How to create business blog content that fuels lead generation
Business blogging is gaining momentum as a platform for driving inbound traffic. With that, companies are realizing the power of content marketing to generate and nurture sales leads.
Chad Pollitt of Kuno Creative recently published The Content Marketing Manifesto, citing statistics from The Content Marketing Institute on the increasing use of content marketing for lead generation:
- Lead generation is the stated goal for 66 percent of businesses
- 49 percent of businesses measure success by lead quality, and 41 percent by lead quantity
- Nearly 70 percent of businesses blog
- 66 percent attributed new customer acquisitions from blogs updated weekly
The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing survey by HubSpot found 81 percent of businesses rated their blog as useful or better for delivering on inbound strategies. Fifty-nine percent rated blogs as critical or important.
Content marketing residuals
What makes content marketing so appealing is its scale. Done well, it earns dividends for generating leads beyond initial spend compared to traditional media spend. Your blog is a platform that is owned and its traffic is earned, not bought. Search optimization and referral traffic keep the demand generation pump primed. Content is the keystone to inbound marketing success that goes beyond conversions, leads and direct sales.
Businesses striving to achieve this residual with consistent blogging are challenged to create content that tells a story and builds familiarity, likeability and trust with the audience. Rand Fishkin, co-founder and CEO of SEOmoz spoke about this recently at Search Church 2012. He offers insights on content marketing success in this video of his talk.
Fishkin encourages business bloggers to expand their thinking of content relevance beyond current customers. With the potential for discovery from organic search and viral sharing he suggests creating content that appeals to potential customers and anyone who interacts with potential customers to drive more traffic and generate more leads. He identifies ingredients for dynamic, relevant content as:
- Exceptional material about your products or services
- Beneficial to share
Blog content that generates leads
With these traits as a backdrop, the challenge remains to find ways to incorporate them into business blog articles. Knowing your market and audience is an important next step to focus your thinking about content strategy for sales leads. Three ways to zero in on the interests of your target audience are:
Keyword research. A critical step in your content strategy is to research keywords and long tail phrases to determine which topics in your industry are most searched. This helps identify topics of interest and the keywords to use when writing for SEO. Optimized content is a must for driving inbound traffic from organic search and referral sites.
Decision personas. Thinking about where visitors are in the sales journey helps target your message. Plan for content and calls-to-action that answer the questions they have at each stage of the decision-making process and you will get more leads into the top of the funnel.
Identify motivators. So far we’ve focused a lot on the logical aspects of blog visitor behavior. It is also vital to remember the emotional elements of persuasion. Lead generating content needs to capture a moment of interest, taking into account basic human motivations to take action.
Starter ideas for business blog topics
With the framework in place for who your audience is and what they are interested in, brainstorming for story ideas becomes easier. The goal for successful blog content is to inform and educate, not to over-promote your company or product. A recent post by Carol Tice on Entrepreneur.com outlines 50 ideas for your business blog. I will share five of them here.
- Industry trends. Share statistics, technology developments, demographics, business trends, regulatory issues or other data important to the success of your audience.
- Report on an industry conference. Provide news and information from keynote speakers and breakout sessions at events of interest to your audience.
- Case study. Make sure the customer is the hero of the story and share a problem-solution scenario the audience will relate to.
- Interview a high-profile industry leader. Do a Q & A with a thought leader who can provide a third-party perspective on your industry. This can often be accomplished via email.
- Resource list. Compile a list of vendors, business partners and other helpful information related to your business.
SOUND OFF: Tell me what you think. What blog content has been effective for generating leads for you?