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The Art of Content Curation

Here's how to create better content.
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By now, many marketers are convinced of the value of lead nurturing--but they remain flummoxed by the task of creating content to fuel their programs. In this post, I’d like to propose that marketers can and should embrace content curation as an effective, easy way to nurture leads.

The Content Challenge

Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with qualified prospects regardless of their timing to buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready.  Your newly generated prospects may not be ready to talk with your sales team when they first meet you--especially if they are a modern, digitally empowered buyer who uses easy access to information to delay engaging with sales.  But by appropriately nurturing your prospects, you can stay in touch and increase the likelihood they’ll come to you when they are ready.

The key to good lead nurturing is to be interesting and relevant; if you are not, they can easily opt out or simply stop paying attention.  However, being relevant is easier said than done, since the difficulty of the problem is multiplied across two dimensions:

  1. Customers at different stage of the buying cycle will find different kinds of content relevant (an early stage buyer will be turned off if you talk too much about yourself, but that’s exactly the kind of information a late stage buyer will want to hear).
  2. You need different content for each buying profile, e.g. each target persona.  Ideally, you can go even further since buyers find content relevant to their specific industry, company size, and geography more relevant as well.

On top of that, you want to keep your content fresh and timely.  So in a nutshell, the more relevant your content the better your lead nurturing, but it can be a huge challenge to create enough timely relevant content for each and every audience.

buying stages

The Content Curation Answer

I’ve seen companies panic and decide they shouldn’t even attempt lead nurturing because of this difficulty.  But I think the answer is not to create more content, but to rethink the types of content that can be used in nurturing.

Remember, the primary goal of nurturing is to keep in touch with the potential buyer. As long as you are hyper-relevant, you are accomplishing the primary goal of maintaining interest. A nurture interaction doesn’t need to be about a whitepaper. It doesn’t need to be a detailed blog post.  In fact, it doesn’t even to be about something you wrote! Often, the best nurturing is going to be about interesting, relevant content that other people wrote.

This is called Content Curation. There is much debate about the role of curated content versus original content, and I’m the last one to argue that curation should be the center of your content marketing strategy. For the purposes of building awareness and trust and generating leads, I’ll take valuable content and original thought leadership over curation any day.  But curation can play a role as part of a broad content mix -; and for the purposes of nurturing relationships, I think that curation can be one of your most effective tools. The only rule is that the content MUST BE RELEVANT.

Let me illustrate this point with an example.

An Example

I have a colleague named Patrick Di Chiro of Thunder Factory.  Every few weeks, he sends me an email like the one below. I think this is perhaps the best example of a lead nurturing email that I have ever seen.

patrick email 1

Here are a few things that make this a great nurturing email:

  • He knows this is a topic of interest
  • He connects it to prior conversations we’ve had
  • The underlying article he refers to really is an excellent article
  • He subtly suggests some next steps that would be relevant

I’m sure it was much easier for Patrick to write 10 short sentences about the David Brooks article than it would have been to write an entire whitepaper, and since it was so relevant it served just as a effectively -; perhaps even more so -; as content for lead nurturing.

But even writing 10 sentences is not always necessary.  Here’s another email that’s only three sentences long from Patrick that was also effective (and it turns out, relevant to the topic of this blog post).

patrick email 2

Again, the reason why this worked for lead nurturing is that he found interesting content (in this case, someeMarketer research), and then wrote a few lines of commentary about why it was relevant.

By the way, lead nurturing content based on curation can also include links to more than one item. Image an email that had links to three interesting, relevant articles -; each one with a sentence or two of original description explaining why it is valuable. Can you image how much easier it would be to create hyper-relevant lead nurturing tracks using this kind of approach, or at least interspersing curated content with original content into your programs?

IMAGE: iStock
Last updated: Jun 26, 2013

JON MILLER | Columnist

Jon Miller leads strategy and execution for Marketo. Before co-founding Marketo, Miller was vice president of product marketing at Epiphany and held positions at Exchange Partners and Gemini Consulting. Miller holds a bachelor?s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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