In this blog, Kostas Giannoukaris, PPC Director at The B2B Marketing Lab, discusses lead-generating content and, most specifically, what *kind* of content generates leads.
Before we can answer the question: “What kind of content generates leads?” let’s define what we mean by content.
In the literal sense, content can be anything that can be read, viewed or listened. Videos, webinars, podcasts, blogs, web pages, landing pages, social media posts, emails, infographics, eBooks, whitepapers, reports and ads, for example, are all forms of content.
For content to directly generate leads, it needs to be ‘gated’ behind a form. In other words, it can only be accessed if people fill in and submit a form. These forms usually ask for the visitor’s contact details; name, email and company for example.
You also have to bear in mind that different content assets work better for specific stages in the buyer’s journey: blogs are far better for raising awareness, while product demonstrations persuade people to buy.
If you want to learn more about the relation of content and stage of the lead funnel you can read more in Andrew Raso’s blog “How to Create Content for Every Stage of the Buyer's Journey”.
Getting people to convert on forms
If you want people to give you their contact details (name, email address, mobile number and so on) in exchange for your content, you need to communicate your contents value in your landing page and website.
Everyone knows that the moment they fill in a form online, they’ll get an email or a phone call at some point and they may not want to be contacted.
With this in mind, your content must be valuable enough for them to be willing to allow you to bother them in the future.
So, how do you create ‘valuable’, lead-generating content?
1. Find out what people want to learn
There is an abundance of tools out there that allow you to see what questions people ask on Google. One of my favourite free-to-use tools is Answer the public. It allows you to insert any topic or phrase and see what people have searched on Google about it.
Another method is to use Google itself. Execute a search query starting with “what is” – on any topic you want – and Google will provide you with a list of similar questions called “People also ask”.
In the example below, I searched for “what is marketing” and Google offered me a small list of other relevant questions that people also ask.
Each time you click on these questions, more will appear. Check the image below to see how many questions I got after clicking on three of the results.
There are also other paid tools out there that can give you more structured data about people’s searches such as BrightEdge, Moz and Ahrefs.
This is a great way to create lead-generating content: by creating content that focuses on people's questions.
2. Answer difficult questions
You can get plenty of blog ideas using the methods above but most of these questions will have already been answered by someone else.
People won’t give you their valuable contact details for content that they can find elsewhere for free, so what you need to do is provide information that others struggle to answer.
And sometimes, all you need to do is answer some of the already answered questions in more detail.
For example, there’s a lot of “how can I…” content out there – usually between 1000 and 2000 words – but sometimes it’s not detailed enough. People might want a step-by-step guide or an eBook that comprehensively explains how to do something.
For us, eBooks and guides drive a lot of our conversions. The only downside to them is that the contacts we generate are usually at the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey so they need to be nurtured into sales qualified leads.
3. Offer information that no-one else can
Your clients come to you to find solutions for their day-to-day business challenges – and if you’re really good at what you do, you might even have solutions, tips or tricks that no other organisation offers.
Our advice? Offer this unique knowledge and insight to your target audience. Consider creating an eBook and put it on your website. Anyone who wants to avoid the issues and pitfalls you solve will be willing to trade their information for your tips and tricks.
Lead-generating content is the kind of content that's unique. It's difficult to do in today's world (especially with the Internet) so it's important to find an area or topic that you specialise in to create content around.
4. Share valuable research data
People go crazy about stats. They love them. Stats work great in social media posts (organic or paid), attract attention, validate opinion and give our pattern-hungry minds food for thought. They’re even a great topic for discussion during a drinks night!
So why not research a topic relevant to your industry, create a report and offer it as content for potential customers?
For example, market research reports and white papers are great pieces of content to create and fill with stats from industry research. The data you use could be gathered through questionnaires or surveys, you could even use your data!
Also, as market research reports shine a light on industry trends, challenges or topics important to prospects, they make for great opinion articles. As a result, journalists will be much more likely to share your content and include a link back to your website, giving you a bit of publicity in the process.
What content does not generate leads?
Now you know why some of the content you have created hasn’t generated you a significant number of leads: it’s just not valuable enough.
In our experience, some content assets just don’t generate lots of leads. Take brochures for example – they describe the services or the products you provide. But why would you keep them behind a gate? Do you not want people to know what you can offer them?
You could argue that if someone downloads a brochure, they’re very close to buying – which can be true – but for someone to reach that point, they would have already engaged with your content at an earlier stage of their buyer’s journey. If you’ve been unable to get that person’s data before now, then you probably do not have valuable lead-generating content on your website.
Case studies are another example. At one point, they were relatively hard to come by; this made them quite valuable and you could get a good amount of leads from them. Nowadays, however, every business has them – so why would someone download your case study which is behind a gate and when they can download your competitor’s for free?
If you think about it, you will come to realise that there’s no reason to gate a piece of content that shows the world all the amazing work you do. If you try to generate leads through case studies, the only contacts you’ll get will be students researching your industry or people who want to work for your business.
Infographics and fact sheets are another example of downloadable content assets that – despite having interesting data – you can’t justify gating. People are rarely willing to submit a form to download them.
In conclusion, the content you should be producing should do some or all of the below if you want to generate leads:
Answer questions and answer them in detail
Provide unique, hard-to-find information that’s useful and relevant
Be something that none other than you (your organisation) can create
Ultimately, before you even start creating content think from the perspective of a prospect. For every content idea, ask yourself “Did anyone ask for this?”, “Would I fill this form to download that piece of content?”, “Can this piece of content make my work better or easier?”, “Can I find this information elsewhere?”.
If the answers are “Yes, Yes, Yes and No” then congratulations; you have found the next piece of content that will generate leads for your business!