Content marketing is one of the most powerful tools in the modern marketer’s toolkit. After all, 72% of marketers say that content marketing has boosted engagement and generated leads. Additionally, 68% of online experiences start out with a search engine listing, with 60% of marketers saying that inbound and content marketing is their highest quality source of leads.
But creating an effective content marketing strategy isn’t as simple as just getting your intern to set up a couple of social networking profiles. A certain amount of research and strategy has to go in if you want to make sure that you’re hitting the holy grail of marketing – reaching the right person in the right place with the right message at the right time.
Even with the strategy in place, you need to think about hiring professional content creators to make sure that your brand is represented in the best light possible. You can’t afford to alienate customers with shoddy visuals and spelling mistakes, which can make your brand look less professional and lead to people going elsewhere.
The good news is that we’ve pooled our expertise to help you out and gathered together everything you need to know to start generating leads with content marketing. Let’s go.
Research your target audience
Arguably the single most important thing for you to do before you get started is to carry out some research into your target audience. Most brands find that it helps to create buyer personas so that they can check every piece of content that they create against the persona to make sure that it’s adding some sort of value to people’s lives.
When you’re researching your target audience, you’ll want to consider a variety of different data points from demographic info (such as age, gender and physical location) to interest-based data (such as which topics they interact with and what types of content they consume) and behavior-based data (i.e. whether they’ve signed up to your website or made a previous purchase).
Another thing to consider is what your buyers’ pain points are. If you’re an accountancy firm, for example, then pain points might be the pressure to get tax returns in on time or the need for a better way of managing cash flow. Ideally, you’ll be able to address those pain points through both the content you create and the product/service that you offer.
You should also create personas for people at the different stages of the buyer journey, from those who are new to your brand to those who are ready to make a purchase. Identify anything that stops people from investing in your brand and create content to show them that their perceived issue shouldn’t hold them back from becoming a customer.
Choosing the right content types
The next step is for you to identify the right types of content to create. This will largely be dictated by which platforms you decide to use and will range from images and videos on Instagram to infographics, text updates and longer form blog posts and eBooks.
Every piece of content needs to tie in with at least one of the four stages of the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness: Right at the top of the funnel, this is where people have only just heard of your company.
- Interest: By now, people are interested in your brand and what it has to offer, but they’re not quite ready to buy.
- Consideration: At this point, people are thinking about becoming customers but still need some convincing.
- Decision: People are now ready to make a decision about whether to go with you or one of your competitors.
Different types of content tend to work better for different goals. For awareness, you need shorter form content like tweets and images that people can consume on the go. Once you get to the interest stage you can step things up by creating videos, infographics and blog posts. By the time that you’re at the consideration and decision stage, you’re ready to provide more in-depth pieces of content like whitepapers and webinars.
It can help to spend some time looking at what your competitors are doing and identifying what works for them. Blogs and a social media presence are a must, and if possible you should go above and beyond with lead generation campaigns, discounts and other initiatives.
Choosing the right content distribution platforms
Once you know which platforms your customers are using, you can start to identify which of those platforms is right for you. If you’re a law firm, for example, then you’re not going to want to waste time on Snapchat, especially if you’re doubling down on growth marketing and have no time to spare for experimentation.
There’s an art and a science to identifying the right platforms for your brand, but the good news is that we’ve shared some tips on that in the past. The goal should be to find the platforms that suit both you and your customers.
When selecting your platforms, one thing to bear in mind is that you’ll need to tap into both organic and paid traffic. Organic traffic is what you get naturally without having to pay to run ads, while paid traffic is what you get thanks to PPC and social media advertisements. In the vast majority of cases, it’s best to aim for a combination of the two.
Create a content plan
The content plan that you create will outline how you put your distribution platforms to work. The goal is to describe in detail what you’re going to publish and where you’re going to publish it, allowing you to plan ahead and ensure that you’re creating what content you can ahead of time so that you’re not scrabbling around to meet deadlines at the last minute.
You’ll also want to spend some time determining which team members are responsible for creating and approving the content ahead of time and who’s going to go ahead and press the publish button. While you’re at it, outline how much budget each of your posts will receive to advertise it.
Using ads to boost the reach of your posts is a good idea, especially when you’ve already invested in creating content, but you won’t want to advertise everything. The good news is that by creating your editorial calendar, you can allocate your advertising budget in advance so that you know you’re unlikely to run out of cash.
Come up with a good lead magnet
To truly take advantage of the lead generation potential that social networking sites and other online platforms have to offer, you’ll need to spend some time creating a high-quality lead magnet, whether that takes the form of an eBook, a white paper or a webinar.
The first step for you to take here is to ask yourself which problem your lead magnet is going to solve. You’ll be reaching people in the consideration and decision stage, so refer back to the appropriate buyer personas to make sure that you’re creating content that will resonate with them. Otherwise, you’ll be investing a huge amount of money into a lead magnet that might never convert people into customers.
Key questions to ask here include:
- Which problem does it help people to solve?
- How does your lead magnet help them to do something more easily?
- Is the content specific to your buyer personas?
- Is the content easy for people to understand?
- How is your lead magnet adding value?
Of course, the job isn’t finished when you create and share the lead magnet. You need to follow up with people who download that content and then encourage them to become a paying customer. You also need to make ongoing tweaks to both your content and your website to ensure that your lead gen campaign is performing as efficiently as possible.
Optimize your site and content for lead gen
The final step in this process is for you to optimize your website and the content that you create for the purposes of lead generation. Every single page has to serve a purpose and propel you towards your overall goal.
That means making sure that you have calls-to-action spread throughout your site and that you’re directing people towards whatever action you want them to take next. In many cases, this will take the form of directing them to download the lead magnet that we discussed in the last point.
Remember that creating content alone isn’t enough. It needs to be supported by search engine optimization, email marketing and other techniques to make sure that the right people actually see it.
Now that you know how to make the most of content marketing and to apply it to your business, it’s over to you to start putting content marketing to work for you and your company.
With that said, a word of warning – this isn’t just some magic bullet that you can use to immediately start receiving results. It’s also not as easy as just creating content and hoping for the best. Instead, you need to develop a comprehensive content marketing strategy, identifying the target audience that you want to reach and tailoring your content towards them.
Stuck with strategy or need a little help? You need a digital marketing agency! Feel free to reach out to us here at Growth Marketing Genie to find out how we can help you to create a strategy that’s customized to you and your brand. We look forward to hearing from (and helping) you!
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