What’s important to remember is that it can take several pieces of content before leads convert. Our Inbound Marketing Research Report found that 55% of senior B2B marketers considered 3-5 content pieces to be the average, while 18% said it took more than 5 pieces before a lead converted.
With multiple touchpoints and a need to nurture leads after initial interaction, it’s essential to get your content techniques and inbound marketing channels in order. Here’s how:
Content for every stage of the buyer’s journey
If you’re wondering whether you’re using the right inbound marketing techniques, it can be useful to look at the different sections of the marketing funnel.
This is an example of what your content plan might look like:
Of course, this is just a suggestion of how content can be used at different stages. A cyclical strategy is much more effective than a linear approach, and content can be used in many ways, allowing you to distribute content across multiple inbound marketing channels.
A lot of focus goes on the discovery and consideration phases too, but marketers must consider their after-sales approach if they want to get the best ROI. The retention stage comes after you have closed, and requires inbound marketing techniques that delight the customer and keep them coming back. This means you need to maintain communication and use content to keep your brand at front of mind until their next purchase.
How to attract prospects
During the discovery phase, your audience is just getting to know you. This is where brand awareness really matters. The type of content you put out needs to raise your profile, garner the interest of a wide audience, and give people a taster of what’s to come if they stay connected. This is all part of the demand generation process, and you’ll need to ramp up interest in your products and services in order to attract potential leads.
As this is about reaching as many people as possible, your messaging should be general enough to appeal to different buyer personas. Search ads and social ads are a great way of doing this, and easily digestible content such as quick videos, short blogs or checklists can get people’s attention without demanding too much of their time.
Whatever content you create at this stage, remember to optimize your website for search engines so people can find you – and build beautiful landing pages with great usability and clear call-to-actions. These are the bare basics that every business needs to get right if they want their content to be a success.
How to engage prospects
At the consideration stage, you’ll need to create content that will captivate your prospects. The main goal is to push them further down the funnel, so your content needs to be interesting, unique, insightful and useful. It needs to provide your audience with some sort of added value to their day, and make them want to discover more about your products and services.
This is the phase where you prime your prospects for a conversation with sales. Some of the best inbound marketing techniques to help you do this are informative blog posts, ‘how to’ articles, helpful business guides, and social media posts.
You can also use gated content for generating leads. This includes more advanced content creation, such as whitepapers, eBooks, case studies and free webinars. By having high quality content offers, you can capture personal data and find the prospects most likely to convert. It’s important to remember though – that’s not where the lead gen strategy ends. Marketers must invest time into effective lead nurture too.
A high percentage of leads don’t convert, and so lead nurture aims to reduce this percentage through personalization, re-engaging at the right time, and creating targeted content for specific customer pain points.
How to delight customers
Now that you’ve made the sale, don’t think that your efforts stop there. In many respects, this is when the hard work begins. To really improve ROI, a cyclical approach needs to be applied and customers should be fed back through the funnel. To do this, you need excellent relationship-building, continued value in your content, and trust.
The tactics used are things like surveys, research papers and advanced content pieces that answer buyer pain points and problems. If you can continue to be helpful to your existing accounts, they will value you as a supplier. You can also use personalized offers, discounts and loyalty programs to keep customers coming back to you rather than a competitor.
This is the part that really enhances return on investment, as customer retention is much cheaper than new customer acquisition. Any techniques that can keep your account contacts loyal should be explored, and you should always try to engage with them on their preferred inbound marketing channels.
Emails are great at every stage of the buyer journey, but they are particularly integral for retention as they have the power to re-engage, entertain and delight. And sometimes, it can be as simple as a thank you email or a communication on their birthday that gives your business the edge.
While there are different content tactics suited to different stages of the buyer journey, it’s important to have a continuous plan in place so that you can interact with your audience and connect through multiple touchpoints.
The key thing to remember is that the B2B sales cycle can be complex, and prospects may not follow a simple path to convert. Whatever tactics you use and whatever chosen inbound marketing channels are selected, make sure that your campaign nurtures engagement, trust and satisfaction throughout.
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