How Content Marketing and Marketing Automation can fuel your Sales pipeline

Sascha Hoffmann

February 14, 2019

Recently, we published the first article of our mini series Content Marketing As Your Lead Gen Powerhouse. But converting an engaged reader into a subscriber is only half the battle. The next steps could include so much more than the fundamental updates that your new subscribers expect. Combine your content marketing efforts with your marketing technology stack and nurture these leads- don’t overlook an opportunity.

When I presented on this topic at Content Marketing World, I found that the majority of my audience distributed their content via paid channels like Outbrain, Sharethrough or Facebook, but very few felt confident they were leveraging their content across the entire marketing funnel (seen below).

Most people are familiar with branded content, and even content distribution, but few marketers take this to the next level and integrate their content into their entire marketing processes. Marketing Automation nurtures leads and generates Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).

The first stage I care about is Initial Engagement. As discussed in an earlier blog post, your content is a great way to make contact with a potential lead and capture an email with a form synced to your marketing stack. From there, I want to build relationships with potential buyers until they are determined as Marketing Qualified. This will hopefully resonate in Sales from a business perspective.

So, you have the name and email—what’s next? Enrich your data by offering more relevant content. In fact, that should be your number one goal: Offer the user more content they are willing to “pay” for with more personal information. For example, if a user interacts with an article that is relevant to an ebook you have handy, push that to keep your content path squarely in front of them. This is how you build relationships in the second stage of the marketing funnel.

Getting to know who is engaging with your content is important because once you know someone, you can market to them. So far, you only know which piece of content converted the user due to the query string of the form submission. Your Marketing Automation will help you with organizing the information as soon as you have the data. You can score the lead not just on behavior (what action the user is taking like clicking an ad, clicking an email-link, or visiting a key page on your website like Pricing Options) but also on demographic (e.g. job title, seniority) and firmographic (e.g. industry, company size, location).

Not all users who engage with your content will fit your qualified list, as this is specific to your business. The key is to begin with a mixed baseline of behavior, demographic and firmographic data as your lead score.

Most marketers set a threshold for the overall lead score as Marketing Qualified, but I recommend more requirements. Here’s what our MQL formula looks like:

Lead Score > 50 AND

Demographic + Firmographic Score > 25 AND

Behavior Score > 30

This means the ideal lead on paper (demographic + firmographic) still needs to take certain actions to be marketing qualified, and vice-versa. The score and content topics the user is engaging with determines in which stage of the marketing funnel the user is.

One more thing to note: The demographic and firmographic data usually don’t change for a lead - only if the person changes a job or gets promoted. It’s your job as a marketer to collect this information from the person by enriching your data. By doing this you will see the behavior score increases too.

Additionally, you should send emails when it matters. Triggered emails based on actions taken by users versus so-called batch emails (sending based on a selected list and sending time) have 2x open rate and 5x click rate. Users engage with emails they receive because of a taken action more than other emails.

Let’s sum this up:

  • Use your content to push audiences through the full marketing funnel, gathering more data along the way
  • After you have captured the basic information of a user during initial engagement, enrich the data with relevant content (stay tuned for more on this in Part 3)
  • Send emails when it matters most: 500% increase in click rates when a user has engaged over batch emails
  • Consider thresholds for demographic/firmographic and behavior scores in your MQL definition

Remarketing is also a must, but let’s save that for the next part of the series. In the next post, I will discuss the best practices to enrich your lead data. Sign up to stay tuned for Part 3!

Sascha Hoffmann is a content strategy expert and the Global Demand Generation Manager at Story by PulsePoint. In this role, Sascha oversees the Sales Development team and directs the planning and execution of demand generation campaigns that drive leads and ultimately, customer acquisition. Sascha holds a Master degree in International Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco.