Content marketing has two purposes:
1.Provide value for your customers
2. Provide leads for your business.
If you accomplish both of those, than you might as well land on an aircraft carrier with and unfurl the “Mission Accomplished banner” because you are doing great. However, many of us need help with how to turn readers into leads. To accomplish this we move from content production to content marketing. With Content marketing your reader embarks on a series of steps that move down a funnel from visitor to lead to customer. They make these moves on their own accord, without you directly selling to them. Think of content marketing as sharing information in order to build loyalty with future customers, while avoiding direct selling. Once your audience is educated and entertained by the information that you share they, they begin to sign up for offers and become leads. This blog post is intended to be an overall guide to teach you the strategy of how to use content marketing for lead generation.
The Value of Content is Valuable Content
Become a thought leader
Content that users interact with has a different kind of value than money. Content is valuable because it connects writers with audiences in a way that solves problems and/or provides experienced guidance. If your content truly provides value for them, they will continue to consume your content. From the businesses point of view great content allows you to actually connect with the customer, and to differentiate yourself from your competitors. For example, I have a feeling of connection and eventually purchased UnBounce (a landing page software) all because I felt their blogs taught me so much. I am in the industry, and still get influenced by this feeling of connection and value!
The more you produce content that improves lives and businesses, the more your content attracts online followers who become leads. They consume your valuable content and want more and you begin to build your credibility as a thought leader in your industry. Thought leaders are able to generate leads and sales just by attaching their names to projects. Look at these though leaders from various industries who attached their name to a product that had nothing to do with their thought leadership.
- Giada De Laurentis – Children’s Books
- Michael Jordan – Hanes Underwear
- Snooki – Harvard (kidding – was just seeing if you were reading closely)
- Sylvestor Stallone – Restaurant
You want to be a thought leader. By introducing people to fresh content that can’t be found anywhere else, whether it is news or commentary, you gain people’s respect as an expert in your field, making your content valuable to that following. Once your content has that perceived value, you then introduce offers for lead generation.
Content Marketing Tip: Gather Information on Analytics
When your content spreads, it creates a critical mass and you can gather intelligence in your analytics. This is valuable to all parties concerned. Followers learn from your content and have real business problems solved, all while generating statistics on how much time they spent with your content. You learn what kind of content generates leads from your customers.
How Content Attracts Leads
Image courtesy of Pencil Twister
The main way content attracts leads is through content is matching the content with a compelling offer. Every blog post you create should have a compelling offer that is in some way tied to your content. Simply ask for some small bits of information in exchange for you offer (make sure to use them appropriately)
Contact Us is NOT a compelling offer. I see “Contact Us” at the end of many blog posts and it means nothing. Why am I contacting you? Will an annoying sales guy who always refers to me as “Champ” call me and pester me to do business?
Compelling offers provide actual value to your customer, and are at least some way related to your content. As you may have noticed, my favorite is a well-written eBook. eBooks allow the potential customer to learn more about a subject and establish you as an expert
While leads are generated through the offer, content is often found on search engines. Content from blogs often represent a series of articles that add up to hundreds of web pages. The content of each blog is built on specific keywords that shape the blog’s theme and each one of these pieces is indexed by the search engine. The challenge is to write about as many things in your niche as possible that answer the questions of your customers. Think about it this way, the more blogs you write, the more chances you have to appear in search.
Search engines want to prioritize quality content so users don’t waste too much time on thin content sites. Sending a user to a site with poor content reflects poorly on the search engine. As long as the content stays useful and is updated regularly, it’s possible to build a large online following. Once you know your audience, imagine that you are actually in the room explaining the topic to them when you create content.
One of the aspects that makes blogs popular is that they are interactive. As a writer you should either leave your email address or allow users to respond with comments about your blog. This allows you to interact with your reader base and begin to build a relationship.
Lead Scoring and Nurturing
From your list of leads, organize people into categories. Since not everyone who engages with you wants to buy something from you, it’s helpful to use a scoring system that separates hot leads from cold leads. Usually a 1-10 or 1-100 scoring system is used to score leads with a threshold score that determines if the lead is qualified or not. Focus on the most qualified leads for sales calls to improve sales productivity. Think about the Pareto 80/20 rule, you want to spend 80% of your time on the 20% most qualified leads.
The leads that don’t count as hot or qualified should still be archived for future use. Lead scores change over time depending on a variety of reasons. Someone might be ready to buy because they’ve finally saved up enough money, so they show interest, which raises their score. Nurturing leads is a big part of content marketing because you are building a relationship with the potential customer. Engaging with followers in social media and email is a part of lead nurturing and building a long-term business relationship.
Building a Content Marketing Strategy
Your strategy for content marketing for lead generation should be based on providing value for your potential customer and reader. The site needs to have a narrative that becomes familiar with its target market as one that they can visit to get questions answered. Building an image as an expert is similar to creating brand awareness for a product. You feed people information they need and eventually they’ll realize they can’t find it from other websites and they become loyal followers.
Planning out a three-month content marketing for lead generation strategy is helpful because it lets you plan out a creative logical story line, which gives you and the reader a sense of where the story is going. Though, sometimes this is impossible, as with the fast changing digital industries (we use a 1 month calendar!). Another advantage to planning out blogs is that you have more time to think of appropriate page titles. Part of gaining an edge over competitors in search engines is to come up with eye-catching page titles. If you build a site full of hundreds of pages of useful content, you will likely gain the attention of search engines, who care more about content-rich sites than thin content sites.
Using Social Media
Social media has become a natural building block to content marketing for lead generation since it allows for easy interaction with followers. One of the most important things to remember about content marketing is that it is not about hype or pressure. The goal is to educate people. Over time people make their own decision on purchasing. Social media can also be used as a customer service tool to answer people’s questions. Some of these questions can be answered by your eBooks – hence they can become leads.
People’s trust is the core foundation of content marketing for lead generation. If people like your content and continue to engage with you through social media, then they are leads worth nurturing. The time you spend with followers on social media is valuable – remember everyone you deal with is a potential future customer.
How have you used content marketing for lead generation? What are your tips?
Adam Lundquist (@adamlundquist) is the Paid Search Director at Majux Marketing a Philadelphia based digital marketing company. He was Santa Barbara’s #1 Morning Show Host, an Army soldier, and recently a Harvard graduate. Adam cuts through the marketing noise to create digital marketing campaigns with clear business oriented goals and objectives. He has been featured in The Harvard Gazette, Search Engine Journal, Mtv, Vh1, Sports Illustrated, and Moz.