In a recent blog post, Sid Smith of the Albertson Group made the good point that marketing is to a large extent a “self-service operation” today; buyers get an estimated 80% of the information they need online…and that information is your content: web pages, blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, reports, white papers, email, webinars, videos, podcasts – everything and anything you have that a potential buyer can engage with and learn from.
You’re going to spend time and resources developing or acquiring the content you need to feed the beast, so it’s really good to have a plan for when and where you’re going to use it. Sid gave thoughtful pointers about how to map your content to the sales cycle, using a marketing automation platform in most stages:
1. Attract leads
Get attention. For lead generation, content can consist of the following:
- Advertisements (online or offline)
- Direct mail postcards and letters
- Online articles
- Trade magazine articles
- Press releases
The purpose of this type of content is to alert potential customers that you might have something they want or need.
2. Capture leads
Get information from a prospect. Lead capture is an exchange. You give leads something they want or need, and they give you permission to stay in touch. Lead capture has specific types of content:
- Special reports or whitepapers
- PowerPoint (or other) slide decks
- Email or video tutorials
- Calculators (such as an ROI calculator)
- Online assessments
Marketing automation comes into play here when a prospect fills out a form on your landing page, trading their information for your content.
3. Nurture leads
Build trust and credibility. Leads come to know you, trust you, and believe that what you say is true. The types of content you’ll create to nurture leads include the same types of content you’d use for lead capture, with the important addition of email tips and blog articles. You might also throw in a live event if you’re launching a new product.
The difference between the content for capturing leads and the content for nurturing leads is how the pieces of content flow and interconnect:
- Lead-capturing content gets people to raise their hands and say they’re interested.
- Initial lead-nurturing content simultaneously builds trust and gauges leads’ interest in specific topics.
- The next level of content builds credibility and intensifies leads’ desire for a solution to their problems.
- As their desire builds, you drive home the idea that your solution is precisely what will solve their problem.
- More content drives leads toward the inevitable conclusion to buy.
Nurturing is a labor-intensive activity, made much easier by marketing automation.
4. Segment and score leads
Get smarter about your prospects. Content can be created specifically for lead segmentation and scoring. For example, to distinguish between prospects that prefer green widgets over red widgets, you can create an email, report, or webinar about green widgets. Prospects will self-select into your designated segments, allowing you to do very targeted follow-up.
Segmentation and scoring are difficult to do without marketing automation.
This post is based on an excerpt from the Leader’s Guide to Marketing Automation.
We’re going to be sponsoring a webinar with the Albertson Performance Group soon; stay tuned for details. In the meantime, please join us for a weekly marketing automation demo to learn more about Act-On’s easy, intuitive platform, or contact our sales department for a one-on-one demo.