If you haven’t noticed by now, the internet is overflowing with content. From a business perspective, this is down to the ability of content to drive interest from customers.
Simply look at the biggest global companies’ websites and you will see a vast array of content types, from blog, to social media, side-projects, press coverage, and more.
So it begs the question: How can content marketing help your business grow? And what is the best content strategy to help you produce leads? We’re here to answer just that.
To understand how content marketing and lead generation piece together, it’s important to understand the concepts.
Lead generation is the process of initiating a customer’s interest in your company’s products and services. From this, we can gather that marketing teams generate leads, while sales teams convert leads. We speak of this in the context of the customer lifecycle journey – reach, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty.
Meanwhile, the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a “strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
In other words, the purpose of content marketing is to generate leads, and therefore, turn profit. But how does this work, exactly? Well, we should consider two broad theories commonly used by marketing strategists.
Outbound marketing is when a company advertises its products in order to ‘find customers’ and bring them into its sales funnel.
Such examples include:
- Email or leaflet marketing
- Advertising specific product discounts
- Geotargeting customers in relevant locations
Inbound marketing is when a company advertises its own image so that customers ‘find them’.
Such examples include:
- Improving their website’s SEO
- Maintaining a large social media presence
- Focusing on cultivating their brand image
Outbound and inbound marketing channels share a similarity: content.
Therefore, when we think about what content marketing is meant to achieve, we can think of its impact on both outbound and inbound leads. Some types of content are favored for inbound marketing, whereas others suit outbound marketing.
You should bear this in mind when designing your overall content marketing strategy if you want to increase your content marketing ROI.
Image Sourced from BioStrata
Marketing is not easy. What works for some companies does not necessarily work for others.
Some marketers are tempted by the idea of picking one marketing strategy and sticking to it. For example, they may favor an inbound approach, and consequently, create leaflet or email content for advertising purposes. In reality, you should consider experimenting with different types of content.
By creating content for both outbound and inbound channels, you will be able to collect a plethora of useful data for your advertising team. That way, you can launch a comparative analysis to see what lead generation ideas have worked well for you, and where improvements should be made.
There are various content ideas businesses can adopt. But here are our picks for the top trends in content marketing that will help you boost lead generation:
Most businesses pursuing a content marketing strategy will start by creating a website. Here, customers can find relevant info about your company, who you are, and what products you sell. However, a beautifully designed website is useless if no one is visiting it. You may consider reading, or even writing, a CX White Paper on the subject.
The answer to this problem: more content.
Why? Well, the more content you host on your website, the more traffic it will receive. A blog section is great for driving traffic, as there is so much you can write about. Examples include educational content such as how-to guides and step-by-step tutorials relevant to a product or service you offer.
Of course, it isn’t all about throwing content at the wall to see what will stick. Rather, you need to curate your content and organize it properly for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. As such, you should create a separate blog section, sort topics into ‘clusters’, and link between pages on your site to build authority. You may wish to consider SEMrush as an affordable all-in-one SEO Software solution.
By doing all of this, you should see an uptick in traffic to your site, and consequently, an uptick in lead generation for your sales team.
Image Sourced from Oberlo
Blogs are fantastic resources for in-depth educational content. However, sometimes you need to create something more visually appealing to explain complex topics.
Infographics are images that contain minimal text alongside data visualizations and graphics. They act as ‘quick explainers’ through which a reader can dip their toe into a particular topic.
As such, they work well for explaining broad ideas that can later be elaborated on in the context of a blog article. For instance, you may use an infographic to compare PandaDoc DocuSign Salesforce pricing vs competitors on the market. Then, you can include that picture in a long-form article that explains the differences in further detail.
One valuable aspect of infographics is that other people may wish to reuse or repurpose this content on their websites. Of course, when doing this they must give credit to you as the original creator. This is done through the use of a ‘Dofollow link’, which points back to your site.
Collecting Dofollow links from reputable websites will in turn strengthen your own site’s SEO. That’s because it builds your authority on a subject matter in the eyes of search engines like Google. As a result, you might find that infographics push you up the search engine results pages (SERPs), thereby increasing your traffic and lead generation.
We are now in the age of short-form content. In fact, the UK General Manager of TikTok, Kris Boger, estimates that Gen Z have an attention span of just eight seconds. That represents a decline in attention span from previous generations; a trend that is expected to continue.
So, how can you create eye-catching content that stands out to a wide audience?
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash
Many companies see the solution in video content. That’s because thumbnails or a few seconds of video tend to grab people’s attention more effectively than long-form text. The beauty of it is, you can go for any number of styles, such as educational YouTube documentaries, Instagram Reels, or TikToks.
Whilst YouTube channels and TikTok pages generally contain Nofollow links (therefore not impacting your SEO), they do direct more traffic to your website and sales funnel. Now, just make sure you nail your landing page and automated sales process to convert those visitors into customers!
Once you have created your content, the next step is to cross-post it to your social media pages. Here, your content will rack up more impressions and direct traffic back to your site. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to reach audiences that would not typically come across your content.
That said, content marketers need to tailor content to the specific social media platform they are using. For example, Facebook is better with the older demographic, whereas TikTok is popular with teens and young adults. LinkedIn on the other hand is targeted at professionals in the corporate world.
It’s important to consider what these different audiences want to see, and how you will make content that is relevant for them. Also, which demographics are more important for your company to pursue? You may want to use a customer segmentation model to paint a picture for you. Many companies use AI software for this, although you will certainly need a manual QA tester.
You will also want to keep your company’s branding consistent on each platform. After all, that is the point of ‘building a brand’! Be consistent with your profile pictures, icons and headers, just remember to adjust the image dimensions for each platform. Similarly, you should also familiarize yourself with the relevant criteria and adapt accordingly, creating a ‘bank’ of social media posts for different platforms.
This is also a good way to generate more customer feedback and customer testimonial examples that you can display on your website and social media platforms.
Image Sourced from Hootsuite
It’s no secret that 2020 was the year remote learning and working from home went mainstream.
Many of us still shudder at the thought of Monday morning Zoom calls. But to others, it highlights the changing world of work and education. Why not jump aboard this trend, and pursue a content marketing strategy based on online education?
Many businesses now host ‘webinars’, which are ticketed online events where attendees can hear from industry insiders. These events have been known to draw significant interest, especially where you invite other (non-competing) firms to speak alongside you. Paid events are also worth exploring as an additional source of revenue.
If this avenue is particularly successful, you may consider expanding to launch an online course. This could cover the A-Z of working life in your company’s industry, providing skills lessons and a certificate for participants.
Another benefit is that it acts as a pipeline for attendees to become loyal customers, affiliate marketers, or even employees. Should you go down the affiliate marketing route, be sure to use a respecte affiliate program software with the capacity to scale alongside your business.
Establishing authority in your company’s sector is an uphill battle.
Simultaneously, you must listen to the needs of your customers, while also competing against rival firms. The best place to do this is at industry events, whether they are local conferences or international fairs.
Here, you can present what your company does from your stall, distribute leaflets, and learn from your competition in the process. You might even want to speak on the main stage, thus building your personal brand and cementing your voice in the industry. In turn, clips from these speeches can be converted into content for your website and social media.
Media is a lucrative domain for advertising.
On one end of the spectrum, you could run newspaper ads – a form of outbound marketing. On the other end, you could write guest posts for media websites – a form of inbound marketing.
However, getting your foot in the door of a media corporation is not a simple task. Often, your business must obtain significant ‘soft power’ for your opinions to be valued by a respected editor. As such, this approach requires a long-term strategy, focused on building relationships within the media.
You might start with writing regular guest posts in an industry-related magazine or blog. This will provide content for your company’s website and social media to reference, and it will also reach a new demographic. This a valuable method of strategic customer engagement – as you are engaging potential customers in an unorthodox manner, yet providing an inbound channel for generating leads.
As you build your authority, reporters might start coming to you for quotes on articles they are writing. Eventually, you may even feature on well-respected domains such as Forbes or TechCrunch. As I say, taking baby steps is the way – don’t expect to achieve this overnight.
Image Sourced from the CEO Magazine
Do you need a place to consolidate your content marketing strategy?
Well, why not consider publishing a book? This long-form style of content is for your loyal customers, apprentices, and fans. You may cover topics learned from your career in the industry, and provide advice to new starters.
Even if you don’t break into the bestseller’s list, it’s great for brand visibility and authority.
Audio content is a rising phoenix in the world of content marketing.
Podcasts, in particular, have exploded in recent years. Launching a podcast series is a unique way of reaching a wider demographic. There’s so much you can do with this content approach: education, entertainment, or the middle-ground ‘edutainment’.
Producing a regular show is one way to build a loyal fanbase. You may even want to invite guest speakers onto the show, or invite customers to ‘call in’ and provide their opinion on topics. Alternatively, you could ask for people to mention you on Twitter, or launch a customer survey.
Have you noticed out-of-character Tweets from corporate accounts recently?
It might be part of the larger trend of companies embracing the virality of social media content. These companies hire young, internet-savvy social media managers to create meme-worthy content, often poking fun at their competitors or haters. From here, social media users do the leg work, liking and sharing the content thousands of times.
Taking a lighthearted approach is an innovative method of brand building. It’s quite a far cry from the corporate content strategy you may be pushing on sites like LinkedIn. However, it shows the world that your company is youthful, personable, and switched on to the trends of today.
Image sourced from @Wendys on Twitter
By now you should have a good idea of what it takes to create a well-rounded content marketing campaign, considering the strengths of both an inbound strategy and an outbound strategy.
Implementing these 10 content marketing ideas will set you on the right path toward generating leads for your sales team. By taking a varied approach, you can evaluate which strategies have worked especially well to attract new customers. Good luck, and remember to trust the long-term process!