How to Generate Great Leads with Content Marketing: Tips & Tricks from the Trade

July 15, 2016 Julian Gros

Content marketing

Content marketing 

Generating high-quality leads has always been a challenge for business owners.

In fact, a survey conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn found that it’s actually the number one struggle among respondents (61%). The same report also found that the way to create successful email marketing campaigns, B2B webinars and social media strategies is to create compelling content. While this is not necessarily breaking news or a shocking insight by any means, it just proves content’s valuable role in generating and nurturing leads, and that every business owner should seriously consider content marketing as a viable means for growth.

So how can marketers and business owners alike leverage content to capture good leads? This guide will show you how to look at your company from the eyes of your customers: read on to learn about the different tips, strategies and tools you can use to connect with your audience in a significant way using effective content marketing.

 

How to listen to your audience

Ultimately, the success of a piece of content depends on how well it resonates with your audience, and in order to resonate with your audience, you need to demonstrate to them that you not only understand their problems, but that your business can solve them.

An anecdote from Dr Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion demonstrates the power of ‘problem-solving content.’ In his book, he tells of a study where researchers sent out two similar ads about insulation to homeowners in the same neighbourhood. One ad said, ‘If you insulate your home fully, you will save 50 cents per day.’ The other ad said essentially the same thing but used different language, focussing on what the customer would lose without their product instead of what they would gain: ‘If you don’t insulate your home fully, you will lose 50 cents per day.’ The study revealed that the people who were shown the ‘loss ad’ were 150% more likely to insulate their houses than the other group who were shown the ‘save ad.’

Content marketing strategies

Now, just because this example demonstrated that people responded more to the ‘loss language’ than the ‘gain language’ doesn’t mean that all adverts need to reflect that kind of message. This merely proves how nuanced different kinds of problem-solving content can be, and it is important to know which one your audience will respond more to. In order to create a better content strategy, you need to find out everything you can about your audience: who are they, what are they talking about, what are their pain points, and how can you help them overcome their concerns?

 

Here are 3 different ways to find customer pain points:

 

1. Customer surveys

This is arguably the easiest method to discover your customer’s pain points, since you already know who you’re talking to and how to reach them. Platforms like SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics make it easy to create and conduct surveys, which you can then email out via your customer mailing list or share via your social profiles. You can add a feedback box or pop-up window to the homepage of your site with a straight-forward question or two to gauge sentiment, like this:

 

Customer survey content

 

You can even conduct longer one-on-one interviews with customers via video conferencing software, where you can use the screen-sharing feature to learn exactly which aspects of your site/company/product your customers want changed.

Tip: Keep your surveys short and your questions to-the-point – you want this to be as simple as possible for your customers so more of them will be tempted to complete it.

 

2. Competitor research

Looking into what succeeds for your competitors can be a valuable asset in learning your customer’s pain points. What is the focus or message of your competitor’s site? What do they write about on their blog? What do they write about in their newsletters? Who is linking to their site? And – probably the most important question to ask yourself at this stage – how can you do what they’re doing, but better?

Tip: You can research backlinks with a tool like Open Site Explorer, and you can see the success of a particular piece of content with a tool like BuzzSumo.

 

3. Social media

In some ways, social media can be seen as a sort of customer support platform: many users turn to Twitter and Facebook to interact with a brand, and more often than not, they turn to social with a complaint. This makes it a valuable asset to have when conducting research into customer sentiment. You can take short polls via Facebook or Twitter, like this:

Twitter Polls

 

You can also conduct a social listening audit to understand the conversation happening around a brand or topic.

Tip: For a more comprehensive look at social listening – as well as a round-up of recommended tools – check out this article from the Guardian.

So how do you use these insights and turn them into inspiring, effective lead gen content?

Now that you know what your customers are saying and why, you can use your content to solve those issues. If you become a source for reliable, high-quality, relevant content, you will build trust with your users.

Here are 8 ways you can start creating your own lead gen content:

 

1. Webinars

 

Webinar Lead Generation

 

Chances are if you’re in the B2B marketing space you might be making webinars already: according to research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), webinars are one of the top 12 most frequently-used marketing tactics, and one of the top five most effective. Webinars are widely used in lead generation content because they not only offer your audience valuable knowledge for free, they don’t even have to go out of their way to attend.

With a webinar you should incentivise your content to boost registration; offer your attendees something as a thank you for signing up:

  • Send them a free eBook or whitepaper
  • Give them access to exclusive data or insights
  • Create content around your webinars (such as promotional blog posts, social content, Facebook events, etc.) to generate a buzz

 

2. White papers

Another popular type of B2B content (in fact, it’s the fourth most effective type overall, after in-person events, webinars and case studies, according to Forbes), white papers offer you the chance to generate leads, establish your expertise and market to a wider online audience. Writing a decent white paper can take some time (since you have to make it worth your reader’s while), but it’s a strategy worth considering.

  • Allow readers access to the first few pages, then prompt them for their details for the full paper. Or, you could allow them access to a summarised version of the paper, and the user would have to input their details to unlock the unabridged version.

 

3. Email subscription

Convert your blog readers to high-quality leads with email subscriptions. Having new content – blog posts, videos, limited offers or anything else – delivered straight into your lead’s inbox not only lets them be at the forefront of what’s happening with your company, but it’s one of the main channels for lead generation: according to Capterra, 89% of marketers said email was their number one platform for generating new leads.

  • Incentivise the sign-up process, like we’ve done here:

Ebook Lead Generation

 

4. Summarised content

Offering a summary of a piece of content (like a webinar, eBook, research paper, infographic, etc.) can be a great way to capture great leads, but you need to make sure that your summary contains enough enticing information so the reader will be motivated to continue reading.

  • Include some key findings from the content (statistics, insights, quotes from an expert, anything that generates interest), and prompt the reader for their details with a message about what they stand to gain from unlocking the rest.

 

5. Free trials

When considering a significant purchase, most people don’t buy straight away. Offering them a free trial of your product or service is not only a great way to generate leads for your business, but it will actually help nurture loyalty and trust between you and your customers.

Free Trial Lead Generation

  • Make sure there are no financial strings attached (like entering a credit card or automatically subscribing the user after a certain period of time has passed), as this won’t encourage sign-ups.

 

7. Access to data, research & case studies

If your business has unique insights or data that your potential customers would be interested in, consider making a bit of that data public and gate the rest. This is a win-win-win: you’re supplying your audience with a valuable resource, you’re generating great leads and you’re using one of the most effective methods of content marketing, with 65% of marketers using case studies to market their business.

  • Consider carrying out a survey with your current customers on a topic that would interest potential buyers – you can then use the data to inform a whole load of content (case studies, reports, infographics, press releases, videos, etc.) which you can use to capture leads.

 

8. Videos

Everyone loves a good video – in fact, according to research from HubSpot, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video first. This helps build brand transparency, and is a great way to help position your business as an expert in the field.

  • Reach out to your top buyers and encourage to submit video testimonials of your product or service
  • Record demos and user guides – consider offering the first few free, then prompt the user for their details to continue
  • Create different video series about a topic that your users would be interested in to generate interest

So now that you have all these new leads, how do you turn them into customers? That’s where retargeting comes in. Because there are very few customer journeys that follow a straight-forward path from introduction to purchase, you need to remind them while they’re browsing elsewhere and encourage them to visit your site again (with the intent that this time around, they will become a customer).

Here are 3 techniques to consider as you plan your own retargeting strategy.

 

Retargeting with display ads

Display ads are the most common type of retargeting, mainly because they are quick, effective and specific. Each time someone visits your site, a bit of JavaScript (called cookies) attaches itself to the user’s browser, notifying retargeting platforms to display your ads to them as they move around online.

For example, you might see a banner ad like this one pop up on the side of a page you’re browsing if you had recently visited the GoToMeeting website.

You can also retarget with Customer Match – this puts your ad in front of users based on data that you share with Google. Using this platform you can display bespoke ads at the top of Gmail inboxes, YouTube ads and via search by uploading a list of email addresses you’ve gathered with your lead gen content. To read more about Customer Match and to learn how you can manage your own audiences, click here.

 

Retargeting on Facebook

Facebook advertising is another incredibly effective way to retarget to potential leads. These are ads that would pop up on a user’s Newsfeed (or as a side banner) and encourage them to do something with a Call to Action button (i.e. ‘Sign Up, ‘Apply Now’, ‘Learn More,’ etc.)

The great thing about Facebook advertising is that you can create your own custom audiences based on captured leads, in order to run more precise remarketing campaigns. You can also create lookalike audiences based off that data to reach a whole new pool of people with similar interests. For more information on Facebook advertising and how it can benefit your business, check out our Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising for Beginners!

Facebook lead generation

 

Retargeting based on location

Another way to retarget potential leads is with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons. In very basic terms, these devices – like Google’s Eddystone – broadcast ads to nearby mobile devices like smartphones and tablets a perfect way to push your product at a specific moment. For more information about beacons and how they can be valuable to your operations, click here.

So there you have it: from eBooks to research to videos, there are many different ways you can effectively market your content to capture potential new leads and gain valuable new business.

 

 

 

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