To Generate Leads, Match Your Content Marketing Efforts Perfectly With Your Prospect’s Content Needs
A lot of marketers out there think content marketing is enough to drive leads. They might be right – for the sake of this article, let’s assume they are. It's an important step that they’ve embraced content as an important aspect of helping prospects feel safe during their buyer journey, and that they’re using content to get prospects to select them.
Now let’s focus on what kind of content is needed, in what type of company, to drive high quality leads and then convert those leads into new customers. If you’re creating the wrong content and delivering it at the wrong time, to the wrong person – you might be driving your prospects right into the open arms of your competition.
Here’s how to think differently about your content marketing efforts. Let’s start with the many different content formats and how to apply them.
What Is Passive Content?
Passive content is easy to spot. Whitepapers, e-books, slide decks and even most infographics are passive content. They’re passive because you don’t interact with them at all. You read them or watch them, and then you move on. Buyers need this type of content to become educated on the options available to them during the awareness stage.
Passive content is also excellent at answering a prospect’s questions. As you map out the buyer journey and start to overlay the questions prospects ask during the sales process, you will identify those questions and then use passive content such as whitepapers and e-books to answer those questions on your website. Now, as visitors are working through their own journey (pre-sales engagement), they find answers, download your content and engage with your business.
What is Active Content?
Active content requires something from the prospect, who needs to participate in the content with you. Typical formats for active content include grader tools, assessments, quizzes and surveys. The visitors provide you with information, and you provide them with something of value. That could be a grade, score or even a list of potential ideas to improve that grade or score.
Active content is usually better for people in the middle of the funnel, or the consideration stage. Once your prospects are comfortable with your solutions and they’re narrowed their options down to three or four, they’re willing to give you more information about their businesses.
In order to get a grade, assessment or score, most active content requires the prospect to fill out a form and share details about their business. Our experience is that using content like this too early in the buyer journey (at the top of the funnel) produces lower than expected results.
But timing is everything, and using active content in the middle or bottom of the funnel allows you to engage a prospect in a more business-specific conversation. You add more value, plus provide specific recommendations that they can act on.
Applying Content To Personas
Active or passive is less interesting to us. What we’ve found truly drives results is making sure you understand the personas well enough to create the right content for them as individuals.
For example, accountants want to read, they don’t want to watch videos. Creative people want to see infographics, not read whitepapers. Executives want information in short snapshots, so tip sheets or checklists appeal to them. Lower-level people need compelling info and stories to convince their leaders to move forward with their ideas, so case studies and videos about successful business outcomes carry the day for them. Understanding personas helps you tailor your content for the people you’re trying to talk to. Remember, marketing is about connecting with people.
Enhancing The Prospect Experience With Content
Your prospects are making their purchase decision emotionally, then rationalizing it with details. Whoever creates the best experience is going to win the deal. Whoever can make them feel safe and educated enough to make a purchase decision is going to win the business. Sales and marketing are a lot more about this than anything else. The sooner you understand this, the better your sales and marketing will perform.
Content plays an important role in creating a remarkable experience, helping your prospects feel safe and getting them emotionally connected to your company. You elevate the prospects’ experience by providing the perfect content offer at the perfect time, and tailor that content to the specific issues of the persona you’re working with.
As an example, almost everyone deals with references. We all know most people are required to check references toward the end of the sales process, usually right before the agreement gets signed as one of the last steps. But this can take weeks in some cases. Instead, if you had a reference reel as a content offer and you provided it proactively before references were requested, you’d be delivering an enhanced experience that just might move your sales along more quickly by eliminating the need for additional references. Now you're closing more new customers, and you're closing them faster. That’s real marketing and sales improvement.
Analyzing Content Performance
All aspects of marketing today are quantifiable, and content is no different. Don’t create content for content’s sake. Create content that produces business outcomes.
Every piece of content has a goal – a quantitative goal that should be established in advance and then monitored. It could be closed sales, it could be conversions on your website, it could be moving people down into the sales funnel from sales qualified lead to sales opportunity.
Content that produces results gets promoted, and more of that type of content gets created. Content that does not produce up to expectations gets removed from the mix. It might come back under a different title or with a different message, but there is no excuse for allowing content that is not performing to be a part of your marketing program.
To put this simply: The more content you publish and promote, the more leads you’ll generate. Of course, that oversimplification doesn’t take into account the quality of the leads, the ability for your prospects to find your website or your reputation in the marketplace. All three of these variables affect your ability to drive new customers and generate revenue with content.
But those challenges aside, you’ll get more leads if you use more content in your marketing, and you’ll close more leads if you use content in your sales process too. That is a fact. By following some of the advice above and thinking a little differently about your content marketing efforts, you’ll move the needle significantly – and you’ll do it in a shorter time frame. The result will be a direct correlation between content and leads.
Now you’re thinking like a marketing scientist.
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