Are you having trouble finding a reliable way to use content marketing for lead generation? Generating leads through valuable content requires a concerted effort to deliver the type of content that your customers want, in a way that helps them to connect personally with your brand.
Customers value content that helps them to solve their problems. It’s an essential pillar of SEO. According to WebDAM, B2B companies that blog consistently generate 67% more leads than companies that do not. But without a concerted effort to design and execute an effective strategy, many companies never reach the aspirations they hope for from content marketing.
Here at Oz Content, our clients use our system to help define an effective strategy, conduct detailed research for their content, and put together high-quality content that their customers have a high level of demand for. With excellent execution, these principles make up the foundation of leveraging content marketing for lead generation.
Let’s take a look at some tips and in-depth tactics that can help you launch or improve your content marketing strategy and connect with more of your ideal customers:
1.) Know Your Audience
You can’t cover the subjects that your customers want without diving head-first into research. According to a study from iTracks, business leaders find that strategic decision making relies heavily on your ability to perform market research. Without a well-executed market research strategy for content development, you just can’t expect success.
There are a few techniques that should be a part of every content market research campaign. As you put together your b2b lead generation tactics, use some of these sources to inform your strategy and define content topics:
- Interactions with customers. What do prospects ask when they first reach out to your business? What do they want to know about your product, company, or industry? This can be a great starting point for content topic development as you know your ideal customers.
- Keyword research. We’ll dive into this with more detail later in the article, but there are few sources of data that give you more insight into where the demand in your industry lies than keyword research.
- Observations from communities. Scour through the online communities where your audience hangs out and discusses their biggest problems. When your ideal customer is speaking to peers, they’ll speak more honestly than they typically would interacting with a business. It’s a great way to learn about their biggest concerns and position your product as the answer.
To create content that produces measurable business results, you have to know the audience that you are creating that content for intimately.
Pro Tip: To learn more about your ideal customer, reach out to people that would be a perfect fit for your software without any intention of selling anything to them. Instead, ask if you can talk to them about their issues. Having an open and honest conversion will allow you to learn more while developing a personal connection that could be beneficial down the road.
2.) Create & Update Customer Personas
If you’re a CMO, you likely already have some customer personas on hand, but it is never a bad idea to flesh them out and redefine your target audience for your content operations. In your research you may learn more about your customers that can inform your personas and eventually, your content strategy.
Remember — customer personas should be a fluid concept. The more that you learn about your ideal customer, the more ammo you have to speak to their biggest problems and effectively position your product. Knowing your customers is ingrained in effective content marketing, and those documents can be used throughout your marketing department. Update your personas as you gather more intelligence.
Oz Content puts customer personas front and center with our research tools. Using our system, you can ensure that every piece of content that you create is hyper-focused toward your customer personas, speaking to their biggest issues.
Pro Tip: As time goes on, don’t be afraid to add more customer personas into your content marketing strategy. As you produce more content, the customer segments that you target can grow with your operation.
3.) Map the Customer Journey
Source: Big Data Made Simple
Content marketing for lead generation is all about delivering the right content to your customer at the right time. Delivering a piece crafted for late in the sales funnel too early could destroy all of the goodwill that you’ve built. For this reason, mapping out the customer journey and knowing what kind of content you want to deliver and when you want to deliver it is essential for nurturing your customers toward the sale.
Your customer journey map should be specific to your strategy and business. Start with a skeleton and flesh it out as you begin to define your strategy as you go along.
Now let’s start to dive into the different types of content marketing for lead generation:
4.) Flesh Out Testimonials Into Case Studies
Every marketer knows how important social proof is for developing trust with prospects. Almost 70% of customers seek out reviews before purchasing a product. Product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions.
If you offer B2B products, there is a high chance that you already have testimonials on your website from previous customers. Consider the best interactions that you have had with customers, and decide on a few that you can flesh out into full case studies. If you’ve already approached them about a testimonial, there is a good chance that they are going to say “yes” to a request for a case study as well.
Case studies give your audience a more detailed look into the type of engagements that you have with customers. A more in-depth examination will go a lot further with potential customers than a short quote will. It allows them to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. You can use those case studies throughout the nurturing process as the customer nears the buying stage.
Pro Tip: Case studies are most effective when they do two things:
- They touch on the emotional benefits of your engagement with a customer. How did your solution make them feel? How did it benefit their life and business?
- They provide cold, hard facts that show business results for your customers. Did your solution grow their revenue? Lower their cart abandonment rate? Grow their email list? Use statistics to back up your assertions and remove doubt from the equation.
5.) Create White Papers and eBooks for Lead Magnets
You can drive all of the traffic that you want to your content, but if you don’t have an effective way to capture leads, your lead generation from content marketing is always going to underperform. “Lead magnets” are digital goods that you use to entice your users to sign up to your email list.
In your research, you should be able to identify subjects that are particularly interesting to your audience that would make high-quality white papers or ebooks. Choose subjects that offer the opportunity to deep-dive into the subject and really provide high-level value to your audience. The deeper you can dig into the subject, the more appropriate it is for an eBook or white paper lead magnet.
Pro Tip: Creating white papers and eBooks to serve as lead magnets doesn’t mean that they are limited to that scope. They are useful pieces of content that you can use throughout the email nurturing process to move prospects through your sales funnel. White papers are especially effective once your leads have been marked as Marketing Qualified Leads to give them that extra push toward becoming a Sales Qualified Lead.
6.) Conduct Detailed Keyword Research
There is nothing more important for content marketing for lead generation than targeting the right keywords with your content. Choosing the right keyword can be the difference between a piece of content generating no leads and generating a healthy amount of leads per month. Getting to the first page for a competitive keyword can take some time, but a less competitive keyword is generally more attainable.
Oz Content’s system makes keyword research simple. Our keyword opportunities are identified and scored 5x faster than they are in other systems. Our system scores each keyword with a competition score that helps you to choose keywords that will best match your content strategy. Then, you can use our system to connect those keywords to specific customer personas.
7.) Focus on Longtail Keywords
Longtail keywords are keywords that contain more words. They generally have lower volume counts and are less competitive than shorter keywords. Most longtail keywords have search volumes between 50 and 500 searches per month. While smaller, keywords like these can supply a consistent stream of B2B leads because they are hyper-targeted.
Targeting longtail keywords will not only help you to rank more quickly, but it will make the upper ranks (spots 1-3) for the keyword more attainable, generally. Oz Content’s system makes it easy to identify low-competition, high-value longtail keywords that will attract your ideal customers.
8.) Understand Effective Headlines
Your ability to attract traffic to your website depends heavily on your ability to catch the eye of prospects. Understanding what makes an attractive headline is critical to getting your audience to not only click on your articles but continue reading. According to CopyBlogger, 8 out of 10 people that see your headline will click on it and read it. However, they will only continue reading further if the headline persuades them to do so.
Studying copywriting and the intersection of psychology and marketing are critical for knowing how to write captivating headlines. You can also study online publications to see how they use headlines to attract their key audience. You can have the best content in the world, but if you choose the wrong headline you will seriously hamstring the effectiveness of the content.
Pro Tip: Using a tool like Sumo’s Headline Generator can be a great way to brainstorm and generate headline ideas quickly while following copywriting best practices.
9.) Create Long-Form Articles
Customers and Google love long-form articles. If you’ve been in the marketing world long enough, you’ve probably heard people recommend that you make your content “short and bite-sized” so that it can be easily digested by the audience. While this might be appropriate for some subjects and audiences, it is generally bad advice for those that want to drive B2B SEO leads.
Source: Can I Rank?
Longer content also performs better in search. Try to see it from Google’s perspective. They want to connect their users with the best possible information on any subject that they are searching for. Content that is longer generally provides more information. It just makes sense for all parties.
It’s a major factor in where Google is willing to rank you, but they also take into account how their user’s interact with your content as well. Luckily, longer articles also suck readers in and keep them on the page for longer, which makes your page more likely to rank highly, according to the recent RankBrain updates.
10.) Promote Your Content Through Email and Social
It’s shocking how many companies put in the time and effort to create great content, then put no effort into promoting it. It takes a long time to put together an authoritative article on a business subject. Why wouldn’t you want your audience to see it? Sujan Patel recommends that you spend 4x as much time promoting your content as you did creating it.
At bare minimum, you should share all content that you create with your current audience. Send a broadcast email out to your email subscribers. Share it on your social accounts and schedule future Tweets so the article is shared periodically over the course of months to ensure that it reaches its widest possible audience.
With that said, you should be doing a lot more than that to promote the content that you create. It doesn’t take a lot of time to put together broadcast email copy or share your content with your followers, but it is a good start. Beyond that, find communities to share new content that you publish with and innovative ways to get your content in front of your ideal audience to expand its reach and generate more B2B leads.
Pro Tip: When promoting content to your email list, send articles to the specific segments that they will appeal most to. You don’t want to bother your entire list with an article that they wouldn’t be interested in.
11.) Consider Content Syndication
Content syndication is one of the most overlooked content marketing for lead generation strategies. Too many businesses learn about the “duplicate content penalty” (which is a different, but real thing) and shy away from syndication completely. While you want to make clear that your website is the original source for syndicated articles, content syndication actually has a net-positive effect on SEO due to the backlinks and mentions that you’ll receive from other publications.
Content syndication isn’t a new concept. It’s been a popular tactic for getting content in front of audiences since the invention of the circulated print newspaper. Content syndication online provides many of the same benefits that it did to publishers back then. It gets your content in front of new audiences that otherwise would never have heard of you.
Pro Tip: Finding publications for syndicated content by-hand can be difficult and time-consuming. We recommend using native ad networks like Outbrain and Taboola to grow your reach while you search for sources for syndication.
12.) Generate B2B Leads with Content Upgrades
Earlier in the article, we covered using eBooks and whitepapers as lead magnets. Another lead magnet option that may provide even higher conversion rates is content upgrades. Content upgrades are lead magnets that are created specifically for a particular article. It may take a subject that you are covering and expand on it, providing more value and giving your already-interested visitor a good reason to subscribe to your email list. Brian Dean of Backlinko gave his own insight into content upgrades. One test boosted his conversions on a page by over 70%!
Pro Tip: Content upgrades are extremely useful for listicle articles. If you provide 10 tips about an industry related subject in the content, offering a content upgrade with an additional 5 tips can be a great way to attract new leads since you already know that they are interested in the subject. For companies that use WordPress as their CMS, we recommend Thrive Leads for content upgrades.
13.) Reach Out to Those You Mention
It might seem like common sense, but you should reach out to the people and businesses that you mention in your articles. Not only do they want to be notified but it increases the chances that they will share your article with their audience. When you mention people with large followings, that can mean thousands of eyeballs on an article that otherwise would have never known about your company.
Pro Tip: When you reach out to someone that you have mentioned in your content, include a link to Tweet the article. That way they don’t have to think too much and can just click a button to share your content that is mutually beneficial for them. An easy tool for doing this is Click to Tweet.
14.) Create Attention-Grabbing Calls to Action
Convincing visitors to sign up for your email list is one of the most important aspects of content marketing. Your SEO lead generation efforts depend almost entirely on your ability to do so. Asking someone to sign up to receive “weekly tips in their inbox” might seem useful to you, but you know the kind of quality content that you deliver. Most of your visitors will be learning about your business for the first time, and you’ll have to do more to entice them to sign up.
Pro Tip: Change your color scheme for your call to action buttons and text. You want it to stand out from the rest of the page and draw eyeballs. A hot pink call to action definitely will draw more views than one that blends in with the rest of the page.
15.) Develop Effective Email Sequences for Nurturing
When someone signs up to your email list, they shouldn’t receive their lead magnet in their inbox and then a sales letter a few days later. Chances are they aren’t anywhere near ready to buy from your brief interaction with them. You need to nurture your leads for them to become Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and eventually, Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).
Using the customer journey map that we spoke about earlier, develop email sequences that are custom-tailored to a lead’s specific point in your sales funnel. Over time, you should slowly slip away from providing educational content to more sales-centric materials.
16.) Measure, Optimize, and Iterate
As with all forms of digital marketing, you should test and track everything that you do with content marketing for lead generation. Without taking the time to examine your analytics and learn what is working for your business and what isn’t, you’ll never improve your B2B lead generation tactics. Test everything, including your SEO strategies, email nurturing conversion rates, and on-page strategies to find areas for improvement.
Content Marketing for Lead Generation
With effective strategies and execution, content marketing for lead generation can become the well-oiled machine that every B2B company needs. There are many content marketing B2B lead generation tactics that you can use to bolster your results and developer deeper connections with your prospects. The tips in this article provide a good starting point for both B2B businesses that are just getting their foot in the content marketing door and more seasoned operations that are looking to improve.