Lead generation is top of mind for most companies, so acquiring a lead is a great first step in the process of selling. However, it is only the first step, because turning the prospect into an actual buyer is the end goal. Too often companies fall short, capturing the lead but not taking the next steps to nurture the relationship. This is where opportunity and money are frequently left on the table.

The Importance of Taking a Prospect on a Journey

Marketing Sherpa notes that 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales, the common cause being lack of lead nurturing.

Once a lead is identified, it is time to take them on a journey. Along this journey, the goal is to build a relationship through providing value. As you build the relationship, you invite the prospect to learn more about you and your products, establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise, and educate. This is what we call the “content marketing journey”.

Providing Value through Content

In creating your content marketing journey, it is important to understand what information would be of interest to your leads.

  • What would increase their knowledge about a topic that is both important to their business and that aligns with yours?
  • Is there a blog that would be of interest; a guide you have created; or a case study that echoes their struggle, and demonstrates the transition they would like to have?
  • Do you have an upcoming webinar you could extend an invitation to, or have you recorded a previous one that would be of interest to them?

Content Doesn’t Always Have to be Your Own

When determining what content to share, you don’t have to limit yourself to content you have created. Sharing articles that are pertinent to the prospect’s business goals, or an industry whitepaper that was recently published, are two ways to leverage assets outside of your own.

Whether the material you choose to share is internal or external, the key is finding interesting, applicable and consumable materials that will bring value to the prospect.

The Stepping Stones to Building Your Relationship

Before you begin sending content, you want to define the path and each stepping stone along the way. The goal is to guide the prospect one step closer to wanting a relationship with you. Through your content they should feel you have an interest in educating them and helping them move along their transition to solving their pain points. This journey is all about value and nurturing a relationship. Keep in mind, in each piece of content you send, that you must be focused on providing value, not selling.

The Length of Your Content Journey

No one wants to be hit immediately with a sales message. According to HubSpot’s Marketing Statistics, 47% of buyers viewed 3–5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Don’t cut the journey short by providing only one or two stepping stones just because you are eager to get to the sale.

Now You Are in a Relationship

Once you have established the relationship, you can test the waters for a sale. If the prospect still doesn’t buy, but you think there is still opportunity with them, continue to nurture the relationship. When a prospect sees that you aren’t all about the quick sale, and you are willing to invest your time in a relationship, they can become one of your most loyal customers.