David Kirkpatrick

Lead Nurturing: How much content is enough?

November 17th, 2011

Optimizing the entire funnel is a B2B marketing goal and challenge – lead capture starts the process, and handing (hopefully) qualified leads off to Sales completes it.

When the sale is very complex, the middle portion of nurturing and scoring leads can be lengthy, and a big part of those efforts is having a sound content marketing strategy.

We’ve written about content marketing quite a bit in our case studies and articles, offering tactical advice. And just a few weeks ago on the MarketingSherpa Blog, MarketingSherpa Director of Editorial Content Daniel Burstein published a post explaining why the value of your content is more important than the length of any one content piece.

Is one whitepaper and a few articles enough?

Daniel provided a great set of guidelines for creating solid content, but how about total volume? How much content do you need for a sound lead nurturing marketing strategy?

I spoke with Brandon Stamschror, Senior Director of Operations for the Leads Group at MECLABS (the parent company of MarketingSherpa), to get his reaction to some follow-up questions from a webinar he hosted on lead nurturing.

One question covered content marketing: “How do you know when you have enough educational content? Is one whitepaper and a few articles sufficient in most cases?”

Brandon’s response was immediate, “I would say no. One whitepaper and a few articles is not enough.”

He says you ideally want to create enough content to fill a “content calendar” aligned with your buyer’s persona and walks that individual through the stages of the buying process.

Different content for different stages

Brandon says early in the process you want to provide information that will help answer basic questions. And, toward the end of lead nurturing, when the handoff to Sales is approaching, the content will possibly include invitations to events, such as webinars, where the prospect will commit more of their time and energy to your offerings.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to create each piece of sent content in your lead nurturing efforts. In fact, third-party content serves an important role.

“Sometimes it’s really powerful to have a third party really supporting your value proposition,” Brandon states. He says in this case, your “content” can be as simple as a link to the third party supporting your value prop, or even showing the value of your business solution.

These links can point to:

  • Relevant blog post
  • Relevant video
  • Newspaper article
  • Trade journal article
  • Discussion in relevant online group

Brandon adds that a general rule-of-thumb for a lead nurturing content calendar is 10 pieces going out, one at a time around every three weeks. Of course, if your sales cycle is very long, 10 content pieces won’t be enough. You should adjust your content calendar to meet your specific buying cycle.

Quality counts – be relevant

Adding to the content marketing challenge is the fact that quality counts. Just as you can’t get away with having only a few pieces of lead nurturing content, you also can’t get away with repeatedly sending the same message.

Your content has to be relevant to the prospect’s stage in the buying cycle, and the message has to resonate with them. It has to relate to their business role or industry.

And, as the prospect gets further into the lead nurturing campaign, go ahead and share internal links to your own blog posts, webinar replays, or material related to a live event.

“At that point, you are demonstrating your industry knowledge – that you understand the industry issues and pains that your prospects are dealing with,” Brandon explains. “You could really demonstrate your competency in those areas and that there are other players in your organization who are thinking about these things.”

He continues, “So make it personal. Especially that video from your CEO or someone within your group who has something relevant to say.”

Brandon has provided some interesting ideas for integrating content marketing with lead nurturing. How do use content marketing in your lead nurturing efforts? Are there some content pieces that work better than others? Feel free to share your results in the comment section.

[Image credit: Sean MacEntee]

Related Resources:

Content Marketing: Four tactics that led to $2.5 million in annual contracts

Content Marketing: Inbound strategy pulls in 25% more revenue, 70% more leads

Content Marketing: Analytics drive relevant content, 26,000 new monthly visits to blog

B2B How-To: 5 lead nurturing tactics to get from lead gen to sales-qualified

Funnel Optimization: Why marketers must embrace change

Content Marketing: How shifting the budget led to a 152% boost in landing page traffic

B2B Funnel Optimization: What happens after you capture the lead?

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

Categories: B2B Marketing Tags: , , , , ,

  1. December 8th, 2011 at 16:08 | #1

    I agree that lead nurturing is an important part of a marketing campaign. By nurturing leads in a creative way and providing them valuable information then you are in the position to turn them into paying customers. Social media, email marketing, follow-up calls, sales visits and promotional leave behinds are some of the creative ways to nurture leads. We just wrote an article on lead nurturing and how to use it for business: http://www.grmwebsite.com/blog/bid/68651/How-to-Lead-the-Way-Through-Lead-Nurturing-Marketing-Campaigns


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