Your job as a business owner or marketing professional is to get more customers to buy from you. This means whatever you do, it has to promote lead conversion.
But you can’t get today’s customers to buy from you using yesterday’s methods. Today’s buyers have access to vast amounts of information (both online and offline) that informs their buying decisions. They want information from you as well. Not just product information or mere marketing messages, but rather information that provides tangible solutions to the real-world problems your customers are facing.
Creating this kind of content enables companies like yours to build trust in customer communities, thus making it easier for them to buy.
Here are 6 steps to creating content for lead conversion:
#1. Tie content to measurable marketing goals
For any content campaign to be successful, you must tie your content marketing program to measurable business goals. It’s a bad idea to invest in any content activity just because “it’s the latest new thing,” or because your company has a lot of great information to share with your industry.
Your goals for creating content must be specific and measurable. You need to understand how sharing great information with your industry helps your bottom line. (Hint, it’s attracting potential buyers and persuading them to consider buying, when done right.)
So, before you even start to brainstorm your content marketing plan, jot down one or two goals that you want to accomplish with content. A simple example might be to increase next quarter’s online revenue by 10%.
#2. Understand customers’ information needs
The next step is to identify the information needs of your customers. Don’t move into the content creation process until you have a crystal-clear understanding of potential customers.
This is done through extensive research, e.g., interviewing existing customers, sending out surveys to your email list, and meeting with your sales and customer service staff to find out what kind of questions or concerns customers have and creating a buyer persona.
Without this level of understanding, you run the risk of publishing irrelevant content that may or may not produce the results you want. That sort of “hit-or-miss” strategy will not help you accomplish your goals.
#3. Select your content mix
There are many types of content you can create to connect with potential buyers for lead conversion. Some examples are websites, podcasts, print brochures, print newsletters, email newsletters, white papers, magazines, and more.
The type(s) of content you choose will largely depend on your budget and your customers’ needs (see number 2). You may rely on one core content product, e.g., your website, to take the primary marketing role. But remember that other types of content provide multiple touch points for prospective buyers, and also demonstrate a well-integrated content marketing strategy especially when they enhance each other.
#4. Determine what buyers should do
Many organizations create direct mail, newsletters, blog content, and even custom magazines without knowing what kind of response they hope to get from customers.
You might be sending out newsletters every month, but have you told your readers what they should do after they read it? If you assume that they’ll pick up the phone and call your company, you’ll be waiting a long time.
Identify the specific action you want prospective customers to take and clearly tell them what to do. It could be trying a free demo of your product or signing up for a webinar that provides more specific information about your offerings. Whatever it is, make sure it is clear and measurable as well.
#5. Get help
Most companies are so busy focusing on marketing their products, that they have a tough time thinking about content the way publishers do. Moreover, creating content for marketing purposes is a skill by itself, and requires specialized talent to achieve profitable results.
If your company has in-house content marketing experts, then, by all means, use them. If not, you should consider outsourcing your content activities to content marketing experts.
According to Gartner research in 2012, 50% of U.S. based companies outsource all or part of their digital content activities to an outside expert. Content marketing experts are trained to not just produce engaging content, but also to help the organization meet its business goals. (See number 1).
#6. Measure your return
Finally, if you’re going to go through all this trouble to set up a content program, you should be able to know if it’s working or not. Don’t dare start your content activities if you don’t have a plan for measuring success.
Return on investment is directly linked to your business goals (see number 1). If you set out to increase your online revenue by 10% each quarter, you should evaluate your revenue at the end of that period to check if your projected sales numbers were achieved. Frequent measurement helps you to understand what’s working and what’s not working so that you can adjust your plan accordingly.
In conclusion, well-crafted and creative content attracts prospects results in lead conversion. It’s not just content for content’s sake. It is a purposeful content plan that generates real customers. So, whether your plan is to produce print or digital content, these six steps will help you stay focused on a strategy that produces tangible results.
If you have any questions about content marketing for lead generation, contact us for a free consultation.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Your Turn: Creating content that attracts customers can be challenging. What steps have you taken to close that gap?