By Ryan Malone

As marketers, pulling in leads and converting them into customers is what we're all about.  According to a recent study produced by and The Content Marketing Institute, “80% of the most effective B2B marketers cite lead generation as a goal compared with 64% of their least effective peers.”

But, what happens when the conversion rates go down? You're still roping in plenty of leads, but they're not buying anything.

Or, what if your lead conversion rate is doing just fine, but you'd like to see it improve even more?

Here are some tips to help you amp up your lead conversions using content marketing.

Back to Basics

First of all, if you're finding your lead conversion rate isn't all you're hoping for, take some time to answer these basic questions:

  • How are you defining a lead? Take a look back at the detailed customer persona(s) you put together before you started working this plan. Are they still accurate? Is your marketing still effectively targeting that individual?(BTW, if you'd like some excellent help in honing your personas, you could do a lot worse than downloading our free eBook on the topic.)
  • How are you defining a conversion? Based on the persona(s) again, what is the buying process this individual needs to go through? Where are they on that path when they enter your funnel as a “lead”?  What do you want them to do next?  (Hint: sometimes, a successful conversion is NOT a sale.  Sometimes it's simply a signup or a download.)
  • How are you measuring success? If you determine what this particular lead needs to do to be considered a converted lead, how are you capturing that data, measuring that success, testing and improving upon it consistently? 

Armed with the answers to those basic questions, you're now prepared to review your current strategy.

Strategy Review

Now turn your magnifying glass on the process itself: 

  • Is the current marketing strategy performing better than you thought?  Sometimes, clarifying the items above points out successes you didn't even realize you were enjoying.  For instance, if only 2% of your leads are becoming buyers at one point in the process, but 25% of them are signing up for your newsletter, considering newsletter signups as a successful conversion does wonders for that conversion rate!
  • Is the current strategy properly targeted, deployed, and measured?  Again, based on your answers to the questions above, is the current process even capable of accomplishing the purposes set out for it?  If not, where is it lacking?  The gap between what you need your marketing to accomplish and what it is accomplishing must be closed quickly if you're going to succeed. 

Now that the gaps resulting in your less-than-stellar conversion rates are identified, you can get into the content itself.

Content Audit

Based on the facts and decisions discussed in the previous sections, you can look at what content you already have and begin weeding through it strategically.

  • What current content is actually converting well?  Is there a particular piece of content, or perhaps a particular content type, channel, or distribution method that truly seems to resonate with your target audience? There are plenty of ways to emulate content that works and to repurpose existing content into fresh content that can work as well.
  • What current content is converting poorly? Similarly, identifying what content is not engaging your target audience teaches you what not to do going forward. (Hint: be careful to review metrics objectively – just because a particular piece of content was shared a thousand times doesn't mean it engaged the folks you're looking for.) 

Finally, you have all the gaps in your current strategy identified, and you know what content resources you currently have to work with that could theoretically fill those gaps.  Next, you simply need to create and distribute whatever you don't yet have at your disposal.

Content Creation and Distribution

Now's where the real fun begins for content marketers.

Using the priceless knowledge you've accumulated by reviewing the basics of your lead generation and conversion goals, then reviewing the strategy you've been using and the content already available to you, you're left in an optimum position to identify what types of content would most effectively fill those remaining gaps and really amp up your lead conversion rate. 

Content type, topic, distribution channel, keywords used, graphic design... all of this now becomes grist for the testing mill as your newly refined content marketing strategy begins to generate and convert more leads going forward.

Congratulations! You're done!

Now, do it again.  And again.  And again...

What have you done to amp up lead conversion with your content? Let us know by tweeting us at @smartbugmedia.

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Ryan Malone

About the author

Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.

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