2014-06-June-Hypnotized.jpgIf moving a prospect to a sale takes 10 steps, buyers are already on step seven before they even come in contact with your company.

That’s a serious game-changer for marketing managers and CMOs who are accustomed to luring prospects to their website for content and information. It’s no longer enough to have a great website: now that the entire web is one big library with everything served up equally, you have to provide great content in places outside your own website, where you have less control, in the hopes of driving inbound marketing leads.

There are critical new questions for marketing professionals who are being driven by this new reality: what can you offer prospects to make sure they’re informed appropriately on your product or service while self-educating on the web? What will encourage them to engage with you further?

The answer in both instances is high-quality content aided by marketing technology.

1. Content's Long Shelf Life

One of the great things about content marketing is that it drives small quantities of inquiries long after the initial spike, regardless of your budget. You used to have enormous online ad-buying and search word budgets to drive people to your site. If you stopped paying for those ads and words, you essentially disappeared from the web.

With content marketing -- blogs, articles, social media, video, podcasts -- the content stays posted regardless of your budget, driving inbound leads for years. You have a compounding effect of material that you’ve written months or years ago that still rank well in search, get shared in social or linked to from other places on the web.

2. Marketing Technology can Personalize Content Marketing

There are few things more annoying than receiving irrelevant content. When it comes to successful content marketing, it’s all about timing. If a buyer is just realizing that she has a problem, she will feel overwhelmed and put off by receiving an in-depth white paper on a technical product. Marketing technology that reveals the source of the lead allows you to granularly segment your database and tailor the content of your next communication. 

An automation system will record from the content’s landing page that the prospect has received it, tracking her progress through the sales cycle and ensuring that when your sales rep finally talks with her, they know what topics have been covered. Marketing technology also helps with progressive profiling, which allows you to ask a few questions to get the lead into the database. You are able to then ask additional questions each time she asks for content, gradually building a full lead profile.