Are you struggling to generate leads for your business? I’m about to show you a way to do that easily, using high-quality content.
No matter what your business model is, content is still king. One research study, completed a few years ago, revealed that many B2B marketers have documented plans to increase their lead generation budgets by up to 50% the following year. That investment is still on the rise, overall.
Besides native advertising, blogging is the primary avenue through which B2C and B2B marketers generate leads. WebDAM’s recently shared statistics show that blogging consistently has led to B2B marketers generating 67% more leads than marketers who do not.
Different types of content will generate different numbers of leads for you. At one point, in 2014, I generated 17 leads a month, out of over 500,000 monthly visitors. To me, that’s not impressive.
But today, I attract hundreds of potential clients every month, largely because of the type of content that I’ve come to focus on. You’ll learn what that content is and how to create it. With the right content, you’ll find that promotion will be a lot easier.
Download this step by step worksheet, to generate leads through content marketing.
Let’s get started with the 7 steps to generate inbound leads with your content:
Step One: Extensive Market Research
When something is not fully known, the first step to understanding is to research and study it. Smart decisions are based on in-depth market analysis.
For example, if you want to prepare a special meal for your spouse, but don’t know how, do you give up and make reservations instead? You could, of course, but there’s another option: learn how to prepare the meal.
In the same way, conducting extensive and exclusive market research is not an option – it’s a necessity and it should be the initial stage of product creation. According to Brian Fletcher, “market research centers your business on your consumers.”
The importance of market research in generating leads with your content can’t be overemphasized.
You want to make sure that there are potential customers for the product that you’re creating. You also want to leverage the existing research that other marketers have conducted, to turbocharge your marketing and reach more prospects.
Question: So, how do you know that people will buy your product?
Answer: Find commercial keywords.
Let’s assume that you’re a plumber in California and that you want to attract prospects in your city. Here’s how to find out exactly what these prospects are searching for.
Go to Google AdWords Keywords Planner. Plug in your main keyword (e.g., plumber service in California) into the search box. Click “Get ideas.”
You can see how many potential customers you could reach and attract to your plumbing business, using various content marketing strategies. By targeting a specific niche with your primary tool – using content aimed at answering the target audience’s questions about that niche – you can develop each individual member of the audience as a lead for your business.
And, furthermore, by answering questions that potential customers are asking, you’re building up your personal brand. Over time, you’ll amass a loyal audience that will trust you enough to pay money for your products and services.
It won’t happen overnight, but when you stick to it and keep marketing with this strategy, you’ll succeed like others do – people like Marcus Sheridan, for example, who was once known as a “pool guy,” struggling to generate leads and attract clients, just like you.
Eventually, Marcus realized that content marketing was the way to go. And, by tapping into its potential, he wrote blog posts that generated over $2,000,000 in sales. He took his River Pools and Spas from struggling business to multimillion-dollar success story.
Market research hasn’t really changed. It all boils down to knowing what your target audience wants and where they usually go to look for answers to their problems (most often, a search engine).
Once you understand these two things, you can easily join the conversation and channel attention to your site, where they can get a more focused answer to their questions, instead of wasting time on Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and forums.
Step Two: Create High-Converting Landing Pages
If you live and breathe conversion rate optimization the way that I do, you’ll probably agree with me that not all landing pages are created equal. Most landing pages don’t perform well and they may only occasionally get a few opt-ins. However, others are capable of much more. Example: the one that generated $1 million for Moz.
According to Econsultancy, only one out of every five marketers is satisfied with their conversion rate. That’s a lot of underperforming landing pages that aren’t maximizing leads and converting them into customers.
It’s your responsibility to understand the reason why you’re creating or using a particular landing page. So, get that out of the way first and then move on with perfecting your page.
The first thing that you’ve got to understand is the anatomy of a perfect landing page. It must begin with a compelling headline, have a strong and captivating opening and then build interest as readers move down through the copy.
From the screenshot above, you’ll notice that the focus is on usability, not aesthetics.
Unquestionably, a colorful landing page can attract people. But, we’re not just looking for any visitor here – we want qualified leads. That’s why putting the interests of the targeted users first is so crucial for generating more qualified leads.
The screenshot above highlights some of the landing page design best practices that will ensure your page is strong, persuasive and professional.
Your landing page also has to be fast. In fact, recent statistics by KISSmetrics show that a one-second delay in landing page load time will most likely reduce conversion rate by 7%. So, take the time to make your landing page insanely fast.
A great example of a landing page with all of the elements that will build trust and persuade prospects is this one, from ChrisDucker.com:
When you carefully study Chris’s page, you can see the elements that help it convert lots of users:
- Usability (easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for)
- Aesthetics (beautiful background)
- An attention-grabbing headline
- Strong bullet points (based on benefits)
- Social proofs, call-to-action (opt-in forms, testimonials, media mentions)
- Visual appeal (personal photo)
Step Three: Create Lead Bait
No doubt about it, email trumps social media, when it comes to customer retention. In fact, email surpasses social by 20%. It’s the single most effect channel for customer retention. And, email is a formidable inbound strategy for generating leads.
Before you can successfully add more people to your email list, create lead bait. A “bait” – as we’re using the word here – is just an enticement. Your bait should be any valuable resource or tool that will make the life of your targeted visitor better.
Why should you create lead bait to increase lead generation? Your target audience needs a ‘hub’ or ‘resource’ to learn more about you and to discover how awesome you are at what you do. As they begin to learn about you and your brand, they’re more likely to want to work with you.
Email has changed over the years. At one time, marketers only targeted desktop users. Today, of course, it’s a whole new ball game, with mobile taking over and showing strong levels of email engagement.
Litmus, one of the best sources for email marketing stats, recently released a report showing email’s performance in the previous year.
They reported that mobile marketing has grown significantly. In fact, half of all emails are now opened on smartphones and tablets – a 500% growth rate over four years.
Nurturing your email leads is an integral part of email marketing that can’t be ignored. In the lead nurturing funnel, enlighten and entertain your leads with more free content that will help them make a smart buying decision.
According to HubSpot’s marketing statistics, businesses that nurture their leads through email generate 50% more sales-ready leads and they do it at a cost that is lower, by 33%. On average, nurtured leads yield a 20% increase in sales opportunities, compared to leads that are not nurtured.
You can create many kinds of lead bait, if you understand your target audience and what they respond to positively. When creating lead magnets, make sure that you focus on what your target audience is looking for. This is vital to your email marketing success.
For example, if you’re a makeup artist and want to build a list of potential customers who will eventually buy your book or enroll in your online course, video is your best lead bait bet, because effective make-up instruction requires visual demonstration.
If you want to show how to hide acne or wrinkles with makeup, it won’t be as effective to communicate your ideas in articles, no matter how detailed and step-by-step your approach is. A short (3 – 5 minutes) video will do a much better job.
Last, but not least, if you want to show people how to install software, videos and infographics are your best bet. Step-by-step articles and blog posts with screenshots for each step could be effective, too.
A good example is Popupdomination.com, which offers list-building software and uses a short video to entice potential customers.
Here are some value-packed ways that you can create lead-generating content:
1). Write more case studies: In the past, the words “case study” could send readers running, because they were so boring and uninspiring. Lately, however, they’ve become an indispensable tool for any business.
According to a Content Marketing Institute Report, small B2B marketers believe case studies to be the most effective content marketing strategy, both for lead generation and for prospect nurturing.
If you want to persuade the right people to perceive you as authentic and authoritative, write more case studies. When you fully understand the use of case studies, you’ll be committed to creating and publishing at least one each week.
In other words, writing case studies is the only way to prove the truth of your opinion with facts and figures.
The case study is one of the 15 types of blog post that will drive traffic and leads. Here’s how to create a case study of your product or service:
When done right, case studies that highlight the key areas where businesses and marketers can improve their sales and revenue attract the right leads to you like magic.
Dumdumpops.com saw a 91% increase in sales and decided to share the case study, to help others. You can and should do the same.
Ideally, include plenty of visual assets in your case study content. Visuals, such as videos, memes, infographics and photos will attract more social shares. For example, recent statistics show that Twitter fans will share a photo URL 35% more than they share a quote.
2). White papers and ebooks: Creating a winning white paper is not an easy task. But, it can be done, if you understand your target audience better.
But, what exactly is a white paper? If you search for “white papers” in Google, here’s what comes up:
Right now, B2B marketers use articles, social media and blog posts to generate leads. But, white papers have a 51% usage rate by B2B marketers, because it’s the ideal tool to persuade customers and warm them up, before you launch your product or recommend it to them.
According to a report by IDEmployee, white papers are effective at building both interest and preference for your services or products. In other words, you can use white papers to create strong desire, before asking people to buy your product.
When you’re writing a white paper, stick to a linear, logical approach. Then, ensure that your white paper does all of these:
i). Attracts an audience: Attraction is the hallmark of lead generation. You’ve got to attract them first, before they will read your packaged information. Make sure that your white paper title is catchy, beneficial and bold.
White papers are highly audience-specific. If you want to target a different audience, you may have to create a new whitepaper. Be focused.
ii). Engage the audience: Once you’ve attracted the audience, you have to engage them with your content. Engagement lies within the pages of your white paper – make it count.
You want all of the pages to sync and deliver the right message to the readers. That’s how to engage them.
Use visuals, like images, screenshots, charts and symbols, to appeal to readers. The human brain is wired to process visual information 60,000X faster than plain text. What’s more, while people remember about 20% of what they read, on average, many will never forget something they saw in image or video form.
iii). Informs the reader: Don’t turn your white paper into a bald sales pitch. You’ll chase your readers away and discourage them from making a buying decision.
Instead, become a teacher. Use your white paper to educate people on the pros and cons of using your product or service. Don’t push them.
White papers should read more like an objective magazine article than a sales brochure. Inform the reader and guide them accordingly.
If you do a great job, they’ll buy from you, without you having to push them. Make sure that your readers are relaxed, while reading your white paper – this is the cornerstone rule for converting readers into customers.
Make your whitepapers persuasive. In Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy said that “the more informative your advertising is, the more persuasive it will be.”
Finally, remember to measure your success or ROI when marketing with white papers.
iii). Online course: An online course falls into the e-learning model. It’s a proven way to generate more targeted leads.
Online learning affords students, interns and marketers the ability to learn anywhere – on their smartphones, tablets or desktop computers.
In the internet marketing world, online courses are very popular. Blogging experts, like Yaro Starak, Chris Ducker, and Pat Flynn’s 1DayBB, Chris Brogan, Brian Clark, Derek Halpern and Marie Forleo have all produced highly popular online courses.
In turn, these marketers and other teachers, on Udemy and other online learning platforms, have made e-learning tasty and attractive for people.
Creating an online course is a bit of an art. You have to think of ways to make your course stand out from the rest, especially in a crowded field or niche. You also have to design a blueprint to follow.
It’s also part science, though. You have to study your market, experiment with topics and strategically execute a course of study that will appeal to your target audience. Studying people, events and processes is often the quickest way to uncover mistakes that your competitors are making in e-learning products and to learn how you can outsmart them.
Nick Stephenson shared a case study on how he made $130,208 from his first online course, in the first week and generated thousands of new leads. This goes to show that online courses are potentially powerful lead drivers.
But, you’ve got to promote your online course. Of course, the fact that you’re offering a valuable course doesn’t mean that people will just follow you or become leads.
You’ve got to “give people a reason to come onboard.” You also have to make sure that your landing page is well-designed to capture email leads. Use an effective, professional email autoresponder solution, like Getresponse or Aweber.
Even when the online course isn’t yours, you can always leverage the success of others, by creating data-driven case studies that will ultimately attract leads. For example, Yaro Starak generated $40,000 from his email subscribers, just by recommending Eben Pagan’s GURU Masterclass program.
Step Four: Content Creation
Content marketing campaigns perform best when they’re built on a solid foundation of high-quality and data-driven content.
So, how do you ensure that you create the right content? Just follow these simple tips:
1). Identify the content that users want: No marketer can claim to know, with absolute certainty, what their users want, but you can evaluate certain metrics to avoid wasting time on generic or irrelevant content.
According to CMI B2B Marketing Report, 62% of people feel good about a company that delivers custom content. The chance of those people purchasing from that company is high.
The best way to identify the content that users want is to look at what they’re currently reading. In other words, find out which of your already-published content generates the most page views, enjoys a lower bounce rate and triggers more comments.
The truth is that if they don’t like the content, they would simply close the browser window and leave. But, the very fact that they spent time on your web page means a lot.
Log into Google Analytics. On the dashboard, click on the Behavior tab > Site content > All pages. You’ll see something similar to this:
Of course, a page might receive more page views not because it’s exactly what people wanted to read, but because you promoted it heavily. But, this is a quick and scalable way to get started.
Better yet, just directly ask your readers what type of content they’d most like to read. Any feedback that you get is profoundly helpful. From there, you can expand into related topics to solve their biggest problems.
2). Study successful content headlines: According to Copyblogger Media, 8 out of 10 persons who see your headline will click and read it. But, they’ll only continue past that point if the headline persuades them to keep reading.
This means that you have to spend adequate time tweaking your headline. Learning how to write powerful headlines will differentiate your content from all of the rest out there.
Instead of wasting time, trying to write your own brilliant headlines from scratch, why not learn from the copywriters and A-list bloggers who understand the chemistry behind user behavior and headlines?
In short, study successful content headlines. Let me show you two ways to do just that.
a). Study online publications: Online publications, such as magazines and newspapers are great resources for hacking powerful headlines. They have the world’s most renowned direct response copywriters who test and perfect attention-grabbing headlines.
So, where can you find online publications in order to extract headline ideas?
Go to Magazines.com. In the search box, type in the keyword (e.g., marketing) for your headline. Then, hit the “search” icon.
Next, look through the magazine covers for headlines that catch your attention. Remember that if the headline piques your interest, it’d most likely do the same for your readers.
When you click on one of the highlighted magazine covers above, you’ll be able to see it clearly:
The above headline reads “6 Startup Secrets: What They Don’t Teach In Business School.”
Since the headline has been proven to be successful for popular Entrepreneur Magazine, which is read by hundreds of thousands of people, you can model the headline to create yours.
So, let’s do it. Depending on your industry or target market, you could craft one like these:
- 6 Blogging Secrets: What the A-list Bloggers Don’t Teach You
- 6 Content Marketing Secrets: What I Missed Out On in May 2015
As you can see, the headlines are for a wider audience. But, you can drill down to specific topics:
- 7 Blog Post Writing Secrets: Why Didn’t Authority Bloggers Teach You These?
- 9 Content Promotion Secrets: They’re Powerful and Generated 84,737 Pageviews For Me
b). Study top-ranking headlines: What better way to gauge the effectiveness of your headline, than by looking at pages already sitting at the top of Google results? After all, if those headlines made it to the top 10, they must be doing something right.
Say you want to write about “link building in 2015.” How do you structure your headline to align with modern search engine optimization?
Go to Google and search for “link building in 2015.” Look at the top 5 headlines for ideas:
The #1 result from the screenshot above has this headline:
- 15 Link Building Tactics That Work in 2015
Let’s quickly model this to create some attention-grabbing headlines:
- 17 Link Building Strategies I Will Actively Use in 2015
- 13 Effective Link Building Methods That Work in 2015
- 10 Proven Link Building Tactics You Should Use in 2015
How do you get data and statistics?
Well, you could use your own. Check your Google Analytics account and extract the number of users and page views that your site has generated, within a period of time.
The keywords that are ranking, bounce rate, exit rate and percentage of new vs. returning visitors – all of these metrics are viable data that you can use to create your content.
You can also branch out and use other people’s data and results to create your content. Just recently, Brian Dean used the data from two of his readers (or students) to create an in-depth article that generated over 400 comments and close to 1,500 social shares. Take a look:
4). Write your content and make it in-depth: Once you’ve written your headline and gathered all of the data that you need to create your content, it’s time to write your article.
This is consistently reported as one of the biggest challenges that businesses face. According to Search Engine Watch, 52% of B2B content marketers are struggling to create content that engages their target audience.
You need to have a clear outline that you can follow. That’s exactly how I write my detailed and in-depth articles.
They should contain 2000 or more words, because recent observations, studies and experiments show that Google tends to rank content that’s detailed and data driven more higher than shorter content.
I’ve seen the same result as well. On this blog, I have been consistent with publishing long, in-depth content. Typically, my articles are 5000 words or more in length and contain lots of data, charts and screenshots. I consistently link out, appropriately, to authority sites, as well. In April, this blog generated over 80,000 visitors.
Step Five: Content Promotion Techniques
Having a variety of content makes promotion a lot easier. It frees you from the constraints of being tied to a particular platform that you’re not terribly excited about.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 9% of B2B marketers are challenged by the process of creating a variety of content.
So, if you’ve got different content formats – such as e-books, articles, videos, blog posts, whitepapers, online courses, infographics, etc. – what are the best ways to promote them? Because without promotion, those pieces of content are as good as dead.
Here are some of the best ways to promote your content and generate quality leads:
i). Upgrade your content with targeted opt-in forms: Content upgrade is a term that was made popular by Brian Dean. He leveraged the content upgrade strategy to increase his conversion rate by 785% in one day.
So, what exactly is a content upgrade? You’ve probably already seen it in action on several blogs. Within the blog post, you’re asked to download a bonus, a report or the content that you’re reading in a different format.
Here’s how it works: Start by creating a lead magnet for every blog post that you write. This will make your bait attractive and relevant. Instead of having one universal report or ebook that you give away, create a very specific and valuable bonus, each time you write a blog post using this strategy.
That bonus or report that you give away to readers within your blog post is known as a “content upgrade.”
It’s the quickest way to build your email list. Since the lead bait is targeted at the people reading your blog post, the chances of converting them into subscribers are pretty good.
Michael Hyatt has consistently been using the content upgrade strategy to build his email list.
The AppSumo Boss, Noah Kagan also uses content upgrades in his blog. Little wonder he has over 700,000 loyal subscribers on his list.
If you want to save time when creating bonus packages for your content upgrade, convert your post into a PDF report that readers can download. Don’t be surprised when you find a lot of people downloading the same thing that they just read and submitting their email address in exchange.
They do this, because they can’t read your blog offline. But, they can easily download the post in PDF format to read on their iPad, tablet or Kindle reader.
There are other things that you can give away as a content upgrade in your post:
- Membership access
- Hardcover book
- License for software
- Discount code
- Templates, WordPress themes
Note: For content upgrades to work for you, you have to consistently create high-quality and detailed content. Let people see you as a strong advocate of useful content and you’ll always attract the right people to grow your business.
2). Targeting long-tail keywords: If you want to maximize your headline’s reach and improve its conversion rate, you’d do well to target long-tail keywords.
Personally, I’ve found that headlines with long-tail keywords tend to rank higher in Google’s results. To win the SEO game, you have to understand the state of SEO now – not what it was in 2013.
A whopping 91% of my search traffic comes from long-tail searches. In fact, within 14 months, I took my search traffic from 88,833 visitors per month to 173,336 search visitors per month, largely through long-tail keyword targeting.
It’s all about targeting keywords that your competitors have either neglected or don’t know how to discover and use themselves. So, quickly, let me show you how to research the low-hanging fruit that is a long-tail keyword:
i). Go to the Google AdWords Keywords Planner. In the search box, type your seed keyword (e.g., attract clients):
ii). Once you click on the “Keywords Tab,” you’ll reveal the keywords that are related to “attract clients online.”
From the screenshot above, there are long-tail keywords that you could use as-is. You can take it a step further, by plugging one of the long-tail keywords into the search box and digging deeper. For example, you could copy “how to get more clients” and find the longer variation:
You can easily target those long-tail keywords in your headline to improve your search traffic.
Most importantly, focus on the user intent – the user’s reason behind the keyword – and optimize for users first, before search engines. That’s how to fly safely in the Hummingbird SEO space.
When promoting your content, you’ve got to think outside of your own channels. Guest blogging is a great way to reach out to other blogs and hijack some of their loyal audience members to your blog, so leverage it.
You may even create ego baits (a type of blog post where you highlight other authority bloggers and link to their blogs) to gain links, generate the right leads to your business and improve referral traffic.
Don’t forget to leverage social media networks. You can get initial readership for your blog posts from Facebook or Twitter, if you’ve got an active fan base.
Step Six: Social Media Outreach
Social media outreach is critical to your success in lead generation. According to DashBurst, 24% of brands say they do social listening. MarketingLand found that 20% of CMOs use social media to collaborate and engage with customers.
No matter what your industry is, you have to connect with others who will in turn support you in reaching more people.
This is the chain reaction that a social media campaign can trigger. If you reach 3 social media influencers, that can lead to 10 new connections within 24 hours, because the people that you connected with also belong to a network and have followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on.
A thorough understanding of the 5 steps to social media engagement is critical at this point, as it’ll help you send the right message without being pushy, while still respecting the social media culture.
Follow industry experts on social media networks and start communicating with them. You can find top experts on Twitter, using Topsy. Just go to Topsy.com, select the “INFLUENCERS” tab, type in your main keyword (e.g., blogging strategies). Then, click the search icon.
To connect with any of these expert bloggers, click on their photo and you’ll be taken to their Twitter feed:
There, you have three things to do:
- Check how many followers the expert has (1000+ followers, preferably)
- Follow the expert
- Visit their blog to contact them directly
Depending on the number of people that you want to connect with, you may have to use Topsy several times, to find the right power users who are relevant to your industry. As much as you can, avoid following and connecting with experts who don’t enjoy discussing your topic.
Don’t be tempted to evaluate potential contacts solely by the number of followers that they have. It’s far better to follow a blogger with 2,000 loyal Twitter followers than to follow Justin Bieber with his millions of followers.
Note: The objective of conducting a social media analysis is so that you can connect with social media influencers and offer a helping hand.
You could comment on their blog, share it with your readers, recommend their product and notify them in a friendly manner. The more you give, the more they feel connected to you. And, that’s when real engagement begins.
Step Seven: Lead Nurturing Through Email
Another problem many bloggers and content marketers face is what to do with the leads once you’ve generated them. In fact, nurturing leads is much more important than acquiring them.
It can be a big obstacle to increasing sales. According to MarketingSherpa, 79% of leads never convert into sales, thanks to poor lead nurturing. Sadly, only 34% of B2B marketers communicate with their leads on a monthly basis.
The core reason for lead nurturing is that initial contact with a potential buyer usually doesn’t lead to sales. These people need to be educated and informed.
An earlier study, by Gleanster Research, found that 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. But, if they’re not nurtured and given a good reason why they should spend their hard earned money or invest their precious time in reading your content, you’ll lose them. Here are more statistics:
Through your email, you can nurture your leads to the level where they can trust you enough to spend money on your product. And, making your email newsletters worthwhile will warm your leads up enough to take the next step.
1). Create follow-up emails: When a prospect joins your email list, they should receive a confirmation email, which qualifies them as subscribers. But, 45% of leads will unsubscribe from your list, if you send too many emails to them.
Remember that these people on your list are probably on a dozen other lists as well. Appreciate the permission that they’ve given to you to keep in touch with them. Only send high-quality information, not everyday, but once in a while.
From there, your subscribers will be expecting to receive regular updates that are richer, more valuable and actionable on a regular basis.
Most people send out emails twice a week. Some email marketers and organizations prefer to do it once a week. The choice is yours.
But, communicate at least once a week, so that your subscribers will not forget about you. The objective of a follow-up email is to get subscribers to open and read it.
And, depending on your industry, this study shows that same day opens are usually higher than any other day. In other words, when you send emails today, the number of people who will open to read it today will be greater than those who will do it tomorrow or the next day.
This means that in order to maximize your click rate and open rate, you have to be conscious of time. You have to test the perfect timing for sending out your follow-up emails.
Start nurturing by segmenting your email list. Master the art of writing email subject lines that attract clicks and develop a relationship culture that would help you build a loyal list of potential customers who will not be difficult to persuade.
It’s easy to start a blog. What’s difficult is attracting a loyal audience that will trust you enough to become your customers. To cut through the noise of social media and blogging and generate more leads, you have to focus more on your target audience’s needs.
When properly and consistently implemented, these seven steps will ultimately help you to generate leads with valuable custom content. Keep optimizing for users, because search engines follow the activities of users at your site.
Have you generated any leads with these simple steps?