Content Strategy, Executive's Corner, Owned Media
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In this three-part series, Content Marketing Pro, John Rugh, lays out the steps to creating more success in lead generation and explains how marketers can win friends in Sales and respect in the C-Suite. Check out part one here

Welcome back! Last week, we discussed the evolution of lead generation from a basic strategy to find potential customers to a process of engaging and nurturing relationships with them by providing the right content through the right channels. This week, let’s talk about what the ‘right content’ looks like and strategies for engaging readers and guiding them further down the sales funnel.

Generating leads, especially in the B2B space, requires content marketing and copywriting. You need to give your audience content relevant to their stage of the buying cycle. And you need to use persuasive copywriting to boost content signups and downloads.

So what’s an offer? It’s a piece of content you make available in exchange for potential leads’ email addresses and other pertinent information, with the goal of getting them to “climb onboard” your lead gen train. Or if they are already on the journey, an offer is a piece of content relevant to their stage in the buying cycle that aims to get them to take the next step. Offers include eBooks, whitepapers and case studies.

You want leads to perceive your offer to be high in value. It helps to have a track record and reputation for giving valuable, interesting content. If your lead gen process includes five pieces of content, and your leads have found value in the first four pieces, doesn’t it make sense they will readily accept piece number five?

So, make every piece of content valuable. Make it so useful readers can get a lot of value from it even if they never buy from you.

Your Title is, Arguably, the Single Most Important Part of Your Content

Done right, your content’s title will add to the perception of value. As a result, write titles with the goal of generating curiosity in your reader’s mind while also implying he or she will benefit from the content. This will increase downloads and readership. It will implant the idea in the reader’s mind that “this will be a great piece of content” before they read it. With the right title, they just might have a more enjoyable reading experience. The wrong title often means the rest of the content never gets read. So, always give your content powerful, compelling titles!

You need persuasive copywriting to help you boost content signups and downloads. Copywriting is “selling through print.” Even though your leads aren’t yet ready to speak to Sales, you still need to “sell” them on accepting your content offers and making their way through the lead generation pipeline. You do this successfully with powerful copywriting.

Selling requires momentum be built up that leads to a sale. Doesn’t it make sense that effective lead generation needs the same? That you build up momentum that “leads the lead” to the point where he is ready to talk to Sales? Copywriting is crucial to your success here.

Copywriting is a specialized skill, but you can learn it. As a marketer, you should learn the basics of copywriting. You’ll gain a better understanding of how effective your content and lead gen campaigns are likely to be.

You and your staff are busy, so you will probably want to hire a copywriting specialist to join your team, or outsource this vitally important marketing function. Having solid copywriting talent on board will make the next piece of your lead gen puzzle, landing pages, much more effective!

 

 

Landing Pages: A Lead Generation Must-Have

Where does this “selling” of your content offer happen? It may start in a PPC ad. It may start in a blog post. Or it may start in a social media update. But it needs to continue on a landing page.

The landing page is a specialized page that’s not part of your regular website topography and navigation structure. It brings your potential leads to a “moment of truth” where they must make a decision: They either accept your offer, or they don’t. Because you are prompting them to make a pivotal, potentially stress-inducing decision, you want to eliminate all distractions, including non-essential graphics. Get rid of irrelevant images. Avoid stock photos at all costs! You don’t want anything on the page, including your site’s navigation buttons and links, that is not directly related to your purpose – persuading the reader to accept your content offer.

Do use your best copywriting. Have a persuasive, attention-winning headline. Very briefly, talk about the problem your reader faces and how you can help him solve it. Include a few bullet points that highlight the benefits your offer delivers.

You are asking your reader to trust you, so give him specific reasons to trust you. Show one or two glowing, written testimonials from your happy customers. And have a strong, impossible-to-ignore call to action – more on this in a moment.

Important: Remember that at this stage, you are not selling your company’s product or service. You are using your landing page to “sell” your reader on accepting your content offer.

Confusion is the enemy of lead generation. A confused reader is unlikely to accept your offer. So, keep your message simple and crystal clear. And offer only one item per landing page.

Speaking of the call to action…

What Comes Next? A Primer on Calls to Action and Forms

If no one takes action on your offer, you won’t succeed at lead generation, plain and simple. You have to convert readers into leads. Effective calls to action will help you.

Your call to action is an essential part of building and accelerating the “Yes” momentum needed to convert readers into leads. It needs a clickable button with persuasive text. It will take readers from your landing page to the content signup form.

Part of the reason a landing page needs a simple, uncluttered design is to help ensure all the important elements, including the call-to-action button, get noticed. The call-to-action button is a lead generation linchpin. Without a good one that’s easily seen, momentum stops and so does the lead generation process.

So, make sure your readers can notice this button easily. Set it apart from the other landing page elements. Make it large and prominent. Give it a bright color. And embed the right words to help boost clicks. You won’t have much room to work with. But try to craft a brief, persuasive message that compels your reader to click. And please avoid the boring, yawn-inducing one-word phrase “Submit.”

Keep This In Mind: One of the beauties of digital marketing technology is that it enables you to test and optimize your results. So, test everything, including your landing pages’ and forms’ call-to-action buttons. Test text, color, size and placement position. Observe the results you get, and change course accordingly.

Your reader is interested in your offer. The momentum is building. He’s clicked the landing page call-to-action button and landed on your content signup form, another important piece of your lead gen machine, another linchpin with “make-or-break” potential. It can add to your lead generation momentum and success, or it can cause your results to plummet.

A key challenge of the lead gen process, especially when your landing page visitors get to your form, is friction (more work for the visitor which results in greater internal resistance to completing the process). It can hurt your signup rate. You either reduce this friction by making the form easy to navigate and complete or increase the friction by making your form more difficult.

The Right Form Length

Now this doesn’t mean you want to always make the form as easy as possible. You need to test different lengths and formats. Using a form that is more difficult to complete and requires more information may mean you wind up with leads who are more committed and more interested in what your company can do for them.

On the other hand, a short, super-simple form may mean you wind up with lots of “tire kickers” who aren’t qualified or truly interested. Obviously, you don’t want this. It’s not a happy situation that will help you make friends in Sales and win the approval of the C-Suite, right? So once again, test, measure and adapt.

Just like your landing page, your form needs a solid call to action, both button and text. Follow the same call-to-action guidelines we mentioned a moment ago. And turn the text into a benefits statement.

As you do on your landing pages, you want your forms to reduce anxiety and build trust. Show one or more customer testimonials. If you require sensitive information for the content signup and download, show security seals, a BBB rating, certifications, and so on.

Moving Forward

Understanding your audience is key to delivering the right content, and continuing to educate yourself about your readers by gathering information through forms helps in this process. The information supplied helps you make an educated decision about what to do next. Now, you have the knowledge to create the content to draw readers in and engage with them. But how do you get readers to find your content? Next week, we’ll dig in to tactics to get you noticed.

 

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