In the overcrowded kingdom of content, lead generation is the monarch. It’s not enough for your clients to have good material on their sites; it needs to actually work for them.
Research shows that online users have increasingly begun to “self-educate” instead of relying on vendors to help them make buying decisions. This gives you an unparalleled opportunity to create content that drives purchases.
To do that effectively, however, you need the right type of content for each stage of the buying decision—or you’ll simply be building brand awareness without your efforts translating into sales leads.
#1: Take Content to Users
Inbound is a great strategy. The trouble is, relying on inbound traffic from your circles isn’t the only thing your clients need to do, and far too many marketers are still viewing it that way. To reach sophisticated online users, consider taking your content to where they are. Discussion forums, sharing sites and social media (yes, social is still up there!) are where the users are gathering virtually, comparing notes and chatting about their interests.
#2: Find Out What Works
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Monitoring and tracking are vitally important for marketers to find out what works and what doesn’t. There’s precious little point in publishing blog posts day after day if nobody reads them. All you have to do is check out the majority of blogs on the Internet and you’ll find dozens of posts with one or two Likes, a couple shares and no comments. This shows few people were interested in reading them. By reviewing your content stats regularly, you can provide more of the material that draws readers and generates leads, and less of the fluff that nobody takes notice of.
#3: Use Google Authorship
As big as the virtual world is, it’s made everything much more intimate. Users don’t want to read about big corporations, and they would rather buy from a real person than a faceless company. And yet, blogs abound that don’t include author information, for whatever reason. Put your best foot forward by enabling Google authorship so you can build recognition of your name and expertise in your industry. It’s the street cred of the digital future, and will help to build your personal brand so you become a lead generation magnet for your business.
#4: Align with the Buying Cycle
Everyone who reads your content is at a specific point in his or her buying cycle. You can’t pull in the user who is just becoming aware of your product or service with the same content as one who is on the point of making a buying decision. So don’t try to be everything to everybody—that’s a recipe for failure. Instead, segment each of your target markets into groups based on the sections of the sales funnel, and create content specifically for them. It can be the same information; just write it differently to avoid Google flagging it as duplicate content, and give it a headline that targets the particular segment.
#5: Never Let ‘em Go
Once you’ve captured a user’s information, do something with it. Lead nurturing is just as important as lead generation, if you want to turn the leads into actual sales. Research shows that 80% of leads aren’t ready to buy right away and that the majority of sales occur between the 5th and 12th contact, according to Sellingly.com. Most sales reps only follow up twice, however, before discarding the lead. Automated email marketing programs enable you to nurture the leads along through the various stages of the buying cycle. They do this by tracking what the user looks at, where he goes, how long he stays on each page so you can tell what he’s likely reading. The program can be set up to send various follow-up materials based on the user’s behavior to keep him interested and nudge him to the next stage.
Great content is everything. But great content that converts into sales is the holy grail of content marketing. Don’t waste your time and effort by churning out stuff that isn’t laser-targeted at helping users learn about your product or service and building up your reputation as a reliable, expert vendor who shares knowledge rather than simply pursuing sales.