May 26, 2015

Three Ways Content Marketing Can Improve Lead Generation

Qualified sales leads are the lifeblood of almost any business. Nurturing prospects and converting them to customers is critical to success, but that conversion can only take place after qualified leads are generated.

For both B2B and B2C marketers, lead generation remains as difficult as it is important. For example, CSO Insights’ 2015 “Sales Management Optimization Study” found that lead generation remains the greatest challenge for B2B companies. The study also found that improving lead generation effectiveness was the top priority for 47.9 percent of sales managers, a significantly greater percentage than any other objective. B2C organizations face similar challenges related to lead generation;’s “2015 State of Marketing” report found that B2C marketers listed “new business development” among their top three challenges.   

Content marketing can be a boon for organizations struggling to create leads—assuming it is done correctly. Let’s take a look at how content marketing strategy can improve your lead generation efforts:

1. Compelling, Strategically Gated Content: In content marketing, lead generation is inextricably linked with a gated asset strategy. That is, companies need to produce and identify content that requires a consumer to provide contact information in exchange for downloading the asset. For example, blogs prove invaluable for nurturing leads and educating consumers, but they typically don’t offer enough “bang for the buck” to be gated. A white paper, on the other hand, is often detailed and targeted enough to compel readers to trade their information for the content.

Generating leads through gated assets is often a multi-step process. For example, your company could produce a white paper titled “Five Ways a Workforce Optimization Solution Can Help Reduce Overhead” and share it via social media. When a CFO of a company struggling with massive overhead sees the tweet, her or she can click the accompanying link, which would take the individual to the asset gate. At that point, that CFO may be invested enough in the information being offered to provide an email address or phone number.

2. Strategic Use of Marketing Automation: Some of the professionals who download your gated content may be genuine qualified leads, but some may still be casually interested parties. Using marketing automation tools to build drip campaigns can be an effective way to turn those first-time readers into qualified prospects. As is stated in the CSO study, many companies struggle with a shortage of leads due to an over-reliance on marketing automation tools. But this problem is simply a symptom of several larger ailments. First and foremost, companies are simply not producing enough quality content to include offer and push out through those tools.

Additionally, too many companies are still sending emails too frequently. That can be an extremely costly mistake, considering a survey from the market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey found that 69 percent of respondents who unsubscribed from emails did so because of over-communication. Part of a well-rounded content marketing strategy is to understand how often to actually push out the content. Lastly, many companies are not focusing enough on how their email content will look on mobile devices. That is critical to the user’s experience and open rates, but also because of Google’s new emphasis on “mobile friendliness.”

3. Differentiation at Tradeshows: Companies exhibiting or attending industry conferences generally do so, at least in part, because the show floor is teeming with potential leads. After all, attendees would not be at the shows if they didn’t have at least some connection to the company’s industry. Handshakes and chats at the company booth are great, but handing a potential lead a piece of content—from a compelling product one-pager to a case study—is an effective way to leave a lasting impression. If your aim is to develop genuine interest in your company, you stand a better chance if the prospect has something substantive to read on the plane ride home, rather than just a business card to tuck away.

The work involved in planning, creating and distributing content that generates leads can be a daunting task, especially for marketers with numerous other tasks on their plate. A content strategy vendor can remove much of that burden from your company’s shoulders and help you execute a content strategy that helps you reach your desired business outcomes. For a deeper look at what such a vendor offers, check out this white paper.  


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