Industrial and Manufacturing Marketing Blog

Using Content to Move Prospects Forward in the Sales Cycle

We often think of online content as the text on a web or blog page. The focus there is to optimize it for keywords or phrases for people to find your website when searching for relevant terms. That however is only part of the solution because if your content doesn’t engage the visitor s/he won’t take a desired action to move forward in the sales cycle.

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. said it best when she wrote, “Passive reading of your content is not going to help online marketing initiatives shorten buying cycles or increase customer acquisition and revenues.”

Your online content needs to play a much more active role in moving site visitors along in his/her buy decision. According to Bob Carrigan, CEO of International Data Group, “It [content] fulfills the promise of the Web, which is relationship marketing.”

Using content or Inbound Marketing, you are able to make that key connection with your prospects by delivering specific content needed in order to make an informed decision.

Your prospects are at different stages of their decision making process when they visit your site. You can’t satisfy all of them with one-size-fits all content. Depending on the stage of the prospect, your content needs to:

  • Move them from ignorance to awareness – define the problem and make your target audience aware of generic solutions and the benefits of your offerings. A white paper would fit the bill nicely here.
  • Move them from awareness to inquiry – get the prospect to sign up for a webinar. That’s when you can provide more in-depth information and the specifics of your solution, provide answers to their questions and transform them into evangelists for your message for them to present to final decision makers and/or other internal stakeholders that you may not have access to.
  • Convert prospects into leads – a prospect that has made an inquiry or responded to an offer is now a lead. Provide him/her with case studies and client testimonials to lower their risks and fears of selecting you. Score this lead according to your preset BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing) criteria to determine if they are “sales-ready.”
  • Hand over sales-ready leads to sales – your sales team may provide them with additional content such as data and price sheets, set up an online or a face-to-face demo and ultimately move them to the RFP/RFQ stage.

Depending on the length of your sales cycle, conditions at your prospect’s end may change resulting in projects being put on hold. Your sales team must report to marketing and put these leads back into the hopper for nurturing. That closes the loop in your content marketing cycle while minimizing loss of qualified leads.

Your content also needs to perform another key function. It must help your customers make the best use of their purchase. After-sales support such FAQs, How-to videos, Troubleshooting guides, User forums are all examples of after-sales content.

How well is your content performing for you?

Depending on the level of assistance you’re looking for, Tiecas offers customized content marketing solutions for engineering and industrial companies.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 36 years of practical industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., an industrial marketing consultancy in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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