The Truth About Content Marketing: What Your Lead Gen Team Doesn't Want You to Know
Whether you call it inbound or content marketing, it's failing most B-to-B sales teams. Whether outsourced or internalized, your lead generation team doesn't want to talk about it. Talk about what?
Unattended email addresses.
Are you worried about low quality leads coming from marketing? Addressing this issue head-on, boldly, is the best way to improve lead quality and the conversion-to-sale ratio.
What Is an 'Unattended Email Address?'
An unattended email address is a temporary (expiring) or non-checked email account. These are the bogus email accounts all of us (and I mean all of us) maintain for a while now. Owners of these accounts use them for acquiring stuff from marketers we don't want to hear from.
In your life, this is that special email used for "gated content." E-books, whitepapers, videos. You name it, B-to-B marketers lock-it-up and demand an email address for it.
But consumers aren't fooled anymore. They don't want a sale reps calling on them—merely because they have an interest in solving a problem.
So they give you a bogus email.
Why Should I Care?
You should care because your lead generation database is becoming increasingly worthless over time. Explaining the benefits of subscribing doesn't matter when prospects aren't giving you their real email addresses!
Sales reps and dealers need leads who are, at least, real people!
Some marketers I'm speaking with are seeing a dramatic increase in worthless email addresses in their databases. Others are afraid to look. Some are reporting 40 percent of emails being unattended.
Yet the gating of lousy or, at best, mediocre content continues unabated. Why? Habit.
I suggest you get a flavor for how unattended email address use has become mainstream. Google "fake email generator" or "temporary email address." Take count of how many options one has to circumvent some poor marketer's plans to capture leads.
What You Should Do
Two strategies are emerging:
- Stop taking email addresses when you don't need them.
- Start writing more effective, responsive prospecting emails
I'll tackle No. 1 above in this post. For help with No. 2, please click the link above and I'll see you at the Direct Marketing IQ free Brunch & Learn webinar on Aug. 20.
So, the most effective solution is to un-gate high-quality content. A handful of small business owners have been piloting this bold approach-dealing with the problem head-on.
I have made the commitment myself as a B-to-B marketer. Increasingly, I am NOT demanding an email address for my "lead gen bait" (give away) unless it is needed to deliver the content.
In other words, you don't need an email address to give-away the e-book or whitepaper. So don't ask for it.
Give the content away—no strings attached. Experiment with this strategy today. Literally. Next time you're setting up a landing page for gated content, ask yourself, "Do I need to take an email address from the prospect to deliver the content?"
If you don't need it, don't take it. Give it away.
Put your call to action (for a real email registration) inside the publicly available e-book or whitepaper.
Also, don't forget to focus on outbound email efforts—improving your LinkedIn InMail response rate.
When to Request an Email Address
Yes, there are times you do need a prospect's email address, and should ask for it. In particular, after you've given away the initial content and created sufficient hunger for the next lead generation offer; the time when you take the real email address in exchange for a series of content-or content that requires an email.
For example, when you give away a series of email tips, video tutorials or a string of content that the subscriber is hungry for. Or when your prospect wants to attend your webinar. Registering for the webinar gives them the ability to be reminded via email and, also, pose a question to your webinar host.
You will do well with this tactic. People know they'll be missing out on the content if they supply a bogus email address.
Rather than labeling your email field "email" use the phrase "your best email address" as a subtle reminder. Be sure to make it clear to the subscriber that they will miss out on the content they want if they do not give you their "best" email address. Try it, it works!
Bottom Line: Fewer Leads, Better Quality and Stronger Conversion
Giving "starter" content away creates fewer inbound leads. This is true. However, you'll receive higher lead quality and better conversion-to-sale ratios from the leads you generate.
Here's why. This strategy:
- Is honest: it's a refreshing, welcomed approach to starting a broad conversation w/ buyers
- Filters: only the most qualified leads respond to your second offer
- Converts: because reps & dealers waste less time on chasing bad leads
Let me know how you feel about this trend and my solutions in comments? Good luck!