No matter which digital marketing expert you ask, you likely hear a consistent chorus: content marketing works, especially as it relates to generating inbound leads. As audiences are increasingly cynical toward traditional ‘push’ ads that simply promote a brand, ‘pull’ strategies that engage users through relevant content have become both successful and necessary.
Marketers across industries are adjusting accordingly. According to the Content Marketing industry, no less than 88% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers engage in some type of content marketing.
But unfortunately, not all of them are successful. Of the 76% of marketers mentioned above, only 38% consider their strategy to be effective.
That disconnect showcases a simply truth. As it turns out, simply publishing content on a regular basis does not generate leads or customers. You may realise the value of content marketing, but if you don’t know what type of content to publish, you may be wasting valuable time and resources on the concept without much success. To help optimise your efforts, follow these 5 steps to creating inbound marketing content that converts readers into leads:
1) Know the Pressure Points
Every brainstorming session for new content should begin with by considering your target audience. Exactly what type of content do they need to help solve their problem?
Take this blog post as an example: noticing the disconnect between the proliferation and the success of content marketing, we realized that our audience could benefit from a post that helps them not just subscribe to the philosophy, but executive it in a way that tangibly helps their business.
Pressure points, or pain points, are issues that your audience needs to solve in order to become more successful. At its core, your content should aim to help them achieve that goal.
2) Research Your Topic
Knowing your audience’s pressure points is a great start, but will matter little without the next step: doing the research necessary for your piece of content. From simply informing yourself about a topic to including statistics and expert quotes, research should be the thread that holds your content together.
To be successful, your content needs to convey your expertise on a given topic. Your audience will be able to tell whether you put research into a piece or simply wrote it on a whim, and their evaluation will significantly impact your expertise.
But most importantly, your content needs to be convincing enough for your audience to take action after reading it. Simply giving your opinion may lead them there, but offering a well-research piece that conveys thought leadership is much more likely to drive conversions.
3) Focus on Share-ability
What makes content shareable? A variety of factors play into the equation, but two are especially important: your headline and the structure of your content. The headline has to be interested enough to get users interested, while the content has to be structured in a way that makes it easily scannable for members of your audience who don’t have time to read it all.
Last year, BuzzSumo conducted a comprehensive survey that sought to determine just what makes content shareable. Their results range far and wide, providing insight from scannable content to lists posts that can enhance your content. Focusing on these aspects will help your content generate viral reach, which ultimately drives conversions.
4) Let Science Guide You
Over the years, marketing has borrowed from social psychology to better understand targeted audience. And as it turns out, these insights are both relevant and helpful as they relate to content that converts.
For example, the concept of cognitive dissonance describes a state in which your audience experiences a disconnect between their expectations and what they actually receive. This dissonance can lead to feelings of discomfort, and a loss of credibility on behalf of the brand. Creating your content specifically to deliver on audience expectations is crucial in avoiding dissonance and increasing conversions.
Science also suggests that most if not all decision making, even in supposedly rational B2B industries, is emotional. That means in order to drive lead conversions, your content needs to connect with your audience emotionally. Desire is the most common conversion-driving emotions: by appealing to your audience’s fear of missing out, peer pressure, or sense of self-improvement, you can enhance your content to be more successful within your inbound marketing structure.
5) Convey a Sense of Urgency
The success of most lead conversion strategies boils down to a simple question: what does your audience gain from becoming a lead right now? If they don’t feel the need to convert as soon as possible and choose to come back later, chances are they won’t end up as a lead in your system.
You can convey a sense of urgency in a variety of ways, but much of it comes down to the language you use. Setting deadlines, even if artificial, helps your audience focus on the desired goal rather than pushing it into the future. Time sensitive language like “last chance” can also help.
But the most successful way to enhance your audience’s sense of urgency is to lay out what opportunity they miss if they don’t become a lead. Pointing out ROI of new opportunities is one way to ensure that they pay attention to the potential alternatives.
Following the 5 steps above will allow you to create content that not only populates your website, but actively impacts your lead generation efforts. Creating content that is targeted toward your audience, well-researched, shareable, visual, and focused means building a content library that will bring in consistent, high-quality leads.