Content Marketing. For some people, it’s a buzzword. For me, it’s a miracle. I absolutely LOVE content marketing. It’s magical. It’s empowering. It’s a beautiful dance that I get to choreograph from my keyboard, or a symphony composed with words and thought. Content Marketing is a beautiful thing – but I don’t call it Content Marketing. I call it “Engagement Marketing.” More on that later.
A little background…
A few things have happened recently that have led me to write this, and I want to give you a rare glimpse into my kooky brain and how it weaves things together, and, in this case, why I’ve been inspired to share this all with you.
The first thing that happened is that one of our professional services clients asked us for a list of people who had received one email, so that they could have their inside sales team make outbound follow-up calls into that list.
The second thing that happened is that one of our Genoo platform subscribers asked me for advice on the best way to follow up with leads who had completed a nurturing sequence.
The third thing that happened is that someone inquired about whether our Genoo Marketing Automation platform has a planning calendar included in it, so that she could lay out a schedule for email sends.
Those are the three things that happened that wove together to cause this post. The other thing you need to know about me is that I was a Genoo customer for many years before joining the company. I am a content marketer. It’s become part of my DNA, and I’ve been doing it for years and years.
So, all of these things together caused me to realize that many people don’t see the power of content marketing – or they simply aren’t thinking of it in the right way.
Here’s a tip
Stop thinking of it as content marketing. Think of it as ENGAGEMENT MARKETING. That’s right. Changing your thinking right now can have a profound impact on how you execute and how you’ll succeed. The purpose of marketing is to ENGAGE, not to push content, right?
Here’s a scenario that’s all too real, and one that you can no doubt identify with (and it happens all too frequently):
Not too long ago, I downloaded a paper from a website, and I immediately got bombarded with daily emails from a sales rep, anxious to set an appointment to talk about his product. (I’m convinced the only reason I didn’t get phone calls is that I gave a fake number in the opt-in form.) This annoyed me so much that I will likely NEVER do business with that company. I just downloaded a single paper, and yet I’ve been marked as “sales-ready” and shipped off to Sales as a lead to be closed.
Crazy, huh? In fact, it’s more than crazy – it’s a bad idea.
The customer reality
- A single download is not a sales-ready lead.
- A single email sent doesn’t mean that anyone on your list will even know who you are if you start calling people who received it.
- Completion of a nurturing sequence doesn’t mean that people are ready to talk to you.
That’s where Content Marketing, I mean ENGAGEMENT MARKETING comes into play.
Side note: if you don’t have lead scoring in place, get it into place right now. If you don’t have a marketing/email platform that does that, get one that does (both Genoo and WPMktgEngine, our products, have lead scoring included, if you’re curious).
Now, how does Engagement Marketing save the day?
When a new lead fills out a form on your website to get something, whether paper, checklist, eBook, or even a webinar registration, they’ve expressed a modicum of interest in what you have to say. That’s it. So your next move is to see if you can engage that new lead further, through marketing, before ever making a sales call. Create three simple short emails, each one referring to the download or the webinar topic, and put those emails into a nurturing sequence that gets triggered by the form-fill. These are what we call follow-on emails, or a follow-on sequence. In each of the three emails, offer another click – something else of value they could read or receive from you – even simply sending them to a blog post on a related topic. See who clicks, and add to their lead score if they do.
Now you are measuring ENGAGEMENT.
And when you’re measuring engagement, you’ll be able to gauge the level of interest a lead has in whatever you’re offering, and you can plan follow-up calls according to the level of interest that lead has expressed through their clicks, their downloads, and their participation.
When a lead completes a nurturing sequence, are they sales-ready? Nope. So what’s the best thing to do with leads who have completed a nurturing sequence? Start them on another nurturing sequence! That’s right. Deepen the engagement – and lead them through the journey of becoming your customer. If you have an attractor (what some call a lead magnet) ready to go that is a logical follow-on, you can create a series of emails that offers that, and launch that offer as a new nurturing sequence (call that an offer sequence). When someone takes you up on that offer, suspend the offer sequence, and start the lead on a new follow-on sequence just like the one I described above.
Whoa. Now you have THREE sequences defined, and they are all about ENGAGEMENT. And here’s the coolest part of all – they run automatically for you. You do the work once, but they work for you forever. If someone downloads that first paper a year from now, they will automatically get your next emails, then your next offer, and if they take you up on that next offer, they’ll automatically get those follow-on emails.
And all this time, your lead scoring will be helping you measure their level of interest in what you have to say and what you have to sell.
That’s the magic.
That’s also why you don’t need a calendar. Once you start creating lead nurturing sequences that go automatically when a lead takes an action, you can crumple up your calendar and throw it away. That’s what I did, by the way. When I started using Genoo as a customer, back in 2008, I started with a printed calendar and a pencil, and laid out when I was going to send emails. Then I created my first nurturing sequence, and I could not figure out how to add that to my calendar. Then I created another nurturing sequence, and at that point, I crumpled up that calendar and threw it away.
Did I still do broadcast emails to my entire list? You bet I did, but I only did them once or twice a month (didn’t need a calendar for that!), and how I used them is described in a post I wrote a while back: Don’t Bother with Lead Segmentation – Seriously?!.
When you think of content marketing as ENGAGEMENT marketing, thinking through your email strategy becomes much easier, and executing on that strategy becomes easier as well. But most importantly, it also helps your sales efforts, because you’ll be reaching out to leads who are warm and interested, and not hoping they’ll remember that they got an email from you last week.
That’s why I love Engagement Marketing. It allows us to weave together content in a way that will ENGAGE leads, guide them on their journey, allow YOU to engage with a sales effort at the RIGHT TIME, and increase your chances of turning leads into customers.
It’s dancing. It’s music. It gets results.