Consumers are more and more ad savvy these days, and are much less susceptible to advertising than they may have been 10 years ago. People can smell a sales pitch a mile away; studies have shown that over 70% of people are turned off by content that feels like a sales pitch.
In fact, research has shown that 84 % of millenials don’t trust traditional advertising, and Gen Z don’t make purchasing decisions based on ads at all, but rather, are influenced by other forms of content. Ad blocking is also becoming more and more common; as of 2017, 615 million devices have ad blocker technology installed.
So if your ads aren’t working, how do you reach audiences and generate viable leads? With valuable content marketing of course. Consumers want content from brands, and prefer communications that are informative, rather than promotional. Even distribution platforms like Google and Facebook favour informative content over sales material.
So the question is: how can you use content marketing to generate viable leads?
The Basics: Gated Content
The simplest way to gain leads from a piece of content is to gate it, and only open the gates after the consumer has provided you with their contact details. Easy right? It’s actually trickier than it sounds. First of all, that piece of content needs to be really hot. If it’s not instantly accessible, you need to make sure that your consumers want to read that content enough to hand over their contact information.
Particularly in the current climate, with GDPR and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, people are much more protective of their data and aware of how it gets used. Consumers won’t give over their email address for nothing; it has to be a fair trade, and so you need to make sure that your content is of value.
That also means that you need to grab attention quickly. It’s all in the headline, and you need to come up with something snappy, sharp, and intriguing enough that people will know that they want to read your content without actually seeing it first.
Gated content comes in many forms; e-books, infographics, and webinars are all popular ways of getting your audience to part with their data, and that’s because they naturally lend themselves to informative and educational content. Audiences know that by consuming your content, they’re going to learn something they didn’t already know, and that prompts their willingness to hand over their details.
Building Long Term Success: Thought Leadership
Successful content marketing doesn’t just come from gated content, of course. If your content is of interest, consumers can sign up to your mail list to receive updates directly to their inbox, leaving you with their contact information. If you can build up a content library compelling enough for your audience to want to be updated each time you post, people will subscribe. The larger your audience grows, the more your subscribers will grow along with it.
One way to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter is through thought leadership. By writing quality content that offers new insights on relevant topics, even if it is a little controversial, you offer them something that they won’t find on other websites. Thought leadership content is thought provoking, and most importantly, shareable. Publishing content of this nature, will help you naturally grow your audience, as it will generate shares, clicks, and discussion.
By writing insightful, thought leadership focused content, you also position yourself as an expert in your industry. This will help not only with generating leads, but with converting them as well. By doing this you create trust between you and your potential customer, helping them make that decision to buy.
Getting to the top of Google
It’s no secret that search engine optimisation is a huge part of inbound marketing. Google alone gets over 60,000 searches per second on any given day, so if you’re appearing high in those search results, your putting your business in front of a lot of potential customers. SEO is a whole other area of marketing, and would take dozens of blog posts to explain completely, so we won’t go in to it now. What we will look at is how well written content can power up your SEO efforts, pushing you up the search results and increasing your lead generation figures.
First of all, Google likes fresh content. Part of Google’s algorithm is designed to give users the most up-to-date results it can find, so by publishing regularly, you increase your chances of showing up in the results. Fresh content also gets indexed quickly, again increasing your chance of a boost to your rankings.
Secondly, a large part of optimising your website for search engines is keywords within content. Google’s main priority is showing users content that helps with their search query, and so by including keywords in your copy, you help Google to understand what your content is about. If Google thinks your content is relevant, it will push you up to the top of the results, meaning that the user will more likely click your site, and potentially become a viable lead.
There’s also the chance of your content showing up in the Google Featured Snippet, which is one of the most coveted spots on the results page. You can get there by having your content rank for a more complex search query. Creating content that answers questions and offers solutions to problems will help you do this; if you can provide the answer to a question that a user is asking Google, you’re more likely to appear in the snippet. This means more clicks to your site, and a lift in terms of subject matter expertise. User trust in the content promoted in the Featured Snippet is high, meaning more leads generated for you.
Going Beyond The Lead
Yes, good content marketing can help you generate leads. But don’t limit yourself to thinking that content is only beneficial for lead generation. As we’ve already touched on above, great content helps at every stage of the sales funnel. Make sure you’re writing content that’s tailored to your potential customers at every stage. Guide them through from the initial enquiry phase right up to conversion, with helpful and informative content that will result in the ultimate goal: the conversion.