August 26, 2012 at 7:00 AM
I hear from sales and marketing leaders on a regular basis that they need more leads. The most common marketing efforts to drive leads include paid search, SEO, social media, outbound email, teleprospecting and trade shows. When I ask about inbound marketing and what they are doing about content marketing, things like publishing a blog, their eyes glaze over.
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
In other words, content marketing is communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they will ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
There is growing excitement these days around content marketing. Buyers have simply shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore print advertising, and now have become so adept at online "surfing" that they can take in online information while ignoring banners or buttons (making them irrelevant). Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way. We have ample evidence that inbound marketing works, but few marketers execute on the most basic elements. We still see majority of marketing push product messaging at prospects. The time is now to embrace inbound marketing to pull in those prospects with content that speaks to the prospects’ interests. The biggest challenge is creating compelling content. Content marketing is a new muscle for most organizations.
According to Marketo the most popular content marketing tactics used by businesses today are as illustrated:
Contact the SBI team for questions about taking your content marketing to the next level. We're here to help.
Let’s take a closer look at blogs and why they are so effective in producing leads.
SBI's research shows that leads from blogs convert better by:
- Over 20X vs. Direct Mail leads
- Almost 4X vs. Trade Shows leads
- Over 5X vs. Outbound Emails leads
- 11X vs. Teleprospecting leads
It is important to measure both the number of leads and the conversion rates.
Sales Benchmark Index’s exhaustive research over the last 12 months, along with a presentation by Mary Meeker, the world’s expert as it relates to buyer behavior, reveals that the B2B buyer has changed. The buyer has changed the way he or she buys. The new B2B buyer is observing, performing research, gathering information, and talking to peers in advance of speaking directly to a sales rep. On average, prospects are already 57% through the buying process before engaging with a sales rep. For some industries, like technology, it can be as high as 80%. The point is that buyers prefer to be self-educated well before speaking to a sales rep.
Are you making it easy for the buyer to find you? Do you have content on your website that makes it more than a 2-minute browse to research your solution? Is your content full of inward-out marketing platitudes, or is it substantive and worth investigating? If not, then your ability to influence their opinion of your products or services is greatly diminished. You may get the courtesy bid, but I am sorry to say that the buyers’ opinion is often already formed favorably toward another company.
Sign up for our research tour here to find out what your
peers are doing to allocate their Time, People, and Money for 2013.
With the availability of both free and inexpensive blogging platforms, your business can set up a blog in a matter of minutes and begin promoting your brand and connecting with customers. If you still aren’t convinced, here are six reasons why your business should have a blog to help generate leads and to sell when you aren’t present.
1. It Builds Traffic - Having a blog that you post frequently allows you to direct targeted traffic to your website; thereby increasing the chances to generate leads. By linking your blog to other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, you also build traffic.
2. It Increases your Credibility - Buyers are more likely to consider products or services from businesses they feel like they already “know,”. Having a blog that you regularly update can help foster a community and allow your readers to feel like they know you, even if you’ve never met face to face. Every time you interact with your readers, by encouraging comments and responding to comments left, you are building your relationship with potential customers. By building those relationships, you are effectively creating a face for your brand, thereby increasing the likelihood of more sales. Blogs are a much more trusted source than companies’ official press releases.
3. It establishes you as an expert - A blog helps establish you as an expert in your field if you regularly update it with relevant content. Frequently updating your blog with relevant content also helps establish you as their go-to resource.
4. It functions as an instant-feedback mechanism - Most blogs allow readers to respond to your posts or link to them on their own blogs. This provides almost real-time feedback on ideas and issues that strike a chord.
5. Ranking on Google - It helps you improve your rank on search engines and assists in getting you found. When people enter those important key words in Google, it helps your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Google loves new content!
6. It’s the way customers want to receive information - According to a Gfk Roper Public Affairs study, 80% of the business decision-makers prefer to get information from the articles of the companies they buy from instead of getting it from advertisement. The most common reason is the buyers are busy and they don’t want the interruption. With a blog, your potential customers are coming to you. If you’re visible and have the answers, you’ll get your message across without interruptions.
While you might be busy launching your next marketing campaign or getting ready for the next big trade show, the buyer is forming their opinion on who they trust and want to do business with based upon the information he or she is able to gather on their own. Engaging the buyer in the early buying stages with a blog will improve the quantity and quality of your leads.
Contact me today to discuss developing a content marketing strategy for your organization. Post your comments, forward this post and keep the conversation going.
Posted by Terry Stidham