Did you know there are 211,000,000 pieces of online content created every minute?!* You read it right—that’s 211 million with an M.
Can anyone say, holy cow! Hey, content marketing and lead generation work, clearly, or else businesses wouldn’t invest the time, energy, or expense to do it. But there is a proven method to the content madness, and at times folks get it wrong—very wrong.
For those who may not be familiar with the term content marketing, inbound marketing, or pull marketing, it’s the practice of creating and publishing a piece of content relevant to your service or product that provides value and educates—like an e-book, infographic, or cheat sheet—and offering it up to your ideal prospects in exchange for their email address. People come to YOU hence the term inbound. With the new lead you’re able to nurture your prospect until they turn into a paying client or customer.
Here’s what NOT to do with your content marketing strategy. Take a gander . . .
Content Marketing Strategy Gone Wrong
I recently downloaded an e-book from a software company and in less than 24 hours, I received a phone call from a representative hoping to set up some time with me so they could demo their product! Hang on there, sparky. I hadn’t even had a chance to READ the e-book yet and was clearly not ready to take any next step.
Whatever happened to lead generation and nurturing—you know, the whole point of content marketing? I talked to the representative and told him I hadn’t read the e-book yet; can you say . . . A W K W A R D? I also said I wasn’t interested in talking about the product at that point and the call ended. Guess what happened next? I started getting weekly calls to schedule time for a product demo!
And crazier yet, this was not the first time this happened. I received another call from another vendor after I downloaded an e-book.
There is nothing worse than a hard sell too soon. It undermines the entire concept of content marketing, pull marketing, or social media marketing for that matter.
I Know What You’re Thinking
You’re thinking, isn’t that how content marketing is supposed to work? No, it’s not. If someone downloads an e-book, clearly they are at the interest, awareness, or consideration stage of “solving their problem.” This is the time to nurture that relationship until the cows come home.
The last thing you want to do is call the downloader and ask to set up time to review your product features! That is NOT the way content marketing should work. It turns potential customers and clients away, never to return or care to hear from you again. Your approach needs to be solutions-based not product-based, and you should show and prove. And this person didn’t know me from a can of paint. At least get to know a little about me before you ask me to marry you.
Now, if you already have a relationship with a client or customer and they show interest in an additional product or service by downloading an e-book or some other piece, then perhaps a different course of action is warranted.
For example, send an email that says, “Hi [first name], thanks for being a valued customer. I see that you recently downloaded our [name of the piece]. I hope you’re enjoying it. Let me know if you have any questions or want to set up some time to talk further.” And that’s it.
Then, create an email program that give proof points for how your solution has helped ease the pain or caused pleasure for your other clients through things like testimonials or other related pieces of content.
60% of the sales cycle is over before a prospect ever talks to a salesperson**
This means people need time to do their own research. And no amount of forceful calling is going to speed up this process because YOU want it to. Give them time, and nurture, nurture, nurture.
7 Tips for Lead Generation & Nurturing
Here are a few tips to nurture leads that come your way.
Give them content, content, content. A simple client journey can be interest, awareness, consideration, conversion, and sale—with lead nurturing throughout the entire process. This process can take days, weeks, months, or even years—so don’t call within 24 hours of an e-book download. Please don’t.
You can also:
- Create email programs to drip on leads with relevant, engaging information.
- Send a case study.
- Post relevant infographics, testimonials, or videos on your social media sites.
- AFTER a download, send an email that says, “Are you enjoying the book?” Here is another [piece of content] that you may also be interested in.”
- Ask them to submit an inquiry for their problem.
- Offer to schedule a free consultation.
- Give a link to a podcast.
The list can go on, but you get the point.
Make an offer > Inspire action > Gain a lead > Nurture the lead > Nurture the lead some more > Gain a sale, eventually.
There it is: what NOT to do with your content marketing and lead generation strategy. The power of content marketing is to draw people into your “solution” not your product. And you must nurture the lead first.
Listen, it’s totally fine to dangle information about how you, your product, or service can help solve problems if someone is exploring their options and downloads your piece of content. But the last thing you want to do is try to force-feed your product down their throats to take the next step toward a purchase. Sure, that may be YOUR goal, but I can assure you it’s not your prospect’s goal.
What are your thoughts on the matter?