Content marketing is about conversations, conversion, value, social media, lead nurturing, acquisition, inbound and outbound. But in the end it’s about Sales 2.0, regardless of the medium.
Content plays such a crucial role in this digital era that a new discipline has evolved around it: ‘content marketing’. Content is important in both B2C and B2B marketing but as a B2B marketer I would like to look with you briefly at how content is used in lead management, customer interactions and how B2B content marketing ultimately is…sales.
Even though the name ‘content marketing’ is relatively new, the use of content in B2B marketing isn’t.
We all have been using white papers to generate leads for decades and we have always known that content is crucial in engaging email recipients, having our websites found and providing our customers with valuable information.
However, content marketing is more than that and the fact that a new ‘school’ as it were, has arisen around it, is no coincidence.
What is the reason for this increased attention for content in B2B marketing?
- First, there is the ascertainment that large parts of the client’s purchase cycle (from gathering information about products, services and companies until lots of times the purchase itself) happen online.
Prospects and customers are better informed than ever and call upon relevant content that they find themselves or receive from people they trust (word-of-mouth).
- These days people actively go looking for information themselves. They decide how, where and when they make which steps in the purchase cycle and which information they need therein.People also want to receive custom-made information, personalized in function of their needs, again the customer life cycle phase, etc.
- People use different channels to obtain information and thus content: email, papers, webinars, blog posts, video, print, presentations, you name it. Besides, this is one of the reasons why in content marketing a lot of attention goes to ‘repurposing’ and offering content in these different formats.
Summarized, content marketing and the increasing attention for it in B2B marketing, is about the changes in the behavior and the wishes of clients and prospects.
Content and the lead nurturing process
However, it is obvious that companies would not deal with it if it wouldn’t produce anything.
A personalized and planned content marketing strategy guarantees a better conversion, better relationships with clients, a lower cost-per-lead and a better ROI. Period.
Content marketing is a form of ‘inbound marketing’: people find the content (and of course you give them a hand in doing this), and once they start to interact with this content, they enter a cycle of lead nurturing via diverse channels whereby new information (and the correct call-to-actions at the right moment) is being offered during the whole lead nurturing cycle.
Content is also a matter of context: that of the people you interact with and whom you try to provide value in function of real-time digital signals. In function of these signals and of course of predefined scenario’s and triggers the channels to provide the content are selected and combined.
Content is about stories and channels are the mouths and ears for these stories (yes, you can think word-of-mouth here).
Speak the language of your customer and listen to what he says to talk and INTERACT in a more relevant and personalized way. Communication is both speaking and listening. And that’s what many businesses forgot.
And isn’t that what sales is all about? So in the end content marketing is Sales 2.0: a combination of good sales strategies but taking into account the shift from selling to buying, what the – increasingly online customer says (that’s why we need to measure!) and the changing rules of communication.
Now, why do you want to invest in good content? Because you want to sell.
Or should I say: have customers that find you and buy from you?