Q: How is content like a milkshake?
A: It brings all the leads to the yard.
Content marketing might not be your first thought when you’re planning your lead generation strategy, but if you want to get more leads into your funnel, content is what entices them there. It’s the bedrock that lays the foundation for effective lead generation, and without it, your funnel will end up more like a sieve.
So, if content marketing is cost-effective, offers high ROI, and brings in more leads than any other form of marketing, there’s just one question remaining — what are you waiting for??
Content should be an integral part of your lead gen strategy. But is lead generation content different from any other type of content? Let’s find out:
What Is Lead Generation Content?
For the most part, content for lead generation is similar to any other type of content. But there are a few key differences. When using content marketing for lead generation, your primary goal for the content you create is to move leads into and through your funnel. For this reason, it’s critical that you align all of your content with the different stages in your sales funnel.
Depending on the funnel stage you’re appealing to, you will also want to consider how you distribute your content. Gated content works well for lead nurturing from the middle to the bottom of the funnel. With gated content, you offer something valuable to your audience in exchange for their contact information. Ungated content is better for the top of the funnel and bringing in brand new leads who probably aren’t ready to hand over their personal details.
So, now you’re ready to learn how to create content that generates leads, right? Let’s dive in:
11 Tips to Generate Leads with Content Marketing
When you’re putting together your lead generation strategy, make sure that you’re weaving your content marketing plan throughout. It’s likely you already have a content marketing strategy, so make sure that it informs your lead gen each step of the way.
Here are our top 11 tips and best practices for lead generation through content marketing:
#1: Conduct audience research to develop buyer personas
You can’t expect your content to perform well if it’s not getting in front of the right audience. That means the hours and energy you put into your content will essentially go to waste, as it won’t be likely to generate any qualified leads.
Before you begin with lead gen or content marketing, you need to nail down your buyer persona. Your buyer persona represents your ideal customer and details all the demographics, psychographics, and behavioral attributes you need to know to create content that works.
Note that your buyer persona is much more in-depth than your overall target audience.
To determine your buyer persona and their attributes, you’ll want to do some research. Here’s where to start:
- Facebook Audience Insights: Meta has the motherload of demographic data on your audience.
- Find My Audience: This tool from Think With Google makes it easier than ever to hone in on your YouTube audience.
- Market Finder: Also from Think With Google, this tool is great if you’re considering going after new markets close to home or around the world.
#2: Conduct keyword research
You’ll probably start to find that most of your marketing efforts intersect at some point. You can’t have lead or demand gen without content…but you can’t really have content without SEO. The ideal marketing strategy, focused on growth, will be layers upon layers of strategic planning and processes, all of which connect and support each other symbiotically.
In this case, you’ll want to make sure that you’re weaving in SEO and optimizing your content based on keywords.
Your lead gen goals will guide your keyword selection. If you’re really aiming to get the most leads into your funnel, you can go a little broader — just remember that those high-volume keywords are highly competitive, and while they might get you the most leads, they won’t always (or even often) be the right leads.
What you can do instead is focus on selecting long-tail keywords that fulfill search intent, so when your prospective leads are searching for something specific, it’s your content that pops up.
Long-tail keywords are low-volume and have much lower competition. However, they’re also extremely high intent, so they end up driving a majority of traffic. Make sure all of your content is optimized with your targeted long-tail keywords — that includes your landing pages, gated content, and so on.
#3: Choose content formats for each stage of the buyer's journey
You don’t want to send an in-depth product spec sheet to top of the funnel leads because they haven’t gotten to the consideration stage of the funnel yet. A piece of content like that would only overwhelm them and might leave a bad taste in their mouth — bad enough for them to set their sights on another brand.
Instead, you need to make sure that every piece of content you create is aligned with where your audience is in the buyer’s journey, so they only see the types of content that will move them further along.
TOFU awareness content to generate traffic
TOFU (top of the funnel) content is mainly for new leads just entering your funnel. They aren’t anywhere near selecting brands, and they may not even realize they have a problem your brand can solve yet. TOFU content should be broad, informational, and not at all salesy. If you go too promotional at this point, most of your leads will drop off. Keep most of your TOFU content ungated for easy sharing.
Types of TOFU content include:
Remember that longer blog posts tend to perform better, and TOFU blogs should be general and informative without mentioning your brand. Listicles and how-tos are popular options for TOFU blog content.
You’ll reach a wider audience on social with TOFU posts that are broad and general. Remember that social posts with images and video generally perform better and receive more shares and engagement.
Speaking of shares, infographics are highly shareable pieces of content. They are also scannable and snackable, so if you want to provide fast facts to a wide audience at the top of your funnel, they’re a perfect pick.
Podcasts are increasing in popularity every year. More people are listening to podcasts on their phones or on a smart device in their home. Creating a podcast positions your brand as a thought leader and engages your audience at the top of the funnel.
Video content can be shared pretty much anywhere. It’s extremely engaging and perfect for general brand awareness and increased traffic.
MOFU/BOFU lead bait content
Further down the funnel, you have MOFU (middle of the funnel) and BOFU (bottom of the funnel) content. At these stages, most leads are brand aware, and some may be ready to enter the decision stage and choose the brand they prefer. Content at these levels should be engaging and specific, usually gated, and more brand-forward.
Types of MOFU and BOFU content include:
B2B audiences are especially interested in webinars because their goal is to seek knowledge and learn something from your content. If you create a high-value webinar with lots of exclusive information, they’ll be much more willing to hand over their personal information to sign up.
Email is still the top-performing lead generation tactic, and when you use it to nurture your leads through your funnel, it offers some of the best ROI and revenue potential.
B2B buyers want thought leadership, primary research, and — above all — data. Giving them proprietary reports offers them the value they’re seeking and positions your brand as the industry leader in their perception.
Case studies are excellent lead magnets for a variety of audiences, but especially B2B. Case studies will help them make their case to leadership when they need buy-in to purchase your product or service.
You don’t have to be a best-selling author or publishing company to create and distribute ebooks. In fact, it’s easy to repurpose old, evergreen content, group it by key themes and then push it out as a comprehensive ebook. Gate it and require contact details before they download.
Again, your B2B audience loves numbers, and conducting your own primary research is how you get them. Tap your existing customers to conduct surveys, and distribute your research far and wide — it can also be a big boost to your outreach and link building strategy.
Everybody loves a quiz. They’re fun, lighthearted, and at times, extremely valuable. If your quiz is engaging enough, your audience will be happy to give up their details in order to get their results. As a bonus, you also get to mine all that free data for deeper insights into your buyer persona.
#4: Create your lead magnets
Now that you understand your buyer persona and you know which stage you want to appeal to within your funnel (and what content aligns with which stage), it’s time to design your lead magnets. Lead magnets are basically the content assets you create to lure your prospects and reel them in.
Lead magnets are typically gated, and they follow a specific process.
Remember that it isn’t enough to create a strong lead magnet — you have to follow up and nurture your leads if you want them to turn into conversions.
Types of lead magnets include:
Templates that look slick and serve a valuable purpose are always popular lead magnets. Your audience wants to download something that makes their life easier, whether it’s a Google Slides presentation template or a marketing budget template.
White papers can include a lot of valuable information for your audience, including primary research, how-tos, relevant data, and industry thought leadership. White papers make perfect lead magnets. They’re shorter than ebooks but more in-depth than a single report, so they appeal to a wide audience segment.
Calculators are for much more than basic adding and subtraction. In fact, they can be a fantastic tool for brands to offer in order to warm up their leads. Most downloadable calculators are actually templated spreadsheets with pre-filled formulas. They provide a valuable service and save your leads time and hassle.
Free trials and freemiums are proven lead magnets that work on your warmest leads and offer the best opportunity to convert them into customers. Free trials can be any length you choose, but you’ll want to make sure it’s long enough to give them a chance to really test out your product and long enough to offer real value. Also consider a free trial with a no credit card signup for even more leads.
Who doesn’t love a good checklist? Your busy potential buyers will appreciate you’ve done the planning for them, and now all they need to do is check their way down the list. Make sure your checklists are relatively simple but also provide value (something they couldn’t or wouldn’t just do themselves).
Once you’ve created all of this amazing content, you can compile it into an ebook that provides in-depth information to your most qualified leads.
#5: Ensure your lead magnet is irresistible
Once you’ve chosen your lead magnet, you have to then design and create it well enough that it attracts leads into your funnel and moves them through the buyer’s journey. Every good lead magnet will have the following characteristics:
- It solves a specific problem.
- It’s useful to your audience — they can achieve something by using it.
- It’s either short and quick to digest or — in the case of an ebook or similar — broken down into scannable sections.
- It positions you and your brand as the thought leader on your chosen subject.
- It’s immediately accessible so the audience doesn’t have to wait for the information.
- It’s a one-and-done solution — they don’t have to pay or take further action to get the value.
#6: Write high-converting content
CRO (conversion rate optimization) is extremely important to your content marketing and your lead gen strategy.
Always start with your headline. A conversion-focused headline should:
- Be no more than seven words
- Contain a number (e.g., “10 ways to…”)
- Use “what,” “why,” or “how” as the first word
- Use words like “free” or “new” or “exclusive”
Wondering if you’ve got a great headline? Double-check with the headline analysis tool from the Advanced Marketing Institute.
From there, hook your readers with an exciting intro, no more than a brief (3-4 lines) paragraph or two. Make sure you incorporate relevant visuals and break up long chunks of text with headers, lists, and bullets.
Finally, include a CTA that’s irresistible. Make sure there’s only one action on the page and that all content clearly leads to that one action. Keep CTAs short, around 5 or 6 words, and make sure your focus is on the benefit to the consumer. Less “Here’s what our brand is going to do!” and more “Here’s what you’ll get!”
#7: Use content upgrade to improve conversion
Who doesn’t love an upgrade?
A content upgrade is basically a lead magnet, but the difference is in the delivery. Content upgrades are always directly related to the content the user is currently consuming and are presented as a link or popup.
Content upgrades are sort of “lead magnets lite.” They’re more of a gentle nudge to help readers who are already interested in your content get a little bit more.
For example, the link we threw in at the top of this guide so you could download and read at your leisure? Content upgrade.
Let’s move on before we give away too many industry secrets…
#8: Create gated content
As we mentioned previously, gated content is most typical for MOFU and BOFU content and appeals more to warmer leads — usually, MQLs and SQLs.
Leveraging gated content is critical to the success of your lead gen strategy, but be wary — if you’re pushing out too much gated content or locking down your TOFU content, you’re not going to get the leads you want.
TOFU content should, for the most part, be ungated. This means your MOFU and BOFU content should be narrow, more targeted, and provide more value to those already interested in your brand and willing to give up their personal info.
#9: Create landing pages
You might think that having too many landing pages will make your site cluttered or make it difficult to navigate. But in reality, more landing pages (as long as they are clean, simple, and drive toward one singular CTA) actually perform better.
So, you don’t just want more landing pages — you want more, better landing pages. Each and every lead magnet or piece of content should have its own landing page, with streamlined copy, bold headlines, and just one action to be taken.
#10: Optimize landing pages to improve conversion
What’s your landing page strategy? If you don’t have one, you’re going to be in trouble. Getting your landing pages right is one of the first steps in creating strong content and generating leads. Without a solid landing page, all your work will lead to zero conversions.
Bottom line: Your landing pages have to be optimized.
"Building a successful landing page is like a science - and much more complex than popping a form and offer on a page." Jeanna Barrett, founder, FPS
There are certain elements any good landing page needs to have:
Navigation should be clear and concise. No page should be more than three clicks away from home. Above all, your page (and your entire site) should be user-friendly so your leads can easily find what they’re looking for.
The same rules we outlined for content optimization apply here, too. Headlines should be short (7 words or less), include a number, and include language that makes it feel urgent or exciting.
Your secondary headline or sub-head should reinforce and expand on the headline. This is a good place to squeeze in another priority keyword.
Remember that long blogs perform better, but no one wants to read a solid wall of text. Break it up into short, snappy sections punctuated by relevant headers (pro tip: add your keywords here). Include lists and bullet points to make it even more scannable.
In addition to breaking up the text into sections, you’ll want to give readers a break by inserting visual elements. These might be stock photos, but even better would be custom images and graphics that are relevant to the topic.
What keeps your leads up at night? If you’ve done your homework when creating your buyer persona, you’ll know the answer to that. Make sure you mention their pain points in your landing page copy because when someone’s in pain, what do they want?
Yep, they want relief. So reminding them of why they’re looking for a solution in the first place will help them see that they need your help. Just be sure that whenever you talk about their pain points, you also talk about how your brand can provide relief.
So many marketers ignore the CTA or hope it will just magically do the work for them. CTAs are one of the most important elements of your page, so overlooking them will not get results. Do not bury your CTA or try to make it unobtrusive — you want it to be as big and bold as possible. Don’t use single (boring) words like “Download” or “Submit.” Sexy it up a little and try something like, “Start your journey to a new you right here.” Or, “Start earning 10x more. Download now!” Oh, and don’t fight the button. Your CTA should be a button. It’s basically a law.
Some people want to watch the world burn. Some people will refuse to click on your CTA. (You can probably picture the Venn diagram.) But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in your brand. They just want to get to know you on their terms. So make sure your contact info is splashed all over that page. Give them a popup before they go. Ask them if you can help them in a live chat. Make sure your number, email, and social handles are prominently displayed. This puts the ball in their court, but it also lends legitimacy to your brand.
#11: Promote your content
You can have the best content in the world, but what happens if no one sees it?
Not one thing.
No leads, no sales, no traffic. A whole lot of nothing.
Whether you’re planning on a paid or organic campaign to launch your lead gen strategy, you’ve got to know from the get-go where you’re going to distribute your content to maximize its reach and impact.
Organic content distribution channels
When you team up content and SEO, you get an organic powerhouse (basically, inbound marketing). The great thing about organic content is that it continues to work well after it’s been created — in fact, the longer it’s out there, the better it usually performs. Here are the top organic distribution channels for content:
Social media platforms
These days, your brand has to be on social media. And while the algorithms make it tougher to get in front of your audience organically, it can still be done. Your audience is what will determine which platforms need the most focus, but generally speaking, you want to have a presence at least on the big three:
Social platforms aren’t the only places conversations are happening between brands and consumers. Some forums have grown immensely in popularity in recent years, and they offer big opportunities to engage directly with potential leads. The top forums include:
Content syndication platforms
For new and unestablished brands, launching a successful blog can take years — time you haven’t had to put into such an intense endeavor. However, using a content syndication platform — like Medium — allows you to get your content in front of more eyes without relying on your own blog or website to do it.
Guest blogging is a fantastic way to find leads. When you publish a guest post on a reputable, high-authority website, you’re bound to get increased traffic and backlinks. And with those come the leads. They’re likely already pretty warm because the site they first saw you on instilled trust and piqued their interest enough that they clicked your link or tracked you down.
Collabs with other brands are always a smart move because you get to leverage one another’s established audiences. Webinar collabs are even better, especially for B2B brands, because they target an audience that is hungry to learn and is likely already familiar with at least one of the brands involved. That means they have established trust and respect, which will hopefully transfer to you.
Paid distribution channels
At FPS, we loooove organic content, but we also feel that we can’t deny the power of paid. Paid marketing is so good for getting quick wins and scoring immediate results. And when you want to get the leads rolling in, it really can’t be beat. Here are the top paid distribution channels:
Paid content syndication platforms
Just like organic content syndication platforms, you can pay to get your content in front of a wider audience. Platforms like Outbrain or Taboola are popular choices to syndicate your content and hit more leads than you could ever hope to do on your own.
Paid search ads
Paid search ads are the ones that appear at the top of SERPs (search engine results pages). They’re marked as an ad, and they generally appear before organic results. This is a great way to level the playing field between your brand and more established competitors and ensure you’re getting in front of the audience you want.
Paid social media
Organic social media is definitely a long game and it takes a lot of time to build a presence. When you need a little boost, opt for a paid social ad, which guarantees your brand will get in front of a highly targeted and customized audience.
Influencer marketing is all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why. When people hear a recommendation from someone they admire or aspire to be like, they’re more likely to trust in that product or service and want to try it out. But you don’t have to aim for the Kim K.s of the world. Instead, you might want to try looking for micro-influencers in your specific industry niche. They’ll be more cost-efficient and have a narrower audience that’s primed to convert.
Done Right, Content Provides a Reliable Pipeline of Qualified Leads
Content, like milkshakes, brings exactly what you want to the yard — all the leads. But what if your milkshake isn’t up to par? Well, then you need some outside help. When you choose a trusted third-party agency as your content and lead gen partner, you can get all the support you need to strategize and implement a plan that will lead to long-term success for your brand.
At FPS, our lead gen and content experts work in collaboration to ensure you get solid strategies, expert recommendations, and qualified management of your campaigns.