Lauren Kaye

Leads and sales are the ultimate online win when you’re competing for customers. These metrics are the true measure of whether you’ve beaten out all other challengers and proved your business is the best contender.

Effective content marketing strategies are key for driving sales. The right assets will show your prospects why your products are the solution for their needs, and persuade them you’re the right partner.

The best content marketing programs set up the shot with content at earlier stages in the sales funnel: Brand awareness content puts your company in the right place at the right time, engagement and thought leadership resources nurture those prospects to build trust. But you need a strategy specifically focused on lead generation and conversions to seal the deal.

In Brafton’s Content for Goals eBook series, we’re taking you through best practices for content to measurably improve your business (not just your Google Analytics charts… though we cover what KPIs to look for, as well). Participate in our March 2015 surveys on content strategies for the top, middle and lower funnels for the chance to receive a complimentary, custom consultation.

To have that influence at the end of the buying cycle, you need the right tools and strategy:

The Goal Poll

MktoForms2.loadForm(“//”, “447-XFF-352”, 1434);

Content for lead generation: Get qualified visitors to convey interest

Lead generation is where investigatory visits become sales opportunities. At this stage of the sales funnel, you need an approach that’s strong enough to turn window shoppers into serious buyers. Lead gen is all about earning the contact info. And marketers need visitors to take measurable action, because that’s how you prove your strategy is attracting the right web visitors there in the first place.

Don’t take my word for it: Just ask marketers about their goals. Lead generation is at the top of the list – over 80 percent of B2B companies and nearly 70 percent of B2Cs say it’s a top priority in their content strategies. When you’re effective at generating leads with content, you’re not just leaning on traffic numbers or engagement metrics to show your team’s contributions. You have hard numbers about how many opportunities you’ve created for sales.

There isn’t a set formula for generating leads. Your approach will depend on your brand and business model – what you’re offering and what you want people to do.

Particulars aside, here’s a baseline of what you need to offer to earn leads:

  • Something they can’t refuse (for the cost of their email)

People are stingy with their personal contact information unless you’re giving out something they want. Just think about how fast you are to fork over your email address if free airfare or access to an exclusive event are on the line. You don’t need to offer these things to generate leads, but you do need to apply the same concept to your content strategy.

What can you give readers that they want and can’t get anywhere else? It might be exclusive data to help guide decisions. It could be your executives’ insights, the promise of a newsletter or even a contest with your products or services as the prize.

Contest example

  • Proof that what you’re selling is worth the investment

We’re living at a time when consumers have the power to be picky. They have unlimited access to product information, research from trusted sources and reviews from real buyers. If you’re not giving visitors proof that what you sell makes customers happy, they’re going to keep shopping around.

Create proof-in-the-pudding content, like video testimonials,  to put your satisfied clients in the spotlight.

Case study example

  • Opportunities to convert

They say you can’t make a horse drink, even if you lead him to water. The same is true for your website visitors. You can’t make them take an action on your site, however, you can make it as easy as possible for them with calls to action.

With a lead-gen focused strategy, you can create a variety of call-to-action buttons that encourage users to download gated resources, sign up for your company newsletter or enter your social contest.

To learn more about creating effective lead generation strategies, download Brafton’s free eBook, Content for Goals: Lead Generation.

Content for conversions: Turn interest into action

Conversions come in many forms and dollar values, but they all mean one thing: Your web leads are interested in doing business with you.

Of course, conversions come in a variety of formats, depending on your business model. Some might involve tracking the post form-fill activity of web leads, others might be tangible on your website, including:

    • Requesting or viewing product information or brochures
    • Going to a store locator page
    • Clicking a “Contact Us” or “Shopping Cart” button
    • Requesting a quote or sales demo from your business
    • Purchasing a product or service

However, people won’t take these actions on their own. If you want your website to drive conversions, you need to create content formats that:

  • Show how products work to resolve specific pain points

Make it clear to your customers that you understand their challenges and have a solution that could make their lives easier. It might be a case study that shows how a company in a particular field used one of your products to achieve a certain goal – something that gives readers a concrete idea about how it works and what they’ll gain when they buy.

Specific example of product benefits

  • Make your products look good

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth noting for online sales in particular. When there’s no in-store experience, you must overcome readers’ need to touch and test products before they buy. You need content that makes your products look and sound appealing, including:

    • Attractive images: Show your products in good lighting, from multiple angles, on models and in live-action. If it doesn’t look good, people won’t buy it.
    • Engaging copy: Describe how products benefit customers, explaining how they were created with their needs in mind. Don’t just talk about the features, give leads a reason to be excited about them.
    • Videos: Demo products and services to put leads in the driver’s seat and recreate the first-hand experience they would have in stores.

Make your products look good

  • Nurtures leads who need more convincing

Whether your business has a long sales cycle or your customers are buying a high-ticket item and need time to decide, you need content that keeps your business top-of-mind as they arrive at a purchase decision.

Nurture these opportunities without coming across like a pushy salesperson with useful information about products and how they benefit people who invest in them.

newsletter example

To learn more about content that drives conversions, download Brafton’s free eBook, Content for Goals: Conversion.

A marketer’s job is never done – Keep your customers in the sales funnel

After you successfully convert your prospects, there’s a temptation to hang up your hat and relish in the victory. Resist that urge, and remember opportunities for upsells or recurring purchases. You need to draw new contacts – and existing clients – back into the sales funnel with creative content that continues to educate and engage them. A marketer’s job is never done and the most effective competitors consistently refine their strategies to come out on top.