Understand What Your Prospects Need At Each Stage Of Their Prospect Journey
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the content marketing wave. You know you need content, but how much? What format should your content be in? What frequency is necessary? What results should you expect? How much should you invest in your content? What’s the best way to track the influence the content is having on prospects, lead generation and the success of your sales team?
The secret to navigating the content marketing waters is having a deep understanding of your prospects. What are their biggest issues, pains and challenges? But that’s just the beginning. Then you need to understand any and all of their questions, where they are in their buyer journey, who’s going to be integral to the final purchase decision, what other options they’re considering and, finally, the personality profile for each of the decision-makers.
Each of these variables is going to guide what content you use, when you send it and how you position it within their experience with your company.
Here are some of the techniques we use with our prospects and how we guide our clients to get the most from their content efforts.
Create An Inventory Of Possible Questions
A fast pass for delivering content in context is to start an inventory of questions. Prospects ask different questions during the awareness stage than they ask during their stay in the consideration, education and evaluation stages.
It’s important to know what questions prospects are asking and when they ask them. Start building that inventory by working with sales. Get them to share the most common questions and the stage when those questions pop up.
But the use of content in context is not limited to marketing and sales. You can apply this same approach to your customer service teams. What questions do customers ask when they call in? What common issues are they calling in about? Once you collect this second inventory, you can build a knowledge base that resides online. Not only can you direct people to that knowledge base, but you also have a highly valuable search engine optimization resource that should help you rank for strategic keywords.
More importantly, your customers should start finding their own answers to common questions, leaving your customer service team available for more challenging and serious customer concerns.
Understand The Profiles For All Of Your Decision-Makers
This is important, and it generally requires more than the basic persona development work.
Understanding the people who will be making the purchase decision means understanding how the companies make purchase decisions and who within the companies will be participating in that process. In most cases, you’re talking about five to seven individuals. You need detailed persona profiles on all of those people.
What you’re looking for specifically is learning style. Since 60% of people identify as visual learners, video might be the right format option for most of your prospects. But when it comes to certain roles, like CFOs and CIOs, the written word and research are going to be key.
Ultimately, you want to deliver a highly personalized experience, which means you should be aspiring to have your visitors and prospects tell you what format and what frequency they’d like. People who request video get only video. People who request reading material get only reading material. People who want all new content emailed directly to them as soon as it’s published — well, you get the idea.
Consider How You Interact With Prospects
This is probably the beginning of another article for another day, but when we start talking about questions and providing content to answer questions, we should also talk about chat. The chat feature on your website should be a key part of your marketing for the same reasons we’re talking about content.
Your prospects are on your website and they may have questions. If they want those questions answered immediately, why ask them to fill out a form and wait? Instead, give them the option to ask their question in real time, and make sure your team can provide those real-time answers. This is going to give prospects a remarkable experience, recognize the prospects who have immediate needs and keep those prospects moving through their buyer journey at their pace, not your pace.
Create The Content Inventory For Marketing
Content for people in the early stages of their buyer journey is going to be different from content for prospects in the later stages of their buyer journey. This means marketing is going to need different content to turn visitors into leads than sales is going to need to turn sales opportunities into new customers.
One of the major differences is people in early-stage buyer journeys want a lot of generic educational content. At this point, they’re not even sure they need what you do. They may not want to deal with the change associated with making a decision and their pain might not be acute enough for them to act. Your content (and the frequency of your content) must be strategically designed to help, advise, guide and educate.
If you’re considering reaching out to people who are not even looking for solutions like yours with programs like account-based marketing (ABM), this puts even more pressure on your content plans. You’ll need content to make a connection, and then you’ll need more (and different types of) content to get them to engage with your company and ultimately your sales team.
Create The Content Inventory For Sales
Speaking of sales, you’ll need different content for people deep in their buyer journey who have requested to talk with someone in sales. Today, people are waiting as long as possible before they engage with sales, and the sales interaction with prospects is key. Get too aggressive and you’re out, but respond too passively and it might look like you’re not interested.
One of the key skills we teach in our sales enablement work with clients is listening. Sales reps who listen intently uncover concerns, and those concerns can be assuaged with content. These concerns are usually consistent from prospect to prospect, and just like the question inventory that marketing is using to engage with prospects early, sales can use these concerns to gain trust late in the sales process.
Here’s an example: Prospects don’t trust you, and that’s why they ask for references. They want to talk to other people who have had great experiences. If you proactively provided a video of people talking about their experiences, or if you proactively collected a prospect’s questions for the reference and then had one of your clients answer those questions in a video and provided that video to your prospect, how remarkable would that experience be? How would the prospect feel to be treated like that? Everything about that is positive, and those positive feelings lead to new customers and increases in revenue.
Measure The Results And Optimize
You don’t want to create content for content’s sake. You want to create content that works.
You’ll know if your content is working or not when you start tracking the prospect’s path through their buyer journey with you based on the content you’re providing.
Content in the marketing process can be measured when anonymous visitors turn into leads or new contacts. Content that is used in lead nurturing campaigns can be measured by leads who engage with the sales team as a result of the content.
Content in the sales process can be measured when sales-qualified leads move to sales opportunities as a result of your content. Another example is sales opportunities who become new customers as a result of your content. Which content was deployed? Was it consumed? What action did the prospect take after consuming the content?
Now that you have your plan and content marketing strategy, you’ll still have to do some thinking about the format for your content. Video is hot right now, but your target prospects have to be open to digesting content in this format. Some prospect personas are going to be watchers and other prospect personas will be readers.
The answer is not choosing one or the other but rather delivering video content to people who want video and written content for people who like to read. This comes down to having more interactive conversations with your prospects, allowing them to opt-in to the content they prefer and then giving them the power to manage their content preferences with your company.
Square 2 Marketing – Revenue Is Earned Through Experience, Methodology And Insights!
Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.