Content marketing takes time and effort. When marketers don’t see results, determining the return on investment isn’t easy. If you’re constantly struggling with your business blog and exasperated with the lack of qualified leads, you may be missing key points in your content strategy. Simply posting a blog per day won’t amount to anything if you’re not taking your customers’ sales cycles into account and adjusting your marketing strategy accordingly. What’s a sales cycle, you ask?
Understanding Sales Cycles
Before you can create content for your buyers, you must understand the sales cycle for each buyer type. Whether you sell software or commercial cleaning services, other businesses likely comprise your client base. These businesses can be broken down into smaller segments, such as:
- Sole proprietor/small business
Once your buyers are segmented, you can then assign various sales cycles. Of course, nothing is ever set in stone, but general rules will always apply. For instance, sole proprietors and small businesses don’t have the same money to spend as an enterprise-level company. Therefore, the sales cycle will be much longer. You’ll need to adjust your content marketing strategy to work each and every lead through all points of your sales funnel before any will convert to sales. Most marketing and sales professionals agree this cycle could take up to one year, which can be frustrating.
Planning Your Content Strategy
Once you understand the sales cycles for your potential customers, you must then create content to reach them at every crucial point. In the simplest of terms, you must create a sales funnel. As the name suggests, your goal is to filter each and every prospect through from the top of the funnel to the bottom, where they will then be converted into sales.
As simple as it sounds, you must keep the buying cycles in mind for various buyer types. If enterprise leads convert early on in the cycle, your top-of-the-funnel content should be as compelling as possible. Without excellent middle-of-the-funnel offers, you’ll lose out on many of your mid-market customers and nearly all of your small business leads. Finally, your bottom-of-the-funnel content must be hard-hitting if you hope to bring in the resistant sole proprietors.
If you’re not sure what the content strategy for each point in the sales funnel might be, consider the following:
Top of the Funnel
This level creates awareness of your product or service. You can do so with the following content:
- General information blogs
- How-to videos
- Press releases
- White papers
- Social media
Key measures: new fans and followers, visits to website, inbound links, time on site, shares and comments.
Middle of the Funnel
This level creates understanding and measures interest in your product or service. The following content can be used:
- Case studies
- Demonstration videos
- Email marketing
Key measures: leads, high email open rate, requests for demonstrations, webinar registration, subscriptions
Bottom of the Funnel
This level is where leads are converted to sales. Calls-to-action should lead to the following content:
- Live demonstrations
- Free trials
- Discounts for service
Key measures: requests for quotes, orders, purchases, referrals
How do you handle the stages of the funnel for your sales cycle? Do you have content marketing tips to pass along? Let us know in the comments.