Thursday August 9, 2018

How Manufacturers Can Improve Sales Lead Quality with Content

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You’ve heard it a million times: content creation is an essential component of any B2B marketing effort. 

If done correctly, content has the power to attract, nurture and close leads. Unfortunately, manufacturers aren’t the most successful at organizing their content marketing strategies (their words, not ours). According to a report by the Content Marketing Institute, just 18% of manufacturing marketers believe they’re effective at content marketing.

So, are you now wondering what qualifies as effective when it comes to content marketing? To get that answer, let’s ask the manufacturers themselves. According to the same Content Marketing Institute report, 89% of manufacturing marketers rated the quality of their leads as the most important measure of the success of their organization’s content marketing program.

Since it’s the most important outcome for manufacturers, let’s discuss how can you create a content marketing strategy that helps you attract higher quality leads.

Developing a Strategy

To attain higher quality leads through content marketing, you’ll need to create and document a content strategy that maps out the steps required to reach that goal. Only 18% of manufacturers have a documented content strategy, which is troubling. Without a strategy, you’re flying blind, creating content that might not be helping anyone — including your organization.

If your business is lawn maintenance equipment, you wouldn’t want to write a recap of the latest episode of Westworld. An extreme example? Maybe, but you get the point. It’s not hard for your business content to veer off course if the strategy isn’t documented.

The first question you need to ask is why are you creating content at all? What’s its purpose? High-quality content that people actually want to read always has one thing in common: it’s helpful to the reader. Content can be helpful by providing information on a relevant topic, answering common questions or providing useful product information. Usefulness needs to be at the core of your content strategy. With each decision you make about your strategy, think about how it is serving your customers and how it benefits them.  

Another route you can take to create effective content is to be entertaining. While certainly more difficult to pull off and still be relevant to your industry, it can lead to big results. Entertainment is highly subjective so be careful about the content you create with this purpose.

Every business has an idea of who their average customers are. Put yourself in their shoes and think about their lives. What’s an issue they experience that your business is well positioned to help them solve? Why would you (the customer) read your businesses content? What’s the benefit? You need know the answers to these questions before you start creating content.  

Aligning Your Content with Your Company’s Mission

Once you have an idea of the type of content you believe will serve your audience, the next step is tying that strategy with your business’s mission. All companies should have a stated company mission, and it’s crucial that your content has a mission, too.

Having an editorial mission statement ensures your content remains linked to your business objectives, helping to create material that attracts the type of leads you want for your business. Despite the necessity of a documented editorial mission statement, only 21% of manufacturers have one.

To help your organization create an editorial mission statement, here’s a simple example: your organization’s mission is to help professionals in a certain industry do their best work by providing the best products for the job. So, your editorial mission statement should be something similar to creating content that helps professionals in your target industry advance their careers through product tips and industry insights. 

Once your mission is established, all of your content ideas should funnel through it. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does this piece of content answer our target market’s questions/concerns/problems?
  • How will this content reach our target market?
  • What benefits will this content provide to our target market?
  • How does the material move our mission forward?

Yeah, the answers to these questions may be obvious to you, but without an editorial mission in place, it can be easy to lose track of what you’re writing about and why. It only takes a little internal convincing to think “How Westworld Keeps their Park Grass so Green” will speak to your readers. One purpose of the mission statement is to keep your strategy on track by serving as a constant reminder of what you’re trying to accomplish and who you’re trying to help.

Consistency

According to the Content Marketing Institute, the most effective manufacturing marketers meet more frequently (45% of the most effective manufacturing marketers meet daily or weekly). Regularly reviewing your content strategy, the readership data and any inbound leads will help your company better position future content for success. 

Unfortunately, only 32% of manufacturing marketers meet daily or weekly to discuss the progress of marketing programs. Without review meetings, you might miss an issue with your content that is attracting the wrong readers…like if one of your creators keeps contriving ways to integrate Westworld into their material.

Is one of your blog posts receiving a lot of traffic but most of the readers are low quality leads looking for services you don’t offer? In your content strategy meetings, you can discuss ways to make the post more in line with your editorial mission. The meetings are where you mold your content strategy from something you’re trying to something that’s generating leads.

There’s another aspect to consistency that’s important to your content marketing: your content output. To attract higher quality leads, you need to build trust. To build trust, you need to be consistently creating helpful content that potential leads will find valuable. Not whenever you can get to it, not a few times a year — you need to create a schedule and stick to it.

If a lead likes your content but sees you haven’t posted anything new in months, they’re likely going to look for answers elsewhere. If a potential lead sees that you are sharing content that regularly addresses their business needs, they are far more likely to start following your business for answers. Once you have a loyal follower, it’s only a matter of time before they reach out and turn into a lead.

Consistent content also helps with SEO. A significant share of the leads you want to attract will start their search online. The more targeted content your business has on the web, the more likely high-quality leads are to find you. For example, if you write a series of helpful posts about landscaping equipment, the chances of your business appearing in the search results for terms surrounding that subject are higher than if you post infrequently.

If you’re doing it right, content marketing is an excellent way to weed out leads who are looking for something that you’re not selling and get through to those who are looking for your solutions. Content marketing takes dedication but comes with big payoffs if you treat it as another function of your business and not just a marketing tactic to try.

Need help getting a content marketing strategy in place? It’d be our pleasure to work with you to build a plan that makes sense for your business goals. Click here to learn more about Simple Machines Marketing and our services.

This post originally appeared on IMA's website.

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