A recent article in Forbes cited a pair of studies that identified that lead generation as a significant growth challenge for CEOs and business leaders across the U.S and U.K.
We’re not surprised. Marketing teams are often left between a rock and a hard place, knowing that one of their most difficult tasks, generating quality leads, is core to their organization's ability to grow. Although negatives compound when lead generation is slow, there’s also a compounding positive effect when we get things right.
So, with this in mind, we provided a content production and deliverability road map to help you generate more quality leads.
Knowing that growth is both a top business priority and a significant operational hurdle, what’s a marketer to do?
There’s a reason we didn’t say any of this would be “simple.” Telling someone to “create great content” is a lot like this cartoon about how to draw an owl… It’s easy to say but, in reality, is incredibly difficult to do.
To simplify things a bit, let’s start where all great things once started, at the beginning.
Why do some pieces of content resonate while other pieces don’t?
Content resonates because it’s audience finds it useful. It tells them something true and important that they didn’t already know. Lying to your audience will get you nowhere fast, and telling them trivial things or things they already know is a waste of their time and yours. But, if you can consistently answer questions by delivering important and informative content, your audience will increasingly view your organization as a leader in the industry.
How do I know what my audience finds useful?
The best, and perhaps only, way to truly understand what your audience considers useful is to ask them! Your current customers are working with you or purchasing your product because it makes their life easier. So find some willing participants and ask them why they chose you. Some great questions to start with are:
- What led them to choose you over your competitors?
- What do they remember reading, watching, or listening to that led to their purchase?
- Why did they need your service or product in the first place?
- What was life like before they found you?
- Did they try other related products or services?
- Where were they looking for information about your product or services?
Any of these questions can be the foundation for building a content strategy that’s useful to other prospective customers or partners.
Some people know all about us, while others know very little. How can we create content that’s useful for everyone?
You can’t. Unless you’re launching a brand new product or service, there will be at least some knowledge gap between your most-informed and least-informed prospects. This means that you likely can’t produce any single piece of content that’s useful for everyone. But you can, and should, produce content for people along the entire customer journey.
Identify the distinct groups or personas that exist within your target audience. These personas will likely have some significant demographic differences (age, gender, education, occupation, professional experience, etc.) and will certainly have a different customer journey. It’s up to you and your content team to produce content across the customer journey that is useful for each persona.
If your content is only answering basic questions about your product or service, your most-informed persona may look to competitors who can answer their more specific, in-depth questions. On the other side of the coin, only answering the questions of the experts may leave your least-experienced persona with more questions than answers. To position yourself as a solution for the widest audience possible, you need a library of content that helps any member of your audience move through any stage of the customer journey.
How can I make sure the right people are seeing the right content?
Once you’re producing useful content for your different customer personas, it’s important to identify the channels that will give it the greatest visibility to your audience. One way to get the right content in front of the right people, especially when you’re just getting your digital marketing efforts off the ground, is through your social media channels. Because LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all cater to different people, these platforms have, in essence, segmented your audience for you!
LinkedIn tends to be the place for company updates, product improvements, and more technical content. Facebook and Instagram are usually where you’ll find brands sharing photos, videos, and more casual content. Twitter can sometimes be a bit of a wild-card. Some brands have used Twitter to establish a sassy brand voice, while others have found a very niche yet active community (like #EmailGeeks or public utilities).
While social media is, indeed, a great marketing platform for lead generation, if you really want to segment how you’re sharing your content, email is the way to go.
If you’re not collecting email addresses, you need to start ASAP. Whether it’s through product announcements, event registrations, contest entries, or something else entirely, you should be collecting email addresses and working to establish a relationship with your audience.
Ultimately, you need to show that you’ll bring value to your audience’s inbox. All of the above are great ways to capture emails on a one-off or ad-hoc basis, but to entice return readers, the people truly interested in your product or service, you need to demonstrate that you can consistently deliver content relevant to them. Having a blog full of fresh, useful content is a great start because it shows that you have the industry knowledge and can get the job done, but giving people a chance to view your most recent emails or newsletter is an even better way to show exactly what they’re signing up for.
How can I segment my customer personas through email?
Email is a permission-marketing asset. Unlike most forms of advertising and paid media, anyone that’s given you their email address has invited you into their inbox. They have told you, “Yes, please send me interesting things about your business.” Now it’s up to you to respect that privilege and not bombard their inbox with every single thing you write or produce.
Begin sharing your content with consistency, at a moderate interval, and you’ll soon get an idea for how your audience is engaging with your content. Use their engagement and page views to drive your content strategy and help you identify which prospects most align with which persona.
This kind of segmentation takes time but if you respect your audience, and trust them when they tell you what they want to hear, they’ll continue to repay you with their attention and, hopefully, their business.
Phew… okay, I’ve finally got useful content, viable customer personas, and a consistent email program. Now what?
Well, now it’s time to repeat and iterate. Track which pieces of content are performing well and make more of them. Track which emails are performing best and model more of your emails after those too.
This process takes time, and won’t overflow your funnel overnight, but as you share this content through email and social media, you should start generating quality leads that see you as a leader in your industry and the place to look for useful content.
Need help? From content strategy and blogging to social media and email, Aztek’s team of digital marketing specialists can help you execute a comprehensive program that will drive more qualified leads for your organization. Contact us today to start a conversation.