Marketing Strategy Blog Articles

How Pillar Content Helped 3PL Central Rise Above the Competition

In 2016, 3PL Central hired SmartAcre®, a HubSpot Partner, to build out an integrated marketing program. We became a natural extension of the 3PL Central marketing team, providing additional expertise and bandwidth to accelerate their marketing ROI.

The Challenge

Within the first year of working with 3PL Central, we focused on creating a scalable marketing program that maximized the power of HubSpot and Salesforce. Content was at the center of almost every campaign, using multiple-channels and tactics to drive prospects to a landing page with gated content for lead generation. This creation of high-quality content helped increase 3PL Central’s opportunities won by 25%, grow traffic to their site by 45%, and increase paid search Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) by 75% – all within the first year of working together. 

After seeing success, we continued to build on what was working by producing helpful content that was missing from the third-party logistics industry. Until we hit a roadblock…

Enter, the challenge. After almost two years of standing out against the competition, the competition started to catch up. Competitors were emulating 3PL Central’s content marketing strategy, which started to impact site traffic, lead generation, and metrics critical to business success. We had to create an unrivaled piece of content and change our strategy.  

The Solution – A Pillar Content Strategy

Instead of going head-to-head with competitors, we decided to do something different and give away content for free. Yes, you read that correctly – ungated content for both competitors and prospects to have at their fingertips. 

We started by using an annual report that 3PL Central was about to update – the 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry report. We conducted keyword research and outlined the updated report using a pillar content strategy, allowing us to have more pages that rank in search engines and ultimately helping 3PL Central’s audience find the answers they need. The pillar centered on the logistics industry while cluster content focused on core solutions or improvements pivotal to everyday success. 


pillar content strategy 3pl central 2017 state of the industry
2017 State of the Industry gated landing page


Pillar Page Example 3PL Central
2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry pillar page

Even with ungated content, we had big goals to drive 2,000+ page views and generate 150 net new leads in the first month of launch. To achieve these goals, we created a multi-touch campaign that included digital PR, paid advertising, email marketing, social media and more. Here is a full breakdown of the tactics:

  • Early Access Campaign: “Early Access” landing page that prompted contacts to fill out a form and get the resource sent directly to them a week before it went live, increasing the lead generation potential ahead of releasing the full ungated resource.
  • 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry report: An ungated, dynamic, in-depth overview of five trends impacting the third-party logistics industry was designed and developed in HubSpot, using pillar page methodology. A downloadable PDF of the report with additional actionable tips and strategies was also made available as an additional form of lead generation.
  • Subtopic Blog Posts: Blog posts, categorized as subtopics based around the opportunities outlined in the 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry report, are loaded with internal links to offer more information.
  • Webinar & On-Demand Recording: Launched a month following the release of the pillar page to discuss the findings in the report. This content was also used to re-engage potential leads towards finding solutions for potential problems that they may have identified.
  • Email Tactics: A strategic email campaign was deployed throughout the campaign designed to drive people to certain conversion points using smart lists and content to personalize emails based on a contact’s history with the resource.
  • Paid Advertising: Paid advertising and social outreach were implemented to increase exposure across different channels and grow the audience.
  • HubSpot Lead Flows: A lead flow promoting a download of the full resource was created and placed on relevant 3PL Central website pages to increase lead generation and conversions. Delivery of the resource via autoresponder was handled and automated through a HubSpot workflow.

The Results

The results far exceeded our goals. In measuring and comparing the initial one-month results of the 2017 State of the Industry report to those of the redesigned and ungated 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry report pillar page, we found:

  • An increase in overall page views by 867%
  • An increase in new contacts by 1930%
  • An increase in conversions by 179%
  • A decrease in CPA of 52%

The Impact

Pillar content helped 3PL Central become an industry leader, streamline their marketing program, and hit revenue goals for the quarter. Pillar content now has a permanent place in 3PL Central’s content strategy. Not only will they continue to update the State of the Third-Party Logistics pillar page, they are also in the process of building out a new pillar for the second half of the year.

“SmartAcre was able to take our existing report and pivot it into an end-to-end campaign that we were able to use to start driving demand from its initial use actually through an entire quarter without having to create multiple assets,” said Chelsea Levengood, the Director of Marketing at 3PL Central. “This allowed 3PL Central to focus on creating content that our competition could not mimic.”

This is just one example of how SmartAcre makes our clients B2B marketing heroes. Read our success stories for more examples.

Would you be willing to ungate your content? Leave a comment and let us know what you think. Contact us today to start your own pillar content strategy.