Can you imagine agreeing to a sales meeting and not doing any homework before the meeting? Not looking at the company’s website, not understanding the competitive landscape, not viewing meeting participants’ LinkedIn profiles…sounds crazy, right?
Digital marketing has completely evolved the marketing and sales funnel. Today’s buyers require that companies have a strong balance of pull (buyer-driven) and push (targeted) marketing.
Funnel creation begins with demand generation
A content marketing-based demand generation plan is an essential foundation to funnel creation, and the beginning point in the customer journey. Demand generation’s primary objective is attracting visitors to a website. Demand generation activities enable users to find a website when they’re in research mode. Search engine optimized content is the central vehicle to intercept users when they are searching for solutions. This type of content tends to be a back-door approach, optimized around terms that answer customer’s questions versus a company’s product. Content that aims at being helpful and generally outperforms sales-oriented content.
Converting on-site visitors to a lead is the next phase in the funnel
Once users visit the site, it’s essential to have a way to convert on-site visitors to leads. Deeper content offers such as ebooks or white papers proven mechanism for this part of the funnel. Ebooks are hosted on landing pages. Users are asked to exchange their data for the downloadable content.
Nurturing based on behavioral information sets the stage for sales follow-up
User data is collected on content viewed and web behavior. Tailored lead nurturing communications highlight solutions and other content based on user’s web behavior. Prospect information is stored and available for sales to understand pain points, solutions, and tailor conversations accordingly.
Business-to-business case study
The following is a case study for a b2b content marketing demand generation and lead generation program for PG&E. One of the key challenges that a number of utilities face is customer engagement. Many people only think about their utility when something isn’t working or when they have a billing issue. Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) provides electric and natural gas service to businesses and residents throughout northern and central California.
The utility had significant challenges in engaging small and middle-sized businesses. PG&E wanted to find an innovative approach to connecting with their customer base, leveraging contemporary digital channels. Additionally, marketing needed to support their energy efficiency education programs.
Search engine optimized content enabled PG&E to be in the right place at the right time. Additionally, customer-centric content provided a mechanism to demonstrate the company’s authority and improve brand perceptions.
The goals for this program were 5-fold:
- Intercept decision makers with relevant content and energy management ideas for their business and industry
- Position PG&E as a trusted adviser in energy management by creating a Business Resource Center for small and medium businesses that encourage website re-visits and ongoing engagement
- Provide resources such as guides to finding a contractor and energy efficiency products to help businesses save money and increase sustainability
- Develop an education-based content marketing program that engages businesses and generates hand raisers through data collection
- Tailor nurturing email communications with behavioral data to educate and engage business customers on topics of interest
The business resource center was born, and it was established to house SEO-driven blogs. Each blog article has a call-to-action to learn more, which drives users to a landing page to download more information that is related to that topic.
For example, if a retailer is looking for information on how lighting can impact their store’s visual appearance, they would find this PG&E article during their search. Retailers are then encouraged to get an ebook to learn more about lighting controls. If the user completes the form on the landing page, and downloads the ebook, they will then receive emails tailored to continue moving down the funnel.
Users that abandon the blog (don’t visit the landing page) are then targeted with re-targeted ads The goal is to drive them back to the landing page to convert. Additionally, content is promoted through both paid search and content promotion services such as Outbrain. There are plans to expand additional promotion across existing PG&E vehicles in the near future.
Prior to this content marketing effort, business customers were an extraordinarily difficult to engage segment. This effort has provided double-digit engagement and continues to be a source of leads to for energy efficiency products and solutions.
Benchmarks were established at the beginning of the program for search rankings (of certain keywords), landing page conversions, blog page views, and email nurture rates. The program exceeded all of these objectives.
Sheera Eby partnered with the PG&E marketing team to design the strategy and program architecture, and also oversaw the execution of all program components and the marketing automation. Please see my LinkedIn profile to hear the client’s feedback on my contributions to these efforts.