November 15, 2016

Content Mapping Drives Best Lead-Nurturing Campaigns

Sending out content willy-nilly is obviously not the approach most marketers would choose to optimize their lead-nurturing campaigns. Instead, they do their best to map the messaging they distribute to potential and existing customers to their stages in the sales funnel.

Sales funnels can be formatted in many different ways depending on the sales model chosen by the business—from basic “awareness to purchase,” to dollar-value-driven “qualified deals to deal won.” The sales funnel comprises the number of prospects in each stage and, typically, details the conversion rate for each stage.


“Nurturing” is the term marketers give to their process for advancing leads deeper into the sales funnel—closer and closer to where they’ll buy or sign on the dotted line. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on providing information that addresses prospects’ questions and concerns. Since up to 50 percent of leads are not ready to buy, according to a Gleanster Research report, this is a crucial process in revenue generation. The faster leads move along, the lower the overall cost of customer acquisition.

Nurturing is conducted in several ways (e.g., emails, brochure downloads or invitations to a webinar), but it is nearly always focused on educating the lead about company offerings—and even marketplace trends that may impact the buying decision. As leads interact with the messaging sent, clicking on certain links, for instance, more data can be collected on their interests, preferences and behaviors. This data can then be used to generate more-personalized content for future messaging.

As you get to know leads more intimately, personalizing messaging to resonate with them more and more effectively, they will learn to trust your brand. Nurture this trust further with content delivered consistently that continually speaks to their pain points, and demonstrates your organization’s position as a thought leader.

Nurturing garners, on average, double the average close rate compared to non-nurtured leads, according to the Gleanster Research report. The improvement is attributed to keeping an open dialogue with prospects—with the critical component being delivery of the right content at the right time.

Mapping content to stages in the sales funnel

You don’t want to overwhelm a customer in the awareness stage with too much information. Yet, when leads are trying to make a final determination on which product to buy, they need all your best stuff. In other words, you neither want to blast immature leads nor leave eager leads facing an information vacuum.  

To map content, work backward to develop logical pathways to conversion. Pinpoint the scenarios in which leads journeyed through the sales funnel to purchase, and then trace back to the actions they took along the way. Patterns will emerge as you repeat the process for a multitude of customers. Did they respond to an email offering a free trial? Did they convert on an e-book call to action?

Several pathways will surface as the most likely to be profitable. Now you have a clear opportunity to deliver specific content along those pathways that best support conversion. According to HubSpot, certain content assets resonate most effectively for particular stages of the sales cycle, as shown:

  • Awareness: Tip sheet, checklist, how-to video, e-book, white paper and educational webinar
  • Evaluation: FAQ, sample, data sheet, demo video, product webinar and case study
  • Purchase: Coupon, free trial, live demo, estimate, consultation

Awareness content assets help readers assess their needs, whereas assets in the Evaluation stage describe how your company can solve their needs. In the Purchase stage, assets require more action from the lead. Some assets bridge stages as their content can be aimed at leads at different points along their journeys (e.g., a webinar can be educationally based or centered on your company’s specific solution).

Next, focus on topics—assigning topics to each content asset. Let’s say you sell hair-styling products. Ultimately, your lead may convert by redeeming a coupon, but first he or she may have visited your website to learn how to control frizzy hair. On your landing page, perhaps the individual took you up on an offer to download an e-book—with an attached lead-gen form—on styling products for his or her specific hair type. From there, maybe he or she received one of your personalized emails, sent to people with that specific hair type, including a discount coupon to use when making a purchase on your website.

What if you don’t have the necessary content at the ready? Start producing it! Either develop the assets in-house, or if your organization lacks the requisite skills, outsource content creation to a custom content vendor.

Hopefully, all your data collection and analysis has led to the creation of buyer personas. This is another key component of any nurturing campaign—directing variegated content to those groups of individuals who identify in specific ways. For example, are your hair care products intended for both personal home care and professional salons? Messaging to these two groups would differ significantly.

Follow through on this concrete process for taking leads from the beginning to the end of the sales funnel with appropriate content, and you’ll see a noticeable improvement in your conversion rate.  

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