Parts of a Lead Funnel | Content marketing for revenue growth and increased leads: Part 1

When the company PTC wanted to sell a more user-friendly version of computer-aided design (CAD) software called Creo, they knew they would need more than just a sales pitch to reach a mostly flat market.
They used content marketing to position themselves as thought leaders, explaining the problems plaguing CAD users and showing how their product solved those problems. They launched a microsite to introduce their product to the world and organized an editorial calendar chock-full of content that told their story.
As a result, their microsite topped 100,000 visitors just after launch. Their growth continues, with more than 70 percent of site traffic coming from new visitors. PTC’s content marketing program proved to be an ideal way to attract, convert and retain customers because it helped to achieve these key goals:

  • Expand brand awareness and credibility
  • Increase customer loyalty
  • Build website traffic
  • Provide thought leadership
  • Nurture leads and sales in a nonthreatening, helpful way

Their content helped entice customers into what is called the “lead funnel“: the journey that a potential customer takes from interested party to loyal customer. The lead funnel can be divided into four key parts:

Discovery

This is the “widest” part of the funnel that casts the largest reach. It’s a discovery phase when potential customers find your product or service through content delivered by a variety of means. PTC’s discovery phase involved the distribution of original articles, interviews and best practice guides published on their blog to help drive traffic to their microsite.

Consideration

Potential customers begin to associate you with the product or service that you offer and will be looking for examples of how your product or service performs. Once people visited their microsite, PTC capitalized on the opportunity by offering videos of product demonstrations and behind-the-scenes interviews with staff.

Conversion

Potential customers turn into actual customers after reviewing clear product or service information and hearing testimonials from people who actually use it. When site visitors were ready to convert, PTC was ready with video interviews of customers and strategic partners offering insights on their experience with Creo software.

Retention

In this phase, you continue to nurture your customers by providing high-quality customer service that inspires them to turn into company evangelists. PTC’s content marketing efforts continue to this day thanks to solid strategic planning that ensured customer-focused content would be created and strategically distributed to keep customers coming back.

Lead funnel personalities

Along their journey, potential customers will take on a number of roles before they assume the role of customer:

  • Visitor. They come into contact with your company via one of your touchpoints, such as your social media presence, website, a salesperson, et cetera.
  • Lead. They decide that they would like to receive information from your company or have someone from your company contact them. The information that you provide piques interest in your product or service.
  • Qualified lead. Anyone who has taken the next step and asked for specifics about your product or service as part of a demonstrated interest in buying.
  • Opportunity. Someone who has indicated they are willing and able to buy your product or service. As with the other stages of the funnel, your job is to continue nurturing this lead by providing the information and resources they need to make the purchase.
  • Customer. Anyone who has purchased your product or service. Your job isn’t done after a sale! To keep these new customers, you must continue to engage and nurture them so they remain happy with your product or service.

How fast potential customers move through your lead funnel will depend a great deal on what you’re selling. Do you sell a moderately priced product that instantly solves a problem, such as in retail sales? Or is it a service requiring a significant upfront investment that pays off over time, such as a suite of software or services for the technology industry?
The bigger the investment, the slower customers will convert, and understandably so. If they’re investing a lot of money in your product or service, they are going to want to do as much research as possible. If you’re there to provide it to them every step of the way, your investment in quality content will eventually pay off.

How companies are using content marketing to grow revenue

STATE OF THE CONTENT MARKETING MARKET

In an effort to understand how content marketing and innovations in marketing technology are affecting digital agencies and PR firms across the United States, Tempesta Media created the first-ever State of the Agency Content Marketing and Technology report. Born out of several months of research involving more than a hundred organizations across the country, this study was designed to bridge the gap between content marketing and marketing technology from the perspective of digital agencies and PR firms.
The purpose of this report is simple: to provide quantitative metrics of the impact made by the combination of content marketing and rapidly evolving marketing technology on marketers throughout the country. For small to medium enterprises and growing companies, the report offers a clear picture of which strategy is working, and which strategy is not. The general finding was that agencies and PR firms are using content marketing to grow revenue. Some of our most noteworthy findings are outlined here.

Content marketing is used by a majority of agencies

Our researchers found that 76 percent of digital agencies and PR firms surveyed offer some kind of content marketing service, while another 5 percent are actively looking for a solution to integrate it into their services, such as a third-party agency, or are developing an internal department dedicated to content marketing.
Based on our research, which was participated in by more than 100 digital agencies and PR firm executives, we found that a company that invests heavily in robust, scalable content marketing services is more likely to achieve growing revenue than declining revenue. We found that at least 90 percent of organizations with revenue increases offered content marketing services, a marked difference compared to the 50 percent of companies with declining revenues that offer them.

Growing companies are more likely to offer content marketing

When comparing companies in terms of revenue, we found a bell curve in the presence of content marketing among digital agencies. According to our sample size of 107 agencies, we found:

  • The majority of small companies with revenues under $5 million offer content marketing
  • All companies with revenues over $5 million but below $25 million offer content marketing
  • This percentage drops with companies with revenues over $25 million

What does the drop-off above the $25 million mark indicate? Well, it may suggest that a larger agency or brand is slower to adapt to the growing prevalence of content marketing than a small business. Conversely, smaller firms with revenues below $5 million may not have the resources to offer content marketing, which explains why not all of them do.

A majority of companies know their clients want content marketing

Fortunately, the vast majority of agencies understand the views held by their clients concerning content marketing. Around 90 percent of our respondents believe content marketing is either extremely important, very important, or important on their customers’ list of priorities. Opinions on the importance of content marketing increase by agency size. The higher an agency’s revenue, the more likely they were to view content marketing as important to their clients.
Digital agencies and PR firms increase their odds of success by offering content marketing as part of their platforms. Our results show that companies that fail to embrace content marketing and marketing technology are more likely to put their organizations at risk, both in terms of revenues and competitive advantage. However, the manner by which marketers offer content marketing must also go beyond ticking off boxes on a list of capabilities. Growing companies must develop or embrace unique content marketing solutions that make them stand out and meet the needs of their clients.

INNOVATIVE CONTENT CREATION

A content creator or content provider who is new to the concept of creating digital content that does not explicitly promote a product or brand may have the misperception that content marketing consists of a single tactic: the publishing of articles via a company blog. The opposite is true. Here are three of the fastest-growing ways to help clients reach consumers with effective content that promotes a brand.

Video content is king

Video can be expensive to produce, but the payoff can be invaluable. A single how-to video that goes viral on social media can enhance brand recall among consumers. Moreover, it can strengthen a brand’s message and boost a site’s SEO. But for those who remain unconvinced regarding the future potential impact of video content, check out these numbers that Hubspot collected from 500 businesses, nearly 250,000 videos and over 600 million video streams.

  • Video is projected to claim more than 80 percent of all web traffic by 2019.
  • Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300 percent.
  • Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80 percent.
  • 90 percent of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions.
  • 64 percent of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
  • 59 percent of company decision makers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post.

The type and subject of video created is largely dependent on the stage of the funnel the target consumer is in. For instance, if the audience is at the top of the funnel, an appropriate video might be educational and simply focused on the brand itself. For middle-of-the-funnel customers, a video that clearly explains the service offering will help them quickly determine if it is right for them. There are also a few types of videos that work universally to nurture leads and are generally inexpensive to produce. These include how-to videos, which demonstrate a skill; vlogs, which tell a story in the life of the company; interviews, which sit down with a company employee; and live-streaming, which show off current events at the company.

Don’t build it; buy it

Online ads are dying. Ad blocker rate usage, especially for mobile content, is at a historical high and continuing to rise. Those who do not use ad blockers have learned to ignore the ads. But there is a type of advertising that surpassed “print advertising” in Google Trends in late 2016: “influencer marketing.” Influencer marketing uses key leaders in a market to widely distribute a specific message via their social network. Influencers are able to keep their content directly relevant to those they reach out to. They can easily cut through all the other clutter their targets receive and are more easily trusted than most – if not all – other forms of advertising.
Creating an influencer campaign for a client takes just five steps. First, plan the campaign. Determine the budget available for each influencer engaged, and how long the campaign should run for. Second, create the material. Decide on the message that should be distributed, and create material in the appropriate format. Third, find influencers. Programs like Tempesta Media’s MicroInfluencer make this step simple. Fourth, distribute the created content to the influencers. Finally, measure the effectiveness that the campaign has on distributing the message. As a bonus, take the most effective content and re-promote it through other marketing channels.

Be a guide

Rather than being a hero to the audience, high-quality content plays the part of a guide. Nothing accomplishes that better than, well, a guide. A guide is longer than a blog post, but shorter than a book. Its purpose is not to be the next best-selling book; rather, it is to present polished, helpful content in an attractive, mid-length format in exchange for information – usually an email address – from the customer. Excellent guides require three components: a good idea, a good digital content provider, and a good designer.
Several tactics work well for coming up with a solid idea for a guide. Four of the easiest to use are:

  1. Ask social media followers. Customers know better than anyone else what they need help with.
  2. Track which website pages an audience is visiting the most. There may be room to expand on one of the posts or to combine multiple posts into a guide.
  3. See what other brands are doing. If a competitor has already written a guide in a specific space, there may still be room to write a better guide or write one that is tangentially related.
  4. Use search engine tools. Sites like Google Trends can yield insight into what people are searching for so that the digital content will be current and relevant.

WILL CONTENT CREATION WORK FOR ME? 

Content creation is an investment of both time and money, and it can be hard to measure effectiveness. A business may spend hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars enlisting a content marketer to creating high-quality content before it starts to see any returns. Before taking the time to outline a content strategy, most companies want to know two things: Does content marketing actually work, and will it work for us?

Yes…

In short, the answer is a resounding “yes!” The difference content marketing can make for a business is astounding: The average conversion rate of sites that use content marketing is 2.9 percent, while the average of sites without a content strategy is a paltry 0.5 percent. But that is insufficient; it will not work if it costs more or if people prefer other forms of marketing. However, according to Demand Metric:

  • Content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing.
  • Content marketing generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing.
  • 70 percent of all people prefer to learn about a brand through articles over advertisements.
  • 72 percent of customers believe they form a relationship with brands as a result of custom content.

In addition to increasing your conversion rate, content marketing also increases the number of inbound links to your website, boosts your SEO and raises your brand awareness. Finally, content marketing yields those benefits for nearly every organization, from a large e-commerce company to a small business. With such categorical benefits, it seems the correct question is no longer “will content marketing work for my clients?” Rather, it is “can my clients afford not to have an excellent content strategy in place?”

But only if…

However, there are a few caveats. The best content marketer in the world creating the best content possible will do nothing for SEO or brand awareness if a few key elements are not in place. First, there must be a comprehensive content strategy; spray and pray does not work for content marketing. Second, there must be a long-term commitment; neither inbound customers nor social profiles will explode overnight.
Most importantly, experts must be in control so that only high-quality content that will engage potential customers and retain existing ones is generated. In a recent study performed by the Content Marketing Institute, 42 percent of B2B businesses considered their content marketing efforts effective, up from 36 percent the year prior. Where did this increase in content marketing effectiveness come from? Of those businesses, 73 percent responded that they had added a dedicated professional overseeing their content marketing strategy. To reap the vast benefits of content marketing by enlisting a professional, contact Tempesta Media today.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

Tapping custom digital content for sustained growth

Savvy businesses use custom digital content to build their web presence and win new users. Through web content marketing, they execute a scalable, trackable program with a high return on investment (ROI). They do this because they realize that branded content is not an expense, but rather an Intellectual Property (IP) asset. They know that investing in content creation is more about creating a new product. It is less about the “collateral” or “printing” line item on their profit and loss statements. So why have they chosen to become a digital content provider over continuing to use conventional user acquisition methods?

Unmeasurable results vs. measurable results

Unlike traditional collateral, which can be hard to determine accurate analytics for, digital content’s performance is easily measured. Most web analytics software packages allow CMOs to quickly determine how many visitors, leads and buyers originated from a specific piece of content. Because the results can be measured, determining a clear return-on-investment (ROI) from content marketing is a straightforward process. As a result of highly detailed trackability, more astute companies see custom digital content as a scalable customer acquisition program.

One-off results vs. sustained results

First of all, move custom digital branded content from a marketing general and administrative expense to a marketing media or advertising expense. This is a push in the right direction. However, there is a final step: redefining custom digital content as an asset, not an expense. An asset has value which may be depreciated over a period of time. For example, a computer may have a three-year depreciation period.
In contrast, companies purchase an advertisement in the yellow pages. The telephone directory places the ad and runs it for a predefined period of time. The results of the advertisement are tallied up – inasmuch as that is possible – then measured against the amount spent. With custom digital content, however, there is no predefined end date. Prospective users will find, read and respond to digital content as long as it is available somewhere on the internet. This results in a value curve generated over a long period of time, much like a product.
The quality and strength of the content will directly influence the value curve of its content marketing utility. For example, a simple blog post may generate 90 percent of its value over a three-month period. Meanwhile, an expertly written custom paper or e-book may have a value curve that stretches for years. A single piece of content can be useful for customer acquisition for months or even years after its release. The more effort and investment that are poured into generating a piece of high-quality content, the greater and more lasting the results will be.

Exposure vs. obsolescence

Even the major search engine services have shifted their views on content. Last year, Google made several sweeping changes to their search engine algorithms. Previously, the focus has been mainly on the taxonomy of the page, contextual relevance of the content and inbound link strength. Now, Google has placed additional emphasis on both the quality and originality of the content. It has also highlighted the frequency with which a content manager adds new content to the website. This makes smart content marketing an essential part of any company’s search engine optimization and user acquisition efforts.

Transience vs. permanence

Marketers print, distribute and eventually discard tangible brand content. This cycle repeats at varying intervals, depending on the company and industry. User reviews indicate that this method is impermanent and ineffective. But custom digital content, once created and distributed via the internet, is essentially permanent and especially effective. Ask any CMO of an established company to provide a website report showing the origins of the company’s visitors (referring URLs). The list will likely stretch into the thousands or even tens of thousands. Much of this customer acquisition occurred as a direct result of the company’s online presence.  Branded content, which could have been published last week – or a decade ago – drives their online presence. In most cases, it is still accessible.
Further, companies can add those digital goods to their asset library files for later use. The utility of a digital product, such as a custom paper, does not end once it has been released online. Even if it has been buried in social media feeds, marketers can ferry the files out of the asset library, spruce it up and republish. When entirely new users – or even old ones – see it and click through to the site, the ROI of those digital goods will go up yet again. Good web content management ensures that digital assets are reusable in order to attract new customers again and again.

Tweaking vs. set-and-forget

Some agencies opt for an advertising-based customer acquisition strategy. This involves plastering social media and search engines with ads to increase brand awareness and coax customers into clicking through to the website. Subsequently, it involves expending hours ever-so-slightly adjusting ads to increase the click-through rate – and hence, the ROI. Editorial content, however, requires little to no tweaking once it has been published. While editorial content may still be broadcast to each social media outlet, very few refinements are necessary post-publication.

Adapting to asset-based digital content

Once companies start viewing content as the asset it is, they must retool their marketing organizations for content curation and creation. In a sense, companies need to become brand publishers. While some choose to build-out the entire infrastructure required, with content managers, writers, editors, content syndicators, etc., most opt for a fully or partially outsourced solution. Regardless of the implementation approach, the end result is the same: deployable brand content, a new customer acquisition channel, increased revenue and a higher, more defendable market share.
Tempesta Media is a digital content provider for agencies, website developers and PR firms who want to outsource high-quality web content generation for their clients. Tempesta manages content creation through every step, including content curation for topic development, production of the digital product, submission for user review and unlimited revisions. This gives agencies an efficient and powerful solution for use with their end customers at a cost that can be up to 80% less than building an in-house team.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.
To get more information on the services available from Tempesta Media and to find out how we can handle your web content management, contact us today.

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