Lead Nurturing: 5 tips for creating relevant content
Attempting lead nurturing without strong content is like hosting a Monsters of Rock show during a power outage.
The results will be disappointing.
Both companies are content software providers, and both leaders recently spoke about the value of content marketing: Murdock at Marketo’s Social Marketing Rockstar Tour, and Baggott at the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012.
“The Internet has put buyers in control,” says Murdock. “Seventy percent of the buying is completed before Sales is contacted.”
What that means, he went on to explain, is that Marketing now has the greatest responsibility for guiding those opportunities through the sales cycle. However, traditional advertising methods no longer help leads move forward.
“The average clickthrough rate on paid Internet advertising is .01%,” he points out.
Baggott contrasts this with clickthrough rates on content that is meaningful to prospects. He provides an example: creating content that speaks directly to prospects’ needs and has strong calls-to-action.
“When we do this, we see clickthrough rates that exceed 20%,” he points out; it’s an observation they’ve made working with hundreds of clients.
“I click through because I am very motivated. I see something that will help me; I look at the content and say, ‘Yeah, these people get me.’ When you have a need and the content meets it, you’re very eager to move forward,” he explains.
Instead of pushing products or services, pull the right prospects through by providing information, ideas and solutions that will help them, advise Baggott and Murdock. (It will also help you rank high in search engines.) This is the essence of relevance, and without it, everything you consider content is just more advertising, they insist.
They offer these tips to create content with the power to move beyond advertising into relevancy:
Tip #1: Know your customers’ day-to-day concerns and how they fit your marketing sweet spot
“Find out what’s gnawing at them and develop messaging to help and point them to your solution, without doing so overtly,” Murdock advises. “You’ve got to do it persona by persona. In my industry, a CMO will have a way different set of issues than a demand generation director inside of a marketing department. You have to make sure you’re speaking separately to each of them because they’re a part of the purchasing process.”
Here are some ways to find out your audience’s most pressing issues:
- Interview them directly. Learn more in this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post: “8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities.”
- Survey them. “In an un-branded way, find out prospects’ and customers’ top 10 interests and burning issues,” Murdock says. “But whatever you do, don’t let thoughts of your own products disturb communications.”
- Encourage feedback from your team. “Tell Sales and Customer Service to submit customer questions and concerns so you can create content around them,” he says.
“It’s all about listening,” he says.
Tip #2: Mine your customer base
“If you tell me a story of how someone solved a problem exactly like mine, I am going to trust that you can solve my problem right,” Baggott points out.
Gathering these stories can be as simple as inviting your customers via email to share how they used your products or services.
“Customer stories don’t have to be long case studies. They can be a paragraph or two, but before you know it, you could have a vast library of customer stories to fit any nurturing opportunity,” he says.
Tip #3: Establish a production process
Who will produce the content? What is the deadline and review process? Will a copy editor review it? Will SEO experts review it? Will legal review it?
“You need to define processes or you’ll find you’ll get tripped up by logistics,” warns Murdock.
Tip #4: Choose a theme and recycle
Murdock expands with an example from his industry: a sales-marketing alignment e-book.
“I would pour everything I had into one big, downloadable publication, then develop components, such as 10 different e-books expanding on each chapter, including interviews with Sales and Marketing VPs. Repurpose that into articles, blogs and webinars.”
Baggott expands on this: “I could share a customer’s story on Facebook; I could tweet it; I could email it. I could use it in a multitude of content channels,” he notes. “Never use content only once.”
Tip #5: Dedicate one person to content strategy
“I’ve never seen a content marketing operation succeed without one person who can play a managing editor role, and is comfortable around content, knows the Web and is into communication,” Murdock says. This person, whether internal or external, junior or senior, should be able to:
- Plan content strategy
- Develop content ideas and execute them
- Develop a content calendar that outlines the details of how and when content will be produced, published and distributed
- Build the content audience
- Measure results
Powering up your content marketing is an investment that can pay off for years to come, says Baggott.
“Most blog readers – 80% of them, in fact – are first-time visitors,” he explains. “Most people ‘discover’ content through research on search engines and social media. The content can be four years old, but if it’s relevant to them, it doesn’t matter.”