High-quality sales leads. It’s what every marketer wants for their sales team.

Increased use of content marketing as a lead generation tool is a continuing trend in 2017. In fact, many companies aren’t just including content as a strategy; they view it as a driving force in their overall ability to attract and retain the most qualified leads.

To optimise results for your sales organisation, you have to see beyond the goal of attracting a large pool of prospects. Top providers typically realise the greater efficiency that comes with engaging the highest-quality leads that allow for the best possible conversion rates and long-term customer retention.

The following is a comprehensive guide to leveraging quality content to attracting high-quality sales leads for your business.

Why Content Marketing?

Before you dive head-first into strategies for producing powerful lead generation content, you need a better understanding of why content marketing works. The first key point to understand is that content aligns with a greater shift in marketing toward more inbound techniques and away from traditional, interruptive types of communication.

Traditional outbound marketing, usually through media providers, involves dissemination of company or product messages aimed at achieving brand objectives. Inbound marketing, by contrast, is a strategy of attracting prospects to your business and solutions with a mix of high-quality content, social media marketing, and search engine optimisation. Given that you use social media to distribute your content and SEO relies on its production, it is evident why content production is central to a thorough inbound marketing strategy.

As you look at these three components to a content marketing plan, you’ll notice that they also align with trends in buyer habits. In B2B, customers conduct the majority of their research and journey online before ever interacting with a provider. They begin their search through Google or another search engine, with the hope of finding information and resources to address a business problem. SEO-friendly content gets your landing pages in front of prospects as they go through this process. High-quality information and compelling calls-to-action move prospects to the next steps, and toward a purchase, after they click-through search results and land on your site.

The following are some additional critical stats and facts that emphasise the importance of content marketing as a lead generation tool:

  • 55 percent of sales reps stated that “better-quality leads” was their top desire from marketing, more than any other request, including “more leads” (DemandGen Report)
  • B2B companies that blog achieve a 67 percent increase in leads relative to those that don’t (Neil Patel)
  • Content marketing tactics are among those viewed as most effective by marketers: Effectiveness ratings included 65 percent of respondents for case studies, 62 percent for videos, 61 percent for research reports, 60 percent for newsletters, 59 percent for blogs, 58 percent for infographics and 58 percent for online (Content Marketing Institute Survey)
Use Content to Maximise the Buying Process
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What Types of Content Work Best for Lead Gen?

Now that you understand the importance of content marketing to lead generation success, the next step is to identify strategies for producing content that optimises results. Typical content formats include case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, blog articles, social media content, and visual content such as videos and infographics.

The following is a look at how each of these common content types contributes to a thorough content marketing ecosystem:

Case studies – It isn’t surprising that case studies are listed as the most useful content technique for B2B success in the Content Marketing Institute survey, given the desire for proof points among B2B buyers. A case study allows you to demonstrate how you’ve helped a prospect in a particular situation address a fundamental business problem with a process or solution you provide.

Whitepapers – A whitepaper is an in-depth document that offers more thorough coverage on a topic or buyer problem than a typical blog article. The goal is to provide a comprehensive resource that aligns with all steps and facets of a B2B buyer’s journey. The call-to-action normally is to compel the now knowledgeable and intrigued prospect to explore your solutions in greater detail or to speak with a rep for more customised insights.

eBooks – Similar to whitepapers, eBooks are more thorough and in-depth than a blog. In fact, some eBooks take a broader approach to a buyer problem and concept than even a whitepaper. One primary benefit of an eBook is the ability to promote and distribute in multiple on-site and off-site locations. You can also source relevant contact details from a prospect in exchange for a free download of the eBook.

Blog articles – For most companies, blog articles are the most heavily-produced item in a content marketing strategy. Articles allow you to extend your lead generation reach by identifying all possible questions targeted prospects of a given solution have, and then addressing them in a quality post. Fresh blog content helps achieve search engine optimisation benefits and leads to an efficient off-site distribution of content through social media, newsletters, and other channels.

Social media – In addition to distributing your other content on social media, channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter allow B2B providers a direct, interactive method of communication with targeted prospects. Start or engage in conversations, and then leverage earned rapport to offer prospects additional content resources on your site.

Videos – Videos came in just behind case studies and whitepapers in the CMI survey on B2B lead generation tactic effectiveness. As with case studies, videos allow you to demonstrate solutions, but in an even more impactful way. A video added to a piece of content or distributed as a standalone resource, helps you project a more genuine, human voice to your messages. It also allows you to articulate your understanding of a prospect’s problem, and to illustrate step-by-step how your solution addresses it.

Infographics – An infographic is a more attractive way to demonstrate or clarify key points with facts and data. Integrated into a blog post, whitepaper or social message, an infographic supports the importance of addressing a problem or how a solution like yours is a proven method for doing so.

Enhance Content Reach and Lead Generation Results with Content Syndication

Content syndication isn’t simply a process of opening up distribution of your content to others so readers that value what you produce can share it with like-minded people in their networks. It is so much more than that.

True content syndication is the art of engaging with the right people, in the right companies, at the right time. With more decision makers than ever before involved in the buying process, it is imperative that you are reaching the relevant decision makers with the most applicable content pertinent to their role.

Do it right, and you can help your sales team get the high-quality sales leads they want.

Including syndication in your content marketing strategy helps achieve the following benefits:

  • Greater reach for your quality content
  • Target and engage with prospects as they move through your sales funnel
  • Increase awareness and engagement amongst unidentified accounts
  • Find & engage accounts that are actively searching for your products & services

content marketing drives high-quality sales leads

How to Get Started

With an understanding of the tools available to start or enhance your content marketing, let’s take a look at how to get started. Key factors to consider in building your plan include: Aligning your content with your sales funnel, choosing the right channels, and addressing buyer pain points with the content you create.

Align Your Content

Poor communication (49 percent of respondents) and broken processes (42 percent) were the top two reasons sales and marketing professionals gave for poor alignment between their respective functions in carrying out lead generation and nurturing activities, according to DemandGen.

Your content plan should mesh with your overall marketing plan to target specific buyer types with customised messages. As you build a content calendar, consider how particular messages fit with prospects throughout the sales funnel, beginning with awareness and moving through consideration, design, retention and brand advocacy.

Choose the Right Channels

An essential part of achieving content alignment is choosing the right channels and content types for delivery. For instance, blog articles are a common initial hook to reach people just beginning their journey with a search. More in-depth whitepapers, case studies, and eBooks provide depth of information as a buyer shifts from realising the problem to evaluating possible remedies.

Your social media, videos, and infographics, along with some of the other formats, then allow you to push closer to a point of design by proving merits of a solution.

Address Pain Points

Pain points are the deep-rooted sources of fear, frustration, or anxiety that each prospect feels as he contemplates a significant business problem. Content that only touches on surface-level issues won’t compel a prospect to take action.

As the buyer moves farther along in the journey, it is important that your content digs deeper to illustrate your understanding of the main points of contention, and your expertise in helping clients resolve them. High-quality content that addresses pain points simplifies the process of sales reps engaging a contact and moving them into the customer bracket.

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