A content marketing strategy is dead in the water if it can’t deliver significant sales-ready leads. How good is your content strategy?

The B2B sales cycle has undergone a complete change and the length of the B2B sales cycle is shrinking as prospects engage later after doing their own research. With the move online, marketing has an even more important role to play in capturing prospects’ attention as they do their research in order to generate, nurture and deliver more sales-ready leads.

This means taking a new approach to how leads are managed, scored and measured and to the steps taken to move prospects along the sales funnel.

Preparing your content marketing strategy

1. Going micro with content marketing

Today’s marketers have to provide significant amounts of content in order to pull prospects
in and keep them engaged. While content such as case studies, white papers and blogs on your company website have a big part to play in this, developing a ‘micro content’ strategy is also key.

creating the content

Micro content is the comments that you post on social media and on other people’s blogs and while responding to posts in LinkedIn groups and other forums can seem like it doesn’t need a strategy, it does. With a strategic approach, micro content can help drive inbound marketing leads into your sales funnel so that you can then score and nurture them until they are sales ready.

It’s not just about written content either, as today’s web-savvy audiences expect interactivity, images and videos. So your overall content marketing strategy has to include everything from the look and feel of your site(s) and tone of voice. Getting your content and micro content strategy right can drive engagement levels and position you as a thought leader in your field so that when people want what you sell, your company will be the first that comes to mind.

To easily keep track of what’s going on (and where) in the social media space, a new idea is the “listening dashboard”. This is a customer intelligence gathering strategy that consists of collecting and combining small pieces of information to produce a larger and more insightful picture of a given topic, brand or prospect. The data gathered through a “listening dashboard” can inform your micro-content strategy so that you can ensure you’re delivering what people are interested in.

Measure the success of your content marketing strategy

2. Measure everything to do with your content marketing strategy

OK, everything may be a slight overstatement; but the marketing automation solutions available today mean that the data available can give much deeper insights into buyer behaviour. By establishing a lead scoring process based on the digital behaviour your prospects exhibit, you can ensure that the qualification process is robust enough to improve the quality of the leads that you deliver to the sales team.

Research shows that rushing through qualification and needs analysis creates problems later in the sales cycle. Not taking the time to qualify that the prospect is likely to buy, that you have a good chance of winning the business and that the opportunity is worth winning means that a lot of effort gets wasted on opportunities that should never have reached an advanced stage in the pipeline in the first place.

the client-agency relationship

3. Work together with the best content marketing agency

One of the biggest problems businesses face in taking advantage of the opportunities that the digital world brings is that their sales and marketing teams don’t work together.

Research by the Aberdeen Group has shown that in the best performing organisations, sales and marketing are closely aligned and meet 69% more frequently than in other companies, resulting in 31.6% year-on-year annual growth, compared to the industry average 18.2% growth.

sales and marketing alignment

By combining closer sales and marketing alignment with marketing automation solutions, content marketing strategy, and well-defined processes to manage and nurture leads, businesses have been shown to generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. But agencies first need to find a partner that they can trust and work with for the long term.

To ensure your business doesn’t get left behind in the digital revolution and can increase the number of sales-ready leads generated, take our content capability audit and see how effective your strategy really is in delivering hot leads.