Question 5: How much content will I need for lead nurture and marketing automation?
To answer the question of how much content you'll need for lead nurturing and marketing automation, let's look at how you pack for a long weekend of skiing with friends and family at a mountain resort.
You'll certainly ski during the weekend. You'll also dine at the lodge, watch movies with the kids and friends in the living room of your cabin, and possibly hit the hot tub with a drink in hand. So you'll need ski clothes, after-ski clothes, a swimsuit, casual wear, and maybe even a nice pair of PJs.
Immediate Needs Are Drivers
When you need your skis, they'd better be available. Same with your swim suit, multiple pairs of gloves—and a couple of stylish hats. After all, you want to look good and feel good, and you want to be prepared.
Your business prospects are the same. They are driven both by practical and by emotional needs. If you can provide the right content at the right time, they will eat it up like skiers after a long day on the slopes.
Just as you pack for all the varied things you'll do on your weekend away, your prospects go through different stages where their needs change. Within each stage is a "sticking point" that can keep prospects from fulfilling their immediate need. Forgot your skis? That's a sticking point. Left your swimsuit on the bed at home? Another sticking point.
Sticking Points Stall Buying
Buyers face sticking points that require specific content. According to SiriusDecisions, one way to view the hurdles in the buying process is to help buyers do the following:
- Loosen the status quo—see a win by considering a change.
- Commit to change—build a defensible case to invest in a change.
- Explore possible solutions—see and evaluate the options for the change.
- Commit to a solution—make a defensible choice of vendors.
- Justify the decision—prove their case and choice in the change.
- Make the selection—actually make the change and use it to full advantage.
How Much Content to Pack?
The right content at the right time can make the buying process as smooth as a freshly groomed slope. The minimum amount of content you'll need depends on where your prospects start in the buying process and the number of sticking points that you must overcome to move them into a "sales-ready" position.
- Prospects are already beyond status quo and are exploring possible solutions.
- There's one sticking point to help them evaluate possible solutions.
- You find another sticking point in getting them enough information so that they feel good about narrowing down their choices and including you.
- Now, they've narrowed down their choices, but can stall out if they don't have sufficient proof that your solution will work for them.
- Finally, they need ammunition to justify the purchase to upper management.
In that scenario, I've identified four specific pieces of content. You may need more, depending on your buying process, the sticking points you've identified, and whether you need to create separate content pieces for different buyer roles (legal, economic, technical, etc.).
The Three-Step Formula for a Minimum Amount of Content
- Content Piece 1. Determine where most people enter your system. Create one unique content piece for this entry point (Status Quo, Solutions research, etc.). The purpose of this piece is to get the opt-In. This content piece is your "tasty appetizer" that gets them in the door and gets their permission to feed them from your content menu.
- Content Piece 2. Determine the biggest sticking point for people who are in the "mid" phase of the buying process—those exploring solutions and creating a shortlist. Create a content piece that specifically addresses their needs, questions, and concerns. You want to address the major reasons that someone at this stage would stop looking or drop you from the short list.
- Content Piece 3. Find the biggest sticking point for people in the late stage of the buying process. They've narrowed it down to you and one or two other vendors. What's going to get them to choose you and follow through with the sale?
The type of content you create depends on what your target market is most likely to consume. In most technical markets, that might be a whitepaper, simple report, or PowerPoint presentation. It doesn't have to be big or complex to be effective.
Build From a Solid Foundation
You've got your fundamental elements in place, you've identified all the possible sticking points, and you've created your initial content pieces. Now, build the rest of your content structure (slowly and with great care):
- Nurture emails. Start with a few simple emails that build off the first content piece and lead them to the second content piece. Do the same to lead them from the second content piece to the third.
- Conditional content. Add, as you can, conditional content. If prospects opened the email but didn't take action (download or access the next content piece), send them a different kind of enticement. Slowly build out your logic tree to include multiple possible branches.
- Additional content. Add additional content to address other sticking points and other buyer types. Create the necessary nurture emails and conditional content associated with those content pieces.
Tools You Can Use
Facilitating the Buying Process: This is the report that gives you 26 unique content ideas that link directly to different stages of the buying process. You'll get a thorough explanation of the buying process so that you can analyze your own and come up with the content that fits.
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