The Best Way To Use Content Marketing To Generate Leads
Is content marketing part of your lead generation program? If so, is it as successful as it can be?
Do you believe that content marketing and lead generation are for B2B companies only? According to research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 90% of B2C marketers use content marketing but only 34% believe that it’s effective.
Are you missing a big opportunity to increase your marketing ability to drive more leads and sales?
22 Top expert tips for content marketing lead generation
Regardless of how you answered these questions, here is what 22 experts say is the best way to use content marketing lead generation.
1. Connie Bensen, Global Social Media, Dell @CBensen
The content needs to be lightly branded at the end of the piece of content (ebook or infographic). The content shouldn’t be too long and it needs to provide specific value to the reader. In other words it shouldn’t be self-serving to the brand. I received an ebook last week that was 119 pages long! I skimmed a few pages but found the format far too intensive to hold my interest. Infographics should similarly be interesting and motivate sharing in order to be effective.
2. David Berkowitz, MRY, @DBerkowitz
For content marketing, while this (again) depends on the marketer’s goals, B2C marketers should consider starting with Pinterest to build a following, share product imagery, and spread such content through influencers on the network. B2B brands can build their follower bases on LinkedIn and start treating the job-hunting network like the media company that it is.
3. Bernie Borges, Find and Convert, @bernieborges
A terrific way to generate leads through content marketing is to email people in your network, ask them a few questions on a topic and publish their responses in a blog post or e-book. Brand the content with a relevant CTA, and watch the leads flow in. A great example is this post from Heidi Cohen.
4. Michael Brenner, SAP and B2B Marketing Insider, @BrennerMichael
The best way to use content marketing to generate leads is to be consistent. The brand that regularly publishes content that I find valuable and consistent is a brand that I will consider over one that does not.
5. Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide, @HeidiCohen
To generate leads from content marketing, either B2B or B2C, provide your prospects, customers, influencers and the public with the 5 basic content types they need and seek whether they realize it or not.
- Provide appropriate content for each phase of the purchase process including research, engagement, buying, post-purchase support and advocacy.
- Incorporate a contextually relevant call-to-action to nudge potential customers to interact. Don’t push them to buy or you’ll scare them off!
- Create a series of communications and content to convert leads into customers. To be effective this content should be of high quality and make recipients feel special to build a relationship for the long-term.
6. Jeffrey L. Cohen, Ball State University and Social Media B2B, Co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, @JeffreyLCohen
The best way to use content marketing to generate leads is to create a series of gated assets that solve your prospects’ business problems. They will exchange their contact information for these assets and your can build a relationship with them. A percentage of these prospects will become leads.
7. Andy Crestodina – Orbit Media, author of Content Chemistry, @Crestodina
For most of us, content marketing has an indirect impact on lead generation. We generate leads when people who need our services search for the main business category. They’re ready to reach out. But to rank for those top phrases, we need to attract lots of attention with content. This creates the social signals and links that build up our credibility and over all rank. We create lots of search-optimized content in order to rank for lots of related phrases, which makes us more credibility in general. We promote the content through social media and email marketing to grow the shares and links to it.
When this credibility translates into rankings for those few top, super-targeted phrases, leads are born!
8. Mike Delgado, Experian-North America, @MikeDelgado
Create content your community craves. If you spend time crafting killer content, your community will do the promotion for you. I love watching companies like HubSpot because they consistently churn out valuable ebooks and white papers to help their target audiences. They do such a wonderful job producing great content that they don’t need to spend as much money promoting it. Check out the Hubspot SlideShare page to see how they collect leads on their slide decks, ebooks, and infographics.
9. Ric Dragon, DragonSearch, Author of Social Marketology. @RicDragon
Again, with content marketing, you have the opportunity to really dig in and understand what your potential audience needs. Unilever did that with its famous study on self-perception of women, that then generated countless pieces of marketing, if not a whole direction for Dove marketing.
Don’t cheat on the ideation phase of content creation. Put several people in a room with a whiteboard, or marketers, and get messy. Think up a hundred pieces of content, from safe to audacious. Who ever thought, on Red Bull’s behalf, of sending Felix Baumgartener into the stratosphere?
10. Barry Graubart – Content Matters LLC @Graubart
Content marketing is the perfect way to generate leads, particularly for B2B companies. The key is to define your target market, then provide valuable content to them. For example, a B2B information service tracking the real estate industry used their blog to abstract their proprietary research on various geographic segments. They used a mix of email marketing and social media marketing to promote those blog posts to their targets. Then, they used widgets on the blog to get users to register for a free trial of their service or to simply register for future blog posts. They key was that the content was useful on its own and highly targeted to their prospects.
11. Dave Kerpen, Likeable Media, author of Likeable Business & Likeable Social Media, @DaveKerpen
The best way to use content marketing to generate leads is to put out great content (ebooks, webinars, podcasts, whitepapers etc) that’s gated by a form which collected lead data (name, email, phone number, etc)
12. Alan K’necht , Digital Always Media Inc., @AKnecht
Write content about things your audience values and can relate to. Don’t be afraid to use your personal experience in the content. When discussing an issue, talk about the way to resolve it and where applicable mention your solution. Positive examples are everywhere, best to showcase the wrong kind of lead generations methods and that is general contest. If you promote a contest globally out your target audience, you’ll just capture leads of people who don’t care about you just about your contest and that will not only waste your time down the line, but will skew any future metrics to the bad side. If you are going to run a contest, make sure there is some level of verifiable qualification. This will ensure the greatest quality of leads.
13. Arnie Kuenn Vertical Measures, author of Accelerate, @ArnieK
The best tactic I’ve found to generate leads through content marketing is free guides, user guides (or whitepapers), and case studies. When you produce a thoughtful and authoritative guide on a specific topic relevant to a segment of your business you want to grow, you are offering useful content prospective customers will want to have. With these guides, you can address people wherever they are in the sales cycle. In exchange for the free guide download, ask for some information in return (name, email, company) and you’ll be easily generating leads to nurture and build your business.
14. Jason Miller, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, @JasonMillerCA
One of the best ways to use content marketing to generate leads is to create what I call a big rock piece of content. This is a stake in the ground substantial piece of content that answers your customers and prospects question both strategically and instructionally. Once you have your big rock content piece, you can then repurpose it into many different assets. For example, this was the strategy behind The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn. Out of this one big rock piece of content, we repurposed it into 2 infographics, 2 webinars, 5 blog posts, 2 SlideShare decks and more. The idea is to create one big rock per quarter which will fuel social and demand gen during that time.
15. Jesse Noyes, Kapost
This might sound simplistic but execution is always tough. Think of campaigns as content driven, not channel driven. If you produce content that is centered around the buyers’ interest – and it’s well crafted and insightful – then you’ll generate the right kind of leads. But you need to plan how you’re going to stretch that content from top to bottom.
The best way to do this is to map out the flow of all this content and how the buyer will interact with it. We start with content pillars – big, valuable assets that most of the time we put behind a form. We then plan all the content that’s going to support that pillar: blog posts, infographics, videos, etc. that are ungated and will drive web traffic to the pillar; whitepapers, decks, case studies, etc. that further move the buyer to purchase but relate back to the pillar he or she sought out in the first place.
When you think about your campaigns from a multi-campaign mindset, as opposed to just selecting channels, you’re far more likely to generate leads that fit your ideal buyer personas. But this takes planning, tracking, and measuring the results in a cohesive way.
16. Phil Paranicas, ThomasNet
Make sure you have excellent, helpful and unique content. Then gate it. That’s right – give a little away for free but lock down your premium content such as white papers and studies. Make the full content available in exchange for the users’ name and email address. As you collect this information, you can then nurture these contacts into leads and, hopefully business over time. Keep in mind that visitors are at various stages of their buying cycles. If they are ready and they like what you have to say, an RFQ will come quickly. But most relationships take time to develop. Use targeted email and social to help nurture your contacts over time. And above all, be targeted, strategic, and of course, human.
17. Paul Roetzer, PR 20/20 and author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint.
Develop a deep understanding of your existing and prospective customers, and then use gated content, events and interactive online tools to create immense value and capture leads. Even though in many cases the content marketing currency is simply contact information, people still must have a high perceived value of your content in order to complete the exchange and become a lead. From there, the experience has to live up to expectations for leads to move further down the marketing funnel.
18. Dayna Rothman, Marketo, Author of Lead Generation for Dummies, @dayroth
Content marketing for lead generation works best when you use top-of-funnel, educational content. If try to generate leads using late stage, promotional content, you will likely find that you aren’t getting a lot of interest. Why? Today’s consumers don’t respond well to self-promotion. They don’t want to be sold to; they want to be educated. If you use educational content in your campaigns you can build trust with your leads, and once you gain that trust and respect you can move leads through your sales funnel.
19. Stephanie Sammons,Wired Advisor™ and Sammons Digital, @StephSammons
The best way to generate leads with content marketing is to make sure that the content you are creating and sharing is “spot on” with your network (prospective clients). Providing great content that can help your prospective clients make better decisions, simplify their lives, or help them accomplish goals, for example, can help you build influence and drive traffic back to your site for lead capture. If your focused on building influence you can attract leads versus having to chase or pay for them.
20. Neal Schaffer – Maximize Your Social, Author of Maximize Your Social, @NealSchaffer
Creating downloadable resources like ebooks and whitepapers, promoting them through paid and organic means, and having interested parties opt-in to your email list for further email marketing may not be the sexiest approach, but it is an approach that still proves to be the best way to generate leads through content marketing.
21. Jim Siegel, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, @MeaningComfort
Multi-purpose your content by posting in multiple channels — your website, blog, social media, digital publications.
22. Deborah Weinstein, Strategic Objectives, @DebWeinstein
A content marketing strategy should be rooted in research and consumer insights. It’s imperative to identify and elucidate topics that interest your end-consumer to create useful, helpful, valuable content that will generate respect, credibility and demand for your services and product. Think of it as answering questions your client/customer didn’t even know they had.
Responding to unasked questions should be a multi-channel, easily searchable/findable process. You must produce, and promote, blog posts and web copy that resonates with your target audience and what they’re searching for. The objective of your content marketing initiatives should be to build a bridge between your brand and your potential customer by providing insightful content that builds connections, that leads to trial and purchase.
Before diving into content marketing lead generation take the time to understand your key audiences and the information they actively seek and need.
Then take sufficient time for content ideation to test concepts and plan how to execute them effectively to ensure that your content marketing lead generation is optimized.
Remember to create content for every step of the purchase process as well as to convert leads into customers.
What other tips do you have for using content marketing to generate leads?
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