Marketers have a fine line to walk when creating content that converts. Of course, the ultimate goal is to drive revenue, but it’s also crucial to serve your audience expert insights. When your content is overzealous with the sell, you risk forever isolating prospects who sniff out a sales pitch from a mile away. On the flip side, content that only educates won’t create urgency to take that next step and become your valued lead or customer. 

That’s why mastering this serve versus sell combination is vital. Content generates substantial return on investment: it costs 62% less and produces nearly three times as many leads compared to traditional marketing. However, many marketing teams fall prey to the rat race of mass producing content without ensuring that it’s driving quality leads that build bottom lines. 

Here are three reasons you’re falling short on the sell, and how you can transform your content slog into a lead boon.

#1 Your Timing’s Off 

Nothing turns someone off your brand faster than coming on too strong. You’ve likely had an experience like the one I’m about to share: I immediately regretted my decision after sharing my contact information in exchange for a whitepaper. After countless emails, LinkedIn messages, and voicemails, I was irritated to the point of asking the sales rep to stop communication. After all, I was only looking for general information. And I’m not the only one: 96% of your visitors aren’t ready to buy yet when they’re exploring your website. 

Research shows that the modern B2B buyer wants to do their homework before having a 1-1 conversation with Sales: 

  • 70%+ of B2B buyers fully define their needs before engaging with Sales
  • Almost 50% of B2B buyers identify specific solutions before reaching out to Sales
  • 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with Sales

This is where Content Marketing comes in. Compelling content educates and engages your prospects so they become familiar with your brand. Of US consumers, 46% said they’d pay more for a brand name they trust. Because it takes an average of five to seven exposures for someone to recognize your brand, content plays a pivotal role in building that trust. Giving your prospects sufficient material to expand their understanding lets them get their feet wet before taking a giant leap and talking to sales. 

#2: You’re Sharing Too Much Too Soon 

Know thy funnel is the guiding principle that every marketer should live by when building content. The marketing funnel allows you to meet your audience where they are and take them through their learning journey via three phases: 

  • Top of the funnel (TOFU): The awareness stage where content educates prospects about their problem and establishes your brand’s expertise
  • Middle of the funnel (MOFU): The consideration stage where content shares specific solutions to their problem, including stories of how your brand helped other organizations overcome challenges
  • Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): The decision stage where content explains why your offering is the best solution to their problem

One of the biggest content marketing mistakes is misunderstanding how a funnel serves an audience. This all-too-common but detrimental snafu often rears its ugly head in TOFU assets, like blog posts, where organizations write about in-depth product information or company differentiators. Just like that, what should be a genuinely helpful blog post looks like a not-so-cleverly disguised sales pitch. When a prospect is in the awareness phase, content should simply educate. Once you capture their interest and establish your credibility, that individual will be more likely to engage with content further down the funnel that showcases what you do, such as case studies, infographics, one-pagers, and more. When the funnel journey looks like this, marketing gives sales quality leads who are ready to engage in a meaningful conversation about what’s next.

#3: Your Content Sits in a Silo

Content for content’s sake won’t generate strong leads. Many marketers focus heavily on producing as much content as possible without putting pen to paper on how your assets work together to further a prospect’s journey through the funnel. Even worse, they don’t consider how all these content assets align with the overall business objectives of their organization. That’s why it’s imperative to spend time building cohesive campaigns with strategic distribution strategies that interweave related assets together.  

In other words, use your marketing funnel to drive an intuitive journey for your audience.  

Here’s a hypothetical example of how a healthcare technology company could use the marketing funnel to engage with a mid-sized hospital. 

  • Promote a TOFU blog post via the company’s social media that broadens the prospect’s understanding of how hospitals risk patient care with outdated technology. 
  • From there, the prospect may question if they’re behind the curve and download a MOFU asset via the company’s website, such as a case study on how a similar-sized hospital used artificial intelligence to improve patient outcomes by double-digit figures. 
  • After that, it’s showtime. The company can enroll the prospect in a short email nurture that takes them on a proper journey — ending with a BOFU asset like a product one-pager that explains why their product is the best solution to the prospect’s quality care problem.

Along the way, it’s important to measure content’s performance so you’re continually testing, learning, and optimizing. 

By combining strategy with stellar content, you’ll unlock new doors whether that’s turning more unknown prospects into loyal brand advocates or building better collaboration with sales. As your company starts working on this year’s revenue goals, make content just the ticket to get you one step closer to your biggest milestone yet. 

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