the hunger for the knowledge we're sharing. We also track the number of leads as a result of site visits plus the quality of conversation. For example, in some cases, we have found that we'll get a meeting and sign a prospect up for a product evaluation after only three calls.

Q. How do you create the customized Malware Protection Assessment report that site visitors receive via email after taking the online assessment?

Mike Biglan, the CTO of Concentric Sky, the Web developer in Oregon that created the site for us, helped us develop a decision engine. Basically we map site visitor profiles to characteristics and risks that they should be aware of. Mike made sure we kept the logic structured so it's not overly cumbersome. That way we can easily update the content or use the engine for another purpose.

Q. What are your future plans for the ModernMalwareExposed.org site?

We plan to build out more content and expand on the topics. Now that the core content is there and we are seeing traction, it's easier to get approval for budget to create more content. We'll also put out a videocast with our CEO discussing the malware threat, and why FireEye was started so we can engage people about the problem and explain why it takes a new company and product to tackle it effectively.

Q. Will the success of this initiative inform future ones?

It already has. We do a fair amount of event-based marketing, but this has made us realize how much more we should do online. It's great to meet prospects in person, but before that, we need to make them aware of FireEye. Online is one of the best places to do that.

16. What tips can you offer to other companies that want to pursue a similar initiative?

  • Determine your objectives. How do you plan to use the site and what do you hope to accomplish as result? For example, do you intend to share information, discuss opinions, create a community, etc.? Do you expect to drive more traffic to your corporate site, encourage site visitors to sign up for your newsletter, drive revenue, etc.?
  • Review Web sites with a similar objective to serve as templates. In this way, you can show your executive team how and why a new microsite might work for your company.
  • Involve key stakeholders (and only those stakeholders!) Otherwise, you'll be saddled with a complex decision-making process and a drawn-out time frame. Pull together a small group of people: one designer, one core group of programmers, a few people to create the content, and one or two to get the content and site executed and the initiative launched.
  • Establish a timeline and stick to it. And don't gate it with too many requirements.
  • Don't bite off too much. Create just enough content to get the site launched. Quick, easy wins are key to keeping and achieving momentum. As people visit the site, you can analyze their online behavior to determine what they're interested in and develop more content along those lines.
  • Register both .org and .com domain names. The .org address reinforces the educational nature of the site, but most people default to .com.
  • Allocate sufficient budget to drive traffic to the site.

About the author: Stephanie Tilton is a content marketing consultant who helps B2B companies craft content that nurtures leads and advances the buying cycle. You can follow her on Twitter or read more of her posts on SavvyB2B.

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