By Juli Durante
By now you've heard the stats: Inbound practices produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices. (HubSpot); Website conversion rate is nearly 6 times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%). (Kapost); Brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month. (HubSpot)
It's clear, based on these numbers, that if you want to generate more leads, content marketing is an important avenue to pursue. But how do you develop a content marketing plan that helps you generate leads? Here's how to get started:
1. Attract the Right Visitors.
Yes, we're hear to talk about leads, but you won't convert any leads unless you're first attracting the right visitors. Who are "the right" people? Here are some questions to get you started down the right path:
- What problems does my product/service solve? Who does it solve them for?
- What are most of my satisfied customers like?
- Are there people in particular industries, job functions, or stages of life that particularly benefit from this product/service?
With those answers in mind, you're building very basic buyer personas that you should build out for more information about your ideal customers.
2. Consider the Buyer's Journey
Once you know who your buyer is, you need to consider how your buyer makes purchasing decisions. In general, buyers go through three phases when making a decision: Awareness, Consideration, and Intent.
- Awareness: At this point, buyers are just beginning their researching process and becoming aware of the solutions available to solve their problem, but they're not ready to buy anything.
- Consideration: Here, the buyer has already identified that he has a problem and need to solve it. Now, they're considering their options.
- Intent: By now, your buyer is well versed in the available solutions for her problem, and thinks your solution is the right fit (of course it is!). She'll want a little bit more information to solidfy this decision.
You can generate leads at all stage of the buyer's journey, but remember the funnel: you'll attract more leads with awareness-stage offers than intent - but that's okay: leads from the intent stage are often higher quality. Does that mean you should only create one type or the other? Of course not! Offering content at all stages of the buyers journey gives you the opportunity to engage with more potential leads and nurture existing leads into customers.
3. Create Lead-Generating Content
The time has come: to use content marketing to generate leads, you need the actual content that...generates leads. You might hear this kind of content called "premium content" or "gated content" because it should live behind a landing page with a form that's used to capture your lead's information. What goes behind the form?
- White papers
- Webinar Recordings
- Pricing Requests
- Consultation Requests
Any content piece behind a form should prove real value to your lead. So much value that they'd consider paying for it, because in a way, they are - with their precious contact information.
4. Build a Conversion Path
A conversion path is how your visitor finds your premium content and converts. For each offer, a conversion path includes calls to action, a landing pages, and a thank you page. A conversion path works like this:
- A visitor clicks on a call to action (CTA) on your website, at the end of a blog post, or in an email.
- The CTA is linked to a Landing page with a form, offering the premium content.
- When he hits "submit", your visitor is redirected to a thank you page where he can download the offer. The thank you page may include a secondary offer or additional content to keep the visitor (who is now a lead!) engaged.
5. Create Additional Content that Supports Your Premium Content and Conversion Path
I hate to admit it, but your conversion path alone is not enough to generate more leads. It just won't attract enough visitors on its own to see the results you're after. But, fear not, you can attract more visitors to it with more content.
Blog content is one of the most common ways marketers attract visitors to their websites. Every blog article speaks to a specific problem and its solution. When one of your potential buyers has a problem and searches for a solution (literally, on Google or another search engine), your blog post may come up as a solution. They click the result, read the post, and then, because you're a savvy content marketer, they see a call to action at the end of the post, inviting them to download an eBook that dives further into solving the problem. They go to your landing page, fill out the form, and are now a lead.
You can also amplify your volume of visitors by sharing your offer on social media, including CTAs on pages of your website, and sending email campaigns. Remember, it's all content.
6. Repeat, Regularly
Of course, one lead gen offer isn't enough for a full content marketing plan. You have to repeat this process at a regular interval to really see results. So your plan might look something like this:
- Write 1 piece of premium content per quarter
- Publish 6 blogs related to that premium content offer (plus 6 blogs related to different premium content offers) in the following quarter
- Send 1 promotion email to the aligned buyer persona when the content offer goes live
- Promote the offer to relevant social channels, including LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Pages, Twitter, or where applicable, when launched
- Send out a news release announcing your new content, the problems it helps solve, and whom it solves them for.
- Repeat for next quarter with a different content offer.
Of course, the timeline here can be adjusted based on your team and resources-it's merely a starting point for creating a marketing plan that helps you generate more leads.