You ask. We answer.
People have been asking us, "How long it will take to see a return on a content marketing strategy?" Specifically:
- New lead to opportunity
- Opportunity to client acquisition
- Client acquisition to new revenue
For many companies the answer will vary, depending on the depth of your content and your sales cycles, but here is one way to break it down.
Understand that the Buyer Journey has changed
It's 2017 and the truth is, people buy differently than ever before. They are not contacting the sales team right away but rather educating themselves on all possible solutions before they decide to buy. So, your first step? Start by understanding who your ideal customer is and how they find solutions like yours. You can determine this by filling out a customer scorecard and applying that to your buyer persona (aka an outline of your best/ stereotypical customer). Once you have identified the needs, and wants of your ideal customer start mapping that back to your website. Create a list all of the things people can do on your website or how they interact with your web presence that are part of the buying process. Where and how are you capturing information today and how do you vet that information to determine if it’s an opportunity? For many companies, the more detailed the process on the website, the faster you can move people from casual interest to actual lead.
For example, imagine you are a company that sells software and your hope is that people will request a software demo with someone from your sales team. Identify the possible points of conversion on your website and ensure they are correctly mapped to your buyer's journey. If your customer is landing on your homepage, watching the provided videos about your software and clicking through to a pricing page or downloading a gated piece of content then your leads are converting to opportunities and you have succeeded in your buyer map.
Assess Lead to Opportunity with content and page views
If you receive a valid request via your website and you start to have a conversation about “fit or no fit” to your solution, the next thing you can do is map the opportunity to the frequency of content you are distributing once you have someone on your list. Depending on what you sell and who you are selling to, it’s safe to say that after five to seven email sends of blog posts or value added content, you can see some trends on how people are using the information and if they open content, download content or unsubscribe. One of the fastest and best ways we have noted to see if an opportunity is real is if they stay on your list and if they read your content.
If you send something out bi-monthly, this could take three months depending on your sales cycle but you could move them along faster depending on the relevancy of your content and if it addresses the actual problem they are looking to solve. You can use content to determine faster “fit or no fit”. By assessing the timeline from Lead to Opportunity you will have a better understanding of your sales cycle and how best to educate your buyer in order to push them through the sales funnel faster.
Create the foundation to move client acquisition to revenue
We have worked with many B2B companies that sell complex products and services that generally exceed $25,000 in revenue and have a sales cycle of six to 12 months. This is the formula we find works best for getting a timely return on investment:
- A strong value proposition directed to your well-defined ideal customer
- The right buying process on the website
- Regular content distribution and testing based on business problems and buyer stages
These clients will see their content marketing strategy start to pay off within three to six months and likely secure revenue as a result in under 12 months.
It takes to time to build the right content marketing strategy, develop the right content and consistently execute, but once those pieces are in place, the results are very good. On average, clients with a documented plan and consistent execution will close one to three deals within the first 12 months of a well-planned program which more than covers the cost.
The key to better content marketing strategy ROI
- Have a clearly stated value proposition for your digital marketing strategy and marketing program from which digital content can be anchored
- Have a clearly defined buyer process on your website with buyer-staged conversion points that can be tracked
- Commit to consistent monthly execution and testing of your content marketing to determine interest and move a prospect faster through the buying process at the start
- Track and measure everything including views on LinkedIn, email opens and unsubscribes, website traffic and page views to adjust content to improve the process
- Align your sales and marketing team so that the process through the sales funnel is smooth and seamless