Experiment, analyze, tweak – just a few of the many steps to implementing your dream content marketing strategy. But all that tackling and testing can be daunting for a busy B2B online business owner: where do you start, how do you prioritize, and how should you adjust the results?
The reality is you won’t just stumble upon a pool of hot leads — not every new lead will find you or be eager to purchase on the spot. That’s why your content marketing sales funnel should be constantly seeking out new leads along the way.
The number-one thing you should be doing with your content is generating leads so you can have an invaluable asset: a group of people you can communicate with, according to LeadPages’ Bob Jenkins.
In a recent Audience Ops podcast episode, he notes that partner relationships are definitely one step in lead generation – because you’re leveraging their audience. But the biggest bang for your buck is creating a system to attract a steady stream of both “warm leads” and “cold leads” to your product.
Warming Up Cold Leads
Unfortunately, cold leads have the least amount of interest compared to warmer leads that are already progressing through the sales funnel. Try these steps to warm up cold leads:
· Boost Your SEO Ranking. Jenkins points out that “stranger marketing” via Facebook Ads and Google Adwords is still important because the majority of cold B2B leads will start with a generic search. But the quality, length, and frequency with which you publish new content affects your search result ranking. A drop in posting new content on your website will also mean a drop in search engine ranking. B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3 times more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month, according to HubSpot.
· Align Your SEO Terms. Even if you have a supremely unique service or product, your target audience may not know about your company because the content is misaligned with their search terms. How can you ensure your best content will be seen? Consider reverse-engineering the path of purchase. This simply means choosing SEO keywords and tweaking your landing page to achieve the end goal of conversion.
· Understand CRO Metrics. Conversion rate optimization increases leads. For example, if your website attracts 500 unique visitors each month with a 5% conversion rate, your CRO metrics would bring you about 25 new leads each month. Also, figure out what devices to target in your marketing campaigns when evaluating conversion rates (i.e., does mobile make up a bulk of your traffic?).
· Focus on Consistency and Credibility. Create a fluid buyer journey and make sure that your landing page offer reflects what drew them to you in the first place via your blog, ad, or link. On your home page, highlight customer testimonials, awards, and certifications that set you apart in your industry.
· Optimize Target Personas. How are people interacting with your website? Learning how to understand the customer journey and how to engage them is critical for predictable revenues. But what are potential problems they may encounter — such as a broken link or outdated page? Consider that something as simple as providing a sign-up form for one of your opt-in offers can transform a 404 error page into a high-converting lead generation page.
Heating Up Warm Leads
Content marketing is a way of communicating with your customers and prospects, but it’s the outreach component that will really maximize your pool of warm leads. Put another way, how can you continue to earn the trust of people who already understand your business?
Try these outreach ideas to be “front and center” to warm leads:
· Guest Blogging. New blog posts that identify you as a thought leader in your industry can appeal to your target market as well as your partner’s audience. Remember to keep it simple, limit sales jargon, and stick to one problem that your service or product can solve.
“As a team, we want to be able to go out to other experts who have their own audiences and we can add value while leading customers back to our product,” says Jenkins.
To get started with guest blogging, find the most appropriate websites and companies to pitch within your niche target market. Come up with 3-5 keywords to search and then make a list of the unique sites you discover. Remember to focus on blogs that will offer you an SEO benefit — review the site’s recently published posts to see how these posts have been shared across different channels.
· Videos. Create an interactive video or tutorial and share on your website and social media channels. If a prospect can learn something useful, they are far more likely to turn to you again with a similar problem. The key is to make the content relevant to anyone in your target demographic, not just subscribers or warm leads. If you can tackle common problems and provide easy solutions, you build your brand’s value and name recognition.
· Podcasts. Being a guest in both blogs and on podcasts is a huge driver of new customers. Jenkins shares the example of Laura Roeder, founder of social media tool MeetEdgar, and mentions, “of all the things she ever did, she says ‘showing up on other people’s podcasts was the most leveraged thing for third-party validation.”
One lesser-known podcasting tactic is offering a mobile text message option. If you have someone listening to a podcast in the car or while commuting, they may not be able to easily enter their email for more information. But why not offer them a simple word to text to get additional bonus content? “This is a newer way to maximize the value of your relevant content and get people into your ecosystem,” says Jenkins.
· Webinars. Earn the trust of those in your target market with educational webinars. The trend at LeadPages has been doing automated webinars “because we know the interaction and community in a live webinar significantly increases the value for customers,” he says. Indeed, live webinars continue to be very important for generating leads. Whether GoTo or Demio, Jenkins say you should test out different platforms.
· Use Evergreen Content. Have a system to prevent gaps in content. Plan your editorial marketing calendar and then fill in the gaps with evergreen content. Look at metrics to see your past record of top-performing blog posts, which titles generated the most traffic, and which pages got new traffic to complete a lead form. Jenkins suggests using an automation tool like Hootsuite or MeetEdgar.
“If something is evergreen content, put it in a bimonthly rotation. The tweet will go live again. On Facebook it’s going live on our lead pages as well as in our Facebook group,” he says.
From there, you can use that evergreen content to create a poll on Facebook and incorporate results into a new, expanded blog post as well.
· Lead Nurturing Emails. It’s easy to get so caught up in keeping potential new buyers moving through the sales funnel with new content that you forget about old prospects. But the typical B2B sales cycles can last weeks, if not months, so don’t be afraid to reach out again. A simple lead nurturing campaign – even a year later – can recharge your old contact list and remind leads why they may be interested in your product.
“We use Drip, which is a really cool program for email marketing automation, and it works under the idea of workflows,” says Jenkins.
For example, if they signed up for a webinar, or if they haven’t bought yet, there are steps in place to email anyone who’s downloaded content and remind them what was so good about that piece of content.
“If they still haven’t become a member, then they go into our master workflow with cool little pathways in it. At the end of the day, everything is based on whether they became a customer or not,” he says.
What do your results show you about what did or didn’t work? Over time, adapt content marketing based on sales results. How many leads were generated? Do certain topics perform better than others? Do certain authors attract more engaged readers?
“There’s an evolution in your content production where you’ll discover there’s a handful of content that knocks it out of the park. The response you get from your audience – the way that turns into sales – there will be some kind of content that’s ‘the thing’ and when you find that out, put it out as much as you can,” says Jenkins.
Experiment with what you offer, analyze your metrics, and then tweak your efforts to heat up both cold and warm traffic.