How to Build a Successful Lead Generation Strategy Working With PR Agency

Why content is the missing link to drive more leads?

Both PR and inbound marketing rely heavily on quality content. If the story doesn’t fit, then say goodbye to your prospect.

How to Build a Successful Lead Generation Strategy Working With PR Agency
How to Build a Successful Lead Generation Strategy Working With PR Agency

78% of marketers are rethinking the tone of brand messaging & positioning as we approach 2021 and beyond.

Ask yourself: Have you considered the impact of your current tone on building connections with your audiences?

65% of marketers are assessing & auditing their content strategy.

Ask yourself:

  • Where does your PR strategy fit along the buyer journey?
  • Will an adjustment of pace help your content to resonate better?

47% of marketers are building better integration between content and demand generation.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you utilizing your PR team for campaign development and storytelling initiatives?
  • How are you optimizing your stories across channels?

Leaning on the integration between PR and content marketing is critical to sustaining and building pipeline momentum. Read on this article to build a content marketing formula for inbound success with your PR agency.

Table of contents

Introduction
Lead Generation Success Comes from Integration
Integrated Campaigns
Step 1: Assess Your Brand’s Personality
Step 2: Map Your Buyer Persona(s) for Your Ideal Customer Profile(s)
Step 3: Map Content Strategy to Your Customer Journey
Step 4: The Secret to Successful Storytelling
Step 5: Your Secret Weapon is Creativity
Step 6: Managing and Executing Integrated Campaigns
How to Amplify Your Lead Gen Efforts
Leveraging Your Brand’s Earned Media Efforts
Driving the Path to Purchase with Email Campaigns
Increasing Brand Awareness with Social Media
Taking it One Step Further with Paid Social Campaigns
Sharing the Knowledge via Virtual Events
Bonuses
Advocacy Fuels Lead Generation Efforts
Customer Advocacy
Employee Advocacy
Influencer and Media Advocacy
Conclusion

78% of marketers are adjusting the tone of their messaging & positioning heading into 2021. See how to successfully partner with your PR agency to elevate your inbound marketing strategy and build a successful formula for lead generation.

Having a well-oiled inbound marketing strategy will help you build a stronger overall brand and a heightened awareness compared to your competitors.

This will not only bring customer acquisition costs down but will deliver higher quality leads that save your sales team time and resources.

This article will guide you in effectively and consistently communicating across channels to keep your customers engaged at every stage of the buyer’s journey. While you navigate the challenges of the economic downturn, learn how a PR agency can help integrate your content marketing, social media, email marketing and PR efforts to achieve brand revenue goals and KPIs.

Take your brand marketing efforts to new heights with these four steps:

  • Align your messaging & positioning across channels.
  • Create cohesive content by articulating brand values, updating buyer personas + much more.
  • Follow the PESO model to amplify your lead gen efforts.
  • Cultivate a strong group of brand advocates that will deliver impact across departments.

What are you waiting for?

Introduction

In 2020, brands are looking for agencies that can do more quicker, better and for less investment.

CMOs are faced with the enormous task of keeping their brand visible in the age of digital while fending off the competitors looking to rip away their revenue opportunities. Success is the ability to adjust strategies in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

Brands need support to forecast problems their customers may face, and agencies are uniquely positioned to provide these insights. For agencies, it’s about designing a marketing strategy that anticipates customer challenges first.

Agencies are playing a critical role in the ever-evolving digital era as expectations shift in real-time. Today, content, employees and customers are one, and experience fuels the overall narrative.

CMOs are now largely responsible for driving customer experiences from the point of inception to loyalty. And with the lead gen engine that drove much of brands’ pipelines evaporating overnight, brands must find ways to replace their physical opportunities with content and virtual activities. Your agency should understand these new challenges and assist in owning that opportunity to help fuel lead generation efforts.

Read more in ‘Why Raising the Return on Marketing Investment Should Not Sound an Alarm’. In this article, we will discuss:

  • The key to achieving lead generation success from earned to owned to paid campaigns
  • How to work with your agency to implement integrated programs in the virtual world
  • Measuring the results of amplifying your lead generation efforts
  • How the experience economy can take your lead gen campaigns to the next level

Lead Generation Success Comes from Integration

A lack of integration can dramatically increase the risk of disconnected messaging, campaign goal alignment, and overall program effectiveness.

Today’s CMOs realize that siloed efforts do not set a foundation for success. But putting this integrated marketing approach into action is where it gets complex.

Creative storytelling, PR, inbound content, email campaigns, social media efforts — all have similar goals: Create a message that resonates with the buyer at the ideal time; Communicate it in a way that will engage and move prospective buyers; Close the loop and keep the buyer coming back for more, creating a pipeline for referral and organic growth opportunities.

Bottom line: A lack of integration can dramatically increase the risk of disconnected messaging, campaign goal alignment, and overall program effectiveness. Duplicated efforts and missed engagement opportunities with prospects will inevitably harm the ROI of these programs.

The optimal mix of PR and inbound will depend on your business goals and resources allocated to the program. However, running these efforts under one umbrella will make it easier to adjust your strategy in accordance to the buyer journey and specific goals, campaigns, upcoming events and product announcements. Plan for quarterly assessments of your strategies and goals related to your budget with your agency, but be ready to adjust on the fly for optimal campaign performance.

Brands are striving towards agility across their internal teams and will lean toward their partners to develop strategies that will meet aggressive revenue marketing goals. Trust and transparency are key factors to successful integration and, if achieved, internal departments and external agencies can move ideas together with very tight alignment for expectations and performance.

Integrated Campaigns

Marrying PR and Inbound Marketing to Help Recover Lost Lead Gen in a Tough Market

Both PR and inbound marketing rely heavily on quality content. If the story doesn’t fit, however, it can deter prospects from evaluating your brand. For this reason, these efforts should be combined as a single task force. Here’s how you can work with your PR firm to execute successful integrated campaigns to rev up your demand gen pipeline, especially now that tradeshows are moving to virtual.

Step 1: Assess Your Brand’s Personality

Everyone has a competitor, and you need to make your company’s core differentiators discoverable and effective via your digital footprint. Assessing and auditing your channels should be a go-to evaluation across all digital platforms.

Articulating the mission, values, differentiators, and the various details that make your brand unique are important. It’s the first step in building a cohesive campaign, but it’s also paramount to evaluating whether your current integrated strategy is aligned with your brand’s business goals.

Coming out of the recent global crisis, 78% of marketers stated that they were prioritizing adjustments to the tone of their messaging & positioning.

Step 2: Map Your Buyer Persona(s) to Your Ideal Customer Profile(s)

While PR efforts do an excellent job of creating brand awareness and attracting new visitors to your website, inbound marketing creates conversions through effective landing pages, forms and CTAs. Together, these efforts play a critical role in assisting the buyer along their path to purchase.

Your ideal customer profile (ICP) is not your largest, most lucrative customer. Your ICP should align with your business goals and growth objectives. You can consider size, verticals, values and your company’s experience thus far. The more you know about your ICP, the better you’ll be able to personalize your content and experience.

Knowing your buyer personas will help your brand solve your customers’ pain points. This combined with impactful content, regular measurement and successful execution will take your integrated campaigns to the next level (hint — figure out how to connect emotionally with your buyers — that’s where the magic happens).

Your personas will be the foundation for all content and campaigns. Prioritize quality over quantity. Remember that persona data will change over time. Set a timeline to keep these fresh and up-to-date with business goals (minimum of twice a year).

  • 1 in 4 leads should advance to sales.
  • Utilizing buyer personas will make your website 205x more effective, simply knowing whom you’re targeting.
  • You can even see higher click-through and conversion rates, as well as 18x more revenue!

Step 3: Map Content Strategy to Your Customer Journey

Different assets support different areas of the path to purchase. Tell a story that reaches customers and prospects on all channels, while keeping a consistent message to make it easier for prospects to fall into the buyer journey.

Content mapping is a critical component of successful storytelling. There are five different stages in a standard journey — awareness (top of the funnel), consideration (middle of the funnel), purchase (bottom of the funnel), followed by retention and advocacy.

Let go! Let go of what you know, what you thought you knew and what worked for you in the past. ‘Innovate or Die!’ is the battle cry. If you’re a top-tier marketing leader, you must innovate now, disrupt yourself and drive revenue. – Tamara McCleary

  • Awareness stage: Prospects are looking for answers, data and resources. Start with an assessment of your digital footprint. Then work with your agency to create thought leadership assets, such as securing coverage across all forms of media, developing position papers, best practice eBooks, infographics, tip sheets and checklists or hosting educational webinars.
  • Consideration stage: Prospects are conducting research and comparing their choices. The best assets for this stage include case studies, influencer relations, demos and FAQs.
  • Purchase stage: Prospects want to know how to become a customer. Work with your firm to leverage assets that are focused on the purchase decision — demos, product or service-focused infographics, testimonials and referrals. Case studies and proof points are critical at this stage.
  • Retention stage: Content assets such as blog posts and newsletters are still relevant, but also consider loyalty programs, surveys and virtual events.
  • Advocacy stage: Supports both organic growth and new business opportunities. Get your customers involved with your content strategy (case studies, guest blogs, etc.) and engage their ideas via virtual user groups or customer advisory boards.

In a market that’s more competitive than ever, it’s critical to take risks to stand out as you bring the buyer through each stage of the journey.

Step 4: The Secret to Successful Storytelling

To become a more effective storyteller, tap into your readers’ emotions.

Focus your brand storytelling on the good you are doing for and through your employee, customer and partner communities. The silver lining of recent events is the genuine human connection is created. There is no more powerful ingredient for great storytelling than that.

Personalized storytelling comes down to listening, learning and engaging with your customers. Staying authentic and connected to your customers will result in the conversion of better-qualified leads.

Marketing is all about winning the battle for the mind of the customer, and the best marketers use emotion as a weapon of mass influence to win the battle through powerful storytelling. – Chandar Pattabhiram

Step 5: Your Secret Weapon is Creativity

Competition is fierce, and while data is important, creativity is what gives brands a competitive edge.

Marketers use data to personalize the buying experience for customers but have lost touch with elegance, magic and humour. Consumers can add to their carts, buy now, read more and download here, but that doesn’t make them advocates. Consumers don’t fall in love with calls to action. They fall in love with stories via people, emotions or interests.

Marketing is about customer engagement. Creativity engages the modern customer, and data is the fuel. Used correctly, data can guide and validate creative efforts to give organizations the upper hand.

Many B2B brands don’t have the resources in place to make the shift to a culture of creativity, but agency partners often offer these services. In some instances, supporting full team integration from the start.

Step 6: Managing and Executing Integrated Campaigns

With your brand messaging, buyer personas, and storytelling strategy in place, the next step is executing and managing your integrated campaigns. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 60% of successful B2B marketers have a documented content strategy.

Implementation and execution of marketing programs with marketing tools will help make your campaigns successful. There are several paid, earned, owned and shared assets that come into play for successful implementation — press releases, case studies, bylines, blogs — all need to be delivered to the right people at the right time via the right channels. Measurement, analyses and optimization need to occur along the way for your brand’s most powerful story and message.

How to Amplify Your Lead Gen Efforts

Your content success story is not complete the day your campaign launches. Continue to assess and audit the channels that are driving targeted traffic and qualified leads. You can also amplify the visibility of your content in many different ways.

Leveraging Your Brand’s Earned Media Efforts

Pitch out anything that truly holds value to your industry and audience. Start by looking at your campaign assets — infographic, podcast, webinar, blog post, industry report — and determine if they can generate earned media opportunities. Your agency can repurpose assets from your integrated campaigns for pitches to your targeted outlets and editors. Blog posts can become contributed articles and survey stats can become byline topic ideas.

Your demand gen team should be involved with using these awards, top coverage placements and thought leadership articles to promote further and validate your brand.

Quality content and earned media can lead to qualified leads, but your team, together with your firm need to coordinate and communicate for seamless integration.

Don’t be afraid to flip the script. Score a great placement in a top-tier publication? Receive an award for your recent work? Use your earned media recognition to build trust and credibility within your amplification efforts.

Driving the Path to Purchase with Email Campaigns

The rumour about email marketing being dead is still floating around, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, 59% of buyers and customers say marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions, and 80% of business professionals believe email keeps customers around longer. This type of communication is important for nurturing your leads. Have your agency send your audience content that helps them be more effective in their role.

Before designing an email campaign, be sure to segment your contacts properly. Think back to your buyer personas, but also consider a deeper level of personalization. Here are different ways to segment your lists:

  • Geographic: IP country, time zones, area code, address
  • Company: company size, company type, industry
  • Role: department, seniority, role
  • Behavioral: conversion events, email opens, pageviews
  • With Marketing Intelligence Software – you can include the following information: number of social followers, SEO search terms, website pages and technology.

Focus on engagement and working with your internal teams to define clear goals. The natural next step is to track and measure results for future campaign benchmarking, such as delivery rate, open rate and click-through rate and other traffic patterns.

Before you hit send — work with your team to consider ways to A/B test your messaging throughout your email. The most natural place to start is in your subject line — try different calls to action or test out different personalization pieces. Keep track of your hypotheses for which will perform best and make notes as to why one may have outperformed the other. As you become more comfortable — or with the help of an agency partner — start testing different CTAs, content tone, messaging, etc., to see what resonates best with your lists.

Increasing Brand Awareness with Social Media

The right distribution techniques get the right content in front of the right person at the right time. Social media is an opportunity to leverage brand awareness, as well as an important step in staying engaged with your audience.

Typically, social metrics like visitors, sessions, bounce rate, time on site and goal completions best other channels. It’s likely social visitors know or care to learn more about your brand. When in doubt, focus on their needs. Social media can be used at every stage of the inbound methodology, and it is a fundamental step in driving traffic, generating leads and building a community.

Optimization of your integrated campaigns on social media will determine your success rate. Your agency should consider the following key factors to increase social media engagement:

  • Listen and monitor the conversations. Design a strategy to engage across each micro-moment actively.
  • Treat each social media channel differently. Each channel has a different audience, which means that your messaging should have a different tone for each.
  • Create a clear & compelling message. Social media is a fastpaced digital environment; if you are not clear and concise, you will lose your audience.
  • Use relevant and powerful images. Your audience will better retain your message when paired with a relevant image. You can also use videos to promote your integrated campaigns.
  • A/B testing should be done regularly. Test your visuals, your CTAs, your posting time and your messaging for optimal results.

Taking it One Step Further with Paid Social Campaigns

Each social channel can target different audiences and support different content. In addition to lead generation, you can use social advertising to nurture existing leads on their path to conversion. Define your paid social objectives and core KPIs before kicking off any campaigns.

Personalization is just as important in paid social campaigns as it is during the campaign creation stage. To increase your chances for conversions, you must engage your target audience through highly relevant content.

According to Sprout Social:

  • 89% of marketers use Facebook in their brand marketing efforts, and 66% of consumers say they Like or Follow a brand on the channel.
  • Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users, and 90% of consumers follow a business on the platform.
  • People are 26% more likely to view ads on Twitter than on any other leading platform, and 79% of Twitter users like to discover what’s new — making it the top channel for discovery.
  • 90 million of LinkedIn’s 660 million registered users are senior-level influencers, and 63 million are in decision-making positions. 89% of B2B marketers turn to LinkedIn for lead generation.

While evaluating your options for paid campaigns, familiarize yourself with the advertising options and demographics of each platform to choose which aligns best with your campaign goals and target market.

Sharing the Knowledge via Virtual Events

There’s a big void left with demand gen efforts via trade shows that have fueled top of funnel leads for years. As a result, 59% of marketers are looking to diversify their content strategy with webinars and virtual events in the second half of 2020 and beyond.

This amplification tactic can be beneficial in several ways while driving qualified leads that might impact a shorter sales cycle.

Here are a few key areas to focus on:

  • A thought leadership event on a common pain point or topic of interest generates more targeted leads.
  • Using internal thought leaders or top executives establishes authority and trust for your brand.
  • For existing customers, these virtual events can build stronger relationships — which in turn can help build up your referral pipeline.

Bonuses

Optimizing Landing Pages & CTAs for Higher Conversions High-conversion landing pages need to be persuasive, but they also have to be made easy for your audience. The information should be clear and concise. Include customer quotes and list key takeaways; use your firm’s inbound expertise to draw out why your company is better than the competition.

Landing pages and CTAs are the foundation of your online marketing campaigns. Your content assets and strategies might be the perfect combination for your target audience; however, if your landing pages and CTAs aren’t interesting or can’t be found, your efforts will have been wasted.

The Ongoing Importance of SEO Inbound marketing and public relations help your business stand out to the right people. Optimize all of your PR and marketing assets, and always prioritize quality over quantity. Before your agency publishes your next press release or blog post, make sure they effectively optimize that content for search.

SEO doesn’t have to be scary or complex; several marketing tools and platforms can assist with your agency’s research. Consider Google’s keyword tool, Moz or SEMrush to identify the top keywords that fit your press release or blog post. This is one of the most important pieces of SEO — and one you should not overlook.

Advocacy Fuels Lead Generation Efforts

When it comes to allocating marketing dollars, value is key. We all seek to gain maximum value and exposure to our marketing budgets. Cultivating brand advocates who are excited to share their experience with you can be a balanced, low-cost, high-return approach with your marketing strategy.

When executed correctly, advocacy can impact brand recognition and trust and drive sales, recruitment and talent acquisition – all while supporting your brand’s growth strategy during a time when word-of-mouth and referrals are more important than ever.

No matter which forms of brand advocacy you engage in, when aligned to your company’s purpose and values, you can expect to greatly amplify your message authentically across multiple channels, including PR, social and other digital platforms.

Activate your firm in this strategy so that they can go above and beyond emotional connections while supporting pain points and addressing needs. Understand how your brand’s perspective on the purpose and your current positioning in the DEI conversation may or should impact your messaging. Your teams need to be working toward this common goal, and align on the tough conversations, to see results within your inbound and PR strategy.

Customer Advocacy

In today’s experience-driven world, too many marketers move at the pace of change and fail to recognize the value of building a strategic customer advocacy program. This lifeline for brands can make or break your marketing program.

Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer and 7x as likely to try a new offering.

An integrated PR agency can be the best way to get your strong VoC program off the ground quickly. Why? There’s so much more to do with customers than in the past. The skillset that agencies offer — social and storytelling — is part and parcel with their integrated services.

Employee Advocacy

Few brands are successfully capturing the voices of one of their most important assets: employees.

Their influence is significant. Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. Furthermore, brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employees vs the same messages shared via official brand social channels.

In a time where demand gen is a struggle, the voices of your employees should be at the forefront of your marketing and communications strategy. Our recent survey shows that 74.2% of professionals post content on social about their company. But at the same time, only 58.5% considered themselves a brand advocate. To close that gap and encourage your internal community to advocate for your brand as you look to increase brand awareness and lead gen efforts, marketing, sales, and HR must all work together.

A successful employee advocacy program doesn’t only impact brand awareness, brand trust and sales. It can also help depict your brand’s purpose. Encourage your employees to tell the stories about how they’ve helped their customers; how their brand has helped their communities; how their company has supported its employees. Those will be the moments where your brand’s purpose really shines through. Proud and inspired employees feeling empowered to tell their story will bring authenticity to the words that surround your brand.

When it’s done right, an employee advocacy program has the potential to impact brand recognition and trust, the sales pipeline, talent acquisition and retention — not to mention the bottom line.

Influencer and Media Advocacy

Media professionals want to portray how your product or service has directly solved a problem and/or simplified a previously convoluted process. Once you have an emotional narrative that comes with real results — you have a story.

Combine this approach with a market overview, thought leadership perspective and a cutting-edge take on the “next big thing,” and you’re going to start building a media relationship that will sustain your brand’s growth process.

In the case of influencers, the best way to develop a relationship is to find common ground. Figure out what they like. Find out how it matches your thought leaders, your brand and your interests, and then cultivate that relationship the same way that you would build a friendship in real life. Social media is perfect for cultivating these kinds of relationships, and quality advocacy is built on authentic voices from an organic point of view.

For B2B marketers, influencer programs keep your message top of mind. It’s a brand awareness and engagement tactic. What’s more, it’s deeply integrated with your existing marketing efforts, ensuring message amplification and increased content development ROI.

Conclusion

At a time when marketing is faced with added pressures to keep up with lead gen performance across many types of activities and channels, departments are left scrambling to settle on the right approach. We’ve found that leaning on the integration between PR and inbound marketing is crucial to sustaining and building momentum.

Integrated efforts can deliver the same message by different means of communication to increase brand awareness. Your brand will now be connecting with buyers at every phase of their journey. As a result, engagement will increase, resulting in better-qualified leads and, ultimately, increased ROI. Measure your progress with your team throughout this integrated journey to see an impact from the unique combination of audience segmentation, storytelling and SEO. Your integrated agency can provide the measurement and analyses that a traditional PR firm simply cannot match. With a website, email and social analytics, you can truly see the impact of an integrated approach on your brand’s SOV and awareness goals. Through pre-determined KPIs such as downloads and completed forms, your firm can further optimize or drop ineffective campaigns while keeping the “unicorns” in circulation to propel your overall strategy forward.

Brand awareness will impact website traffic, the share of voice, demand and lead gen, and your bottom line. This integrated mindset and strategy implementation will take time and coordination, but your integrated marketing & PR agency can handle these inbound marketing efforts so that you don’t have to!

Source: PAN Communications

Published by Jeannette Scott

, a wellness coach specializing in stress management and quality of life. She’s covered topics from nutrition to psychology, from sexuality to autoimmune diseases and cancer.