Content marketing and SEO aren't just about search visibility, and brands must find ways to gear brand messages toward other business goals.

As content marketing becomes more sophisticated, agile brands are finding ways to ensure their inbound efforts support larger business goals. It’s not just about SEO anymore because marketers have seen how content nudges prospects toward conversions, builds loyalty and provides a transparent look into the organization. Essentially, companies can create content for the entire sales funnel – but some have overlooked this opportunity and others actively choose to ignore it.

Match content to sales goals for ROI

Brafton recently covered the 2014 State of Content Marketing from the Eloqua Community, which found just 12 percent of surveyed organizations would consider themselves sophisticated in measuring and aligning content with the customer buying journey. Meanwhile, 14 percent see the value in matching brand collateral to different sales funnel stages, but don’t know how to go about doing so and 3 percent reported it’s simply not on their radars at this point.

The majority of brands fall somewhere in the middle:

  •  22 percent execute these strategies, but lack the tools to properly measure them 
  •  49 percent plan to create content for the buyer journey in the next sixth months

49 percent plan to create content for the buyer journey in the next sixth months

If businesses aren’t figuring out how their content can answer customers’ questions, they may not be making the most out of their marketing campaigns. Given Google’s recent algorithmic development (Hummingbird, a search technology that looks for conversational cues), it’s essential that companies anticipate and answer customers’ questions. Relying on the same spray-and-pray content distribution method is a mistake, and companies will ultimately find that a few pieces hit the mark, but a fair amount of resource goes to waste.

Don’t lose hard-earned leads

Half of large B2B organizations fail to contact prospects within 24 hours.

However, content is just one piece of the puzzle and it may not be the source of lost leads. A ClickZ survey found around half of large B2B organizations fail to contact prospects within 24 hours. Brands that are slow on the draw might therefore be letting their leads grow cold.

To prevent any conversion opportunities from slipping between the cracks, marketers must consider how each piece of collateral fits into the larger picture. Every example of content is a touchpoint where sales can be won or lost. Some pieces should be designed to draw readers in, while others encourage leads them to move deeper into the funnel and bottom-funnel content convinces them to buy.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.