Traditionally, marketing teams focused almost entirely on lead generation, dumping the fruits of their efforts in the laps of the sales team and walking away. Whether eventual ROI was measured or not, the value of a good marketer is in how many eyeballs they can attract and how many of those eyeballs convert to a lead of any kind.
But content marketing changes things. Not only does content open up an entire new tier of lead at the top of the funnel – not yet qualified for a sales conversation – but it gives marketers an opportunity to build a relationship between the brand and the prospect well before a sales person ever picks up the phone.
There are a number of benefits to this.
- It can be automated
- Prospects are primed for the conversation
- Less things need to be explained predicating the sale
A well oiled marketing machine can get a lead from the top of the funnel to within a few short steps of the sale without a sales person’s interjection. Technology and a finely tuned followup system make this possible.
How to Build an Effective Followup Machine
Once a lead enters the funnel, they can be contacted by your company as many times as is necessary to move them to the next stage of the funnel. In short, you have started a conversation, and until they get tired of that conversation or walk away, you can keep talking.
As a vehicle for conversation, email is one of the most effective ways to make that movement. With 73% of businesses saying that email is a crucial part of their online marketing strategy and the overall ROI of email surpassing social media by 20%, it’s a prime candidate for your followup efforts. Better yet, the entire process can be automated – allowing you to get all these benefits without having to manually reach out to all those prospects.
A good followup machine has three things:
- Automated emails based on specific actions
- A minimum of 6 weeks of engagement
- Solid calls to action in each email
Here’s what that would look like for a typical eBook download:
- Someone downloads an eBook from your website.
- They receive an automated followup email with a link to download their book.
- Seven days later they receive another email introducing them to a resource library on the website.
- Seven days after that email, they receive another with links to recent articles and white papers written by the company.
- Two weeks later, the prospect receives another email that offers assistance in making a decision related to their problems.
- Two weeks later, the prospect receives a fifth email with a link for them to contact you and ask questions or get a consultation.
And that’s not it. Every time you send out a broadcast email or launch a new piece of content that might be useful to that particular lead, you can send yet another email that provides them an opportunity to engage.
How This System Works
There are several reasons this type of system works so well. Imagine the process of making a decision for your business. Especially when researching potential solutions, you might visit a dozen or more websites looking for more information. No one site will stand out as being particularly useful in this process.
But if one of those companies sends you a followup email a week later to ask if your questions were solved and then offer additional content on that topic, what then? You’re much more likely to remember them as you get closer to making a decision.
Staying top of mind is key to this process and one of the reasons why automated followup is a must. More importantly, you don’t have to do anything – once these emails are written and programmed, they go out to everyone who falls into this category. It can drastically increase response rates from your prospects in just a matter of a few emails. All without you or your sales team having to get involved.
The Bottom Line
Email followups work and when automated, they allow you to engage with your leads at every level of the marketing funnel without having to involve sales people or drastically increase your budget to reach those prospects.
If you’re trying to build your own automation system and would like to learn more about preparing your website for a content marketing campaign, download our Marketing Ready Checklist from the link below:
What does the average business blog look like?
Not the big corporate ones or the trendy startups, but the average IT services, financial advisory, or non-profit blog?
It’s full of company news, hiring announcements, and industry jargon that means very little to anyone not already in the know.
All of which is fine if the goal is to provide periodic updates, add new things to the website every few weeks, and look like a large, professional firm.
But if your goal is something more? What if your aim is not just to push content out, but to attract and educate prospects, pulling them into your marketing funnel as potential customers?
Content marketing needs something more robust than just another fluffy company news piece. It needs to be educational, actionable, and interesting.
All of which can seem difficult in heavily technical industries with complex topics that don’t lend themselves well to short form write-ups. Which is why it’s so important to find areas that are of equal interest to your prospects. Let’s look at three ways you can do this and how that “outside topic” content can push your content marketing efforts over the edge.
Look at their Role, Not Title
To a IT services firm in Salt Lake, every business that contacts them has roughly the same problems, so it’s easy to start thinking that’s the thing they want to read about.
But the CTO or IT Director for a company has a lot of other things on their plate. Onboarding new software solutions, reducing costs in certain areas, streamlining operations, working with the development team more seamlessly, or just being more productive on a personal level.
Evaluate the role your target audience plays in their organizations and look for common concerns they share that you can write about. Forget the title or the conversations you have and focus on what their real pain points are each day.
Expertise Builds Trust
Businesses are started every year by people with a passion for what they do. Doctors, scientists, lawyers, bakers, and a hundred other specialties might go into a field that seems otherwise well outside their area of expertise.
Data scientists running a board game company. Doctors launching software applications. Programmers kicking off a non-profit venture.
These are common situations, and all-too often, the founders will focus on what they now sell, not what they know best. Don’t let your current business venture bury the expertise of your leadership. Get out there and showcase it, talk about your new business in the context of what you did before, and show that you are an expert in your field. People will trust you because of it, not despite it.
Have Some Fun!
For B2B companies, the prospect of having a little fun can seem to run counter to your goals. You have a professional audience with professional needs and the last thing you want to do is push out goofy, unprofessional content that they might not appreciate.
But that doesn’t mean every one of your blog posts or videos should be a dry, boring slog through the intricacies of your industry.
Get creative and showcase what you can do that’s different. The decision makers in your target audience look at a LOT of websites and read a lot of content – if yours stands out for being fun, irreverent, colorful, or flashy in a fun but professional way, they will remember it. And the topics don’t have to be directly related to what you do.
Building Content That’s Fun to Read and Watch
The goal of a good content marketing campaign is to educate and entertain. We all too often get caught up in the former, thinking every one of our posts needs to be the same dry, educational content we’ve been writing for years.
And it will work. That content is important because it answers questions and showcases expertise. But it’s the latter that will set you apart from the competition, showing why you’re a one of a kind business that companies will want to work with.
That’s something that will really set you above and beyond the rest. Ready to learn more about how your content can exceed expectations and wow your prospects?
You have a website. It’s well designed and you’ve started promoting it to drive new business. But, whether it’s not getting enough traffic yet, or the people who do visit aren’t engaging with what you’ve published, there’s something missing.
Content is more than just a list of services and contact channels. It’s a powerful resource that can speak to the needs and desires of your target audience. It is the front line in your efforts to attract and build relationships with people who will one day turn into your next batch of customers.
For this reason, it’s important to cover all your bases. Here are five types of content that will help you do just that.
Clear Descriptions of Your Products and Services
Writing about what you do isn’t always easy. I’ve spoken with several manufacturers and IT companies that would prefer a list of capabilities and contact numbers over a detailed writeup of what they do. After all, why would someone be on the site if they didn’t know what they needed?
There are a few reasons why this is important. Good product and service descriptions offer:
- A clear representation of what you do with specific language that showcases expertise.
- Shows the search engines what your website is about and what you would like to rank for.
- Supplemental materials for people who dolike to read rather than skim.
And it doesn’t have to be boring. Static, corporate style copy is easy, but it’s not always engaging and it’s sure as heck exhausting to write. Spice it up with clever design and an infusion of visual representations of what you do.
Detailed Presentation of You and Your Team
Almost every website has an About page, but most of these pages are glorified mission statements, pulled directly from your marketing plan or operating agreement. A couple sentences summarizing when you started and what you do, with a few awards and certifications thrown in for credibility.
This is all good, but you should a few steps further. Include things like:
- Names of photos of your senior management team.
- Introductions to your staff with fun facts about each of them.
- A video tour of your office or production space to show people who you really are.
This kind of additional information serves two purposes. It makes you and your team “real” in a way few things are online, and it shows prospective employees what they are considering commitment to. Recruiting is notoriously difficult for high-skill jobs. Get a head start with smarter presentation.
Examples of Your Successes and Relationships
This is another area where many websites have a good start, but can do much more. Testimonial quotes are good, but consider what else you can showcase on your site as social proof. People want to see that you know what you are doing, have experience doing it, and have a stable of happy customers they could talk with if they wanted.
Consider adding the following elements to your site:
- Headshots and titles for each of your existing testimonial quotes to personalize them.
- Detailed case study writeups that go into detail about what you did, and the results achieved.
- Video testimonials summarizing both above in a more personal format.
This type of content can go a long way in building stronger relationships with your prospects, and showcase why people trust and continue to work with you.
Thought Leadership that Answers Key Questions without Selling
A big part of what LeadConnect does is establishing and building thought leadership for our clients. One of the first questions we get is about this very practice. What is thought leadership and what is the potential future ROI? Thought leadership comes in many forms, and when properly researched and presented offers many benefits.
Some of the content you should consider creating includes:
- Long form blog posts that address common questions your sales team receives.
- A peak behind the curtain of what you provide to your customers.
- Personal takes on hot topics and recent industry news from your team’s leaders.
The benefit of doing all this is threefold. First, it shows that you have the expertise you claim. This content can be shared and distributed through expert channels to show this. Second, it attracts new people to your website through organic search on Google, social media shares, and industry-focused sites. Finally, it creates an intangible value in working with your company. As recognized experts, there is a certain credibility conveyed to the customer who choose to work with you.
Enticing Resources with Which to Capture Their Information
The fifth type of content you should consider including on your website is the lead magnet or marketing offer. This is content that goes even deeper than the blog posts, videos, and social media posts addressed in number four above. This can be eBooks, case studies, white papers, video series, or email courses that provide in-depth information about things your customers are asking about.
Some of the ways you can implement this type of content on your site include:
- Creation of a resource library with several documents addressing common questions and concerns.
- Inclusion of a matching lead magnet with every blog post that can be downloaded for additional information.
- Showcase these downloads on your homepage and key product/service pages as examples of thought leadership. They also make good sales supplements.
The key is to make sure your prospects are providing their contact information in exchange for the content they download. With this you can nurture them via email and provide more value, interspersed with your sales messaging.
Leveraging Content to Grow Your Business
With the right approach to content development and presentation on your website, you can build a strong reputation, showcase proof of the work you’ve done in the past, and drive new people to the pages that are most likely to convert them to leads for your sales team. Learn more about how you can get your website marketing ready with the right content in our eBook:
Establishing expertise is important for all businesses, but it’s especially critical for B2B companies. In fact, subject matter expert (SME) content has become a crucial component of most B2B companies’ digital strategies.
There’s just one problem, though.
This type of content often fails.
Fortunately, that failure can often be blamed on one of three problems. If you avoid these problems, your campaign is likely to be a success.
Lack of Time
You need to add content to your website and other marketing channels on a regular basis, or you won’t maintain the interest of the companies you serve. This can be a problem when dealing with SMEs.
SMEs are experts for a reason. They are immersed in their fields, and that keeps them busy. In fact, they have so many irons in the fire that it’s normal for them to have issues with availability and communication. They simply don’t have enough time, so they might put your company on the backburner.
For example, they might not be able to provide you with the requested SME content for a month, and there is a good chance they will be slow to communicate that information to you.
How do you fix this problem?
You likely can’t change the SME, but you can change your approach by contracting with several SMEs. Once you get them all on a schedule, you should have content coming in on a regular basis, even if all of your SMEs have issues with availability.
Also, set clear deadlines for each SME, and if someone is terrible about meeting them, let that person go. That’s another reason it’s important to have multiple SMEs at your disposal. Some might not work out for the long run.
Too Much Jargon
If you’ve spent any time dealing with a subject matter expert, you have probably seen this issue firsthand. SMEs spend their time dealing with a specific subject. They know it inside and out, and that can cause them to get lost in the weeds when talking about it. Their sentences are often full of jargon that most people don’t understand, and that makes the content a real dud when it comes to marketing it.
Fortunately, there is a quick fix to this.
Tell your SME to pretend the readers are 5 years old.
This will force the SME to provide simple explanations for difficult subject matter, so everyone can understand it. Keep in mind your SME still needs to include technical details, but these details need to be broken down so everyone can understand them. The simpler the better when it comes to subject matter expert content for B2B businesses.
Lack of Interest by Internal Stakeholders
Internal stakeholders aren’t always interested in content marketing. They don’t understand why a company should spend money on SMEs, so they might vote it down.
You can use statistics to prove the need for effective content marketing. These statistics will likely cause them to reconsider hiring SMEs.
First, content marketing is about leading, not following, and using experts is the best way to lead. Unique site traffic is 7.8 times higher for content leaders compared to followers. If your stakeholders want your B2B business to grow, you need to include SMEs in your content marketing strategy. Otherwise, your company will spend its time following others instead of leading.
It’s also a good use of money. The most effective B2B marketers use 39 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing, and they get more bang for their buck. Content marketing generates about three times as many leads at traditional marketing while costing 62 percent less.
It’s Time to Hire Some SMEs
Now you are finally ready to reach out and add some SMEs to your team. Keep in mind that there’s a learning curve every time you add new members to your team. There might be some hiccups along the way, but it won’t take long to finetune the process. Just follow these tips and your SME content will truly shine. It will help you educate your customer base and attract some long-term clients to your team. When used correctly, SMEs can take B2B companies to the next level.