Your business’ website is like an online brochure. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, most potential leads are likely to start with a simple web search. I don’t know what I did before Google. If I read an inspirational travel blog that makes me want to pack my suitcase and make a run for the airport, one of the first things I do is search for cheap flights to that destination.

Whatever your product or service, most people’s first step in the buying process will be a search. The key to lead generation is to create content on your site that will rank on search engine result pages. So next time a potential customer searches for ‘how to make shabby chic furniture’, for example, up pops your page with a detailed how-to guide.

When talking about lead generation, we marketers often refer to the ‘conversion funnel’. I could try and explain what this is, but Social Media Examiner gives such a great definition, I thought I would just share that with you:

“The “funnel” is just a metaphor for the path that visitors take on their way to becoming leads, starting with awareness and ending with action.”

Types of content

According to Distilled, the four different types of content are:

  • content to entertain
  • content to persuade
  • content to educate
  • content to convert.

 

When targeting those at the very top of the funnel, you want to create content that entertains and content that educates. Entertaining content is perfect for brand awareness. Its nature means that it’s ripe for sharing. This type of content may be quite loosely related to your products and services but it introduces people to your brand and encourages them to share it on social media. Content to educate is also shareable because its useful.

Content to persuade targets the middle of the funnel; its purpose is to nudge people along towards that conversion. Content to convert, well obviously it aims to get people to click on that all important button!

Raise awareness at the top of the funnel

Content at the top of the funnel should be used to raise awareness of your brand and services/products. The first step to increasing conversions is to increase the traffic coming to your site. The more people who see your content, the more people are likely to convert. This may increase the number of conversions, but will do nothing for your conversion rate. Conversion rate is the number of conversions (this can be sales, newsletter sign ups, enquiries, etc.) divided by the number of visits. Therefore, to increase your conversion rate, you need each visit to be relevant. So if you sell ice cream and write a blog post about making a deck chair, you’re likely to attract crafty DIY types, rather than ice cream lovers. Although, maybe this isn’t the best example; who doesn’t love ice cream?!

You want to create search-friendly blog content. Make sure you do keyword research before you write your posts so that you can find out what people are searching for, and then tailor your content to solve their problem.

Another way to target the top of the funnel, is to share your content. You should be doing this anyway, but sharing increases the reach of your content. Take a look at my previous blog post on promoting your content for more on this. Say you have 1,000 followers on Twitter and your post is re-tweeted by someone who has 5,000 followers, the potential reach of your content has just grown tremendously.

To increase your exposure, consider guest posting. There has been a lot of hoo-ha recently since Matt Cutts announced that guest posting is dead. However, as you’ll see in Alice’s most recent blog, it is still okay to guest post, as long as the sole purpose is not SEO. Contributing to someone else’s blog exposes you to a whole new audience.

Engage your audience at the middle of the funnel

Content aimed at the middle of the funnel needs to draw your prospects in a little deeper, engage and educate them. Write detailed and authoritative content, such as how-to posts, which demonstrate your expertise and shows people that you know what you’re talking about. You want the content to encourage readers to subscribe to your newsletter and follow you on social media so that they don’t miss out on future posts. Make sure you include internal links (i.e. within your website) to show people where they can find further information. You don’t want them to turn back to the search engine because you might never see them again.

Convert your leads at the bottom of the funnel

Content to convert is aimed at the people at the bottom of the funnel. These people are teetering on the edge and just need a compelling argument to convince them to buy (or enquire, subscribe, etc.). Content for the bottom of the funnel needs to build the reader’s trust in the brand. Use data to show them evidence of your service or product’s value, and testimonials from happy customers are great social proof.

Conclusion

The first step in lead generation using content is to create content that your target market will come across in the search engine results and on social. Then as you develop those leads you want to draw them towards converting. So before starting on any piece of content, consider your target audience, and know where in the conversion funnel you are aiming. This will give you focus and help you to tailor your language and tone of voice.

Do you use different types of content to appeal to different people? What have your results been? It would be really interesting to hear your experiences. Please leave us a comment below.