Today’s buyer has more power than ever before.
With instant answers to almost any question, most of a buyer’s research and decision-making can be done online. The question is: Are you showing up in their research and nurturing them online until they’re ready to make a purchase? To do so, you need to nail your “content marketing.” Content marketing refers to just about any piece of information found online that can help someone make a buying decision. This includes blogs, videos, social content, case studies and much more.
With a strong, ongoing content strategy, you can position your business in front of the right people at the exact moment they are making choices about the products and services they need.
How Can Content Marketing Help Increase Sales?
The internet is the starting line for nearly all purchasing decisions, and companies are investing heavily in content that responds to customer pain points and adds value all the way through the purchase funnel. If you’re not currently offering this expertise to your customers online, someone else is.
So, how do you get there?
First Things First: Let’s Talk Pipeline
You can think of content marketing as a critical member of your sales team, skilled at moving people through each phase of your sales pipeline. That is to say, taking them from strangers to customers.
And, just like a salesperson, a high-performing content strategy deploys different tactics that respond to the unique needs of an individual at each stage of this journey.
Let’s zoom in to see how content can be used to move prospects through each stage of your pipeline and closer to a sale.
Top of Funnel: How Content Helps Attract New Prospects
Think about the last time you opened your favorite search engine. There’s a good chance you were trying to answer a question or research a problem. You entered a search and then clicked on a few results, judging each one on whether it answered your question and how efficiently it did so.
As people search for general information that aligns with their problem and potential solution, they may not be in a buyer’s mindset yet. But, they do tend to build trust and rely on content from perceived experts who provide the answers they need.
Therefore, if you want your B2B solution to be among the options that your ideal prospects consider, you need to have an authoritative and compelling online presence. You establish your expertise so you can capture the attention of potential customers, build brand awareness and start down the path to providing the solution they need.
Middle to Bottom of Funnel: How Content Helps Generate and Nurture Leads
After the prospect really starts to feel the pain of their problem, they enter the consideration stage. Here they conduct further research into their solution and weigh all their options. This is often the most time-intensive stage, especially for B2B products and services. Typically, the more expensive the investment, the longer the consideration stage.
77% of B2B purchasers said they would not speak to a salesperson until they had done their own research. [Corporate Executive Board]
At this stage, it is essential to provide valuable content that addresses a buyer’s concerns and helps them consider their options. This content should compare your solution to others in the market, highlighting the benefits of your product or service. Additionally, it should show how other customers have achieved success with your solution through methods of social proof such as case studies or testimonials.
This is also where you can introduce high-value content that entices someone to give you their contact information once you have their trust. And boom—a self-qualified lead! These types of “lead magnets” should demonstrate the benefit-stack of your solution and are an important part of converting leads into customers.
What is considered high-value content? Resources that help prospects initially solve their own problems can be highly effective here.
Middle to Bottom of Funnel Examples
Pro tip: If you’re requesting prospects to give up their contact information in exchange for access to a gated lead magnet, best practice is that the value of the content should be worth paying $5.
How Content Can Help Retain Warmed Leads
Not everybody needs a solution right away. People tend to spend a lot of time near the top of the funnel, where they are aware that they have a problem, but it’s not causing enough pain yet.
Rather than spending staff time conducting periodic check-in calls with prospects, passive opportunities like newsletters are cost-effective ways to provide helpful data they can reference anytime. Once their problem becomes more severe and starts to cause real actionable pain, your brand will be top of mind, increasing the chances they will turn to your solution.
What Are the Best Types of Content for Each Stage?
Pro Tip: Blogs and social posts are vehicles for nearly any type of content and can be used at every stage of the funnel. You can always link to higher-value, gated lead magnets from your blog and social posts.
Put Content in the Hands of Your Sales Team
In order to effectively support the entire sales process, you also have to put relevant content directly into the hands of your sales team. This can include content that informs and persuades potential customers, such as:
- Blogs delivered via email
- Case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of your solutions
- Customer success stories
It’s not enough to simply create content based on marketing assumptions. To truly be effective, you need to work closely with your sales team to understand the needs, pain points and objections they face from prospects. This ongoing feedback loop provides clear insight into what areas need to be addressed by your content marketing strategy in order to provide support that can help drive revenue.
Pro tip: A content strategy that is well aligned with the objectives of your sales team and clearly communicates the benefit-stack of your product or service will help prospects naturally qualify—and disqualify—themselves. This helps your sales team focus valuable time and effort.
A well-thought-out content marketing strategy helps put you in front of customers with problems you can solve. It allows you to address their challenges head-on, alleviate their fears, answer their objections and, ultimately, paint a picture of their ideal future by adopting your solution. Does it take time to build? Yes, but once it begins to bear fruit, it offers endless opportunities for supporting your sales team with a funnel full of high-converting leads.
Snag our proven process for generating revenue with content marketing