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How to Create Lead Nurturing Content That Actually Works

Content marketing has a strategy problem. Research from the Content Marketing Institute found that only 41% of content marketers always or frequently produce assets related to specific points in the buyer’s journey. This stat is startling because it means nearly 60% of content is produced with only vague regard for where it fits in the buyer’s journey.

So questions like, “Is this content relevant to your audience?” or “Will this material help people make more informed decisions or overcome their challenges?” simply aren’t being considered often enough. These questions are cornerstones of any decent marketing strategy, so if you’re not using them to align your content to the customer journey, how do you expect to nudge people closer to making a purchase?

Why You Should Develop Lead Nurturing Content

Relevancy is a moving target. What people find interesting when they first interact with your brand will change as their understanding grows. As buyers move closer to making a decision, the questions they’re asking change. This is process is referred to as the customer journey, because the information needs of the customer change over time.

In fact, research by Aberdeen found targeting users with content related to where they are in the buying cycle resulted in a 72% increase in conversions. Your goal as a content marketer must be to supply the best answers to the questions your audience is asking at any given stage of the journey. If you can manage that on a consistent basis, you’ll establish your brand as a trustworthy source of information.

And once it’s time for the customer to choose a solution, your organization will be in prime position because of the trust you’ve built with your audience. This is lead nurturing in a nutshell. And it’s critical for producing revenue because the vast majority of people who come to your website are not ready to buy from you. But if you maintain a relationship with your audience through email and retargeting campaigns, you can nudge them closer to making a purchasing decision. That’s why nurturing leads produces, on average, 20% more sales opportunities.

But you can’t nurture leads without content. And to do that, you have to understand the series of stages buyers go through in the customer journey.

The 5 Stages of Buyer Awareness (and the Content You Need for Each One)

A lot of people would like you to think the buyer’s journey is a recent phenomenon. And while it may have changed in the internet age, the concept of buyers moving through a series of information gathering stages before buying something is nothing new. Way back in 1966, the legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz classified the five stages of awareness buyers travel through before making a decision. These stages are:

  1. Unaware
  2. Problem-Aware
  3. Solution-Aware
  4. Product-Aware
  5. Most Aware

Schwartz theorized that the primary reason marketing failed was because it’s not aligned to the stage of awareness of the audience. Here’s a deeper look at each stage Schwartz outlined in his book Breakthrough Advertising:

1: Unaware

In this stage, the customer has no knowledge of your company or even that they have a problem that needs solving. Content for this stage of the customer journey doesn’t need to focus on selling your product or service. Typically, this type of content will be something more newsworthy, like industry research results or a narrative piece.

Types of content to create at this stage:

  • Infographics
  • Industry research
  • Human interest stories
  • Event recaps

For example, Atlassian wrote a story about 500 of their employees working from home for a week. Atlassian sells project management software, so this is article is only marginally related to their product.

Your main goal at this point is just to attract people to your site who have an interest in your industry. Atlassian’s article does a nice job of mixing a human interest story with a subject that potential customers would be interested in. If the content is good, people will come back for more.

2: Problem-Aware

When someone is Problem Aware, they grasp there is a problem, either in their personal lives or in their business. They don’t necessarily understand how to solve that problem, but they do want to learn more. Content at this stage should speak directly to problems your company solves without overselling your organization. At this point, the goal is to provide value without asking for anything in return.

This phase is the crux of building trust between you and your audience. You need to convince people you understand their problems, and explain how they can solve them.

Types of content to create at this stage:

  • Industry best practices
  • Thought leadership
  • “Why” posts that explain why industry problems occur

Contently uses the Content Marketing Institute’s annual event as a starting point for Problem Aware content. This article analyzes three big problems that are affecting Contently’s target market, i.e., content marketing managers. This type of industry analysis draws in marketers who are concerned about their content strategy and positions Contently as a trustworthy voice in the market. The post doesn’t mention Contently’s solution at all. Rather it simply provides education about problems that are relevant to readers.

3: Solution-Aware

Once someone decides their problems are pressing enough to fix, they move to the next stage, Solution Aware. In this stage of the customer journey, your audience is looking for solutions to fix their problem. This, my friends, is the first real time when it makes sense to emphasize the value of your solution in your content.

Now, the approach shouldn’t be to pontificate about your product specifically, but rather about the type of solution you’re selling.

Types of content to create at this stage:

  • Content that explains the benefits of your type of solution
  • “How x company achieved x” content that emphasizes your type of solution
  • ROI calculators

This Apptentive post listing reasons why you need a customer feedback system is a perfect example. The post begins by acknowledging where readers are at in the customer journey: “By now, marketers and product owners understand the importance of listening to their customers.” The writer knows the audience understands their problems, i.e, they need to listen to their customers. Now, she has to convince readers that a customer feedback platform is the right solution to that problem.

Product-Aware

When someone is Product Aware, they are considering specific products that are solutions to their problems. Finally, this is the time to put your company front and center.

Types of content to create at this stage:

  • Case studies
  • Comparison posts between you and your competitors
  • Testimonial videos

Your biggest consideration here is less about strategy — it’s probably not a surprise that you need case studies to persuade people — but rather how you execute it. Instead of gating their case studies behind forms, Appcues publishes blog posts that detail how companies have succeeded with their product.

The difference between good content and mediocre work at this stage is the detail with which you describe how your product helps people. The more specific you can be about how your product works to deliver value, the better.

Most Aware

Most Aware prospects are familiar with your product and the value it delivers. They just need an incentive to act.

Types of content to create at this stage:

  • Free trials (for product companies)
  • Free assessments (for service companies)
  • Limited time offers

Klientboost utilizes it a free proposal to convert people who are Most Aware. The process contains multiple steps, with each screen emphasizing the value of your free proposal. Once someone converts with this piece of content, they’re basically knocking on your sales team’s front door. In fact, I bet discussing this free proposal is the first step in Klientboost’s sales process.

The key to creating this type of content is to compel people to act in the moment. Your offer should reflect the immediate benefits your audience will experience.

Conclusion

Lead nurturing isn’t easy. You have to understand what questions your audience is asking at each stage of their journey. Then you have to create the right content that speaks to each of those needs. Then you have to plot automation campaigns to deliver the content at the right time (a subject we’re barely covered in this post).

The fuel for your lead nurturing machine is content. And if you don’t have the right content, you’re letting customers slip through your grasp.

Bio: Zach is the Director of Content at DePalma Studios, an agency that specializes in enterprise UX. Zach’s work has been featured in Entrepreneur, Invision, and ConversionXL.

4 Old Marketing Habits That You Need to Replace

New Marketing HabitsSEO and internet marketing are constantly changing. That means if you use old-school marketing tactics, you’re likely a few steps behind your competitor. Check out some old habits that no longer work. We’ll then give you ways to update your marketing arsenal to achieve the best results possible.

Using Purchased Email Lists

Purchased lists used to be the hottest trend in email marketing. Marketers bought lists and then sent email blasts out to the subscribers. They didn’t need huge response rates to turn a profit. As long as they received a few customers out of the deal, they were happy.

Now, advanced spam filters and software detect these types of email blasts and shut them down. You’ll spend the money, but you won’t get the results needed to make it worth your while.

Instead, focus your efforts on Prospects that have shown an interest in your website and make sure your emails have value. That will prevent your emails from going into spam filters.

Creating Super Short Content

In the old days, marketers believed that quantity was more important than quality. Therefore, they created super short blog posts, ranked each post for specific keywords, and watched the traffic fly to their websites.

That doesn’t work anymore. Today, if a blog post isn’t at least 300 words, it isn’t going to help your SEO efforts. A thousand words is the new “normal”. In addition to making your posts longer, deliver more quality content if you want to enjoy SEO benefits. Search engines will recognize when you put only a little effort into your content, and will penalize you for it.

Using Generic Content

Marketing used to be very generic. Marketers looked at the big picture when creating websites and content, while ignoring the needs of individual customers. That is no longer an effective strategy.

Now, customers expect a personalized experience that can only be delivered through marketing automation. This process allows marketers to collect relevant data and then provide content based on that data. This helps boost the success of marketers’ campaigns, especially for those who want to reach millennials. Because millennials are savvy when it comes to recognizing advertising, they are much more responsive when marketers speak directly to them.

Relying on Exact Match Keywords

Exact match keywords used to be the holy grail of marketing. They were the ticket to gaining a lot more customers. Although they made content look awkward, that was the price paid for traffic.

Currently, search engines want you to write for people. This means that you need to switch out frustrating exact match keywords in content for long tail keywords that sound natural. This will generate higher quality traffic while at the same time, visitors to your website will appreciate reading well-written content.

By swapping out old habits for new, you are ready to improve your marketing strategy. Keep these tips in mind so you can blow away the competition. Learn more best practices for marketing and sales by visiting our Resource Library.

How to Prepare Your Business for a Marketing Automation Tool

marketing automation checklistAre you wondering how to prepare your business for a marketing automation tool? Marketing automation lets you automate various processes, but before you can enjoy the benefits, you need to prepare your business for the software. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use the various features. If you take the time to prepare your website and your business for visitor tracking and other marketing automation tools beforehand, you’ll enjoy the wealth of benefits they provide.

Set Goals and Identify KPIs

Your marketing automation success rests with your ability to identify goals and develop key performance indicators based on those goals. Once you know your goals, you can program your marketing automation tools to help you achieve them. At the same time, the KPIs will ensure that you collect and measure the right data at all times. Then, you’ll know if you’re on the right track or if you need to make adjustments so you can reach your goals.

Build Up Your Content

Many companies start with marketing automation tools, only to realize they don’t have enough content. These tools work best when there is a lot of content available. In the marketing world, there is no such thing as too much quality content. Put your team to work and have them create some great content for you. Build it up as much as possible before you deploy your marketing automation software.

Identify Your Funnel

Companies often have poorly defined sales funnels, even within their own walls. For example, sales and marketing teams might refer to different groups as leads. In order for marketing automation to work, you need to have a clearly defined sales funnel, and everyone in the organization must understand the funnel and how it works. Discuss the names for each part of the funnel and agree on how people pass through the funnel. Also, discuss the probability of people moving from one point of the funnel to the next. In addition, determine when you need to send someone from the funnel to your sales team so your team can close the deal. You need to iron out all of these details before moving forward.

Once you have everything ready, you are ready to take the plunge with marketing automation! Everything will be ready, making the integration much smoother. Then, you can dive right in with minimal downtime. Your processes will be up and running before you know it.

Buzzwords in Marketing Automation: What is Dynamic Content?

Dynamic Content: its meaning and how to apply it. A part of the series Buzzwords in Marketing Automation.

Are you asking yourself, what is dynamic content?

dynamic contentDynamic content can be the magic link between content and conversions. It is content within a website, a form, a landing page, or an email that changes based on the interests or past behaviors of the viewer. It creates an experience that is customized for the viewer that that moment, and can quickly grab your prospect’s or customer’s attention by personalizing content to the visitor.

It eliminates the need for multiple landing pages, depending on things like location. If you want your webpage to have an image of barbeque when someone from Texas is viewing your page, that’s an example of a dynamic webpage. It’s a way to hyper-target your audience.

How does it work?

Marketing automation tools such as Lead Liaison build a rich profile of your website visitors that strengthens over time. That tool can then combine behavioral information (things the visitor does within your website) with demographics from your CRM. Then, that data can be retrieved in real-time and used in a rule set that tells the system when and where to show personalized content.

You can set dynamic content to change based off of things like:

  • Location
  • Lead score
  • Actions taken (such as clicks, email opens, document downloads, and more)

You can use it to:

  • Customize a viewer’s web experience
  • Personalize emails – a viewer’s name is retrieved from your contact database and inserted into the email

“In-house marketers who are personalizing web experiences and who are also able to quantify the improvement (in the context of online sales or their key website performance metric) are seeing, on average, a 19% uplift in sales.” – Linus Gregoriadis, Econsultancy

Dynamic content is a powerful tool for businesses, marketers, and for user experience. Learn more about implementing this within your own marketing by clicking here:

Buzzwords in Marketing Automation: Database Segmentation

Database Segmentation

Database Segmentation: its meaning and how to apply it. A part of the series Buzzwords in Marketing Automation.

Many small businesses use tracking services to find information about their prospects or leads, be it contact information, age and gender, or even things like their buying behavior. Database segmentation refers to the organization of that data in a way that can then influence outreach such as email marketing campaigns, or strategic company decisions like selecting new product lines or determining pricing strategies. A few examples of ways to segment your data could be…

Lead quality – Within marketing automation software, leads can earn a score. Ten points for opening an email, 100 points for downloading content, 500 points for watching an entire video, etc. Lead qualification is a great way to segment. You could have different buckets according to lead score (i.e. 0-100 score, 101-500 score, 501-1000 score).

Ideal Buyers – Who are your ideal customers? Do they have certain job titles, company sizes, demographics or criteria. Ask your sales people, and then utilize your database segmentation tools. Once you’ve done that, you will be able to treat that group differently than you would a group that may not be as inclined to consume your product or services.

Geography – Maybe certain areas of the world are more important to you than others. Or perhaps they should just receive separate content that is specific to their region. The folks down in Austin might need to know when your new barbecue recipe is available, whereas the crowd up in Chicago are more interested in when your winter boots are on clearance.

What’s even better (and more effective) is that you can then combine these! Perhaps you would like to send a handwritten letter & company t-shirt out to only your highest scoring leads in California. If you’ve utilized the data segmentation features within your marketing automation tool, you can get that personalized content out to that specific group of prospects in no time.

How to Continuously Create Compelling Content

How to Continuously Create Compelling ContentI came across this clever infographic on 22 ways to create content when you don’t have a clue and I started contemplating the most successful ways to continuously write high-quality marketing content. Lead Liaison’s marketing automation services are based on constantly generating new content for a variety of businesses and industries, but occasionally even I get stuck when I am trying to come up with new ideas.

The never ending demand for content makes it hard for anyone to keep up. Most digital marketing and SEO strategies revolve around the need to constantly create fresh and relevant content that informs and connects with potential consumers. Content is a business’ best chance to demonstrate their industry knowledge and educate consumers about what there business has to offer.

Every article, newsletter, and webpage must be original, informative, and interesting to your target audience. This can be incredibly challenging for businesses that don’t have the time to constantly create compelling new content.

Here are a few helpful hints on how to continuously create compelling content:

1. Research Your Competitors

Every online business is regularly posting new content, including your competitors. You can’t copy their articles word-for-word, but you can use the content they post to generate new ideas for your own company’s content. Try to focus on any vital information that is missing from your competitor’s articles or things that your company does differently.

2. Research Offline Articles

Your daily newspaper, local magazines, and television can all be great sources of new ideas. Every time you come across something relevant to your target audience, brainstorm ways to convert the concept into new content for your blog or social media networks.

3. Hire Professional Content Writers

Content marketing specialists and marketing automation gurus have built their careers on continuously creating compelling content for a variety of difference businesses. They know how to tap into your target market, create the right reaction, and maintain a reader’s interest. If it is too difficult to constantly create new articles, hire a freelancer or a professional marketing automation business to handle the content creation on behalf of your business.

4. Ask Your Followers

Not everything you post on your blog or social media site has to be an article. It is important to request feedback from your followers to see what questions or concerns they have about your industry, products, or services. Every time you get stuck, send a tweet or update your company’s Facebook status asking your followers what they really want to know.

5. Rewrite Past Articles

There are some industries where it will be impossible to constantly come up with new ideas for content, especially if your business or industry hasn’t changed much over the years. You may need to repeat previous topics that haven’t recently been addressed. Make sure to come up with some new information that will enhance the existing information and to change it enough that it will pass as original copy.

Continuously creating new content is not easy, but it is possible. If you are struggling to keep up with the massive demand for new content, try hiring a professional content writer. It may be more cost-effective when you consider the time you spend brainstorming and writing new content, plus you will know the content is worthy of your online audience.

How to Write Quality Lead Nurturing Content

 How to Write Quality Lead Nurturing Content Quality content is everything when it comes to an effective lead nurturing campaign. The key is creating informative content that is both relevant and interesting to potential leads. All content needs to be sent on a consistent basis (weekly, monthly etc.) and establish the company or individual as an expert in their industry while placing a focus on educating, not selling. The better the content, the better the response. Here are three essential steps to creating content that will build relationships and write quality lead nurturing content.

Give the Content a Personality

There has been some debate whether it is better to publish content under the company name or under the name of individual authors. There are legitimate arguments for either side, but in most cases, people want to connect with authors, not companies. The more personality shown within the content, the more people are drawn into reading it.

People instinctively look to make connections with other people. Readers will have a stronger response to the content if they know there is a human being they can relate to or learn from at the other end of the message. They will be more likely to reach out to the individual, leave more insightful comments, and be more excited about future content if they can connect a person with what they are reading. Forming relationships, starting conversations, giving advice, and generating interest are all qualities of an industry expert, which is the main goal of lead nurturing campaigns in the first place.

Articles must be Informative

Most people are busy with their regular lives and they do not have time to read meaningless content. Anything that is being shared through lead nurturing has to inform or explain something that would not be commonly known by potential leads. Not everyone knows about the latest research report, technological breakthrough, or industrial mergers in their industry. As a result, lead nurturing is an opportunity to educate prospects, customers or partners.

The content has to address an exciting news-flash, solution, breakthrough, or something that will be compelling to the reader within the first two sentences. It needs to give the reader immediate value so they are willing to invest the time to read further.

Demonstrate Expertise

All of the knowledge and name recognition in the world will be ignored if the writing itself does not demonstrate expertise. Writing with confidence makes a huge difference in how it is interpreted. It engages the readers, holds their interest, and gives the content the credibility it deserves.

If the content demonstrates expertise and professionalism that is exactly how readers will perceive it. Avoid using the passive voice wherever possible and use strong action words when offering advice. Include personal experiences to strengthen the connection, since most people will have a greater appreciation for the insights if they can relate to the author on a more personal level.

Lead nurturing is essential for sales conversion, but it has to be done properly. The content needs to be personable, informative, and clearly demonstrate expertise to inspire a lead to read it thoroughly. The higher quality of lead nurturing content, the more effective it will be at converting sales, and generating revenue.