How to generate leads with content marketing

Content marketing: an all-encompassing strategy for traffic and conversion

Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

It’s important to note in this definition that while content marketing begins with attracting your audience, or in other words, generating traffic for your web, it doesn’t end there.

In comparison with other more technical disciplines of marketing such as SEO, the approach of content marketing is holistic and more advantageous as it helps to not only generate traffic for your website but also convert this traffic into leads. With a well-defined content strategy, you build a relationship between your brand and your target clients and give them exactly what they look for in each stage of the purchase funnel.

Data on generating leads with content marketing

Content marketing is one of the most efficient ways to obtain leads for your business. It costs one third the price of paid traffic and generating three times more leads. That said, it’s no wonder that over the past few years, there’s been a pivot from SEM to content marketing as the main source of leads acquisition.

One of the most basic forms of content marketing is a blog. In fact, having and maintaining good quality content on a blog is enough to produce a notable impact on lead generation. Companies with blogs generate not only more leads but quality leads compared to those without blogs. In fact, blogs that publish well-developed content frequently generate up to nine times more leads than blogs that produce simpler content and less frequently.

There are many studies that back these claims, including one by Hubspot showing that companies that publish more than 16 blog posts per month get nearly 4.5 times more leads than those publishing between 0 and 4 times.

Hubspot impact of monthly blog posts on inbound traffic
Source: Hubspot

Generating traffic and leads for the different stages of the funnel with content marketing

A well-defined content marketing strategy aims to satisfy the needs of your target audience at the different stages of the buyer’s journey. Feeding them the type of content they seek at each stage brings them closer to you, or in other words, drives them further down the funnel.

Hubspot defines the buyer’s journey as:

The process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service.

This process consists of three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Each of these stages offers different opportunities to create quality traffic and leads.

To generate traffic and take advantage of the different opportunities to convert this traffic into leads and sales, you need to first understand how to adapt the different types of content to the different stages.

Generating traffic and leads in the awareness stage

In the first part of the funnel, you’ll encounter those who have just realised that they have a problem and/or a need to seek information about their problem. Even though there’s a chance they may end up purchasing your product/service, do not get ahead of yourself. At this moment, they’re simply curious and seek more information.

Attracting buyers in this initial stage requires the production of informative and educational content that answers their questions. There’s no need to get all sales-y as all they’re looking for is information — not a solution.

Needless to say, if they like your content, they may take it a step further and subscribe to your blog or newsletter, or even leave their contact details in exchange for a lead generation content such as an e-book, guide, or checklist.

The best kind of content for the awareness stage is the kind that gets your brand known but doesn’t delve too deep into your products or services. This includes content such as blog posts, how-to guides, ebooks, checklists, videos, infographics, social media content, content for the digital media, etc. If you’re in the B2B sector, you may also want to consider more technical or specific content such as white papers, reports, and webinars.

Generating leads in the consideration stage

Buyers in the consideration stage know they have a problem and have been trying to find out more about the problem they’re facing. They generally have already come across content – be it yours or your competitors – and are starting to evaluate the different options available to them before making a final decision. This is the stage that comes just prior to the sale and is crucial for the lead acquisition process.

At this point, your future buyers should be going to you not only for articles on your blog or e-books and the likes. You’ll need to draw them in here with very specific content aimed at demonstrating exactly why your product or service is the best solution for them and why they should place your trust in you.

The most important part of the consideration stage is to convince. This means that the type of content you produce for this stage must help these potential buyers understand how your product/service is better than that of your competitors and gain their trust.

Content recommended to convert this traffic into leads at this part of the funnel include case studies, success stories, demos, webinars, videos of your product/service, and a comparison of your product/service to your competitors.

Generate leads and sales in the decision stage

In this final stage of the funnel, you’ll find potential buyers who have decided to purchase the product/service you offer but are still on the fence on which brand to settle for.

The objective here is to close the sale. This means converting this traffic into either a sale or a lead, depending on whether your sales strategy is to close the sale online or obtain the lead and have your sales team personally finalise the sale. Regardless, the content you produce at this stage must guide your readers across the finishing line.

Content produced for this stage must seek to resolve all doubts that may be preventing your reader from purchasing your product/service. Client testimonials or FAQs work well here to answer questions your potential buyer may have, and landing pages with offers and irresistible promotions may just be the final nudge needed to lock in the purchase.