In an information-rich age, buyers don’t want to wait to learn. They actively seek out insight before making buying decisions, and they’ll range far afield to find it. From initial forays on search engines to expeditions into crowd-sourced reviews to deep dives into highly specific content, they follow a progression of information-gathering. If your content marketing strategy isn’t set up to support that journey, you could be losing them along the way. Fortunately, marketing automation is ideally positioned to keep your content accessible to your prospects through every step of their buying journey.
What you say isn’t all that matters. You also need to consider how you say it, when you say it, and the audience you’re addressing. Marketing automation turns what would otherwise be a chaotic flow of disjointed content into a unified stream, carrying leads along your sales pipeline instead of washing them out of it.
The biggest issue many organizations, especially B2B businesses, face is a lack of sufficient content. It’s not enough to send out the occasional social media announcement or post on your blog every few months; you need to have a steady stream of content. Leads are constantly hungry for new information, and if you aren’t providing it, your competitors will. On average, leads complete more than half their fact-finding and decision-making before they have their initial contact with sales. Your content marketing efforts are critical to reaching them during those early phases of your prospects’ buying journey.
Marketing automation technology simplifies content generation because it allows you to repurpose the same knowledge across multiple platforms at once in ways that capture your audience’s attention. A single white paper can generate multiple blog posts, social media links, and press releases. In turn, these content streams can eventually flow together again in the form of an e-book.
No two leads are exactly alike, but they all expect customized service. How do you deliver custom content to thousands or even millions of leads? How do you scale up your content marketing to reach huge audiences but still make each of them feel personally important to your organization? Segmentation is the answer. With segmentation into demographic, firmographic, and behavioral categories, your marketing automation system is able to give each segment customized content. Marketing automation technology lets you create more sophisticated, precise market segments and manage them with ease.
Differentiating content according to market segments ensures that your leads get content uniquely relevant to them. Content can only call to them when it speaks their language, and segmentation routes content to the groups most receptive to it.
The Right Content at the Right Time
Marketing automation technology excels at pinpointing where leads are in their buying journey, too. By looking at behavioral and contextual data, you and your marketing automation expert get a clear idea of when to communicate, not just what to say. Even within the same segment, leads are at different phases of the buying process. Some need entry-level information; they’re at the top of the sales funnel and are just beginning to find the facts they need. Others are in the comparison-shopping stage and want more in-depth content. Still others are just about ready to buy but need all the details so they can present them to other decision-makers within their organization, and they want white papers and fact sheets to support them.
Approach too early with too much information, and prospects feel overwhelmed. Present them with top-of-funnel content when they’re close to the end of their selection process, and you fail to make an impact. Marketing automation neatly solves timing issues and keeps your content relevant at every step of the buying journey.
We’ve focused on how audiences receive your content, but marketing automation also dramatically improves how you learn from your audience. Analytics show you exactly the impact your content has and assigns measurable values to it, which is a must for establishing the usefulness of your content marketing efforts. With the technology to understand the effect your content is having, you’re able to refine and improve your content marketing.
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