About half of content marketers aren’t using content to drive sales and revenue, according to data from Content Marketing Institute, and that’s a huge missed opportunity. At Influence & Co., ever since we doubled down on content-centric inbound marketing tactics a few years ago, we’ve seen impressive returns on that investment.
Between 2018 and 2019, our contact form call rate increased from 45% to 65%, and we improved our close rate from 7.7% to 10.84%. While our total number of leads actually went down, these numbers illustrate that when we did generate leads, they were more enthusiastic about getting on the phone. These factors led to a 47% boost in marketing-generated revenue.
The big takeaway here? Quality trumps volume when it comes to generating leads. A content-focused approach to marketing can lead to more qualified leads who are more likely to be interested in actually becoming customers or subscribers.
If you’re looking to use inbound strategies to close new business and boost your marketing-generated revenue, consider implementing some of the content marketing efforts that have bolstered our business.
1. Lead Nurturing
When you’re looking to use content marketing for lead nurturing, the first step is defining what characteristics make up a marketing-qualified lead for your business. If you have a marketing automation platform, you can assign point values to different characteristics of leads or actions they have taken on your website. If you don’t have a system to see how leads engage with your site, you can still manually qualify them based on the information they share with you via a contact form.
Once a lead is considered qualified, you can begin a lead nurture campaign. Some great ways to do this are emails and social outreach. In this stage, you should focus on providing educational content like blog posts, case studies, and guest posts to nurture the lead until he or she is ready to move further down the marketing funnel.
2. Earned Media
In a nutshell, earned media is press you receive in external outlets outside of your website. This can include press mentions, guest-contributed articles, and guest appearances on podcasts or webinars. Earned media allows you to solidify your company’s position as a trusted expert and thought leader in your industry, reach your target audience with engaging content, introduce those audience members to what your brand is all about, and then hopefully lead them back to your website through links either within your bio or the content itself.
We write a few guest-contributed articles per month. Of course, when you’re pitching guest posts to external publications, you can’t control when they might publish, but creating them at a steady clip can help you make sure you’re publishing valuable content in reputable industry publications consistently.
When you’re brainstorming guest post ideas that will bolster your efforts to secure more marketing-generated revenue down the line, ask yourself these key questions:
- Does this topic provide value to my audience?
- Is the topic newsworthy or timely?
- Do I have new insights to add to the industry conversation?
If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, you’re well on your way to securing earned media placements.
3. Owned Media
Owned media is content published on your own channels. This can include blog posts and gated content that are housed on your website. Publishing high-quality content on your own website shows your audience that you’re a helpful resource in your industry, and it provides you with educational on-site content that you can link to within the earned media placements we just talked about. Plus, companies that blog receive 55% more visitors to their website!
It’s good practice to aim to publish at least one blog post per week and throw additional timely posts into the mix when newsworthy events happen in your industry. But before you click “publish,” try to optimize each and every blog post with keywords and links to your other blog content. You should also include relevant calls to action to encourage your audience to engage with your site further. To really optimize those clicks, make sure many of those CTAs lead to gated resources.
The gated content can consist of whitepapers, templates, and checklists. These educational resources help audiences learn more about content marketing and allow you to capture leads. When visitors on your site fill out a form to download a piece of gated content, they become leads.
Gating content might seem risky because you might be worried that people won’t actually exchange their information for your content, but don’t be afraid! Sure, some of your audience members might not hand over their information, but those who are willing to make that exchange tend to be much more willing to engage with your brand further and potentially convert into buyers or local site subscribers.
4. Virtual Events
The written word is powerful, but content extends beyond characters on a screen. Some leads are genuinely interested in and are more engaged by a presentation or Q&A-style format. That’s why hosting virtual events can be incredibly effective. This can include partner and solo webinars, virtual happy hours, panels, and occasionally podcasts.
Virtual events help with both lead generation and lead nurturing. For example, hosting partner webinars (teaming up with another company) is a great lead generation tactic because it can extend your reach to your partner’s audience in addition to your own. We also utilize webinars for lead nurturing to engage with leads who have interacted with our company but aren’t quite ready to sign on for our services yet. Q&A webinars or solo webinars that are more specifically about our company and services tend to do well for lead nurturing.
5. Underperforming Content Updates
Do not underestimate this one. Right now, marketing departments are fighting to get creative on low budgets. Yes, you still need new content on your site, but don’t miss out on the potential that can be found in updating underperforming content that you already have.
Once you’ve published something on your website, you don’t have to leave it stagnant if it’s not engaging your audience and providing value. For example, let’s say you have a blog post that’s been live for a few months and is attracting a lot of traffic. But that post isn’t encouraging any CTA clicks or submissions, and it has a high bounce rate. This blog post would be a good contender for a refresh.
Here are a few ways you can update underperforming content:
- Do some keyword research. Then incorporate desirable keywords into the blog post.
- Review the title. Does it actually align with the content, or does it make a promise that you don’t keep?
- Switch up the CTA. For example, if the CTA at the bottom of your blog post is to set up a call, perhaps the audience members who are viewing that blog post aren’t quite there yet. Instead, you could direct them to download a piece of relevant content.
Just keep in mind that you need to be transparent about these updates. If you’re just adding a couple of links or swapping out a CTA image, you probably don’t need to add a disclaimer at the top of your blog post saying it’s been updated. But if you update the copy, leave a note at the top that says something like “Originally published on [date]. Updated on [date]."
Regardless of whether your marketing team is made up of 1 or 20, you can use content to work toward your marketing-generated revenue goals. Try incorporating some of the strategies listed above, and let us know in the comments if other strategies have proven successful for you!
Becky Ruyle is the VP of marketing at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that helps its clients achieve measurable business results through content marketing.