Ben Silverman

Without a robust content production strategy, your marketing automation is just a shell of software, with no meat, no message, no direction and no reason for your audience to respond positively to it. Content not only fuels your marketing automation and enforces your list segmentation, but it also kickstarts your lead generation and lays the groundwork for your entire marketing automation initiative.

Before you can use content to fuel your marketing automation campaigns with appealing messaging, the first step is to plan how you’ll use it for future campaigns.

Businesses don’t start out with rich, dynamic lists of leads to nurture and convert. There’s a critical step that comes first: content. In a wide variety of formats, Content serves to build your army of leads, who will eventually opt in to your email lists, fall in love with your services and become customers.

Top-of-funnel content for attracting wide audiences and building leads can come in the form of:

  • Blogs
  • News
  • Graphics
  • Videos
  • Press releases

Use content to convert searchers to site visitors, and visitors to leads

Where do your leads originally come from? Your top-of-funnel content isn’t going to rely on CTAs or forms. The goal of this content is for warming the audience up and priming them to want to sign up for an email list or download a larger asset or request a demo in the future. This way, when they encounter the mid-funnel content, the calls to action and the email outreach, they’ll be more likely to fork over their information in exchange for learning more about you and your offering.

All of your content for the earliest stage in your marketing automation campaign should be designed to build your audience’s general interest in your brand so they want more. This content is the pathway for them reach you and end up in your marketing automation lists.

Content should be wide-reaching & promoted across a diverse range of channels

No matter how interesting your content is, just publishing a blog, video or infographic to your website won’t cut it if you want to start building a massive audience to eventually reach with your market automation campaigns. To ensure that as much of your audience as possible sees your content, you’ll need to do some research: question mapping, social listening and competitive analysis will determine what subjects will resonate best for new, top-of-funnel readers.

A deep dive into analytics and keyword analysis will help you optimize your piece for search. The better your content is optimized for search, the more likely potential prospects will see it when they look for solutions online. More eyes on your content on the front page of Google means more people will head to your website where you eventually capture them as a lead.

Besides sharing content on the proper networks to reach qualified audiences, there are additional steps in publishing your piece to help prime as many readers as possible to be receptive to your services and head to your website.

For example:

  • Arrange a reciprocal blogging relationship with another website in your space.
  • Cross-post a video on your site to YouTube.
  • Convert a blog to an infographic and share it on social media with a link to the original blog.

Make your content digestible and friendly

Your content should be inviting: You want it to draw your readers in, not scare them away. Nothing is more daunting than a wall of text about a concept your audience isn’t yet familiar with. To make sure your content doesn’t turn people away or overwhelm them, keep it appropriate for their expertise level and make it “snackable.”

This is the earliest stage in your marketing automation process, so your goal here isn’t to convert your audience right away by providing them with a whitepaper on exactly how your services will help them. That will come once you have them in your contact lists and are able to target exactly who you want to receive a particular message.

Short blogs, videos and infographics are great first-time formats for newer readers to engage with.

Everything you publish should be shareable

You want your top-of-funnel content to be bite-sized for easy sharing on social media. The social promotion should entice your audience to want more so they click through to your site. This means promoting something quick and easy to digest, like a key takeaway, that will encourage them to click through and learn more.

Optimizing each piece of content for “shareability” means:

  • Providing an easy way to share your content by including features like social share buttons, embed codes and in-line Tweet options.
  • Making it entertaining so your readers will want to show it to their social networks.
  • Keeping your content simple. The easier your reader can get through it, the more they will feel like spreading the word.
  • Titling your piece boldly and creatively. Sometimes users share a piece just from reading the headline. While we wish they’d read your content, at least others might read it from their share (and they’ll be more likely to because of your good headline).

Educate and excite

To attract a wide audience to your marketing automation landing pages, you need to introduce them to something easy, but new, while also hinting that you’ll teach them a lot more should they choose to turn over their valued contact information.

When developing the first wave of content to build your marketing automation database, your goal should be to give your audience their first taste of what your business does. Teach them something about you or your service that answers their perceived need, and hint at how much more you can help them in the future. In doing so, you’ll propel them down the funnel so they convert from stray reader to new visitor to lead to customer.

The point of this stage in the marketing automation process is to get your audience to your site so that they can use your site for what you want them to do – download something. From this point on, you don’t need to worry about them elsewhere on the web because now they’re on your site, and when they download something, you’ll have their email.

Your next step, once you’ve attracted a wide audience with your content and provided them with a pathway to your site, is to capture them as a lead. Our next blog in this series will address how to exchange your educational content for their contact information to build your list and continue to fuel your marketing automation campaigns.