If you’re looking for the best way to generate leads for your business, then look no further than content marketing. While leads are undoubtedly the lifeblood of your business, content is the foundation of lead generation.
Content marketing is the art of communicating directly with your customers without selling to them. It is the strategic creation and delivery of useful and engaging content to your target audience. This content can be anything from blog posts to eBooks and white papers to podcasts. Content marketing can generate up to three times as many leads as conventional marketing and costs up to 62% less when done successfully.
As customer journeys are now getting longer and more complicated, leads have become the new conversions. High-quality, relevant, and targeted content is the most effective way to drive and nurture leads. If you want to consistently generate quality leads for your business, you need to focus on which content marketing lead generation strategies actually work. The question now is how do you create great content that can generate leads for your business? In this guide, we look at six effective ways you can generate leads with content marketing.
What is a lead?
A lead is anyone who shows an interest in your company's products or services in any form. Leads usually submit their personal information for a subscription, trial, survey or offer, opening up a communication channel with your company. When a business collects the information from a potential lead in this way, it can personalise their opening communications rather than waste time cold calling leads who aren't interested in their products or services.
Leads often transition from visitors to customers but not all leads are the same. There are different types of leads based on their life cycle and how they are qualified. For example:
- Marketing qualified lead: These are contacts who've engaged with your marketing efforts but aren't ready for a sales call. For example, they have filled out a landing page form for an offer.
- Sales qualified lead: Contacts who've taken actions that indicate their interest in becoming a paying customer. For example, they've filled out a form to ask a question about your products or services.
- Product qualified lead: Contacts who've used your product already and shown interest in becoming a paying customer. For example, they've used a free version of your product but then engages with you or asks about features only available with payment.
- Service qualified lead: Contacts who've indicated an interest in becoming a paying customer. For example, they've told your customer service representative that they want to upgrade their subscription.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is when organisations attract and convert a consumer into someone interested in their products or services. This could be through useful blog posts, job applications, special offers, free online content, or exciting live events. It's an effective way of warming up potential customers to your business and pointing them in the right direction so that they might make a purchase eventually.
When someone sparks a relationship with your company by showing an 'organic' interest in your organisation, their transition from outsider to customer is much more natural and likely to last longer.
Lead generation content, or lead magnets, are valuable resources you can offer to prospective customers in exchange for their contact information, often their email address. Examples of types of content you can use to generate leads include:
- Free trials of a product
- Case studies
- Free reports
This content kickstarts the lead generation process and brings potential customers onto your site.
Jenny Winter, Head of Marketing at Degree 53, says, ‘Lead generation campaigns need to be compelling enough for customers to want to give away their personal information. Customers need to see the value they’ll be getting before they fill out a form. However, the content also needs to deliver on the promise and be useful for them. Lead generation content begins a relationship between the customer and the brand. So, getting creative and trying out different types of content is a great way of determining what sort of content attracts the most customers.’
Lead generation process
The process of lead generation has four key steps:
- A person learns of your organisation through one of your organisation’s marketing channels.
- They click on the call-to-action (CTA) button, image, or message to encourage them to take action.
- The CTA takes this person to a landing page on your website created to capture lead information in return for something that will benefit them, such as a template, course or eBook, available on the landing page. Whatever you are offering, it will need to have enough value for the visitor to want to provide their personal information for it.
- Once they are on the landing page, they fill out a form in exchange for the offer.
You now have a brand-new lead!
Content marketing for lead generation
Now we've looked at leads and lead generation, it's time to take a closer look at how to get the most from your content marketing. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get a robust content marketing strategy in place – then you can start growing your leads.
Develop a customer/buyer persona
Content marketing can only generate leads successfully if the content suits your target audience. Otherwise, it's simply a waste of your valuable resources. Therefore, before you begin with content marketing for lead generation, you need to identify your target audience and develop a customer persona for them.
A buyer or customer persona is a customer profile created based on the type of customer who uses your brand, or a product or service similar to yours. A customer persona gets down to the nitty-gritty details of your customers – how old are they? Where do they live? You can even give them a name to make them seem more real! These profiles give you valuable insight into who your prospective customers are as you can learn about their attitudes and the key factors that cause them to choose a specific product or service. When you know who your prospective customer is and what questions they need answering, you can create relevant and value-filled content that answers their questions and addresses their pain points. A buyer persona includes the following details:
- Biographic information: Their name, gender, age, income, family, location, and profession
- Values or aims: Their hopes and goals
- Pain points: What are they struggling with that they need solutions for?
- Role in the buyer journey: Do they have the final say in purchasing decisions, or will they consult with a partner, boss, or friend first?
- Issues with your product: Do they have any issues or objections relating to your product or service?
Understanding consumer behaviour will enable you to determine your target customer and allow you to create content that suits their needs and increases their conversions.
Choose the best content type for your audience
There are two key reasons for creating content: generating traffic or generating leads, and they work hand in hand with each other. You need the traffic to generate the leads. Content comes in many different shapes and forms and, to ensure your content marketing efforts have a profitable ROI, you need to create content that best suits your audience. For example:
- Blog posts: An invaluable resource to generate traffic to your website. High-quality blog posts add real value for your readers and can be used to direct people to your sales or landing page.
- Video content: Interesting and audience-focused videos will generate shares and significant traffic back to your site.
- Social media: An astonishing 2.95 billion people in the world use social media. Ensure you take advantage of this and share posts across social media to drive traffic to your website. This also includes optimising your social media profiles, engaging with other social media users, and using the power of targeted social media advertising.
- Podcasts: It might be one of the newest forms of content, but podcasts' popularity is growing rapidly. You can take advantage of this by using podcasts to interact with your target audience on a more intimate level to help you drive traffic to your site.
- Infographics: Visual content is incredibly popular, so it's a good idea to focus on improving your visual marketing. After all, infographics can increase website traffic by up to 12%, and they receive 650% more engagement than traditional guest posts.
Focus on quality rather than quantity
Regardless of the type of content, a focus on quality over quantity has become increasingly important. This means your focus should be on creating more well-researched, long-form content of between 2,000 and 3,000 words that brings real value to your target audience. While it's true that 85% of online content is less than 1,000 words, long-form content consistently receives more shares and links.
Your readers are more likely to share your content and link to it if they find value in it for them. This, in turn, will improve your SEO rankings and increase the amount of organic traffic you receive. As a result, you will have more leads for your business. However, it's important to keep in mind that it's not just the length of your content that will get you the results you want. Long-form content is not about boosting your word count but using as much space as you need to demonstrate your authority and help your readers.
Create clear calls to action
While having good quality content is important, you need to make sure that there is also a clear and visible call to action. An effective call to action can be powerful in increasing conversions and answering the crucial question of what you want your visitor to do next.
A call to action is an eye-catching and inviting piece of text that encourages your website visitor to take further action. You should place calls to action in visible and prominent areas of the website and across multiple pages to help increase conversions. Most commonly used in the form of a labelled button or widget, visitors to your website can click on and be taken to the relevant page on the site. There are several different types of call to action that you can use, for example:
- Read more
- Subscription signup
- Social media buttons
- Add to cart
- Contact us
- Leave a review
Optimise your blog to generate more leads
Blogging remains one of the top methods of content marketing for lead generation. However, to generate more leads, you need to be optimising your blog for lead generation:
- Create more high-quality, long-form, and well-researched blog posts that have a lot of value to your audience.
- Only promote your products and services within your blog content when relevant. 'How to' blog posts that provide real value to the reader are often the perfect opportunity to promote your services and encourage readers to contact you.
- Add a sidebar opt-in form on all your blog pages to encourage readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Ensure it's easy for them to find and fill out and give them a good reason for doing so.
- Create targeted content downloads/lead magnets where possible. For example, in any blog post where you help solve a problem for your readers, you can also include a targeted content download to accompany your blog post to generate more leads.
Ravi Davda, CEO of digital marketing agency Rockstar Marketing, says, ‘Before creating a blog post, ensure you perform keyword research. If you have a highly authoritative site in the eyes of Google, you may be able to get away with writing content on highly volume (and therefore high difficulty!) keywords. For everyone else, this isn't possible. You need to look for keywords where your content can realistically get to page one of Google. Otherwise, your blog writing efforts will be wasted. Once you've found the keyword, use a tool such as Yoast SEO or RankMath to ensure your blog post is optimised for this keyword. However, don't overdo this. Remember that you're still writing for humans. You'll probably want to consider creating backlinks to your blog if you want it to be visible too. This is where other sites link back to yours, which then shows Google that you deserve some attention in your industry. This means more blogs are shown towards the top positions of Google search.’
Luke Budka, Head of Digital PR and SEO, Definition Group, confirms the importance of keywords for leads, and says: ‘Focus your blog content on 'top of funnel' keywords i.e. terms and phrases prospects might be searching for in the research part of their buying journey. Don't forget to use your blogs for keyword optimised internal linking to your product pages – something John Mueller, search advocate at Google, recently emphasised on a Google Hangout. Remember, one long form blog can rank for multiple keywords - since Google's passage ranking update was introduced in October 2020, Google will pull content directly from the blog and return it directly in the search engine results pages.’
Create compelling lead magnets
A lead magnet is a free item or service you give away in return for gathering contact information. Some unique lead magnet ideas for lead generation include:
- Cheatsheets: Cheatsheets are very popular because they offer people a step-by-step guide to get the best results quickly.
- Checklists: Checklists are simple to create and easy for people to consume.
- Examples: People are often looking for new or different ways to solve a problem. Giving visitors actionable examples in exchange for their email is a win-win for both parties.
- Recipes: Creating and publishing recipe lists is a great way of engaging visitors for food bloggers.
- Resource lists: Resource lists save the user time as you’ve already done all the hard work for them.
- Templates: Templates in the form of spreadsheets or social media posts are a great lead magnet as people are already actively looking for them.
- Tutorials, eBooks, and Guides: These types of lead magnets help users learn more about how to do something and are an opportunity for you to showcase your product or service and what value it offers.
For a lead magnet to be effective, it needs to be easily accessible, simple to digest, solve your reader's problems, and be specific to them.
Match content to search intent
Most websites are optimised to generate organic traffic from Google. This includes identifying relevant keywords and including them in content and the anchor text of backlinks. But an important optimisation process is to give searchers what they are looking for by optimising your content for search intent. What is the intention behind what your customers are searching for?
Different search queries indicate different types of search intent. For example:
- Informational intent: Searchers want fast answers (top-funnel intent)
- Commercial investigation: Searchers compare their options (putting them closer to the sale)
- Commercial intent: Searchers look for product reviews (they are now ready to buy)
- Navigational content: Searchers want tutorials to guide them on how to use a product (existing customers who may become returning buyers or users of a free trial who may convert into paying customers)
To take advantage of these different search intents, you need to create different content to meet these intentions.
If you manage a team, organise regular ideas sharing sessions to look for new keywords you can tap into and the search intent behind them. Once you’ve made a start with this, you can then review your existing website content. How do your landing pages drive organic traffic to your site? check that those pages address a clear search intent and how you might improve this with a new form of content.
Match calls to action to your content
You can also adapt the calls to action in your content to match search intent more effectively. Suppose your content is developed to address basic how-to queries rather than selling your products or services. In that case, your content can be upgraded to include useful downloads, which make the information much easier to digest. For example:
- Include an email form within your content that invites readers to download a free checklist to make it easier to follow the tutorial steps. You can use a plug-in such as MailOptin to set up contextual lead generation forms that are different on each page.
- Set up a customer survey that encourages readers to share their opinions and experiences with a promise to email them the results.
- Use a smart chatbot to configure calls to action and add this to the relevant landing page.
Use content syndication
If your blog is new and has not started to generate traffic, you can use content syndication to get people to see your content and generate leads. Content syndication is where you upload content to third-party websites that have a bigger readership than your own website to increase traffic and engagements. Syndicating content on a website with a huge amount of traffic from your target audience has the potential to generate a huge number of leads. Popular platforms used for content syndication include LinkedIn, Facebook Business, Quora, Medium, Taboola, Slideshare, Tumblr, and Reddit.
Choose good distribution networks
Creating great content is important, but it doesn't have much value if no one gets to see it. That's why you need to decide on the right marketing channel mix to distribute your content. There are two key channels you can use to distribute your content – organic and paid channels.
As you may expect, organic distribution doesn't need money to get started. Therefore, if you are on a budget, this will likely be the best way to go. However, it does take time to build online credibility and authority. This grows over time and can take a few months before you start seeing significant improvements. Some of the popular organic distribution channels are:
- Search engines
You don't have to use all these channels at once. Your customer research should indicate which channels your target market spends most of their time visiting. Therefore, focus on these areas to maximise your distribution resources.
Paid distribution channels
Paid distribution channels require you to spend money to get started. However, you should find that they will begin to generate traffic immediately. Some of the popular paid distribution channels include:
- Search ads
- Social media ads
- Display ads
- Native ads (adverts that appear across other platforms)
Making good use of organic and paid distribution will help to make lead generation a more holistic process for your website in the long term.
Use more content to engage inactive leads
As content attracts people from both social media and organic search, it is a great asset at the top of the sales funnel. Content is also a good ‘middle of the funnel’ material because you can use it to re-engage previous visitors to your website.
Work on continuously re-engaging your email subscribers by setting up regular automated emails containing new content assets. Improve the way you engage with your subscribers by creating a more personalised workflow – for instance, when a lead opens an email and clicks the link, you can send a follow-up email addressing that link's topic or related topic.
Most email marketing platforms like Mailchimp support smart automation where you can set up a personalised email campaign.
Re-engage bounced traffic
Not every first-time visitor to your website is willing to share their email address with you. But you don't actually need their email address to be able to turn them into a lead. Ongoing remarketing, or retargeting campaigns, can effectively engage visitors who failed to become leads or customers. For example, Facebook Pixel can record your website visitors' data to help you re-engage with them. You can set up remarketing campaigns based on a website page that the Facebook user has visited. This is a useful way to personalise your ads for your ‘top of the funnel’ content assets.
You can also personalise your leads' journey by setting up retargeting campaigns with personalised calls to action based on their past interactions with your website. For example, a tool like Finteza will help you deliver custom ads to website visitors who read at least half of a newly published page. You can also set up separate campaigns to serve custom calls to action to your visitors who click on your Facebook advert.
When creating your content marketing strategy, you need to follow the right steps to ensure you get the maximum return on your investment. By investing in quality customer and market research and taking the time to understand your target audience, while creating high-quality content that offers real value, you'll see amazing results for your business. By following these strategies, you can generate more leads, increase conversions, and increase your product or service sales.
Get in touch with us today to find out how Feefo can help you maximise customer leads and grow your business.