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Basics of Content Creation for Automated Marketing

To maximize the use of your marketing automation tool, first you must understand people and their relationship to content. Automation is great only if you are sending the correct content to the correct people. To build a basic understanding of how to get it right, you need to realize that people engage with two types of content:

  • Problem-solving content in the buyer’s funnel: Within the buyer’s journey, or funnel, people look for content to help them solve a problem. This means that you need to make sure to send the correct content at the correct time.

  • Content for professional development or entertainment. This is content that is consumed on a daily basis and is not a signal of a buying process. Most people consume the same amount of professional development and/or entertainment on a daily basis. The blogs you read every day, or the Twitter followers you listen to daily, are good examples of this content.

When designing content, you need to set goals for your content as it relates to your lead life cycle. Follow these pointers to help make sure that the goals for your content match up to its relationship to the lead life cycle.

  • Early-stage leads: Early-stage leads don’t need to hear from your sales team. They don’t need to be prompted for a demo and don’t want to read your press release. When crafting content to attract early-stage leads, consider creating content to help leads be better at their jobs. Your goal should be to build a relationship, not sell. Some good forms of content for early stage leads are

    • Blog posts focused on how to identify a problem

    • How-to articles

    • Short video clips

  • Mid-stage cycle leads: Leads that are in the middle of a buyer’s journey generally have a problem, or pain point, but not a way to solve it. Generally, buyers in this stage also do not have the budget, authority, or timeline to purchase. Content for leads in the middle of the buyer’s journey should help explain options to solve their issue.

    You also need to show substantial social proof, that is, show how others have benefitted from your solution. This proof can be in the form of an interview with a person who is a client, or a testimonial letter. This information helps prospects see how others solved a problem by using you.

    The goal for this content should be to help people identify the way to solve their pain as well as to get their team to buy in. Social proof provides validation from outside your company. Some good forms of content for mid-stage leads are

    • Blog posts focused on how to solve the pain points

    • Webinars featuring client success stories

    • Case studies

  • Late-stage leads: Leads later in a buyer’s journey have already agreed on how to solve their problem and are looking at vendors. They are in the process of making a short list of vendors to vet. Your goal should be to get on the short list. Some good forms of content for late-stage leads are

    • Blog posts comparing you with other vendors

    • Buyers’ guides

    • Sample RFPs (Requests for Proposals are typically used by large enterprise companies looking to evaluate vendors. They consist of spreadsheets of standard questions to be asked of all vendors as a screening round before demonstrations are set up.)

  • Sales leads: Leads in the salespeople’s hands still need content. The sales team usually sends it, but you need to create it. Some good forms of content for sales leads are

    • Blog posts on achievements

    • Case studies (can be the same ones used for mid-stage leads)

    • One-page sales sheets

When advertising on Google AdWords, test different advertisements for the same piece of content. You might find that the same piece of content can work at different stages in the lead life cycle, so make sure to test this possibility. Craft your advertisements specifically to a single stage in the lead life cycle to increase your odds of engagement and extend the life of the piece of content.

When to use short-form content

Short-form content is a shortened version of a full document. A good example is a blog post created from a full white paper or industry report. The report is the long-form content, whereas the post is the short-form content. If you break the report up into sections and make each section a separate piece, this would be considered short form as well.

When using short-form content, the best place to use it is in outbound marketing efforts. Because of its length, short-form content is easy to engage with and easy to create, thereby allowing you to generate a lot of email content from very few long-form pieces of content. Use it for

  • Lead nurturing

  • Email marketing

When to use long-form content

Long-form content is a full version of a document. A good example is an ebook, a white paper, or a long industry article. The report is the long-form content, whereas the post is the short-form content. You typically use long-form content for inbound traffic. It is promoted via paid search and SEO and is found by buyers doing research.

Site visitors are more likely to engage with long-form content than short-form content when you require them to fill out a form. The consumer finds more value in a larger document and is more likely to fill out a form in return for your content. Use long-form content for

  • Paid search

  • SEM lead generation

  • SEO lead generation

  • Social lead generation

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