Content marketing is a strategy for creating and distributing valuable content—such as articles, videos, and podcasts—to attract and engage a target audience. Content positions your business as an authority in your industry and builds trust with your audience. It is key to attracting website visitors, generating leads, and growing revenue. In this article, we’ll cover:
(A heads up: This post contains HubSpot affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission. I use HubSpot, and I recommend it.)
Using Content Marketing for Lead Generation
Content marketing plays an important role in attracting high-quality prospects to fill the sales funnel with leads. The key to doing this effectively is understanding your target audience and developing strategic content for a predefined visitor persona.
This content is often referred to as gated content or a lead magnet. It’s content that is perceived as valuable by your target persona: the perceived value must be high enough that a visitor is willing to give you their contact information in exchange for receiving the content offer.
Some examples of content marketing include:
- Infographics. Creating relevant infographics for your target audience can attract potential customers and build brand awareness more creatively.
- Videos. Videos are exceptional tools for showcasing your products and services while educating and entertaining your target audience.
- Case Studies. Case studies demonstrate the value and effectiveness of your products or services word-for-word from your customers, providing context and insights for your prospective customers.
The better your content marketing strategy, the more leads you will capture. Each element of your website—such as the landing pages, the home page, or even a regular blog post—should be curated for your target audience. In addition, you need to promote your content across all your marketing channels, including owned and paid media.
If you need help determining what to write about in your content marketing, check out my ACE Marketing Framework.
Content Marketing’s Role in Inbound Marketing
In order to understand how to best leverage content marketing to drive sales, we have to understand the full scope of inbound marketing.
The inbound methodology is a powerful approach to growing your organization, as it focuses on establishing meaningful and long-lasting relationships with consumers, prospects, and customers. By valuing and empowering these individuals throughout their journey with you, you not only help them reach their goals but also pave the way for your own success by increasing the customer’s lifetime value to your organization.
Customer lifetime value is a metric that represents the total net profit a company can anticipate generating from a customer over the course of their entire relationship. It considers the customer’s initial purchase, subsequent purchases, and the average length of their association with the company.
In addition to considering customer lifetime value in your ROI metrics, keep in mind that happy customers can generate additional leads for you. Customers will tell others about their experiences with your organization. A happy customer can inspire others to buy, while an unhappy customer can destroy your reputation.
Flywheel Model of Sales Growth
To illustrate the benefits of the inbound methodology in driving sales, HubSpot uses the Flywheel model to depict the momentum a business gains when the entire organization is focused on delivering a remarkable customer experience.
Rather than the linear sales funnel that marketers have traditionally used to explain the sales and marketing process, the flywheel is circular to demonstrate how happy customers generate additional sales leads for a company.
The flywheel model illustrates the three ways in which the inbound methodology can be leveraged:
In the attract phase, you captivate visitors with valuable content and engage in conversations that establish trust and credibility, positioning you and your organization as an authority in the industry. Customers will naturally seek to interact with people they believe are knowledgeable and trustworthy.
The key is to capture people’s attention organically, rather than imposing it upon them. Some strategies you can employ include content marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, social selling, and targeted paid advertising.
In the engage phase, you strengthen your relationship with individuals by presenting insights and solutions that directly address their pain points and goals, increasing the likelihood of them making a purchase from you. It’s also important to facilitate seamless shopping and purchasing experiences by allowing buyers to interact with you at their convenience and through their preferred channels. Focus on building relationships rather than solely closing deals.
Some approaches to consider are website and email personalization, database segmentation, marketing automation, lead nurturing, multi-channel communication (chat, phone, messaging, email), sales automation, lead scoring, and try-before-you-buy programs.
Finally, in the delight phase, you provide ongoing help and support, empowering customers to achieve success with their purchase and reinforcing their satisfaction with your brand. Remember, your success is tied to the success of your customers.
Some techniques you can harness include self-service options (such as a knowledge base or chatbot), proactive customer service, multi-channel availability (chat, messaging, phone, email), ticketing systems, automated onboarding, customer feedback surveys, and loyalty programs.
Companies that choose the flywheel model over other models gain a significant advantage because not only are they driving their own growth, but their customers are also actively contributing to their success. That’s a much more efficient way to attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Is Content Marketing Still Relevant in 2023?
You may be wondering if content marketing is still relevant in the age of AI. In my opinion, it is. Here’s why:
First of all, most marketers, including me, view content marketing as an important subset of inbound marketing. I don’t believe that inbound marketing will be going away because of the important role it plays in building customer trust and positive word of mouth.
Second, as recently as April of this year Google’s John Mueller tweeted, “Making a technically good, easily findable, well-targeted, high-quality website will continue to be critical for those who want to be recommended on the web. Yes, things will change, they always do, but the need for smart, experienced, and curious SEOs is imo [sic] not going away.”
It’s also expected that Google’s ChatGPT competitor, Bard, will become part of Google Search Engine, similar to Bing’s AI search model. At the moment, Google is testing the AI-powered Google 2.0, also known as Project Magi. In the announcement preview, it seems like Google’s idea is to have Bard AI blend in with traditional search.
Using AI to Help with Content Marketing
As you can see, content is key to driving visitors, leads, and revenue, but creating content has historically been time- and resource-intensive. Fortunately for modern marketers, AI platforms are offering new ways of solving this challenge.
If you are keeping an eye on the AI space, you know that new tools are coming to market every day. In addition, our tried-and-true marketing platforms are evolving rapidly to incorporate the technology and streamline processes to drastically reduce the time that it takes to do strategic marketing work.
For example, HubSpot recently introduced its AI Content Assistant, which uses OpenAI’s GPT model to streamline busywork and increase productivity. This frees time for marketers, sales teams, and service professionals to be more creative and elevate the quality of their work.
Here are some examples of how the HubSpot content assistant can help power your content.
- Craft marketing emails
- Write social copy
- Write prospecting emails
- Get blog ideas
- Create compelling CTAs
- Generate paragraphs