Ellina Shinnick used to be a believer. The CMO faithfully subscribed to the practice of gating content assets for HUB International, the world’s sixth-largest insurance brokerage.
Shinnick arrived at Chicago-based HUB just four years ago as the director of marketing. Previously a digital marketing consultant at Accenture, the Ohio State University MBA enjoyed a relatively quick climb to the top at HUB, ascending to vice president of marketing in 2017 and chief marketing officer in 2018.
During her rise through the senior ranks at HUB, Shinnick watched gating stifle the performance of her content program. “In terms of ungating assets, we found that over time, conversion on those gated assets is really low,” Shinnick says. “Why shoot yourself in the foot?
“My philosophy is that if you spend hours and capital on really good content, why not give it to someone? It only promotes your brand. If you really provide value and ungate your asset in that first interaction, odds are, when they are ready to buy, when they are ready to engage, they’ll come back to you because you didn’t make it hard for them.”
Call it the golden rule of content marketing: “Do what’s right by the customer, and treat them how you want to be treated,” Shinnick says. Many will return—willing to convert.
The more Shinnick thought about it, the more she realized how important it was to invite the customer on an unrestricted journey through HUB’s content marketing.
“Another big thing we’ve shifted to this year … is taking a customer on a journey,” Shinnick says. “We literally ask them a question when they come to our website.” Traditional digital marketing might have encouraged users to download a whitepaper, which then prompted emails geared toward that topic.
Now, forward-thinking companies like HUB are prioritizing a personalized approach.
When prospective customers visit HUB’s website, they are invited to select the type of insurance product they’re interested in. Say they choose workers’ compensation. A box appears with the question: “Which of the following topics are of most interest to you as a future HUB webinar?” Four options are then offered. Users can select the option of learning more about how opioid abuse impacts their workforce, for example. Each preference takes readers down a different content path—giving them the information they want while also arming HUB with data about that future customer.
“The truth is, you might have been interested in a topic at a moment in time, but it was to answer a bigger question. We’ve flipped that on its head and said, ‘Why are we just assuming things about our customers?’ Let’s ask them.”