Most B2B content marketers strive to generate leads through content marketing. The degree of success is largely influenced by the strategy. In a recent podcast recording with Guillaume Decugis, CEO of Scoop.it! we looked at the three pivotal elements of lead generation through content marketing.
Content Marketing Strategy
The pre-requisite to the three pillars is a documented content marketing strategy. Brands who document who they want to reach, the value they want to deliver and desired outcomes for their audience are best positioned to succeed with content marketing.
An additional pre-requisite is developing a content strategy around buyers' various stages in the funnel. The notion that content is not a "one size fits all" asset in your marketing mix is more than a minor detail. The logic is simple. A buyer who engages with your brand for the first time with a white paper is probably not at the same stage in the buyer's journey as the buyer who attends your webinar that explains how your product solves a specific business problem. The former is a top of the funnel and the latter is a bottom of the funnel content engagement.
The Three Pillars of Lead Generation through Content Marketing
Marketers often make the mistake of starting with a landing page, then realize they need to create content to support it. In this podcast, we discuss how the three pivotal elements of content marketing (content hub, landing pages and distribution) work together to generate leads.
The Content Hub
Once your content strategy is well documented and all the stakeholders in your organization are in place, it's time to build your content hub. Many marketers start with a landing page when thinking about lead generation. Then they realize they need to create a content hub to attract visitors.
The content hub should include a variety of content that addresses each buyer persona and the buyer's journey. Content should be a mix of original content and curated content from reputable sources. Make it easy for buyers to locate and select content that is relevant to him or her in that moment of their buyer's journey. Offering content in different formats is important too. Some people like to read while others prefer slides or video. Of course, I'm a little biased and recommend you include podcasts as a content format so your buyer has the option of listening while walking, jogging or on their daily commute to or from work.
As your content hub matures, the "field of dreams" mindset is not advised. Even through excellent SEO techniques, marketers should not depend on the world beating a path to your content hub. It's important to have a distribution strategy for your content. Techniques such as email, social media, influencer relations, employee advocacy, guest articles and content syndication are examples of distribution. Re-purposing your content or "atomizing" your content into different formats is also advisable. While each of the aforementioned techniques are effective, it's the mix of all them together that provides a marketer effective distribution. Finding the mix that works best for your content marketing is the name of the game. There is no one formula that works the same for all brands. That said, employee advocacy is an often-overlooked strategy that can be very effective in your content distribution strategy.
A landing page is a dedicated page linked to a call-to-action (CTA) designed specifically to convert the visitor to a lead or customer (if transaction enabled). A common metaphor for the landing page is "gated content" because the landing page acts as a gate to the content. However, not all content needs to be gated. Marketers should experiment with ungated content in their content mix. Using tracking codes to measure clicks on ungated content can provide valuable insight to content marketers such as the type of content your audience wants to consume and where they find it.
When gating content, align the elements of the landing page with the target persona and the associated stage of the buyer's journey. Guillaume recommends content marketers think like a teacher with your lead nurturing and concentrate on educating your buyers. And, that includes your landing page! The landing page is a critical touch point in the buyer's journey. The visitor has just responded to a call-to-action on another content element in your mix. By responding to the CTA, she is already saying "I think I trust you." So, the next moment on the landing page is an opportunity to confirm this thought. If you blow it by selling too hard on the landing page, or by using a generic landing page that doesn't align specifically with the content from which she came, the trust bond is quickly broken. And, there goes your conversion...
The landing page must be a good experience for your visitor. She must - consciously or subconsciously - trust the engagement enough to part with information.
The information you ask for on the landing page also is a critical decision. If this is a first touch, top of the funnel landing page, the information you request should be very limited. Consider asking for just a name and email address. In your nurturing strategy, you can build even more trust with the buyer as she proceeds through the buyer's journey and you can earn the right to ask for more information about the buyer.
There are situations where a high value piece of content such as an e-book with valuable research information warrants asking for detailed information from the buyer. The savvy buyer understands the dynamics of this exchange.
The modern B2B marketer has an ever evolving portfolio of landing pages that aligns with different content assets for all their buyer personas across the buyer's journey.
In summary B2B digital marketing is a journey. The three pillars of a content-driven lead generation strategy are a content hub, landing pages and distribution, provided a documented strategy is in place with a clear definition of buyer personas and the buyer's journey.
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