If you’re the CMO at a small-to-midsized business, particularly one with a B2B product or solution involving a substantial amount of customer education and a long sales cycle, you probably know you should be utilizing inbound marketing.
And, you can’t employ an inbound methodology without creating content. I get it, dipping your toe in the water can seem like a daunting proposition. Where to begin? How do you make the business case? How do you justify ROI?
Explaining Inbound to the CFO
One question we hear repeatedly from our clients is "what is the best approach for explaining the benefits of content creation to folks in the C-Suite?". This is often most difficult for companies who have never allocated a substantial budget towards these efforts in the past.
Not infrequently, these are companies in industries such as manufacturing, that are almost exclusively using old school “push” sales and marketing techniques (cold calling, cold emails, direct mail, trade show, conferences). I’m not discounting any of those tactics outright, they can be effective, but blending old and new methodologies will produce better results over time.
Fortunately, there’s tons of data that supports the profitability of inbound, or the “pull approach" of these efforts. If you don’t believe me, check out this exhaustive list of 35 statistics that prove the ROI of inbound marketing. Not surprisingly, when you start talking about bringing in high-quality leads that support the sales-cycle and justify it from an ROI perspective, people’s interest is often piqued.
However, to achieve these goals, you need to be producing desirable content. Content creation and inbound marketing are inextricably linked.
To be clear, what I mean by “content creation” is the production of any marketing asset which is wholly original and designed to be consumed by your prospective clients or customers.
Content can be many, many things. Just a partial list includes: whitepapers, case studies, e-books, how-to lists, webinars, guides, free trials, infographics, templates, audiobooks, podcasts, videos…just to name a few.
Blogging and Content Creation Generate Revenue
“I want more sales, how is a blog going to help with that?” says every VP of Business Development. It’s a fair question and one we hear fairly often from people in charge of business development at companies across a variety of industries, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
The value of blogging and content creation might not be readily apparent, but the data is clear. Websites of companies that blog frequently receive 50% more organic traffic and almost 70% more leads than those who don’t. The reason blogging and content have a significant impact on revenue is multi-faceted, but let’s examine two of the main reasons.
More Visitors, More Leads, More Customers.
First, creating new content, whether it’s blogging, whitepapers or case studies, creates more indexable pages on your website. It’s a signal to search engine algorithms that your site needs to be indexed more frequently.
Websites that produce content are viewed more favorably by Google and other search engines. The spiders (also called "bots") that crawl every website on the internet to discern each page’s content (known as “indexing”) will return to your site more frequently because of all the great, new, and relevant content you’re publishing. (For more about how that works, check out our blog post The 6 Basics of On-Page SEO.)
At the other end of the spectrum, a website that is complete static for an extended period with no changes or new content may eventually be interpreted by search engines as a “dead entity”.
Obviously, you do not want this to happen to your website!
With frequent blogging and content creation, you’ll see your site earn more SEO authority and better rankings on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), particularly for keywords relevant to the content you are creating. In turn, this means more of the right kinds of engaged website visitors, more conversions, more sales-qualified leads, and more clients.
Shorten Long Sales Cycles
The second reason content creation leads to revenue generation is related to shortening the sales cycle. Inbound and content marketing methodologies are most effective for B2B companies whose products, solutions, or services involve a complex path-to-purchase.
As a prospective customer moves through the buyer’s journey, traveling through the awareness, consideration, and decision stages, they are engaging with content that educates them about your solution.
A recent study from the Harvard Business Review found that among B2B consumers, 60% of a purchasing decision happens before ever having communicated with the company selling the product or solution. I’m sure you can do the math, but your prospects only need to interact with humans at your company for 40% of the sales cycle. Bottom line? Make sure you’re serving up relevant content, because more than half the buyer’s journey occurs online before they ever speak to you!
Content and marketing assets should be utilitarian. Ask yourself these questions about your content: Does it solve a problem or challenge that is common in your industry? Does it answer questions relevant to a particular stage of the buyer’s journey? Of course, it needs to be related in some way, even if it’s tangentially, to your product, service, or solution.
For questions about how to get started with content and inbound marketing, or for a free lead generation assessment of your company’s digital footprint please contact us!
Until then, keep on marketing!