Spring is just around the corner, and that means it's time to grow and nurture your leads. Learn how to have a green thumb for content marketing here.
Leads are the seeds that nearly every business needs to grow their sales and cultivate a loyal network of customers.
But how do you get these leads? Through effective content marketing. After all, quality content is the rich soil where every successful marketing seed is planted. By laying the right groundwork, you'll see those leads blossom into beautiful conversions and lifelong customers!
Understanding the Funnel
If you're in sales or run a business, you probably know what the sales funnel is. It's basically the ideal sales process a customer goes through, and helps ease them through each step until they make a purchase. In many ways, knowing where to direct a lead along the sales funnel is a lot like knowing the right conditions in which to plant a particular flower. Does this flower need extra sun? Does it need more water than others? Does it require a certain type of fertilizer? Leads also need the right conditions, and delivering the right content at the right moment in the funnel is the best way to nurture a lead.
Read More: Why Content Marketing Should Be a Bigger Part of Your Sales Strategy
A 2014 DemandGen study found that 82 percent of B2B buyers viewed five or more pieces of content during the sales process, and 61 percent of these buyers agreed that the vendor they chose delivered the best mix of content for each stage on their buying journey. There's no one piece of content that will get you the results you want during the nurturing process - it's a cumulative effort. In fact, research from Aberdeen Group found that on average it takes 10 marketing "touches" to nurture a lead from the top to the bottom of the funnel, illustrating why you need to be with your lead every step of the way.
The payoff can be huge though. Forrester Research found that companies with a successful lead nurturing program can produce 50% more sales-ready leads while keeping their costs 33 percent lower.
When you think about "nurturing" you should also realize this means you don't inundate leads with emails or harass them into making a purchase. Otherwise, you're only abusing your leads, which will end up with them wilting right on the vine. Instead, help your leads make an informed decision about what your company offers by providing leads a real value proposition that they can connect with.
The Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
The top of the sales funnel is known as the awareness stage. In general, you want to stick to short-form content at this point, but sometimes entice them with long-form content as well. Your goal is not to inform your prospect about every aspect of your product or service, but simply to attract visitors to your website and raise awareness of your brand. This is the sunlight stage, and you're just trying to shine some light on your company and give it a chance to sprout inside your lead's mind.
The single biggest way to attract visitors to your site is your blog. Blog topics might include keyword-rich articles about general industry topics, how-to blog posts and current trends readers might be interested in.
Your landing page is also key, and might include infographics, videos and straightforward sales copy. Often, at this stage, you want to grab your prospect's contact information as soon as they visit your site. While you may not be interested in having a prospect read an entire white paper, it's still a good idea to offer one in exchange for their name and email address.
For example, an IT company might offer a free e-book about what IT challenges companies can expect in the upcoming year in exchange for their contact information.
The Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)
The middle of the funnel is known as the evaluation stage. You want to help leads at this stage investigate and evaluate what your company offers, and help realize your value proposition is the best in the market. At this point, you're just watering your lead, checking the soil pH, and making sure everything is coming along smoothly.
Instead of offering them broader educational material, you want to focus more on what your company offers directly, which might mean a white paper or email newsletter that goes into detail about your product and services. Buying guides, demo videos and case studies are also highly effective content tools at this stage for helping your lead understand how you can better fulfill their needs.
The Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)
Only a certain percentage of leads will make it to the purchase stage, and it's where you want to convert a lead into a sale. Ideally, you'll also make them into a lifetime customer. If you've been tending your garden correctly, this is when it comes into full bloom. At this stage, you're just showing off how beautiful your business truly is and why your garden is better than the rest.
Read More: How Content Helps Sales Team Accelerate Deals & Build a Pipeline
At the purchase stage, you want to offer content like retargeted ads, personalized emails or even a message on LinkedIn that highlights:
Offering user testimonials is also an excellent way to remind leads that you're a business that can be trusted. You should also be actively working to retain customers once they're on board through social media posts, email newsletters and discounts for loyal customers.
Ultimately, you have a lot of different content geared to nurture your lead no matter where they are in the sales funnel. While not every web visitor will turn into a lifetime customer, with the right content strategy, you'll vastly increase the chances that your leads turn into real revenue. Now it's time to "spring" into action!