Lead generation and nurturing generally are defined as collecting contact details and then developing relationships with potential customers.
I tend to treat lead generation more loosely. Regardless of your niche, leads are your current or potential customers who gave their contact details because they don’t mind hearing from your brand.
As customer journeys get longer and more complicated, leads now are the new conversions.
Can content marketing help (or even drive) your brand’s lead-generation and nurturing strategy?
It sure can. Let’s see how:
1. Match content to search intent
Just about any website out there is optimized to generate Google organic traffic. In most cases, this process includes identifying relevant keywords and including them in the on-page copy and the anchor text of backlinks.
Yet, the most important piece of the optimization puzzle is giving searchers what they were looking for – optimizing for search intent.
Different search queries imply different search intent:Informational intent: Searchers want quick answers, often considered top-funnel intent. Commercial investigation: Searchers compare options. They are closer to the sale. Commercial intent: Searchers look for product reviews. These people are ready to buy. Navigational intent: Searchers want (video) tutorials on how to use a product. These are your current customers who may become your returning buyers or free-trial users who may be converted into paying users.
You need to create different content assets targeting each of those search intents.
You usually can guess search intent by looking at a query. You don’t need any fancy tools apart from your brain to do this. If you are managing a team, schedule regular brainstorming sessions to collect other people’s input on your keywords and search intent behind those.
To include search intent in your content strategy, make it a dedicated column on your keyword spreadsheets. Yes, that’s a lot of manual work involved but it is essential in your content planning.
Here’s a quick way to speed up that search-intent tracking process by using Google Sheets:
From there, create guidelines on how your content writers should address search intent types depending on what it is you are selling. For example:Transactional/commercial intent: Build the content around soft selling one of our products. Informational: Create content to get people to download one of our existing lead magnets (or create a new lead magnet). Navigational: Target the content for our existing customers, such as soft selling our complimentary products whenever they can turn useful. Commercial investigation: Include our products as one of the options identified in the content.
Likewise, add intent analysis into your existing content audit. Put simply, when reviewing landing pages driving organic traffic to your site, always ask yourself if those pages are addressing an obvious search intent and how you can match it better.
2. Match CTAs to content
Modify your in-content calls to action to match search intent.
For example, if your content is built to address basic how-to queries, there may be no reason to sell them your products. Instead, the content could include useful downloads (or printouts) making information easier to digest.
HubSpot is a prime example of using in-content CTAs related to the content asset:
Other examples of contextual CTAs include:An in-content email form inviting readers to download a free checklist or a flowchart to make it easier to follow the steps (MailOptin is the easiest plug-in to set up contextual lead-gen forms that would be different on every page.) A survey prompting readers to share their opinion and promising to email the results (This is easy to set up in Google Forms.) Relevant to landing page (A smart chatbot configures the CTA.)
3. Match CRM efforts to funnel position
Customer relationship management (CRM) is about getting your current and potential customers to know your brand better. The better they know your brand, the more willing they are to buy from you again and again.
Yet, those CRM efforts cannot be the same for all your audience segments. Some leads are closer to a sale than others. Some of them are your current customers. If you talk to your current customers the way you are talking to strangers, you may lose them forever. This is why a segmentation and personalized CRM strategy is key.
Knowing search queries that brought those leads to your site and content assets that engaged them (i.e., turned them into leads) also will help you develop a better approach to converting them.
Luckily, most solutions come with workflows that help your sales team adjust their follow-up methods based on the initial lead-generation asset and further interactions with each lead or customer.
For example, SuperOffice records all customers’ interactions, including what initially drove them to the site, allowing them to personalize their follow-up strategy:
4. Engage inactive leads with more content
Content is great top-of-the-funnel material because it attracts people from organic search and social media to your site. Yet, content also is a great middle-of-the-funnel asset because you can use it to reengage previous site visitors.
Continuously reengage your email subscribers by setting up automated emails sent regularly with new content assets.
Create better engagement with subscribers by creating a more personalized workflow. For example, if a lead opens an email and clicks a link, you can send a follow-up email tackling the topic (or a related topic) of the link.
Most email marketing platforms support smart automation, though you may be confined by its options. Here’s a good list of popular solutions and the available automation options.
If you are like me and use Mailchimp, you can set up your personalized email campaign in the automation section:
5. Reengage bounced traffic
Not all first-time visitors to your site grant you their email address. But you don’t need an email address to turn a visitor into a lead.
Ongoing remarketing (also referred to as retargeting) campaigns work wonders for engaging visitors who failed to become customers or leads.
Using Facebook Pixel is a great way to record your site visitors’ data to reengage them better. You can set up remarketing campaigns based on a page on your site visited by that Facebook user. This is a great way to personalize your ads for your top-of-the-funnel content assets.
To further personalize your leads’ journey, you can set up retargeting campaigns with personalized CTAs based on a user’s past interactions with your site. For example, you can use a tool like Finteza to specify delivery of custom ads to site visitors who read at least half of a newly published guide:
Likewise, you can set up separate campaigns to serve custom CTAs to your site visitors who click your Facebook ad.
Content is the most effective way to drive and nurture leads, especially when it is used in combination with CRM and remarketing tools which, again, use content to turn leads into loyal customers. You don’t have to make it overly complicated. These above tools and tips will give you some easy-to-implement ideas on how to make content an integral part of your lead-generation strategy.
All tools mentioned in this post come from the author. If you have another tool to suggest, please include in the comments.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute