Content marketing is one of the most popular digital marketing tools, accounting for 28 percent of the average B2B marketing budget, according to research published by the Content Marketing Institute. This is because it is relatively cheap to produce, can form part of a wider search marketing strategy and can attract potential customers.
A survey conducted by the LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community found that 59 percent of marketers cite lead generation as a content marketing goal, while Kapost found this figure increases to 71 percent among B2B marketers... but are they making a fundamental mistake in the way they view content marketing leads?
The Problem With Content Marketing Leads
One of the primary roles of a company's marketing department is to generate leads for the sales staff. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for lead generation to be a content marketing priority, and the average marketer will consider any user who fills out a form and downloads a white paper, PDF file, e-book or article to be a lead.
However, many of these people are not leads in the truest sense. Their interest in the content you have published does not necessarily mean they are interested in your products or services just yet. Indeed, DemandGen found that the average buyer consumes 3-5 pieces of content before being ready to engage with a salesperson.
"What we like to refer to as lead generation, one of the moft-mentioned goals of content marketing, is a little broken," says Ben Plomion, Chief Marketing Officer at GumGum, writing for Convince&Convert. "Just because someone fills out a form and grabs your report doesn't mean they're going to buy your product now or ever."
Why Content Marketing Is Still Valuable
Although content marketing leads may not be what you think they are, content marketing is still an extremely valuable tool. In fact, 82 percent of B2B buyers say that white papers have helped them to make purchasing decisions, while 73 percent have used case studies and 66 percent have used blog posts.
In a recent GumGum survey, every single respondent said content can help to change perceptions of the brand creating it. The key is to shift expectations and publish content for people at all stages of the buying journey.
Some people will be purely interested in the content itself, perhaps for research purposes, but you can still try to build brand awareness and establish trust. Meanwhile, others will be actively seeking answers to problems, so you should publish some content that promotes your products or services as being the solution. Content leads need to be categorised according to where your potential customers are on their buying journey as one size doesn’t fit all for this marketing tool.
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