Content marketing is a powerful way to generate inbound leads. In fact, almost 90% of all B2B marketers are using content to drive activity according to the Content Marketing Institute—with a majority searching for leads!
But in the same breath marketers bemoan the effectiveness of their efforts. Only 37% of the same marketers polled, believe their content marketing is effective.
LinkedIn encourages marketers to collect email addresses using pop-up forms prior to delivering the promoted content. This way you can glean a precise ROI measured by the number of leads generated. It is no different than direct mail or other marketing automation. But the above statistics don’t support the tactics.
However, something is broken. Content alone isn’t bringing in the leads using these methods. Why? Because B2b buyers are looking for more than a one night stand. They want a relationship. Does this mean an end to collecting a direct ROI for content marketing? I don’t think so.
Closing the gap between content marketing and generating leads may be easier than any of us imagined. This played out on a recent engagement we worked on with a client. Here’s what happened:
- We didn’t trade content for an email addresses.
Despite the advice from LinkedIn, we offered our content without requiring an email address. We prominently encouraged the readers to subscribe to the content or share it on social media and we carefully tracked site visitor activities.
We took the pressure off of the reader. We gave them an opportunity to judge whether our content was worthy of further interaction. We didn’t make it awkward by contacting them after the first look. This freed them up to try our content with no obligation of future communications unless they chose to have it.
- We paid careful attention to who interacted with the content.
With no email addresses to go by, our client patiently tracked visits to the landing page and analyzed where those visits came from. Not only did this enable A/B testing of content ideas and social copy, it also gave insight as to who was engaging with us. It told us how much time they spent on our pages and whether they shared what they saw.
- We used social selling and the sales team to reach out to prospects.
Our client used the sales force to reach out to those who showed interest. As interested readers returned again and again, subscribed and shared content, the sales team built a list of qualified prospects.
Next, the sales teams used social media channels to approach prospects. They used the same channels that prospects were interacting on to contact them. We think buyers who engage with content on social are more open to receiving messaging via social. Getting a phone call or email after engaging on social, can feel a little creepy.
Seeing positive results from your content marketing depends on more than just a good copy editor and writers. B2b buyers want relationships and the space required to build those relationships. The sooner you give that to them, the easier it will be to collect qualified leads using social media.