The ins and outs of content marketing


The future of finding leads is online. There’s never going to be a better time than right now to learn how you can build solid relationships with prospects from the ground up virtually.


In this guide, you can discover our best methods of getting your brand out into the digital sphere.


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Think about it

To us, content marketing is the best method of generating, and nurturing, new leads: not only for the remainder of this lockdown period but in the future as more and more alternatives to trade shows become available.

Why generate leads through content marketing instead of at trade shows/events?

Although everybody’s got used to working remotely during the lockdown, one of the biggest changes that people are still struggling to come to terms with is the absence of trade shows. We’ve been living in an event-free world: nobody wants to pack into a crowded hall right now, so if your marketing funnel doesn't really "do" digital, your sales team isn't getting the help it needs

But that doesn’t mean lead generation is on hold

Content marketing is a fantastic way to capture prospects digitally. We prefer it over winning business at trade shows, and there are good reasons why it may be the same for you.

Events can be hit or miss

When you attend an event, weeks and even months of preparation all lead up to getting that one moment right: that’s a lot of pressure. With digital marketing, instead of hoping to get the perfect event, you can continuously review analytics and refine your campaign (or campaigns!).

We find the most efficient way to run a campaign is to nail it then scale it

Run a few iterations of ad portfolios to a small section of your target audience and see which ads are getting the best engagement and most clicks. Then, separate the qualities of those best-performing ads so you can test them individually: maybe it was the copy that grabbed people’s attention, maybe it was graphic you used, or something else entirely!

Once you’ve got a set of ads nailed and you’re happy with them, it’s time to scale your campaign up: launch it to the full audience and let the leads pour in.

You may not even have to spend as much

While we wouldn’t recommend spending nothing on paid advertising, in theory it’s possible to generate leads with content marketing, without spending an extra penny! If your organic posts gain enough traction to go viral within your community, you may start generating leads without paying to promote your brand at all.

More realistically, you will have to spend some amount of money in order to get in front of your entire target audience: but as more people engage and follow you, you can expect the power of your organic posts to increase too.

Nurturing prospects is part of the content marketing package

Another benefit of content marketing is that the work you do to get people interested in your brand isn’t limited to the confines of an event hall. Once you’ve acquired leads at the top of the sales and marketing funnel, the transition to lead nurturing can be instantaneous.

New prospects can instantly receive more material to educate them about what you do, and as they become part of your fanbase, some will even evangelise for you, liking, sharing and endorsing your content. No more worrying about how best to get in contact with each potential buyer: digital marketing provides a seamless journey from start to finish.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

As you’ve probably started to see, there are all sorts of reasons to leap into content marketing. But to do all this, you need two essential components: ‘actually great’ content and a slick funnel marketing machine.

Let’s have a look at both of these in more depth...

Creating actually great content

Armed with that ‘why’, write content that’s geared towards achieving it.

Create content that your target audience will find not just entertaining and informative but genuinely useful in their careers.

It’s easy to picture this in a B2C context. An avid cyclist might be interested to read her favourite bike brand’s article about how they design their frames or what the differences between a road and a hybrid bike are, but they’ll definitely want to read articles that detail the best stretches for before and after a long cycle, or how to choose a bike that’s best suited for mountains vs. roads.

Are you putting brilliant content out onto your company pages?

Be honest with yourself here, the first step to creating ‘actually great’ content is evaluating whether the content is, surprise surprise, actually great.

We all know tips for creating successful digital content: be original, have sticky titles, engage your reader. By all means, these are essential things to think about but by no means are they all you have to include in your considerations.

Quite frankly, everybody’s writing ‘great’ content but not much of that is ‘actually great’. To do that, you need to write content that’s not just educational, but honestly helpful. Think about the why of your brand: what’s the reason you do what you do? Whose lives and experiences do you aim to improve? What’s the secret to driving your industry forward that you know but no one else does?

Still not quite sure how to create honestly helpful content in the B2B sphere?

Here are a few of our own examples, all made in order to help people adjust to living and working during lockdown this year:

Breeio is an SAAS based Learning Management System

They wanted to assist L&D professionals in moving all their training online, to keep up learning momentum among their colleagues.

What we did:

Wrote ‘Make the transition to virtual learning events’, teaching the best ways to make online learning events feel like their face-to-face equivalents.

Thinking Focus is the behavioural-change consultancy business.

Aware that managers working remotely would need to know how to keep their team operating smoothly, they wanted to give out their best tips on how to achieve that.

What we did:

Created the ‘Managing Remote Workers’ series, with multiple blogs and shareable downloads to go with them.

skilla is Italy’s leading eLearning provider

They’re making moves into the international market. Having noted that Italy was several weeks ahead of the UK, not just in terms of lockdown progression but in terms of the shape of the L&D landscape too, they wanted to help L&D managers in the UK by sharing their insights with them.

What we did:

Interviewed their Managing Partner to write ‘L&D in the time of Covid-19: which learning resources are in demand?’ which was published as an editorial piece in Training Journal.

Don’t let the journey stop there:

oil up your funnel marketing machine

An under-appreciated truth of marketing is that fantastic content needs a fantastic follow-up or you’ll never see the results you want.

Somebody can read your articles, download your whitepapers and even sign up for your newsletter, but if you just send random updates twice a year then you’re working hard for nothing.


The traditional view that many enterprises hold is that sales and marketing are two entirely separate ventures:

B2B marketing gets new leads for the sales team and sales close those leads. This formula doesn’t hold in the real business world though. Implementing a Collaborative Sales and Marketing funnel lets you continue to nurture your leads far beyond that initial generation point, all the way down to point of sale.


Sort your funnel out

We’ve given an idea of how to implement ‘Collaborative Sales and Marketing’ (CSM)

But we haven’t quite explained the ‘funnel’ aspect of this nurturing process yet. Generally speaking, there are three ‘stages’ of the CSM funnel.

Stage 1 Education

This is where companies show themselves off as the experts on the problems that prospects have, to make people aware of, and interested in, their brand. Blogs, newsletters or downloads (even this article!) with names like “5 things that every Sydney local wants you to know” or “Cash ISA or investment ISA: which is best for you?” are typical examples of good ‘top of the funnel’ marketing content. They give the company authority by helping a new prospect solve a problem they have.

Stage 2 Explore

Once you’ve proved yourself to the prospect during the education phase and established yourself as the expert, you can start to really build trust. With trust comes a new willingness to explore the solutions you have that address their problem. You can start to demonstrate the value of your product or service, in the form of content such as product overviews, fact sheets or case studies.

Stage 3 Convert/Close

While building trust with the prospect, you’ll have had chances to understand better their authority and need (for instance by seeing which articles they’re reading or gathering information about their job in return for a whitepaper download). Now’s a good time for sales to get involved. There’s more on how to get marketing and sales working together on a sales process below, but crucially here, the sales team can use the understanding gained to work out if the new prospect also has a budget (and if so, how much) and a timescale (when is the prospect likely to buy).

With this funnel structure in place, you have a good framework to decide what content marketing you need to be doing to plug any gaps you may have and so help nurture leads down the pipeline.

Tackle alignment head on and Make sure everyone understands:

a

what the overarching goal of your campaign is

b

everybody's individual tasks must aim to help achieve that goal

There are plenty of ways to achieve this:

Hold a weekly ‘coffee and catch up’, combine into a ‘smarketing’ department, set KPIs together or just make sure to ask for inputs from everyone, not just your own team members.

Our method of choice is to hold regular marketing Hackdays.

We kick off every project with a confab between our cross-functional team and the stakeholders to set objectives to work towards for the following few months. Agreeing on these objectives together means everyone understands why we originally set those goals, so if circumstances change we can act agilely to adjust them too.

Whatever method you choose, break down the silos that may have built up invisibly within your teams.

When your sales and marketing teams begin on the right note, they can continue to collectively reaffirm or readjust their shared goal as they refine their nurture process.

Extend your sales process to include marketing

It’s pretty likely your sales team has some process that they swear generates guaranteed sales - they’ll usually quote some snappy initialism like BANT, CHAMP or MEDDIC - and these are, unsurprisingly, extremely useful for lead-assessment. But you’ll get a better understanding of how qualified leads are when the marketing team gets involved too.

The sales and marketing funnel isn’t what it used to be.

More and more of the buying process is digitised and, with that, the distinction between what marketing and sales should be doing to move that down the funnel gets increasingly blurred.

Effective CSM funnels take this into account: the marketing department takes control of the parts of the process they can manage more effectively than sales so when they pass Marketing Qualified Leads over they’re properly nurtured and that sought-after sale is more likely to happen.

This can be applied to any sales process, but consider the BANT sales qualifications framework as an example (we use it, as do IBM, Cisco and others). The four factors to determine are a prospect’s Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale. This process can easily be made collaborative, by considering which team is better equipped to determine which criteria. In our experience, a good marketing programme can answer BANT’s A (Authority) and N (Need) criteria, and a good sales process works towards uncovering information on B (Budget) and T (Timescale).

Full Circle Marketing

An issue we come across all too often in businesses is that they view a prospect’s journey as rigidly one-directional - they move directly down the sales funnel, passing over from marketing to sales, never the other way around.

But full circle marketing is crucial to implement to keep hold of leads who aren’t interested in buying at the current moment. Get your sales team to pass low priority leads backwards up the sales funnel to marketing, instead of letting them go cold. That way, you can continue to nurture them for however long you need to!

Proper lead nurturing isn’t just informed by insights gleaned from marketing: the sales insights can also play an important role in keeping prospects interested in what you do.

Lead Scoring

Another powerful way for sales and marketing to collaborate is to set up a lead score programme for prospects.

Lead scoring is a methodology that assesses how ready to buy a prospect is. The thinking behind it is simple: the higher the score, the higher priority the lead is to sales.

Marketing will usually be in charge of tracking the scores, which increase based on a number of things. For example, it can be when a prospect visits your website (or a certain page, like pricing), fills out a form or requests a demo. The marketing team can continue to nurture prospects until a predetermined score threshold is hit, then they are passed on to sales when you can be fairly certain they will be ready to purchase.

Sales and marketing decide how points are scored together, meaning that when sales receive MQLs, they know how interested prospects are and what specifically they are interested in.

Ready to dive into content marketing and start generating leads online?

There’s a lot to do to get the best results when it comes to content marketing, but believe us when we say those results are worth it. If you’re eager to get started but not sure where to start - have a chat with us!

Every client needs a different strategy to succeed with digital marketing and we consider ourselves the experts in knowing what’s going to work for you. Get in touch now to see what we could do for you…

I think these guys do a great job and so does my wife.

Richard Fox, Toucan