We take all of our questions to the internet. So, naturally a high priority for lead generation is answering potential customers questions. Companies are focusing all of their energy on pumping out answers to generic questions in hopes of landing that coveted seat at the top of search results. Say you get it…then what? Does your website tell the correct story and provide enough information to drive a conversion?
Why isn’t my increase in blog traffic generating leads?
You are monitoring your website traffic and you see that a particular post is performing well, i.e. hundreds or thousands of views, but no new leads. There are many reasons that this can occur, but my first step in diagnosing this problem is to look at the website content to see if it is addressing all levels of the buyer journey or if there is a clear path down the funnel to convert.
Hubspot’s basic buyer journey has 3 stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Thought leadership is a subtler approach to connecting with users by demonstrating knowledge or expertise on broader topics related to the core problem(s) that they are facing. This non-sales content is effective at the awareness stage because the user may be more likely to try a product or service from a company that had answers to their questions during their research process. This is not enough to drive conversions in most cases. As the user enters the consideration and decision phases, their expectations for answers are higher. If you do not have great content for the later phases, you will never see the leads that are often expected from thought leadership. Users won’t make it into your funnel if the value that your product provides isn’t clear and supported by documentation that is just as strong as your thought leadership. Many organizations miss out on revenue opportunities by neglecting to consider the buyer journey and remove friction points.
Why does having content for every phase of the buyer journey matter?
Let’s explore one of the worst case scenarios on the continuum of digital marketing: Your company has done an amazing job of building a relationship with a user through thought leadership. The user is now considering your product. Upon visiting the more sales oriented part of your site, they are not clear on how your solution fits the requirements/decision making paradigm you helped them develop. The features don’t use the language pattern they learned in their research and the listed benefits don’t speak to the problem they originally set out to solve. So then they look for the support documentation to see if it can shed any light and reduce their confusion. There is none. Your solution has been eliminated from their list.
How do you support the consideration and decision phases of the buyer journey?
The answer is understanding your audience and making sure that your website is optimized to support their entire journey. Here are 3 content must-haves in order to drive more conversions:
- Streamlined sales content that aligns your marketing messaging with your sales process.
Marketing content, webpages, sales sheets, etc., are meant to aid the sales team in proper customer education. Defining the basic sales talking points, such as audience, buyer journey, key features, benefits, and customer pain points, enables marketing, in collaboration with the sales team, to create refined and highly optimized sales language. This process is essential to the health of your brand. Not taking the time to make sure that your key messages (The specific and consistent way you communicate your value proposition, features, benefits, persona specific messages, process/how it works to your external audience) are solid will greatly affect your ability to develop new content later.
- Use Cases and Case Studies to provide insight into successful applications or social proof of peer success.
Many companies leverage testimonials, use cases or case studies as proof points to demonstrate value. It is essential that customers know that your product has successfully worked for another company. If you have success stories TELL THEM. It is essential that customers know that your product has successfully worked for another company. Testimonials are great but sharing the context behind them can be super powerful. What was the problem? What did the process look like? what level of service/product did they purchase? Most importantly, what was the qualitative or quantitative result?
- Product or process Documentation for a realistic view of the experience
If you do not have public product or process documentation, including getting started and specific feature/integration explanations, this should become a high priority.
The savvy digital shopper typically has vision for how your digital product fits into their tech stack and general sales claims are often not enough. They want a loose proof of concept before you make their short list. Many tech products are missing out on these leads because in order to get that POC, they are requiring appointments for demos. This skips from the awareness phase to the decision phase (direct communication with sales) more quickly than the average buyer is comfortable with. It is okay to protect your intellectual property, but we definitely recommend finding a way for users to have more access to content that will help them see how your product can integrate into their workflow.
For service offerings, you should have a process, preferably accompanied by visuals, to help the buyer know what to expect. It will be hard to convince other stakeholders in the organization that you are the best company for the job if your process isn’t an accessible sales tool.
Summing it Up
Thought leadership strategy should be built after these three parts are in place so that you can identify broader topics in your buyer’s journey and start to provide value through answers to key questions in the awareness phase. In the world of “knowledge” being a Google search away, this type of engagement is an opportunity to develop a relationship with potential customers. Thought leadership is a way to become a trusted source of information as buyers establish the parameters and requirements for their buying decision, but if you do not have optimized content to support the rest of their journey, they will never become a lead.
If you think your company is ready for thought leadership or needs help getting to that point with a business plan contact Gladiator Consulting for a free consultation.
Nakevia Miller is our energetic Art Director and problem solver. As a Partner, she is passionate about building brands through dynamic marketing. She loves to watch companies grow as a result of her design and content collaborations. “Any small business can look large, or corporate, with the help of great design,” Nakevia said. “I strive to bring that polished and streamlined look to every company I touch because in today’s market, beautiful aesthetics create instant credibility.”