If your content marketing and lead generation efforts are living in silos, we have some bad news for you: neither is reaching its full potential.
The good news is that you can remedy the situation by breaking those silos down and making your content marketing strategy and lead gen efforts work together. Here's how.
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
You probably already know what content marketing is, but here's a quick refresher anyway.
Simply put, a content marketing strategy involves using various types of content to attract new readers and ultimately convert them into customers.
The content formats you're liable to see in a well-rounded content marketing strategy can include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Email newsletters
- Case studies
- White papers
- Original research
- Press releases
By distributing such content on a regular basis, companies can increase brand awareness, earn more organic traffic, grow their audience, strengthen their identity, build authority, get more leads, and boost conversions.
What Is Lead Generation?
When it comes to explaining lead generation in under a few sentences, the folks at Salesforce put it best:
Leads are people who are potentially interested in buying your products or services. Lead generation lets you reach potential customers early in their buyer’s journey, so you can earn their trust, build a relationship, and be by their side until they’re ready to make a purchase.
Describing leads as people who are potentially interested in buying your products or services is a bit vague, though.
To get more specific, we can break leads down into three distinct types: IQLs, MQLs, and SQLs.
- Information qualified leads (IQLs): Also known as cold leads, IQLs are just starting the buyer's journey. As such, they're primarily interested in gathering information. To secure IQLs, companies can give them the info they want in exchange for basic personal details such as a name and email address.
- Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): Also known as warm leads, MQLs are in the middle of the buyer's journey and are interested in finding a solution to their problem.
- Sales qualified leads (SQLs): Also known as (you guessed it) hot leads, SQLs are at the end of the buyer's journey. In other words, they're ready to pull the trigger and make a purchase.
While getting IQLs is a relatively straightforward process, many brands struggle to turn MQLs into SQLs. As a result, the ability to do so is what separates advanced lead generation from its rudimentary counterpart.
With solid lead generation strategies, companies can guide leads all the way from signing up for an email list to clicking "purchase."
How Content Marketing and Lead Gen Can Work Together
If you've been paying close attention, then you might have already noticed that a brand's content marketing and lead generation efforts share the same three primary goals:
- Draw potential customers in.
- Pique their interest in the brand's products or services.
- Give them the last push they need to become buying customers.
So, it only makes sense that your content marketing and lead generation strategies should be working in harmony to produce even better results.
But how can you make that happen?
The answers are simpler than you might think.
If you want your content marketing and lead gen efforts to stop competing and start cooperating, you can use a few different tactics.
Ensure Every Piece of Content Has a Purpose
It's not enough to simply crank out as much content as possible. Instead, think about how each piece of content fits into the buyer's journey.
For instance, informational blog posts are ideal for the top of the marketing funnel (and thus excel at generating IQLs), while webinars and product demos are best suited to the bottom of the funnel (and are thus equipped to drive SQLs).
And if your content team is producing content that doesn't lend itself to any portion of the funnel, it's time to fix that ASAP.
Clearly Define Each Type of Lead
In order for everyone to be on the same page, you'll need to clearly define each lead type in terms of the actions they've taken and the actions you want them to take.
Those definitions should be unique to your company but might look something like this:
- IQLs: Just starting their preliminary research and may or may not be acutely aware that they have a problem we can solve. We want to educate them about the subject matter, establish ourselves as an authority, and familiarize them with our brand.
- MQLs: Have signed up for our email newsletter and/or followed us on social media. They know they have a problem we can solve, but they're not committed to our brand yet. We want to show them what sets us apart and how our products can make their lives easier.
- SQLs: Have added our products to their cart, requested a quote, or signed up for our trial. We want to give them the attention and encouragement they need to take the plunge and make a purchase.
Hint: When working to define each lead type, you'll likely find it helpful to create buyer personas.
Use Multiple Content Formats to Nurture Leads
To make your content marketing and lead generation efforts work in tandem, you'll need to ensure your content meets leads where they are.
For many brands, that means honing in on mobile-friendly content — after all, more than half (52.8 percent) of the internet's traffic comes from mobile devices:
For instance, you could encourage MQLs to sign up for text alerts in order to gain exclusive discounts. Or, you could provide SQLs with compelling content by posting YouTube videos of your product in action or offering more webinars (on a mobile-friendly platform, of course).
When all is said and done, your content marketing and lead generation strategies aim to accomplish the same things. And if you help them work together rather than keeping them in silos, your conversion rate, sales, and revenue will reap the benefits.