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How to Generate Leads through Content Marketing that Sales Will Love

by Bernie Borges on April 17, 2017
How to Generate Leads through Content Marketing that Sales Will Love

Lead Generation is the Best ROI Metric in Content Marketing

In our Up Close Series 2 podcast series, my co-host Guillaume Decugis, CEO of Scoop.it reveals a blueprint for lead generation through content marketing. This 5 episode podcast series guides marketers through a practical game plan to organize, plan, execute and manage a content marketing plan that produces leads.

The reality is that many marketers jump into content marketing without a plan. They create content for content’s sake. Content marketing should always have a business objective.

“Content marketing is the act of publishing and distributing content that drives people closer to a purchase decision.” – Guillaume Decugis

Develop and Document a Content Marketing Strategy

Start by defining your buyer personas. Understand their journey with your product. Document the process and the stages of their journey. Buyer personas have different needs in each stage of their journey. Define what the buyer needs to understand to grow closer to a buying decision.

Prospects generally are in one of three stages:

  1. Not aware that they need your product.
  2. Aware of their need and researching products/services.
  3. Focused on finalizing a purchase decision.

“Marketers must always be building a pipeline of prospects across all three stages.” – Guillaume Decugis

Buyers need to understand they have a need, that solutions exist and that your solution is the best fit. The psychology of the persona is different at each stage. Marketers need to educate them to move them from one stage to another. The destination is the purchase decision.

“If you don’t understand what the buyer needs at each stage, you’re creating content in the dark.” – Guillaume Decugis 

The content marketing plan should map to each stage and to each persona’s needs in each stage. List 20 or 30 questions that your personas have. Some will pertain to the top of the funnel. Some will relate to the middle and some will belong at the bottom of the sales funnel.  Simply stated, your content plan should be the answer to these questions. Each piece of content must have an appropriate call-to-action to help move the buyer to the next stage. A common mistake marketers make is offering a call-to-action that is bottom of the funnel related with a piece of content that addresses a top-of-the-funnel need. This is commonly referred to as “proposing marriage on the first date” syndrome.

“A content marketing plan optimized for lead generation delivers content across each stage of the buyer’s journey.” – Guillaume DecugisTweet: Tweet this!

Marketing and Sales Alignment

Lead generation is like a relay race. Marketing and Sales must work together because leads have no value if the sales team doesn’t have good results in their follow up. The Marketing team should document the content marketing plan with clear definition of the buyer personas and the buyer’s journey. Naturally, marketing should involve the Sales team to define a clear explanation of the buyer persona’s pain points and their journey. By involving members of the sales team, the probability of the plan being well received by Sales goes way up. When communicating the content marketing plan to the Sales team, the Marketing team should explain the common goal of generating leads that the Sales team will love!

“Content marketing should be part of sales enablement. Through tools, we can track if sales is using the content.” – Guillaume Decugis

Content Marketing Infrastructure

To create and deploy a content marketing plan we need a three pillar content marketing infrastructure. All content should convert with the right content infrastructure in place. It depends on what type of conversion we aim for each content. The calls-to-action should align with the buyer’s journey.

The 3 pillars of a content marketing infrastructure are:

  1. The content hub
  2. Content distribution channels
  3. Landing page with a call-to-action (CTA)

The content hub for many companies is commonly a blog. Distribution of content can occur via social media, a newsletter, influencers, etc.  The CTA is where you ask for an action. The appropriate CTA depends on the stage of the buyer’s journey. If you want your content to generate leads, unique conversions are a necessity. The infrastructure is the foundation for measurement.

“Good content that gets seen beats awesome content that doesn’t.” – Guillaume Decugis

Lead Magnets vs. Lead Generation

A lead magnet is a valuable piece content that allows you to ask for a little more information to get more information about a prospect. Common examples are white papers, e-books, research reports, infographics, etc.

Measuring Content Marketing Results

Your c-suite demands to know what business results your content is producing. Sooner or later, lead generation will become the ultimate metric to measure content marketing performance. How do you measure this?

Create a map of all the CTAs that map the buyer’s journey. Measure how many people who consumed content ended up downloading something or taking an action that is considered a lead. Prove that you’re driving people through a conversion path to qualified sales leads. E.g., 1000 people read a blog post, and 10% clicked on a call-to-action to subscribe to your blog. Those who subscribe are people you can engage to guide them closer to becoming a sales qualified lead. The ultimate goal is to understand what influence each piece of content has on the buyer’s journey.

Audit your content to determine which content is getting traffic and converting. Content marketing intelligence helps you guide your next act of content creation. You can increase results without creating new content by changing the CTA or changing distribution methods.

“If you can’t measure it…It doesn’t exist.” – Guillaume Decugis

Sustained Lead Generation through Content Marketing

Content marketing is a worthwhile endeavor, but it takes planning and work. If you’re new to content marketing and/or you’re under-resourced, you should consider getting help from an agency. An agency can help you develop the roadmap and support all elements of the plan’s implementation. You should also allocate budget for content marketing tools to help optimize, execute, manage, measure and report on all aspects of your content marketing strategy. Content marketing automation is also needed to help the marketer succeed with lead generation in content marketing.

“Content marketing is not a campaign…It doesn’t have a beginning and an end…It’s a cycle that repeats itself.” – Guillaume Decugis

5 Ways Content Marketing Automation can Help You Succeed in Lead Generation

  1. Help with content research and ideation
  2. Curate content to scale content volume
  3. Content distribution and amplification
  4. Measurement of results
  5. Intelligence to determine what content you need

These five reasons empower the marketer to develop a content marketing strategy that delivers sustained lead generation results.

Closing Thought

If you’ve wondered if content marketing can produce sales leads, the process described here and covered in our Up Close 2 podcast series has hopefully explained that it’s possible. However, content marketing is not trivial. Consider investing in the resources of an agency and content marketing intelligence to help you plan, organize, execute and measure your lead generation plan through content marketing.

Feature image source: Pexels.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Borges
Bernie Borges is CEO of Find and Convert, a content marketing agency serving B2B clients across the U.S. He is a frequent speaker at marketing conferences and is the author of Marketing 2.0, one of the earliest playbooks written on social media strategy. He is an IBM Futurist as well as host of the Social Business Engine podcast, a weekly show featuring brands and technology innovators in social strategy, social technology and social culture. Borges has been recognized by industry peers, including Marketing Insider’s 60 Best Marketing Speakers, TopRank’s Top 50 Content Marketing Influencers 2016, Cision’s Top 50 Content Marketers on Twitter and Brand Quarterly’s Top 50 over 50 Marketing Thought Leaders.
More posts by Bernie Borges

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