Digital Marketing

If You Write it, They Will Come – How To Use Content Marketing To Attract Leads

Back in 1996, Bill Gates wrote the now infamous essay “content is king.”

Fast forward to today and you can’t help but appreciate how predictions from 20 years ago couldn’t have been more accurate.

Today, an overwhelming majority of marketers (92% to be exact) believe that content whether it be blogs, infographics, or video, is an asset to their marketing campaign.

From bringing in qualified traffic, collecting leads, and conversion – content does it all.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to make content work for them.

In this post, I’ll show you the content creation process to follow in order to acquire leads for your business.

 

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How Does Content Help You Attracts Leads?

Most of the content you come across online is educational.

Brands are literally jostling each other to create content that helps their prospective customers solve a problem. And they’re offering it for free!

Think of beauty brands like Sephora.

Everyone turns to them when they want to learn how to apply eyeliner or create nail art.

Here’s a great example of this in action right on their Instagram page.

helpful content sephora

But how does this help them?

A video on how to contour your skin or apply eyeliner isn’t incentive enough for someone to say “hmm…I should buy from Sephora.”

So are these multinational brands are just wasting their marketing budget?

Of course not!

They are creating content like this in order to win trust and to be recognized as an authority in their respective niche.

Sephora is making people dependent on them when they need help.

When someone does decide to buy a lipstick, Sephora will probably be the first choice that comes to their mind.

Imagine if Sephora didn’t do this.

Let’s pretend they spent all their time perfecting their product page to talk about how awesome their lipstick or nail polish is.

That’s not likely to convince anyone but existing customers to buy from them.

Content helps you attract leads by letting people grow comfortable with your brand and its products or services.

They won’t think of you as being ‘sales-y.’

Rather, you’ll be viewed as a trusted source of information on whom they can rely when they need help with their problems.

We have multiple examples from our own personal experience to back this up.

I’ll share one such story here.

When we were looking for an attorney to assist us in filing paperwork related to a trademark issue, we turned to Google (like everyone else).

We input queries like “file national service trademark renewal” and went only to websites that had information on how someone could do this on their own.

Once we realized we didn’t have the time or expertise for any of it, we contacted an attorney whose site had the most helpful information.

Why?

Because we felt this attorney would get the job done and be able to answers our questions.

Essentially, content is a slow-acting salesman that promotes your brand in a passive manner.

Convinced that your brand needs content?

Let us show you how to go about it the right way.

How To Determine What To Write About?

At some point in time, every content creator will be puzzled by this question.

“What the heck do I write about?”

writer's block comic

It’s a very rare opportunity (and privilege) to be told to write about whatever you feel like.

Truth be told, content requires meticulous planning because it must speak to your audience’s needs.

Here’s the process we use to decide what to write about:

Step 1: Figure out your audience’s interests

If you already know what topics will draw your intended lead’s attention to your brand, feel free to skip to step 3.

Otherwise, follow our process to uncover this information.

First, go back to the personas you created in your audience analysis.

Review the challenges faced by your target audience and brainstorm content ideas around their pain points.

What if you don’t want to rely on guesswork?

You can also look at information from the following sources to derive content ideas:

If you’re active on social media, don’t ignore information you’ve picked up while interacting with your audience. Adding in details from social gives your content a personal touch.

For example, let’s say that you sell business liability insurance.

CFOs are your ideal customers and you want to target them with content.

You know that CFO pain points are cost-related and include things like premiums, deductibles, and cost of a lawsuit without coverage vs. with coverage.

Based on this information, you might brainstorm content ideas like:

Step 2: Determine trending topics

Having trouble isolating pain points?

Look towards trending topics in your vertical. This provides you with insight into what people in your niche care about in the present.

Creating content around these topics will bring you a ton of exposure.

How?

It increases the likelihood of someone coming across your brand while searching for relevant content on this topic.

Buzzsumo is a tool that tracks popular content.

Just type in a keyword (or domain name) and you’ll see the content which has most shares for your search on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For example, here’s a snapshot of the most popular content for “email marketing.”

buzzsumo example search

Buzzsumo works as a freemium service.

You can run unlimited searches as a free user but results are limited to 10 results only.

The pro version removes this limit and also unlocks additional data like estimated traffic volume and clickable links that take you directly to content.

There’s no shortage of niche communities and forums online.

Quora, Reddit, ProductHunt, and StumbleUpon are just a few of many communities where your target audience is actively browsing.

Try it out for yourself.

Head over to Quora, type in your niche and see what you get.

Let’s go with “email marketing” again.

There are 700k+ followers on this topic on Quora alone.

finding ideas quora

Observe what topics have a high engagement in these communities.

An easy way to determine engagement level is to look at the number of comments in a thread.

The more comments there are, the better the engagement rate.

quora engagement rate

Go through the comments in these threads and note down questions being asked frequently.

If there isn’t any concrete answer, create content around this topic.

Do your prospects visit a website or subscribe to a newsletter for industry updates?

Follow them to see what topics they create content for.

If people are repeatedly visiting a website or exchanging their contact information, these services are doing something right.

Save yourself the effort of figuring out what’s trending by utilizing resources of these brands.

With so many options to help you determine what to create content for, it’s time to create!

How To Write Great Content (And What To Do If You Can’t)

The next steps are all about creating memorable content.

You want your prospects to remember you. You may recall my expounding on the importance of being helpful in this and other posts.

How to be useful to your lead should guide your decisions about what to create. Next comes the “how.”

Start off by focusing on:

No two channels are the same.

For example, people prefer images with minimal text on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.

TechCrunch compiled a list of the Top 25 Most Followed Accounts on Instagram to explore what that tells us about the platform:

techcrunch instagram compilation

This can be one of the best ways to learn how to frame your message.

If you post a stock image and write a 1000-word wall of text on Instagram, potential leads are going to skip right over your post.

When you’re creating content for a platform, make sure it’s in the format that users prefer.

If you’re still not sure what the preferred format is, look at what your competitors are doing and mirror them.

The same holds true for written content like blogs, ebooks, and articles.

If you’re writing a blog post in your niche, make sure you know the tone and style people prefer.

For example, do people like conversational copy filled with familiar speech and a few jokes?

Write in that format!

Don’t drone on for a long narrative. Instead, break content into short paragraphs and include relevant visuals whether it be images, graphs, or even memes.

What if your audience is big into stats with detailed text and minimal images?

In this case, bring out your inner-engineer!

This is no time to babble on about your loves, interests, and personal anecdotes.

Speak to your audience in the language they prefer.

Prospects engaging with your content (and finding it helpful) is great.

But we don’t want them to just engage and leave.

If people are interacting with your content but buying from someone else, you are effectively helping someone else acquire business.

How can you prevent this?

Offer lead magnets related to the content you’re already creating. These are additional value add-ons like checklists, tool lists, and expanded guides.

Your goal is to get visitors that have discovered your brand through this awesome content to be motivated to exchange their contact information for something more.

Their email gives you the ability to continue marketing to them and nurture that passive lead into a customer.

What if you aren’t a writer?

If you’re not up to task with writing the content yourself, hire a copywriter to do it for you.

There are plenty of platforms online to connect copywriters with potential employers.

I like ProBlogger , personally.

problogger job board

Start by visiting the website and exploring profiles of bloggers in your vertical.

Next, explore posted opportunities from companies in your niche to get an idea of the average pay scale.

Don’t use this information solely to offer the least amount possible.

Aim to pay at least mid-to-high range to attract decent candidates. In the copywriting world, this often translates into cost per word.

Here’s how you can find a great candidate on ProBlogger:

When you feel you have enough information to create an ad, click on “post a job now.”

how to post job problogger

You’ll be asked to create an account (if you don’t already have one).

Once you’ve completed the process, you can go ahead and post your ad. It’ll cost you $70 to list a single ad for 30 days.

For $30 extra, you can make your post a “featured job” in order to attract more applicants.

problogger listing type

Similar platforms (like WeWorkRemotely and RemoteOk) charge almost $300 per listing, which makes pricing on ProBlogger more than reasonable.

When you’ve filled out details regarding your offer, hit publish and your listing will be live.

Sit back and wait for candidates to start applying.

As people begin to apply, you’ll have your work cut out in reviewing samples.

Start by filtering out candidates who’s content doesn’t match the tone or layout that you’re looking for.

This should give you a shortlist of 10-20 candidates.

From this list, ask each candidate to share 10 topics (with headlines) in your vertical.

If you don’t have a topic in mind, have them to look at a website (that you like) and ask them to pitch ideas similar to content on that site.

From this list shortlist of candidates, select the ones who provide you with topics you like.

Ask them to write a short introduction and conclusion paragraph for one such topic. This lets you weed candidates who have the “I don’t work for free” attitude.

These people are hard to work with, so it’s best to cut ties early.

Writing a few paragraphs isn’t a lot of work and this request lets you pinpoint those candidates who are willing to go the extra mile and really apply for the job.

At this point, your search should be narrowed down to 2-3 candidates.

Ask each candidate to write a detailed outline on the topic to which they have already completed an introduction and conclusion.

Make sure you pay them for this ($20-30 is a safe bet).

Give clear and detailed instructions so you can gauge how well someone follows directions.

For example, you might ask candidates to include sample images and explain how they sourced them.

The final step is to review each candidate’s work and make a final decision.

This trickle down process should help you land a candidate that’s not only pleasant to work with but also good at what they do.

Promoting Your Content

If you think your job ends with content creation, think again.

You need to actively promote your content so that it gets in front of the right people.

Otherwise, no one is going to know how awesome you are. This is another activity you can either do yourself or outsource to someone.

When it comes to content promotion, you have a few options available.

If you’re outsourcing, you’ll need to make sure the person has previous experience in content promotion.

If you want to undertake content promotion yourself, I recommend using BuzzSumo.

The paid version lets you see who is linking to similar content (like the one you’ve created).

Reach out to these websites and ask them to replace their link to point to your content piece instead.

That said, unless your content is vastly superior to the piece they’re linking to, this could be a tough sell. What motivates someone to go to the effort of editing their site simply to replace a link they already have?

By far, the easiest option is to run ads to your content.

For most, this will mean using Facebook’s or Google’s ad platform.

However, if your lead frequents other locations like a forum, it’s probably better to run ads there instead.

Once your promotion campaigns are running, take a step back and relax.

Use this downtime to monitor incoming traffic and note how many visitors convert into leads.

But don’t get too comfortable!

Content creation is an ongoing process.

If you stop posting or updating older content, the stream of leads can quickly disappear.

Conclusion

Uploading content to the Internet isn’t rocket science.

It’s very easy to create something and hit publish. But that doesn’t mean the leads will roll in.

Leads only come when what you post is helpful. If it isn’t, your content (and brand) will be forgotten rather quickly.

So make sure what you post always meets a need of your target audience.

From there follow our process for promotion and you’ll have leads from content in no time.

 

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About The Author: Ryan Eldridge is Chief Strategist at Squirrel Digital Marketing, a data-driven growth marketing company and digital marketing agency. He is also CEO and Co-Founder of Nerds on Call, a computer repair company servicing clients throughout California and Oregon. He appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and Fox 2 in Oakland, offering viewers insight into tech news and marketing. See Ryan in action at ryaneldridge.tv