In the world of sponsored content, an advertiser approaches a publisher and expects the publisher to deliver on their dollar. Inbound marketing has proven itself as an effective strategy to help not only make these campaigns successful, but also to help advertisers find the most qualified leads possible.
Without the right tools and systems in place, this can be a tall task. For each of the stages in the marketing funnel, consider implementing the following to aide your efforts:
At the top of the funnel (TOFU), a user is trying to find a solution to a problem, and they need information and education to help them with the process. As far as leads go, this group may be large, but they’re usually less valuable and unqualified as you don’t know what purchase decisions they’ll make, or that they’ll make a decision at all. It’s too early to worry about selling, rather you need to help them understand their problem or identify their void first.
Content Management System (CMS)
When developing content for your sponsored campaign, having a website to house it on that is fully maximized for any audience is necessary. By using a powerful CMS that not only makes it easy to publish content, but also makes sure it’s mobile responsive, you’re ensuring that readers can engage with it on any platform, at any time. Additionally, by selecting a fully integrated CMS—that connects your individual web pages to the actions your contacts take—you’re able to quickly see which areas of your site are helping people move from merely viewing, to eventually making a purchase decision.
Social Media Management
Social media is an excellent way to drive traffic and leads to your website or sponsored content. With tools that give you the ability to analyze and filter social conversations to better understand where the most captive audience may be, you’re able to cut through social noise to engage with your most valuable readers, and then drive them to your site where they will hopefully convert on an offer.
The middle of the funnel (MOFU) is exactly what it sounds. When people have determined that they definitely have a problem and it needs to be solved, they’re ready to find a solution. This is arguably the most important part of the conversion process, because you as a publisher want to help your advertisers be the ones chosen to fill that hole. Your focus in this stage is lead conversion.
You can produce all the leads and sponsored content you want, but without a way to connect the two, what good are these efforts? Make the most of the traffic you've driven to your site by building an easy and obvious path for readers to follow toward your offers. Unique calls-to-action should be placed on each and every page of your site, and within your email communication. The language on the CTA should match when type of content the reader is currently engaging in, and what they can expect to find if they click-though.
After someone clicks on a CTA to download a piece of sponsored content, you need a place to exchange your offer for a little more information about that reader. This is where landing pages come in. A good landing page will target a certain audience, so it’s important to create landing pages that are tailored as specifically as possible to the types of incoming users you’re going to drive. The landing page showcases your offer, which is gated behind a form the reader must fill out. The fields used on that form need to capture the right information (ask yourself whether or not it qualifies leads for your advertisers).
Once a reader makes an initial conversion, you can use their email address and personal information to send highly personalized content straight to their inbox. Your email automation software should be integrated with all of your user data (fulfillment, CRM, email, events, etc.) so you can more effectively segment and then target sponsored content to readers who would find it most relevant, and therefore most likely to move down the marketing funnel. Create email lists based off of previous offer downloads, subscription renewal date, contact property info, etc. to dial in on readers with the highest potential purchase intent.
At the point when users get to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), they will make a decision, it’s just a matter of who they will purchase from. They usually don’t need a huge incentive to pull the trigger, and the right offer could do the trick. Your goal is to drive sales qualified leads. BOFU tools can help you manage and measure which of those sales qualified leads actually becomes a customer.
Once readers get on your site and make an initial conversion, you have the capabilities to track their movements and actions to better understand what content they’re most interested in and what specific content actually got them there. Look at how many leads you drove as a direct result of the various pieces of your campaign—website, emails, calls-to-action, offers, etc. Compare these numbers to whether the advertisers closed the deal when you passed the leads off to them. Tracking numbers like visitor-to-lead rate, leads, MQLs, sales pipeline generated, and net new customers, tells you how well your campaign performed, and what ROI you were able to achieve for your advertiser.
Having a CRM system to hand off leads or sales teams reach out to leads directly can prove quite beneficial. This system should have the capabilities to track exactly what happens with the leads once they’re handed over to the advertisers’ sales team, so that you can better understand if your leads led to actual customers. Find a CRM that fully integrates with your marketing software so you can use one contact profile across all of your systems.
Once you have the tools in place to lead people through each stage of the marketing funnel, the process becomes a lot more streamlined and effective. We know you can create great sponsored content, now go make the most of it.
Originally published Aug 3, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017