Pipeline growth is 2022’s top B2B marketing priority. Here’s how the right content can fill it.New research shows B2B sellers are struggling with their pipeline in a digital world. Smart content can help. But beware of mistaking volume for value.
Let me know if this sounds familiar: You downloaded a research report online. Within hours, you’re getting bombarded with emails and even calls (yes, I’ve been called to buy software within hours of downloading research reports) that assume you’re in the market for whatever the report’s sponsor is selling.
That most of us have been ensnared in an overzealous pipeline strategy at some point is no surprise. Pipeline growth is the top priority for B2B sales teams in 2022, according to The State of B2B Lead Management 2022 report. It’s no wonder now that events and cold calls – formerly a bedrock of B2B sales— have been ineffective for several years.
But pipeline growth can be trickier in a virtual environment, where an influx of leads can give the false impression of a healthy pipeline. We see this a lot, because content marketing has exploded as a way to drive top-of-funnel leads.
The truth is, in the absence of a tight strategy, those leads convert rarely, if at all (especially if the leads weren’t qualified to begin with). Without one, you have a lot of leads that your team is wasting their time on, your projections are completely wrong, and you’re even more behind than before you ran the campaign.
The answer for healthy pipeline growth is never lead volume, even though it can feel really good to see those numbers go up. Instead, it’s about creating full-funnel, high-value content that is meaningful to a specific audience running a specific process. It’s about creating multiple, meaningful points of value for your audience as they navigate through all the stages of buying.
What really works to grow your marketing pipeline
Brands want first to understand where the buying pain points are for their audiences. Then, provide them with as many tools as possible to minimize that pain and, in exchange, earn their attention.
The more complicated the buying process is and the fewer resources they have at their disposal, the more important your brand becomes as they make critical decisions.
Imagine if, instead of offering thought leadership pieces on your company blog, you did something like the following, responding to hurdles you studied in your audience’s buying process:
These five pieces of information solve key pain points for the buyer: They help them navigate a tricky internal procurement process that can take a lot of time, effort and social capital to complete.
They allow your brand to be front and center as a resource solving their problems even before they buy.
And they create a pipeline of inbound leads that provides information on where those leads are in the buying process and what challenges buyers may be most concerned about.
How to do it at your company
Content marketing can solve B2B lead generation woes instead of exacerbating them. But you need to follow a process to make it work:
- Invest in audience analysis before you do anything. It is tempting to jump into creation, especially as you are dealing with a pipeline deficit. But you’ll create more problems if you can’t identify your audience’s specific pain points.
- Expand your definition of content. Think outside of standard research reports and company blogs. What are the tools that your buyer could use to make a decision? What is so valuable and time/stress saving that they might pay for it?
- Smartly distribute. Use your research to understand where your buyers are and target your content directly to them. Use every opportunity to cross-pollinate with new content once an audience member becomes a lead.
- Learn and optimize. Watch closely to see which leads convert all the way down the funnel. Track their progress through your systems to understand what type of content is most valuable. Regularly repeat step one to power your efforts moving forward.
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