In a previous post, Gated Content Marketing Strategy: Adding Steps Boosted Results 2X, I discussed how adding steps to the conversion process went against traditional demand generation thinking, and actually created an increase in conversions.
Let’s take this concept a few steps further and discuss ways a gated-content strategy can help complement your entire lead generation funnel.
Key lessons learned:
- Think about content as a free trial product. Your demand funnel does not always need to lead to the sale of your product or service. Spend time thinking about your name acquisition funnel, then apply a nurture funnel to those names to educate them and lead them through the sales process.
When you begin to treat content as a free trial product, it changes the buying steps in the process so that you truly focus your funnel on content downloads. Once you’ve crossed that milestone, and you begin to build a strong prospect list, it’s time to nurture the leads and bring them into your buying funnel.
- Give before you get. What are you giving the prospect before you ask them to give you something? Before asking a prospect to pay you with their data, offer them additional useful content to help develop a stronger affinity. Being more generous in what you give can increase what you get in return.
- Know the goal for each funnel, and it’s OK to have multiple funnels. Are you immediately trying to sell product or are you inviting people into your inner circle? Consider several macro funnels for prospects and customers, along with numerous micro funnels (nurture funnels) based on various behaviors, activities and characteristics. Know the motivations of your end customer and how you can help make their life easier.
- If you have a channel sales strategy, be aware of the small nuances that may require tweaks to your marketing funnel strategy. Pay attention to both your to-channel and through-channel conversion funnels. Your channel sellers have different motivations than your end user customers – i.e., channel sellers may place a higher emphasis on you as a thought leadership source to keep them educated and informed, which will increase their propensity to sell and recommend your products.
It’s important to be generous in what you give, so that you will get something in return. When working within a channel strategy, and you’re “influencing the influencers,” there may not always be an immediate or direct correlation to the outbound activities you execute. You may need to develop more patience in your demand marketing and sales funnel, and think of it as an investment over time.
- Develop your plan for third-party leads along with your own database development. Working with third-party lead providers can help bring volume and consistency to your funnels, and allow you to reach audiences who haven’t heard about you yet. When building your own customer database, the work is never done.
All leads age, and prospects move in and out of the buying cycle. Work with your third-party providers to ask custom qualifying questions to further segment your leads. You will pay a higher cost-per-lead fee upfront, but it will cost you less to achieve the sale due to the higher sales conversions which result in a more cost effective ROI. I’ve seen clients drive their ROI from 4x to 10x by asking qualifying questions on the front end of the lead generation process.
- Don’t forget about post-sale nurture funnels to drive retention. Once a prospect becomes a customer, it’s important to continue to the conversations, the conversions/upsells and drive retention.
While you may choose to manage this communication through an in-app notification process vs an outbound marketing automation tool, you still need to create the strategy with a marketing funnel mindset (i.e., create logical flows and offers, upsells, etc. based on customer actions or in-actions, then track response, and optimize as you go.)
It's important to have a cohesive gated content strategy, serving as the doorway to the beginning of the process in a complete prospect and customer funnel.