I've read several posts lately from notable digital marketing gurus that suggest that Content Marketing is all about attracting new leads into the top of your sales funnel. There's nothing wrong with that statement, but it's incomplete. Content Marketing is also really good for lead conversion and lead nurturing. Here are several key ways in which content supports the entire funnel and should be the dominant asset throughout your digital marketing strategy.
#1 - Priming the Pump
If a tree falls in the forest, will anyone hear? Not unless they're in the forest to start with. Content does drive brand awareness, inbound marketing and customer/subscriber loyalty. No question about that these days. According to a survey by Content Marketing Institute, 90% of B2B marketers do some form of content marketing, and 60% plan to increase their budgets for content in the next 12 months. Really, the only questions these days are what kinds of content and how often to publish. But what's next for content?
#2 - Killing Me Softly
As in any other kind of marketing, once is never enough. Everybody is creating compelling content, so the pressure is on to create consistently compelling content often enough to keep peoples' attention focused on your sources. Ann Handley from MarketingProfs put it succinctly the other day when she wrote "...in content marketing these days, either you rock or you suck." The trick is putting together an internal or external content creation strategy that will deliver on that challenge—consistently coming up with relevant content that doesn't suck. Oh yeah, and don't forget, you can't be overly promotional until you've developed a rapport with your readers.
#3 - Lead Generation
There are only so many ways to convert a lead. Content is one of the most successful. People will generally sign up for something new, well-crafted and relevant to their interests. To suggest that content isn't the backbone of lead conversion these days is a bit silly. What else do we have to offer? Discounts, freebies, free trials, demos—been there, done that.
#4 - Lead Nurturing
The new kid on the block is lead nurturing. While lead nurturing has been around for a good while, deploying the same quality of content down the sales funnel as we do at the top of the funnel is new to most marketers. Now we're thinking about content strategy for the entire funnel—creating great stuff that further informs, stays right on point, and helps to guide our leads to the right decision, hopefully a buy decision for our products and services. Here are a few pointers for lead nurturing:
Don't treat your lead nurturing emails as "fillers" or placeholders. Create impressionable content for each one in the text of the email and at the other end of any links or calls to action. Keep it short and sweet.
Be mindful of mobile devices. Most people check their email on smartphones or tablets these days between meetings or after hours. Check your email on your smart phone to make sure it reads easily and isn't too long.
Mix it up with different messages and media formats, but stay relevant to the original lead conversion topic.
Don't always require a form conversion to get the content—2-3 times maximum for any lead nurturing campaign.
Try your campaign out on a few trusted "guinea pigs" and listen to their feedback.
While it's certainly a challenge to create and deploy remarkable content throughout the length and breadth of your target markets and funnel stages, consistency and quality are the keys to success. Try to do one full-funnel campaign really well first, then use those lessons learned to create your next campaigns. Eventually you can develop a process that allows you to grow your content marketing, lead generation and lead nurturing efforts in a consistently excellent way.
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.