After going back to the basics of Inbound Marketing, let’s take a more detailed look at one of the discipline’s core pillars: Content Marketing. After all, mastering the ability to map the right content assets, to the right people, at the right time, is a truly demanding task. It requires a thorough knowledge and evaluation of each and every type of content material planned, or already produced, by your brand.
An essential part of that process goes towards improving your expertise in understanding the difference between marketing and sales content. What stage in the buying cycle is each of your content assets aimed towards? How do you distinguish appropriate content for a marketing qualified lead (MQL) from a sales qualified lead (SQL)? Here are a few key things you need to know:
Content and the funnel: what goes where?
First and foremost, the content-mapping process begins with the buying funnel. Start out by dividing the funnel into three parts: top, middle and bottom. Marketing content aims to discover, educate and nurture leads along the buying cycle. In that sense, it would most likely fit the top and middle part of the funnel, supporting the prospect in the stages of Awareness, Consideration and Preference.
The time to deploy sales content comes afterwards when the lead gets closer to the bottom of the funnel, approaching the Evaluation stage. Aimed at impacting the prospect’s final decision towards reaching the Purchase stage, sales content can also be described as sales reps’ strongest weapon.
Marketing Qualified Leads vs. Sales Qualified Leads and Developing Appropriate Content Accordingly
Depending on the lead’s stage throughout the already mentioned buying funnel, logically, there comes the need to differentiate his status too. A lead, whose position is in the top or middle of the funnel, can be defined as marketing qualified (MQL); being placed in the bottom of the funnel, respectively, classifies the lead as sales qualified (SQL).
Let’s go back to mapping the appropriate content once again. A MQL would be interested in more engaging and educational types of assets. He doesn’t know your products or services yet: provide him with material that will attract his interest, educate and motivate him to engage further to explore what you have to offer. More precisely, appropriate content for a MQL would be blog posts, how-tos, infographics, white papers and e-books. Of course, no matter the asset, remember that it should be appealing, aesthetically pleasing and in line with your brand identity.
On the other hand, a SQL, who’s passed the middle of the funnel and is already familiar with the nature of your products/services, requires a slightly different kind of content. To successfully convert a SQL into an existing customer, you first have to provide him with detailed material that explains how exactly your products will solve his problems. In other words, a SQL requires convincing content that will help him evaluate your offer quickly and efficiently. Appropriate assets in that case would be videos, demos, webinars and free trials. Additionally, when distributing any type of SQL content, always remember to attach a personalised message to it: make it clear why you are sending this material and how it is valuable to the receiver.
Marketing Automation Makes it All Easier
Sometimes, the process of evaluating the nature of a lead as marketing or sales qualified can be extremely consuming of time and resources. Not to mention evaluating and optimising appropriate content assets accordingly. The solution to all burdens would be to automate these processes. Marketing automation tools will not only take care of appropriately tagging your prospects, but also support you in making sure that every content asset gets deployed with perfect targeting, timing and efficiency. Hence, leaving no room for unproductive lead nurturing efforts.