Guest Post from Lisa Toner. Lisa is the Head of Relationship Marketing at HubSpot EMEA.
As a marketer, you may now be thinking, “then why am I putting so much time and resources into content marketing? What am I missing in order to see ROI?” This is a great question and one with many answers. If generating real leads from your content is something you’ve been struggling with, this post will help you identify the mistakes you’ve been making so you can rectify them immediately and give your marketing funnel a nice lead boost.
Here are some of the most common mistakes marketers are making when it comes to generating leads from their content:
Mistake no.1: You’re marketing to everyone and anyone
It might seem like a good idea to cast a wide net and try to get every Tom, Dick, and Harry to buy your product, but believe me; this strategy is costing you leads. Yes, you probably think everyone needs your product and service, but your opinion is somewhat biased –don’t you think?
The first step to generating leads with your content is to research and develop your target audience. For example, if I am a sixty four year old man who has retired to my log cabin to spend my days fly fishing and nature watching, I am probably unlikely to want to buy baby products, high tech gadgets, or the latest in fashion trends. However, you’d be surprised as to how many companies don’t use targeting in their marketing and don’t change their messaging based on the personas they are trying to reach. If you’re not getting targeted with your content marketing, why not just take your marketing budget, go to the nearest body of water, and drop that cash in. Same result, but takes a lot less time and effort.
Solution: Most companies will have between 3-5 personas and they should look a little like this:
Here’s a pretty detailed post with everything you need for creating your personas, including a template.
Once you have your personas built out, you can’t stop there. Map your personas across your marketing funnel and create a content strategy for each one. By knowing the goals and challenges of your main personas, you can start to create the right content that will attract them to your website and CONVERT them into leads. They will see your company as a solution provider, which will build trust and credibility –both of which will stand in your favour when they’re ready to make a purchase to solve their problem permanently.
Investing in the quality of your traffic results in better leads. Better leads results in more customers who are happy to buy again and tell their friends about you. This is a good marketing strategy.
Mistake no.2: No one is searching for your content
Complementary to my first point, If you don’t know who you’re targeting and what their challenges are, then you certainly don’t know what they’re searching for online. So how then, can you possibly write content that will show up in their search results?
The solution: The only way to make sure the right people will find your content is to:
- Know your buyer personas
- Do keyword research
- Write relevant and valuable, keyword optimised content for your personas
Since we’ve already discussed buyer personas, let’s look at keyword research. It’s not the sexiest of marketing activities, but the dividends returned makes it all worthwhile –promise! There are a ton of free tools available to do this keyword research but the most common is Google Keyword Planner. I couldn’t possibly explain everything you need to know about keyword research in this blog, so here’s another blog post that goes into the specifics. However, the three main things you need to consider when performing your research are:
- How much monthly volume are the keywords getting? You need to make sure they’re getting a good volume of searches each month.
- How difficult are they to rank for? Don’t go too broad as these keywords will be too competitive and your chances of getting on page 1 are zero to none.
- How relevant are they to my business? If they’re not relevant, they’re not worth it, this will just hurt your brand reputation and your bounce rate will be sky high.
Making sure you have a good balance of keywords (both head terms and long-tail) will put you in a good place for getting found by the right people –so long as you actually create and optimise great content for those keywords. Use your keywords in your blog, on your website, and even in your social media posts — don’t forget that they are being ranked in SERPs, too!
Mistake no.3: You’re expecting too much from your homepage
If I had a penny for every time I saw a company linking back to their homepage from their ads, social media posts, blog posts, etc. I would be living a very different lifestyle right now. Your homepage is a great place to describe the value your company offers to prospective customers, but it is too broad for converting leads from specific content marketing campaigns.
For example, let’s say I’m a person who suffers with fallen arches and have aching legs as a result. One day I’m on Facebook and I see an ad offering a solution to fallen arches. It has an image of a great looking new in-sole that looks like it’s really going to support my feet, and end my suffering. This is a perfect example of persona targeting using social media. HOWEVER, if I click on that ad and I get brought to the homepage of a shoe website with hundreds of other shoes advertised, I’m going to have a hard time finding what I was looking for in the first place. I’m now left in a jungle of unrelated items that I don’t want, trying to find my way out. And you know what the quickest way out is? Yup, the nice reliable ‘X’ in the top corner of my screen. This is where a lot of companies are bleeding leads from their websites.
The solution: When you write content, you write it to solve a problem for your buyer persona. The page on your website that you link to from that content, should further solve that same problem.
Make sure you set up unique landing pages for your marketing campaigns that carry the same message from the content in your ads/blogs/social messages, etc. right through to your landing page where you’re going to capture their details for an extended value offer.
Mistake no.4: No clear call to action
As a follow on, your homepage should not be ignored as a place of conversion. Often, this is the page that will carry the most SEO power as it will have more inbound links that other pages on your site. That means a lot of traffic will be hitting that page so you’ll need a clear conversion path in place to convert as many of those visitors as possible.
Solution: Make sure you have a clear and compelling call to action for them to convert on– above the fold, so they don’t need to scroll. Don’t expect them to know what to do or where to click.
Please do not use this real estate for a form that says ‘contact sales’. Who wants to talk to a sales person when they have no idea what value you can offer them? Make your offer compelling and sell the value. Why would someone give you their contact details? What’s in it for them? Make this clear and you’ll instantly start to see more leads converting on your website.
Freshbooks is a great example of a well-designed homepage. For more examples, read this post.
Mistake no.5: You’re expecting too much of your blog readers
Your blog is an extremely effective way to attract quality traffic to your website if you get the content right. But how do you generate leads from your blog? Many marketers expect their blog subscribers to turn into paying customers without giving them any direction on why or how they should do that.
The solution: The answer to this comes back to all of my previous points — starting to see a pattern? By knowing what your audience cares about, you can write relevant blog posts that bring them to your website. From there, you can add a clear and compelling call to action, driving your blog readers to a unique landing page where they can convert into a lead.
The offer at the end of your blog posts needs to be relevant to the content they’ve just read and be compelling and valuable enough for your readers to part with their personal information in return for it.
Mistake no.6: You’re not optimising your social posts
Companies don’t often see social media as a lead generation tactic but this is a huge lost opportunity. Social media is not just about building brand awareness or supporting your customers. You can even generate leads on social media without having a large following.
The solution: If you have followed the first two steps in this post, you’ll know the key challenges your buyer personas are facing as well as the keywords they are using to find solutions to those challenges.
There are two things you can do with this data.
- By using social media monitoring tools like HubSpot’s Social Inbox, you can set up streams that listen for mentions of particular keywords or competitive terms that will then notify you via email of these mentions so that you can jump into the conversation immediately. This means you can identify and educate people who are showing purchase intent, who are frustrated with your competitors, and even people who have a problem they don’t realise there is a solution to yet.
- The SERPs (search engine results pages) return social media posts in their results as well as websites. By optimising your social media posts to speak to your buyer personas, solving their challenges and using the keywords they are searching for, you can start generating a ton of leads with social.
When it comes to writing a Tweet for lead generation purposes, there are some best practices to follow.
- Only include one link
- Include a clear CTA
- Don’t @mention anyone
- Don’t use a hashtag
- Use catchy copy
- Promoting it with some budget is highly effective.
Mistake no.7: You’re asking for too much too soon
Think about it. If I didn’t know you, and you asked for my hand in marriage on our first encounter, what do you think my reaction would be? Your chances of ‘conversion’ are pretty abysmal at this point. The same goes for your content marketing and asking your potential customers for a conversion too early. You need to build trust and credibility before trying to close.
The solution: Map out a content strategy across the buyer journey for each of your personas. This means knowing what kind of content each one responds to at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel, and putting an infrastructure in place so that they receive the right content at the right time in their buyer journey. You’re going to want to set up workflows and social media alerts for this to work well.
Here’s a template for mapping out your content to each stage in the funnel to help you get started.
Mistake no 8: You suck at selling — yes, this is for you, Marketer!
Marketers often don’t realise that they need the same selling skills that their sales reps do. They need to know how to actively listen and come in at just the right time with a question, fact, or topic that will convince that prospect that they need to do something. It may be the content for a landing page you’re writing, it may be a response to a Tweet, or it could be copy for an email — marketers need to SELL the VALUE of what they’re offering.
Solution: Over invest in writing the copy for all the assets you create to convert a lead. Be convincing, be compelling, be personable. This asset needs to sell the value of your offer and inspire action in its recipient.
A/B test everything. Your emails, landing pages, images, social posts, ads, everything! Data doesn’t lie and gut instinct is rarely right in these instances. For example, we changed the title of an ebook from “The Productivity Handbook for Busy Marketers” to “7 Apps That Will Change the Way You Do Marketing.”
The result? We increased leads by 776%. Worth a try, right?
Mistake no.9: You’re missing out on mobile traffic
Mobile traffic (51%) has now surpassed desktop traffic (42%) so it’s no longer a question of ‘do I need to optimise my site for mobile’ but ‘how can I optimise all of my marketing for mobile?’.
If mobile visitors are coming to your landing page and see a long form asking for multiple fields of information to receive an ebook, the chances of them taking the time and effort to complete it on their mobile device are much slimmer than those visiting on desktop. Similarly, if they can’t read the text because they have to scroll right, left, up and down to see one sentence, they are highly likely to bounce off that page pretty quickly! As a result, you lose a lead, simply because you didn’t respect the device.
Use smart technology to show mobile visitors a shorter form than those visiting from desktop. HubSpot has this functionality built in as well as automatically making your entire site mobile responsive — no more scrolling and pinching your screen to read the text! If you’re not already a mobile responsive site, that’s your very first action point after reading this blog — it’s time to get mobile.
At HubSpot, we ran an experiment to see how we could optimise conversions for mobile users. By switching to mobile smart forms, we managed to decrease bounce rate (and therefore increase conversion rate) on each landing page tested by an average of 27%. Bounce rates that were previously between 50-90% are now between 20-50%, our visitors have a smoother experience and are less likely to leave the page before viewing and completing the form. Read about our mobile conversion experiment here.
These were some of the most common mistakes we see marketers making when it comes to generating leads from their content. Of course, every situation is unique, but knowing who your audience is, what they are interested in, and where they spend their time online is fundamental to getting everything else right. Start with buyer personas and you’re going to give yourself a great head start on your competition. Try this free tool for getting started with creating your buyer personas.
About the Author:
Lisa is responsible for identifying strategic marketing partnerships and working with those partners to create inbound marketing campaigns. These campaigns support the sales team’s pipeline and ensure the continued and fast-paced growth of HubSpot’s international business.