Content Marketing works. B2B Marketing teams are seeing fruit from their investment in content marketing to fuel Lead Generation efforts:
- 2-3x increase in the quantity of inbound leads
- Higher close rates of inbound leads
- Reduced overall sales cycles
This means more leads that close quicker and at a higher rate of success. If you haven’t yet implemented Content Marketing into your B2B marketing team, you can catch up. No worries. You can avoid the painful pitfalls and implement in a quick, straight path. Invest two hours reviewing best practices by registering for the Make the Number Tour.
Best-in-class firms with strong Content Marketing capabilities are also executing more effective direct tactics. The natural evolution is to apply Content Marketing principles to improve direct marketing efforts.
Demand Generation – Comprehensive View of Content Marketing
Lead Generation programs are fed by leads acquired through Demand Generation. Below is an example of an integrated campaign. On the left side is inbound marketing where Content Marketing tactics are commonly directed. On the right side are direct and social methods of acquisition. The ‘old style’ direct acquisition methods have until now been unaffected by Content Marketing. Best-in-class B2B marketing teams are now shifting to Direct Content Marketing.
Email was only used for acquisition and customer communications. Marketing Automation and Nurture Paths involve the use of email to drive the buying process. However, most companies just automate the sending of more acquisition emails. Nurture Paths are seldom built from a buyer-centered perspective. Email efforts have become noise without alignment to the prospect’s buying process.
Old style acquisition emailing is still working. But we’ve all seen the reports on slowly diminishing email response rates. You need to adapt to stay ahead of your competition.
Physical mail has seen a come back. B2B direct mail was crushed during the rise of email marketing. The mass exodus is today’s opportunity. Today physical mail gets noticed. A well done B2B mail piece today is the equivalent of seeing a classic 1966 Mustang Fastback in the parking lot.
Overall B2B snail mail response rates are up significantly. If you haven’t added direct mail back to your marketing mix, do it. Embrace Direct Content Marketing to make sure that it is not executed as stale interruption media.
Introducing Direct Content Marketing
Content Marketing applies perfectly to direct communications. Content Marketing allows you to sell the way a customer wants to buy. It’s about providing valuable content that prospects seek to solve a problem. Evolve your direct efforts to also advance the buying process.
Three Implementation Phases
How to incorporate Content Marketing into your Marketing Plan:
Phase 1: Strategy
Expand your view of acquisition direct communications as only a lead source tactic. Direct communications has a new role in driving the buying process.
Acquisition – Cascade your direct communications beyond the early awareness stage of the buying process. In a complex B2B buying decision, there are multiple entry points.
- Awareness Stage: An Awareness direct creative unit is the classic acquisition approach. Identify the pain and communicate the benefits of the solution. Keep doing it, but this is only 1/3 of your plan.
- Consideration Stage: A consideration stage unit assumes awareness. It’s written to a prospect in the evaluation mode. The approach is to highlight the uniqueness of your solution. Focus on the buyer’s point of view of what they want in a solution.
- Preference Stage: Late stage direct units seek to establish your solution as the Coca-Cola of soft drinks. As an industry leading solution they would be foolish not to include you. Strong call to actions would be favorable 3rd party reviews or a side-by-side comparison grid. If you are not a competitive leader then target the competition’s soft underbelly. Expose it by affirmatively speaking about your uniqueness.
Nurturing – Nurture campaigns are the series of touch-points with a prospect who has raised their hand to identify themselves. This usually takes place as a form-fill to reach gated content. Nurture campaigns seek to build on the interaction by offering content of value. The content is mapped to coincide with where the prospect is in the buying process. Done well, the nurture campaigns advance the buying process by helping the prospect buy.
With a Content Marketing strategy you will have the content in place. Nurturing reminds the prospect of a key need in their mind. This is in sharp contrast to interruption media that seeks to drive a new idea into their head.
Phase 2: Design
Enhance your acquisition units by building the creative from the prospect’s view. With the execution of a Content Marketing strategy, your marketing team is empowered with the following assets:
- Buyer Persona – The Persona goes far beyond a tradition creative brief. Built from customer input, the Persona provides precise “what’s in it for me?” insights. The Persona includes customer expressions of their top objectives, obstacles, what’s important to them, and your company’s uniqueness.
- Content Map – Existing content is mapped to the buyer’s journey. Leverage the valuable content already built for your direct communications.
- Success Metrics – Marketing staff can cherry-pick the most relevant content, top titles, and customer-orient expressions. SEO keywords, most popular blog topics, and highest yield CTA’s yield key insights.
Phase 3: Execution:
- Leverage the A/B testing methodology to prudently roll out the new changes.
- Map the sequence of Direct Communications into the full marketing mix. Utilize the ProForma to track the business impact.
Acquire more customers by enhancing your direct marketing with Content Marketing principles.