I don’t know where along the line blog subscribers got a bad rap. Sure, they’re not leads, but they could be. I mean, that person who downloaded an ebook off your website one time is technically a lead. Yes, they filled out a form, but no, they’re not exactly an engaged prospect.
But while you’re off giving all your love and attention to those leads that converted off a gated asset or traditional landing page, you’re forgetting about a whole host of prospective customers. Blog subscribers are your people. These are your fans! They love your content so much, they’ve signed up to literally pick up whatever you’re putting down week after week.
That’s an engaged audience. And while not all of them will be the right fit to purchase your products, some of them will be. So how do you find out which ones? And turn those B2B blog subscribers into sales-ready prospects?
Get to Know Your B2B Blog Subscribers
Just because they converted off your blog, doesn’t mean they’re not a solid lead. They could be. You just don’t know yet. So get to know them!
Start by asking them about themselves. Most marketers opt to ask for email only from a blog subscriber (the fewer the number of fields, the greater the chance of sign-ups!) so take a moment in the welcome email to ask them about themselves.
Already have a blog subscriber base? Send them an email asking for info to personalize the type of content you send. Most people are happy to give you additional information if it results in a better experience.
Another way to get to know your blog subscribers is to gather more info as they engage with your content. You’ll know what type of content they like and you can start aligning marketing offers like ebooks and webinars to those topics. And once they engage, you’ll gather more info that will help get them over the lead threshold in your marketing automation platform.
Take Them From Lead to MQL
Sending your subscribers your newest, shiniest content is a great strategy if what you’re after is an impressive number of content views. But for most marketers, the number of content views is a vanity metric. It’s great that people are viewing your content, but if all they do is view your top-of-funnel content and leave, it will take a very long time to move them to marketing-qualified lead status.
Ultimately, you need to put them on a path. For MQLs, that would be a path to purchase. But for subscribers and leads, that’s a path to qualification. You can qualify your blog subscribers using lead scoring in two ways—through engagement and through fit. Qualifying through engagement represents their behavior, and ultimately what actions they take on your site. Are they consuming content, visiting your product page, attending webinars, downloading ebooks? Qualifying through fit simply means gathering enough information about a lead (typically through a form) to determine if they align with your ideal customer profile.
One way to qualify for both fit and engagement is by building engagement paths. An engagement path is a predetermined course of action you’ve mapped out for a reader of your content. Generally speaking, with every new piece of content, you should think about the path from article to article that will eventually lead that visitor to a piece of gated content that allows you to gather more “fit” information.
Your engagement path could look something like this:
Engagement paths provide opportunities to convert and engage further with content so readers self-nurture, drive up their lead score, and divulge additional information.
Progressive profiling makes this easier. By recognizing visitors and asking for new and different information each time they fill out a form, you can fill in the blanks faster.
Nature or Nurture
Some blog subscribers are naturally a good fit. And some you have to nurture. So the best way to move a blog subscriber from forgotten-about subscriber status to sales-ready prospect is to warm them up until they’re ready for a conversation with sales.
As marketers, it’s our job to nurture everyone who comes into our system because we never know who will be ready to buy and when. And if we’re truly concerned about nurturing then we’ll forget about open rates and clicks for a moment and focus on connecting, engaging, and earning the trust needed to take them to that next step.
Nurtures can be made easier by leveraging email workflows and autoresponders via your marketing automation platform. Email workflows are designed to deliver content to your leads (or in this case blog subscribers) on a specific schedule. This makes it easy for you to manage and helps you move them through the funnel. By sending them content aligned to different stages of the funnel, you can help move them closer to being sales-conversation ready.
Content Through the Funnel
In order to move a prospect from engaged to informed to sales ready, you’ll need content. Start with engaging top-of-funnel content like blog posts, videos, infographics, and ebooks. If they engage with your top-of-funnel content, the next step is sending them middle-of-the-funnel content to educate and inform them. At this stage, they’ll typically identify that they have a problem or a challenge that needs solving. Webinars, webinar recordings are typically used at this stage of the funnel. Middle-of-the-funnel content typically takes the form of blogs and webinars/recordings.
And if they engage with your middle-of-the-funnel content, you can send them more product-specific bottom-of-the-funnel content like customer stories, data sheets, product pages, and pre-recorded demos. At this point, you’re providing a solution to the problem they’ve since identified. If they don’t engage at this stage, keep nurturing them. But if they do engage, they’re ready to be passed over to sales.
Hooray! You did it! Your blog subscriber is now a sales-ready prospect. Or are they? Before you pass anyone over to sales, make sure marketing and sales are aligned on what constitutes a sales-qualified lead. If you’re not in agreement, your lead won’t be accepted by sales. So keep on top of what sales needs and when. And then… happy converting!