What's in this article?
Everyone wants more conversions. Everyone knows they should do more content marketing. If only it were that easy.
The best lead generation ideas haven’t changed — ebooks, white papers, case studies, and webinars still dominate. What you can do with these doesn’t have to be limited by your imagination. Here’s what some of the biggest names in the business have to say.
The Info Intersection
Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute founder, says that “information falls into two distinct categories: what you know and what your audience wants to know.” Content marketing success, says Pulizzi, “falls at the intersection of the two.”
This “info intersection” idea speaks to the heart of content marketing. It’s why you, as a business, do it. And it’s why it works for your audience — and ultimately leads to conversion success. The key for content marketers is to become your audience’s go-to source for the information they want to know.
The vehicle for that info can be almost anything. Ebooks, webinars, white papers, and case studies are all suitable means to convey useful info to your target audience. It just depends on what type of conversion you want to target. Ebooks and white papers can be used to generate new sales leads. Webinars can be effective for building trust with prospects. Case studies can help a prospect who’s on the fence decide to buy. Presuming, that is, that your content is high quality.
The Value Promise
Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger, notes that content marketing is ultimately a promise to the customer:
Content is fundamentally about delivering value, and if your jokes, honesty, and diction compromise that value, then it’s time to remember who matters most: the customer.
Never forget the customer. If your content doesn’t deliver great value, then expect to be forgotten yourself! Content marketing is only worth doing if done right. As Clark points out, some brands can get caught up in their own interests, forgetting the reasons they decided to produce content in the first place and that their content success relies on actually being useful.
All content can deliver value to your prospects and customers, but consider how you can really maximize the impact. With a webinar, there’s an opportunity to answer direct questions from attendees, have one-on-one interactions, and so on. With an ebook, you can expound upon several interrelated topics at length without the worry that you’ll bore an audience that only has time for a blog post. Case studies and white papers can bring hard-to-find stats, customer stories, and more directly and exclusively to your customers. Now you just have to get that value to them.
The Expectation Pitfall
“Never expect customers to come to you,” reminds Brian Halligan, co-founder of HubSpot. The notion that, “If you build it, they will come,” may work in the movies, but don’t expect your customers to appear out of the ether to consumer your latest marketing collateral. More typically, the expectation may lead to heartache — especially if you don’t have a strategy to reach your goals.
So, yes, you could have the answers your prospects are searching for, it could be great, high-value content, but if you don’t have a plan to get your content out there, you’re not going to see the conversion rates you want.
All a content marketer should expect is that it’s going to be work to get your content into the hands of your customers. You will have to market your marketing! For ebooks, this means an effective landing page where you’ll trade your ebook for your prospect’s email address. Webinars can be marketed effectively to prospects who are already in your sales funnel, via email, social, and website banners. Case studies and white papers can be marketed in a similar fashion to ebooks.
Lead generation doesn’t have to be complicated. As Neil Patel, founder of Kissmetrics, noted in a recent article, most content pieces can be broken down into three or four basic elements. From those building blocks, marketers would do well to follow the advice of Pulizzi, Halligan, and Clark: craft content that offers value to the audience by telling them what they want to know, then plan your strategy to reach your conversion goals.