Content marketing is no longer just a strategy, it’s a necessity. In fact, the vast majority of B2B marketers—93% to be specific—have welcomed content marketing over traditional advertising in recent years (source).
The reason for this rise in popularity is clear: with access to product reviews, tutorials, and industry research, today’s buyers can educate themselves throughout the buying process.
- 68% of people spend time reading about brands that interest them (source).
- 80% of people appreciate learning about a company through content (source).
- 78% of buyers believe organizations that provide custom content are interested in building good relationships (source).
Not only does content marketing align with contemporary buying practices, but it’s also an inexpensive and highly effective way to generate sales-ready leads. In fact, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads (source).
Ready to get started? Check out the following tips to execute a sales-driven content marketing strategy today.
1. Develop content that speaks to every phase of the buyer’s journey.
Analyze and understand what attracts your buyers, how they interact with your company, and what leads them to make a purchase. This will differ from company to company, but most buyers’ journeys are similar to the example we included below.
Once you have a firm grasp on your customer’s journey, determine common questions, considerations, and objections buyers have throughout each stage of the process. Develop content that speaks to each of these issues separately and serve them to prospects as they move through different stages of the sales funnel.
As similarly illustrated in the image above, we suggest the following:
Pre-Awareness Stage: The buyer hasn’t yet recognized they have a problem.
Content: vendor neutral blog posts, infographics, tool kits, videos, or freebies.
Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
Content: whitepapers, eBooks, tool kits, checklists, how-to’s, informational webinars, or instructional videos.
Consideration Stage: The buyer starts searching for a solution to their problem.
Content: vendor or product specific webinars, testimonials, case studies, data sheets, work samples, frequently asked questions, or demo videos.
Decision Stage: The buyer is ready to purchase a product or service to solve their problem.
Content: free trial, live demos, discounts, consultations, or estimates.
Bucketing content like this will not only determine what pieces of content push more leads to the top of the funnel, it will also arm sales with ammunition to use further into the selling process
2. Identify where your buyers are throughout the journey and distribute your content accordingly.
You’ve spent a great deal of time and energy mapping out your buyer’s journey and creating quality content—but the leads aren’t pouring in. What gives?
As important as it is to create targeted content, it’s just as important to understand how to distribute your content so it reaches the right prospects at the right time.
This comes back to understanding buying behaviors. Here’s a quick guide:
Pre-Awareness/Awareness: Prospects in this stage of the journey will organically end up on your blog or social media profiles. These people may or may not be familiar with your brand and they will likely find your content while searching for materials that speak to their needs or interests. For this reason, it’s important to keep blog and social media content high-quality, vendor-neutral, and genuinely helpful. When the time comes to consider buying, your brand will be top of mind.
Pro Tip: Use forms and CTAs to capture these prospects’ contact information. Then, develop email campaigns to nurture them with targeted content.
Consideration: Prospects in the consideration stage will often seek out information about your products or services—i.e. product pages, testimonials, reviews, whitepapers, and case studies. This content should be easily accessible on your company website—the first place prospects will go to learn more about your company.
Pro Tip: Implement a retargeting campaign to distribute relevant content to prospects after they visit high-intent pages on your website.
Decision: Once a prospect has decided to try your services, they’ll likely call your company, check out a pricing page, or fill out a free trial form. Use compelling CTAs and make your contact information readily available to prospects. You want to make it easy for people in this stage to get in touch or make a purchase.
Pro Tip: Provide your sales team with a library of content that answers common questions, addresses buyer’s pain points, and alleviates concerns.
3. Audit your existing content.
An important aspect of any content marketing strategy is to constantly evaluate and maintain the quality of your work. Start by conducting an extensive audit of your existing content. Determine whether each piece in your library is useful, effective, and relevant.
Then, take one of the following actions:
Keep. If your content checks all three boxes, don’t change a thing.
Reuse. If you find an old piece of content that still holds value for your prospects, revive it as part of a new campaign, blog post, or collateral.
Repurpose. If you hit gold with a high-performing piece of content, repurpose it for another format or channel. For example, if a blog post is getting a lot of attention, expand on the topic and turn it into an eBook.
Remove. If you find content that is outdated, has shown little engagement, and doesn’t provide clear value for your audience, consider getting rid of it to make way for better quality content.
The purpose of this exercise is to develop a body of high-quality content that speaks to buyers at every phase of the sales cycle. If done correctly, the right content can effectively drive buyers through your sales funnel and educate them along the way—providing sales with more qualified leads.
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