Creating Content for Your Lead Generation Strategy

By Dayna Rothman

Content is the basis of many (if not all) of your lead generation campaigns. When you send an email blast, host an event, or launch a social campaign or pay-per-click (PPC) ad, you’re providing relevant (and hopefully insightful) content.

Content helps you build trust and become a thought leader in your space. Content makes a buyer say, “Eureka! That’s just the information I’m looking for!” and earns you a special place in his heart. Content is the Thelma to your Louise, the Sonny to your Cher. Content and lead generation truly create the perfect pair. Without quality content, you won’t have a comprehensive lead generation plan.

Rather than offering a boring datasheet that goes on and on about your product or service, create an ebook of actionable tips on how to fix a problem that causes potential buyers to pull out their hair. When you help a buyer with a problem, you become top-of-mind. After you gain a buyer’s trust because you’ve helped him so many times, convincing a buyer that your product or service is the best becomes much easier.

Be a thought leader

When prospects discover your company, most likely, they don’t yet have trust in your brand and they aren’t ready to make a purchase. An overly promotional lead generation campaign can be a huge turnoff. A critical concept to understand is the difference between thought leadership and promotional content.

Thought leadership in content marketing helps you:

  • Create relationships with customers and prospects by engaging in relevant conversations

  • Differentiate yourself as a source for research and best practices across your industry

  • Build trust with prospects so that when they are ready to make a purchase, they automatically go to the industry leader

Purely promotional content produced for the sole intent of closing a deal and sent to a prospect at the wrong time can come across as yelling. The key here is to make sure you are sending the right message at the right time in a lead’s buying cycle.

Imagine you’re a marketer working in a small company interested in best practices for email marketing. You search Twitter and find an interesting blog post on optimizing email for mobile technology. You click the blog post, read it, find it useful, and subscribe to the blog. If the first email you get from the company, which just happens to be a marketing automation software firm, is a datasheet about their product, you will most likely trash it.

However, if the first email you get from that company is an ebook of best practices for optimizing email for mobile channels, you will probably open it, read it, and look forward to additional educational content. Your audience can read your asset and educate themselves versus being sold to.

Leverage promotional content

Promotional content is an asset that delivers a hard sell. Think of a datasheet, pricing sheet, or even an ebook that goes into more detail regarding product or service information. This content is considered late-stage (late in the buying process) and should be used when a lead is very close to making a purchase. In fact, when a lead downloads a piece of promotional, late-stage content, he is considered a hand-raiser, and should be contacted by sales immediately. When a potential customer downloads a pricing or product sheet, it’s a key indicator of positive buying behavior.

Promotional content has its place later in the buying cycle, but for the purpose of lead generation, you will mostly be using content that can be considered thought leadership in nature because you are trying to create relationships.

Consider different forms of content

You can tell a story in many ways. Customers and prospects consume stories in many ways, too. Some may enjoy reading an ebook cover to cover; others might consume information visually through an infographic or a slide deck. If you only create ebooks, you’ll reach some of your potential buyers, but never those who delete ebooks whenever they appear in their email.

To make sure you’re reaching every potential buyer, use a variety of content types. Here are a few to consider:

  • Ebook: An ebook is a digital book that consists of text and images. Ebooks can be easily consumed on computers and mobile devices. They can be a few pages, hundreds of pages long, or anywhere in between. The great part about an ebook is that you can base many of your additional assets off the written content.

  • Whitepapers and reports: Many people think of whitepapers and reports as being interchangeable with ebooks. However, a whitepaper is more of a long-form authoritative report or manual. Whitepapers often take the form of benchmarks and industry reports.

  • One-pager/cheat sheet: A one-pager or cheat sheet is a short piece of content that informs a reader about a product, service, or concept in an extremely digestible way. These are always one page, but copy can also be on the back.

  • Activity book/worksheet: An activity book is a great way to get interactive with your content. Instead of just telling your audience what to do, walk them through it! Think check lists, questionnaires, and templates. Even consider something fun like a coloring book, word scramble, or crossword puzzle.

  • Video: Marketing videos come in many forms. Think 60–90-second demo videos, animated shorts, live action commercials, webinar recordings, and presentation recordings, to name a few.

  • Infographic: Visual content is a great way to reach your audience in a fun and interesting way. An infographic takes a complex story, often including stats and quotes, and uses graphical elements to bring it to life in a more concise manner. Infographics are typically short and are scrollable on a computer screen or mobile phone.

  • Slide Decks: Visual slide decks are a great way to present longer form information in an engaging way. You can create a special visual slide deck using creative visuals from an infographic, or you can upload a webinar presentation slide deck. Slide decks should present information in an easy-to-digest format, and also tell a compelling story at the same time in order to engage your reader.

  • Podcasts: Never underestimate the power of a podcast. A podcast is a vocal recording of a presentation, webinar, or speech. A person can listen to a podcast on the go — in her car, on her headphones, and so on.