If you have any experience with content marketing, you know that it takes a tremendous amount of commitment to do right. Companies can’t be like a New Year’s Day blogger, resolving to post daily and then tapering off after a week.
If you’re not particularly familiar with content marketing, you might find the idea of ongoing commitment to writing and producing content a little intimidating. The good news is that content marketing is directly related to lead generation; these days, buyers are looking for education.
Marketing firm Hinge dug a little deeper into this expectation – and how to meet it – in its book Online Marketing for Professional Services. The book’s findings include five ways high growth firms educate clients and generate leads:
1. Blog well and blog often
You can talk about your industry expertise all day long, but the best way to demonstrate your understanding of a topic is to teach it. Creating a must-read industry blog gives firms the opportunity to share their personality and authority, show off any experts on staff, and join or lead ongoing conversations in the marketplace.
Blog posts should be accessible and regular – what we call “flow” content. If you create enough strong blog content and use keywords properly within the post, your site will rise in search engine rankings. This will help more visitors to find you on the web and raise your rankings further.
High growth firms don’t stop here, though. Crafting genuinely useful blog content builds user trust and leads straight to the next step.
2. Offer more in-depth content
Your blog and social media presence help visitors get to know you. Now when you offer more in-depth educational resources, such as eBooks or webinars, you have a basis of trust. Users will feel more comfortable exchanging simple contact information, such as an email address for what you have to offer. Make your registration form quick and easy, and more importantly, make sure your content is worth the user’s while.
Detailed tutorial eBooks, webinars, and comprehensive do-it-yourself kits – these are “stock” content. Not stock in the sense of “generic,” but in the sense that you’d stock your library shelves with it. Less conversational than flow content, stock content should provide deeper and more definitive dives. They also give your experts a more focused opportunity to shine, building a name for themselves and your firm in the process.
3. Nurture your visitors
Now that you have your visitors’ contact information, you can nurture and convert leads. Don’t use your new power for simple advertisement; cultivate a deeper relationship with your prospects by continuing to offer valuable, relevant content. As you build your relationship with visitors, you can provide more and more engaged offerings, such as personal demos and workshops.
In a recent joint study with RAIN Group of more than 700 B2B sales covering $3.1 billion in annual purchases, buyers identified the number one thing successful buyers did right: “Educated me with new ideas or perspectives.” When buyers have a chance to get to know you as an educator, they’re more likely to trust you and come to you to solve their problems.
4. Promote, promote, promote
High growth firms use email content like newsletters, new resource announcements, and promotion of upcoming online activities to keep visitors up-to-date. But again, these have to be genuinely relevant. If the resources are useful – if the newsletter is a focused, energetic industry publication that people look forward to reading – then users will welcome the update.
The same goes for social media. It’s a great tool for building familiarity and trust, but don’t just spam Twitter and LinkedIn with links. Share content thoughtfully and engage in conversations around relevant issues to your audience.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of SEO. In Hinge’s research study, high growth firms consistently ranked SEO among their most powerful online tools. Carefully optimized keywords can help connect the right audiences with your resources.
5. Take stock and keep going
Once your content strategy is in place, don’t just throw it to the wind. Effective firms use tools like web analytics, A/B testing, and usability testing to see what’s working and what’s not. When you understand what engages your audience most, you can gain insights into their areas of greatest interest and need – and that helps you help them.
Content isn’t a one-and-done solution. It’s the sturdy foundation for a company’s reputation and its relationship to visitors. In order to generate leads with content, you have to cultivate it. But if you can carefully and thoughtfully craft a compelling content strategy, you’ll have an ongoing basis for leads and high growth.
Guest author Chris Ourand is an Account Director at Hinge, a branding and marketing firm that focuses on professional services. At Hinge, Chris provides strategic counsel and tactical execution of programs designed to meet brand awareness and business development objectives. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.