We’ve all been there. You stumble across a content-based site or property and you can almost see the metaphorical tumbleweeds rolling down the street. You think, it’s a shame. So much effort has gone into developing and publishing content that is getting very little readership or engagement.
There’s no doubt that marketers—especially those with highly considered products or solutions—have a huge opportunity when it comes to using content to pull potential buyers toward their company and its products. Some call this “marketing with a magnet,” using relevant content, aligned with your audience’s interests and optimized for search and social, and presenting the content in an ideal context for engagement and ongoing cultivation.
Several factors have triggered the shift from talking at potential buyers to engaging with potential buyers—specifically:
- The proliferation of media that has resulted in a cluttered, noisy landscape.
- Buyers placing less and less belief in obvious advertising claims.
- Prospective customers doing more and more of their research online, prior to engaging with a company or sales representative, so if you’re not online, you’re not in the conversation.
But it’s not enough to simply create great content. In some ways that’s the easy part (believe it or not). The real magic is in the inbound marketing campaign—the strategies and tactics that facilitate the buyer’s journey through the sales process along the following path:
- Attract: Drive traffic by creating valuable content and making it easy to find online.
- Convert: Capture leads by gathering basic contact information in exchange for access to a content asset.
- Nurture: Varies by company and type of sale, but this approach relies on lead nurture, additional offers, and social media, and engaging with the lead to ready the lead for sales follow-up.
- Engage: Use ongoing, highly targeted communication to deepen relationships.
As you embark on inbound campaign planning, keep your focus on goal setting. After all, it’s all about beginning with the end in mind. To start, carefully identify and agree on program objectives that will drive all activities and metrics, not to mention the personas you target, and their likely journey from the top of the funnel to a sales-qualified lead and, ultimately, a sale. Next, consider the range of inbound campaign elements and determine which make the most sense for your program, starting with driving visitors to your content using:
- Earned Media: Think of this as the “PR value” of your content; blogging, social posts, and organic search driven by targeted keywords and fresh, optimized content;
- Purchased Media: Online media can be a great way to increase your lead volumes, drive engagement with your company through trusted media partners, and even get additional content created. In particular, lead-guarantee programs can be a great way to establish a known quantity of top-of-funnel leads to feed the beast. And well targeted paid search can also help drive lead volumes up.
From there, it’s all about converting those visitors to leads, which is more likely to happen by following a couple of “golden rules”:
- Ensure all blogs, social posts, and other assets include a call to action (CTA) that drives to a landing page with an (ideally) simple form where the visitor can profile to convert to a lead.
- Optimize conversion rates by testing CTAs, landing pages, and content/offers.
Finally, you’ll want to consider programs for closing business, or at the very least—depending on your sales cycle—turning marketing leads to sales-accepted leads. A key element of this strategy is a lead database that tracks and measures the activity of the leads—engaging with specific content or other forms of interaction—and scores them accordingly (make sure your scoring model is endorsed by your colleagues in sales). Based on that foundation, you can develop a compelling lead-nurture program with content-driven emails. Some best practices include:
- Ensuring content is aligned with the persona and the goals of the campaign;
- Making content progressively more detailed, adding value at each stage of the buyer’s journey;
- Using progressive profiling to gather additional intelligence during each engagement;
- Tailoring the message based on their activity (follow you on Twitter, visiting your website);
- Testing and monitoring lead-nurture campaigns and adjusting content, CTAs, landing pages, and emails to optimize conversion rates
Developing content to build awareness of, and interest in, your company and it solutions is a proven way to communicate. But at the end of day, the secret to success is driving meaningful traffic to—and engagement with—your story.
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