Most people hate to be sold to, which makes it tricky to have a conversation about how your product or service could benefit them. However, we also live in a time where people crave information and will spend their time reading, watching or listening to content to learn something or solve a problem.
Businesses are leveraging this inclination by creating free content specially designed to appeal to their ideal customer, while at the same demonstrating their expertise, knowledge and credibility, with a tiny sprinkle of self-promotion or an irresistible offer.
This strategy of creating free high-quality content for a specific target audience and promoting it to them is called content marketing, inbound marketing or lead magnets.
This is the Content Marketing Institute‘s definition: “a lead magnet is a piece of content aimed at motivating customers to take action. Lead magnets spark interest and draw a visitor to your brand but don’t necessarily drive a direct sale (e.g. collect contact information, sign up for a newsletter or join a free trial.)”
- Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders.
- Content produces brand recall, which increases engagement.
- Generates more than 3 times as many leads vs. outbound marketing.
- Content marketing drives higher conversion rates.
Good content keeps your brand front-and-centre and builds trust over time. It’s also an important foundation for search engine optimisation and being found through organic search results. There is a lot of content available on the internet and a lot of it is terrible. The secret of good content is knowing your audience, researching and planning what type of content will interest them and what format it should take e.g. article, infographic, image, checklist, whitepaper, ebook, video, podcast, webinar replays, email or video short course, workbook, guide, template, cheat sheet, planners; and how best to reach your audience.
Why Is Content Marketing Effective for Lead Generation?
Customers have global access to information, and they’re constantly searching for content to solve their problems and inform their buying decisions. Putting the right kind of content in front of them is a powerful strategy to attract the right leads and convert them. Whether you want to attract, convert, or retain more customers – high-quality valuable content is an effective way to develop stronger relationships with prospects and customers.
To create value for your prospect and attract a warm lead, you need to create a high-quality content piece (in any format you feel will be most relevant), be specific and detailed with the solution or answer you are providing.
A great lead magnet takes a considerable amount of time to create because they are educational and in-depth, thus increasing the amount of value delivered to the reader. In turn, this builds trust and eventual sales. Lead magnets can also be broken down into micro-content, providing longevity for promotion through various channels.
The Golden Rule: Capture the Lead First
Since you’ve spent a great deal of time creating your lead magnet with high-quality content, it’s natural that you would like to know who’s engaging with it. It’s also necessary for the lead nurturing process, so we collect some basic contact information first. Like traditional sales, it will take more than one contact attempt to be noticed by a prospect. If you don’t know who has accessed your content, no follow-up is possible.
The term for this is “gating content,” by putting your content behind a form. This is a good way to weed out time-wasters and to build a profile of your prospect, which helps to convert leads faster. However, gated content only works if the content is worth handing over an email address in the first place and it’s getting harder to convince people to give you their details.
You must respect that the prospect provided you with their details and not spam, harass or force a hard-sell on them. The longer the form, the more people will drop out, so balance what you need with what you’d like to know.
Basic information to capture:
- Email address
Optional information to capture (but only ask for what you really need):
- Company name
- Phone number
- Number of employees
- Drop-down of questions, such as how much do you spend on X per year
Nurturing the Lead: The Follow-Up
It’s now up to you to continue the sales process of proactively keeping in contact with a prospect until they become a customer. It’s nice to share valuable content, but at a point, you need to generate paying customers to keep your business alive. Out of all marketing channels, email marketing generally has the highest conversion rate for many businesses. Treat your email list like it’s gold. You can send a follow-up email to ask if they enjoyed your content, if they tried your suggestions or if you can assist them further.
If you have similar content, such as articles, you can send those to them as well. It reminds people to act, so you may pick up more prospects or gain feedback to make your lead magnet even better. Ask if they’d be happy to receive your newsletter or similar content in the future. You can also connect with them on social media. Remember, trust with prospects is built over time.
So that you don’t waste time talking to people that you can’t help, you can implement a simple email marketing system to automate the follow-up process which will pre-educate, pre-sell and pre-qualify so that you end up with warm leads that are ready to buy.
You can also implement re-marketing ads (Google and Facebook are the most popular). Use re-marketing campaigns to show ads to the people that have downloaded your lead magnet, so you can remind them about your business or share a special offer to initiate a sale.
Don’t Forget the ‘Marketing’ Part
Once you’ve finished your content piece, it’s then time to promote it! This is just as important as creating quality content. Please be realistic with your expectations; your lead magnet probably won’t skyrocket overnight. Your promotional effort will take perseverance and patience. This is often why good content fails to get noticed.
There is so much information out there, and unfortunately, a lot of it is bad, which makes people wary and sceptical. Have faith that you’re one of the good ones and keep chipping away, the warm leads will be worth it. Offering a preview can help to bridge hesitation.
Be sure to use multiple marketing channels to make the most of your hard work and reach as many of your intended prospects as possible.
- Share the landing page link on your social media profiles, and create a Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn ad to reach your desired audience.
- You can also share it with relevant social media groups on LinkedIn or Facebook; there are groups for nearly everything.
- Promote it on your website, whether it’s on your homepage as a banner, a pop-up or a promo bar running along the top.
- Email it to people you personally know that could benefit, such as colleagues or clients (current or past), but don’t make them go through the gated page (you already have their details!).
- If you already have an email marketing list, promote it to them too (I wouldn’t use the gated page either, as you’ll know who clicked by looking at your email analytics).
- Ask other people if they would promote it on their website or social media (hint: you’ll have more luck if you offer something in return).
- Use it as a hook for LinkedIn prospecting, reach out to prospects using InMail, offering the content in exchange for their email address (soft-sell approach).
- You could also try Google Ads, but social media channels seem to have a much better success rate for content promotion.
Depending on your topic, your lead magnet could potentially generate leads for years to come and if the advice has a timeframe or becomes outdated, continue to refresh the content and send the updated content to your email list.
Content marketing provides a subtle marketing tactic that allows potential customers to find you, rather than the other way around. If done correctly, your lead magnet will become an effective strategy for generating high-quality leads.