Lead-generation is a core component of a B2B marketing strategy. However, many businesses struggle to improve lead quality and quantity. Specifically, a survey from ActOn found 37% of SMBs struggle to convert web visitors into leads. While a low conversion rate can be caused by driving the wrong traffic to the site or by pursuing the wrong marketing strategy or having a poorly optimized page, many businesses will benefit most by building a more robust lead-gen strategy first.
Is Your Lead-Gen Strategy Complete?
Small businesses frequently start their lead generation by creating a core offer to garner interest in their product. These end-of-funnel offers-- free trial, free quote, free consultation, contact us-- are essential components to a lead-gen strategy. However, for businesses with longer marketing and sales cycles, having only these types of offers is a missed opportunity to capture and nurture leads.
In fact, if you have a robust top-of-funnel content marketing strategy in place with a low conversion rate, adding an offer of relevant mid-funnel content can significantly increase your conversion rate. For example, one 97th Floor client had a robust content marketing and SEO strategy driving qualified traffic to the site. Its “Free Trial” offer brought in a good number of leads, but overall, the conversion rate of the site was extremely low.
We decided to test creating an ebook and placing the offer in hyper-relevant locations on the website. Within the first two months the conversion rate for organic traffic increased 3x, and months later the site retained that conversion rate. After the success of the first ebook, we created another gated offer that was relevant to other high traffic content pieces. Organic conversions increased by 43% and were maintained long-term.
Creating Effective Gated Content
While having mid-funnel content was a key component to the campaign’s success, having effective content was the most critical component for driving quality leads. Many marketers would agree that content marketing is an extremely effective lead-gen tactic. However, it can also be the most difficult to execute well. After all, good content should be unique and insightful while nurturing potential customers all at the same time.
So what process can you follow to create effective lead-gen content?
Complete In-Depth Buyer Persona Research:
- What are the key questions buyers need to answer to make a decision?
- How are those questions currently being answered, if at all?
- What information is often confused/hard to find?
- What unique insights can you alone provide?
In the case study cited above, we found there were 3 core questions a buyer needed to answer before making a purchase decision. The majority of that information was difficult to find, requiring visiting multiple websites and fitting pieces of information together while navigating a plethora of buzzwords. The ebook we created offered a comprehensive buyer’s guide that provided a framework for answering those questions and compiled all of the necessary information into a single location.
Content mapping is not a new concept, but many businesses fail to understand how crucial it is. Content should be mapped not just to the stage in the buyer’s journey, but also based on the information the visitor is consuming at the time.
For example, if a visitor comes to your website via a blog post titled “What is content marketing and why does it matter?” an ebook about “How to Optimize Title Tags” is not nearly as relevant as an ebook on “How to Develop Your First Content Marketing Strategy.”
In the case study above, the main CTA to the buyer’s guide was placed on a page with a competitor comparison matrix. Visitors who arrived on that page were already looking for information to help them make a purchase decision, so a comprehensive buyer’s guide was a compelling offer for those visitors. So compelling, in fact, that the click-to-submission rate ranged from 50-65%
Long-term Conversion Funnels
Many traditional marketing activities- webinars, trade shows, purchased lists- are one-and-done activities. Once the event is over, it doesn’t continue to generate leads. If the business needs more leads, it has to attend another trade show or produce and promote a new webinar. Gated content, however, can produce a long-term conversion funnel if you create the content with that intention.
Content typically dies because it:
- Loses Relevancy
- Is No Longer Unique
- Requires Ongoing Promotion
The secret, then, to creating a long-term conversion funnel is to create content that will still be useful to a buyer two years from now and is tied to organic traffic coming to your website. In the buyer’s guide case study, the conversion rate was maintained because SEO was the primary content promotion strategy with only a small percentage of leads coming from social or paid channels.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in marketing, but by following the principles above you’ll be able to create effective lead-gen content and test whether mid-funnel conversions can have a significant impact on marketing ROI.