With 88% of B2B marketers utilizing some form of content marketing, it’s time for those other 12% to realize this is no passing fad.
But how do companies that have traditionally relied on outbound marketing successfully incorporate content marketing into their current strategy and actually generate leads?
Well, it begins with letting go: letting go of yesterday’s thinking, letting go of counterproductive tactics, letting go of outdated marketing approaches that—in today’s highly personalized and ever-moving consumer landscape—repel prospects before they even have a chance to enter your sales funnel.
Rather than bombarding consumers with sales-speak and spray-and-pray promotions until they relent, content marketing is about engaging consumers in relevant ways that encourage them to come to you.
By employing more consumer-oriented marketing tactics that work at solving problems or providing relevant content (rather than screaming your sales pitch), you increase your opportunities to not only reach more qualified leads, but also keep them engaged with your brand for longer periods—even when they’re not in purchase mode. Do that, and when they ARE ready to buy, they’ll more likely buy from you—the brand they’ve come to trust.
So how do you actually change old-school marketing approaches to get the most out of your content marketing—and truly start generating leads? Here are a few tips:
1. Start building lists organically
As mentioned above, the days of sending mass emails and direct mailings to purchased lists are over. Instead, content marketing tactics build your contact lists organically. If prospects exchange their contact information for something of value—such as a newsletter or a downloadable white paper—they will be much more receptive to your content.
To take it a step further, segment your contact list according to sales funnel stages so your messaging can be even more targeted. Remember: You want to earn leads, not buy them.
2. Hang up the cold calls
We don’t like to use the word “never,” but…never cold call a prospect. Allow your content marketing to do the prospecting for you. After a prospect has made initial contact with you by visiting a landing page or downloading an e-book, then follow up qualified leads with a personalized phone call.
Do your research first. The more you and the prospect know about each other before you get on the phone, the more valuable your conversation will be—and the greater chance you have of making a sale.
3. Focus on content, not keywords
A common shortfall of many content marketing strategies is a misunderstanding and misapplication of SEO. Once again falling victim to the “quantity over quality” trap, these strategies practice what’s known as “keyword stuffing” and overload blog posts with keyword phrases in the hopes of improving search rankings.
This results in blog posts that are so awkward and choppy that they verge into something close to gibberish and provide no value to the reader. Search engines no longer reward straight-up keyword repetition anyway, so this is a waste of both your time and your reader’s energy.
Focus instead on creating useful, engaging content structured around one or two core keywords. When keywords are used organically and in context, you end up with content that provides value to your readers and signals to search engines that you have authority on a particular topic.
4. Stay socially relevant
Social media is not a digital megaphone for sales pitches; it’s a platform for customer service and relationships. Too often when brands first join social media, they treat it like a soapbox for spreading the word about their awesome product or service. The trick to successful social media marketing is not to promote yourself, but to find and attract an audience that will do the promoting for you.
How? By sharing interesting, engaging and valuable content that’s relevant to your audience. Whatever you do, give them plenty of reasons to believe what you say and come back for more.
Lead generation is still an important component of the sales cycle, but generating massive quantities of leads shouldn’t be your goal. Lead generation is a means, not an end.
Collecting leads for the sake of leads will not grow your business. Building long-term brand value with an engaged audience of targeted and qualified contacts will. Take your time, do it right, and the sales will come.
Want to turn your content into lead-generating gold?
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