MLC is here in Las Vegas this week for CEB’s 2012 Sales and Marketing Summit, and we’ve started the conference off right with an insightful presentation by Eloqua’s Heather Foeh. Heather took us through Eloqua’s approach to content marketing – and, as we’ve been reiterating for the last few weeks, what makes the approach notable is its discipline and tight integration with customer needs and business outcomes.
To sum it up, Eloqua segments potential customers in four ways, and aims particular kinds of content at each group:
- Suspects - people who may, in any conceivable way, influence the buying process. This group appreciates content that is low-involvement, catchy, cool, and helps them demonstrate thought leadership – things like infographics and blog posts. This content should not be commercial or gated – gates and sales pitches turn suspects off.
- Prospects – prospects are suspects who have supplied personal information in exchange for more content. They’re motivated primarily by fear – fear that they may miss out on a key trend, or that their lack of understanding of a particular topic might lead to negative business results. Prospects appreciate content that’s a bit more involved – things like Eloqua’s Grande Guides: mid-length pieces of content designed to be consumed in the same time it takes to drink a grande coffee. This content can be a bit more commercial, but shouldn’t be overly so and shouldn’t be gated.
- Leads – leads are prospects that have met some behavioral or demographic criteria as decided by Sales AND Marketing. How to determine a lead? There’s no one-size-fits-all guide – criteria will be highly organization-specific. But in order to do it well, lead scoring must be automated – automation allows for evolving criteria and removes elements of subjectivity to build consistent lead pipelines. The goal of lead scoring is to “kiss frogs” – and only deliver the highest-quality leads to Sales. Leads, as they’re further down the buying path, appreciate higher-involvement content with a more explicitly commercial bent – pieces like whitepapers, case studies, demo videos, and product comparisons. At this stage, content should come from a Sales representative.
- Opportunities – opportunities are leads who are ready to buy. Content at this stage should be geared at helping the opportunity actually make the buying decision. One interesting element in Eloqua’s approach is that Marketing continues to message to opportunities even as Sales attempts to close the deal – a feat requiring impressive coordination between the two teams.
Eloqua’s approach illustrates the differences between typical content marketing plans and more advanced approaches: their content is explicitly designed to teach and is tailored for each stage of the buying process. To check out the full presentation, visit Eloqua’s Slideshare page.