A lot of hard work and thought goes into converting someone into a lead — from an irresistible offer, to an enticing CTA, and a killer landing page. But even before someone notices your offer, there’s a lot you can do to prime the wheels of the B2B lead generation machine — and content marketing plays a big part!
The Relationship Between Lead Gen and B2B Content Marketing
Many people think of lead generation and content marketing as two completely separate areas. But how you plan your content marketing can have a direct bearing on the number of leads you generate.
First let’s establish a concrete definition of B2B content marketing. According to the content gurus over at Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content.”
While many people like to sum up content marketing as “blogging,” we would be short changing ourselves if that’s the only content marketing we did. While blogging definitely plays a part in content marketing, we also need to include other content, such as infographics, ebooks, white papers, website pages, and more in this list.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s clearly define lead generation so we understand the relationship between content marketing and lead generation. Hubspot, which has earned a reputation for its lead gen expertise, defines lead generation as “the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in you company’s product or service.”
That is, a key part of the lead generation process is attracting people that you then convert. Contexualize this to your website. What attracts visitors? Content — the written and visual part of your site. If your site only contained your contact information, for example, it would be about as interesting as a blank piece of paper.
Your content is what starts your lead generation ball rolling. From professional photos of you and your team, to well-written and enticing product information, to educational blogs, and offers like ebooks, infographics, videos and webinars, your content is the magnet that attracts and woos your audience.
You can see how content, in its many forms, plays a large role in lead generation. But a lot of sites have content. How can you create content that truly attracts your audience? Or, put another way, how do you get B2B leads with your content marketing?
Let’s look into a few of the most effective ways you can improve your content marketing and ultimately boost your lead generation strategy.
5 Effective Ways to Use Content Marketing for B2B Lead Generation
1. Tell Stories that Engage Your Audience
Content marketing isn’t just about flashy presentations and informational content — great content needs to tell a story. Think of the last piece of content you read and enjoyed, whether it be a blog post, ebook, or some other piece of content. Most likely, it wasn’t a technical manual. Unless you are the ultimate nerd. It probably used some elements of storytelling with an interesting voice to hold your interest.
Storytelling is an effective way to engage your audience on an emotional level. While studies show that the most effective B2B content is educational, it also need to tap into people’s passions.
How can you incorporate storytelling into your content marketing? You might try one or more of the following suggestions:
- Hook them at the beginning with a surprising or eye-opening statistic.
- Introduce a situation that will illustrate your point and be easy to relate to
- Use visuals (images, graphs, videos) to draw people in
- Add personality to your content — whether it’s a personal anecdote, expressing your feelings or opinion.
Storytelling is an effective way to engage your audience on an emotional level.
2. Target Every Level of Your Audience
Instead of focusing on just the senior level executives of a company, balance your attention among every level of the company. This means creating content that speaks to both senior and junior level members.
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Why should you care about the lower level members of a company? Sure, they’re most likely not the ones directly involved in the decision-making process, but they can affect it. It is likely that senior level executives rely on the advice of the members of their team when making a large purchase decision.
And we definitely can’t ignore the long-term positive impact. Think ahead. While junior members of a company’s team may not have a big say in purchase decisions now, it is those individuals who will eventually climb up the company ladder and may very well be the people in authority a few years down the road.
3. Create a Webinar
A webinar is a great way to provide value to your audience while asking for very little effort on their part. Compared to in-person events, where your audience is often weighed down with the pressure of getting there and rubbing shoulders with other companies, digital events like webinars create a refreshing contrast. Your attendees can essentially accomplish the same thing on their own time and in a place and manner where they’re comfortable.
Another advantage of digital events like webinars is that participants equate the knowledge and expertise they gain directly with your brand — without outside speakers diluting the impact. They get the sense of the value that brand is adding to their company.
4. Bury the Hatchet Between Marketing and Sales
Marketing and sales are known to point daggers at each other. On the one hand, marketing usually blames sales when leads don’t pan out, while sales teams often complain that marketing doesn’t hand them quality leads.
Content marketing can help quash this.
Previously, sales teams used content, such as brochures and videos, to give to leads once they were ready to make a purchase decision. But with content marketing, a company can deliver better, more valuable content over a long period of time. This nurtures prospects and builds confidence in your brand as a reliable solution.
After a period of time sampling your online content offerings, a prospect is more likely to become a lead. But this isn’t just any lead. This is a highly valuable, sales-qualified lead. The lead through your content has been nurtured from a small seedling into a fully mature and ready-to-go entity. It makes the whole transition from marketing to sales easier, and improves the relationship between these two teams.
5. Analyze and Adapt
In the end, content marketing is not about you. Remember, it is about providing valuable content in the eyes of your audience.
How can you know what people will like? That’s where it gets tricky. You can’t know right off the bat what’s going to appeal to different folks. What you can do is analyze their behaviors with your content — page visits, bounce rates, downloads — and adapt your approach based on your findings.
For instance, if you find that you’re having a hard time generating conversions with an ebook, you might create more top-of-the-funnel content offers, such as checklists and short videos. Or if you find that lead generation offers on your how-to blogs aren’t getting the results you’d like, you might instead try those offers on more list-oriented and trend-focused blogs.
Analytics should be a constant feature of your B2B content marketing strategy. Audiences (and your audience’s tastes and preferences) change, and you need to change with them.
Lead generation is no longer just about creating an offer and leaving it out like bait. To be successful in modern lead generation, especially for B2B businesses, you need to incorporate content marketing into your strategy.