A Step-by-Step Guide to Generating Leads With Your Content Marketing

By , March 30th, 2015 in Lead Gen | 5 comments
deserted-content-wasteland
Is your content getting the attention (and conversions) it deserves? Or is your pipeline a deserted wasteland? Image by Moyan Brenn via Flickr.

As a content marketer, you pour your heart and soul into creating awesome content. You push it out into the world…

…and then crickets.

Sometimes, the posts you worked on the hardest don’t get much attention. And even posts that get traffic just don’t convert.

Today I’m going to show you how to generate leads with your content.

When you finish this article, I want you to be able to say, with confidence, that you can create a valuable piece of content right now, distribute it to the right people and attract those people back to your blog to convert.

You will be able to do this without:

  • A big budget
  • A full-blown marketing team
  • Extensive background knowledge of the process (because I’m going to walk you through each step)

No more writing article after article hoping website visitors will eventually start seeking out your business.

And it starts…

Right now.

Part I: Driving Traffic to Your Content

Traffic is the lifeblood of any website.

This is especially true for a website that’s trying to generate leads.

Your traffic needs to be made up of potential customers. They need to be people who will actually want the products and services you offer.

One of the best ways to qualify traffic is to create and distribute content that solves the same problems your products and services do.

Content attracts people who have a need to consume it. To attract your ideal customers, create content based around the needs your business fulfills.

After you’ve created this content, you need to get it in front of people’s eyes and drive traffic with it.

To do this, we’re going to use four different strategies:

  • Twitter
  • Forum marketing
  • Quora
  • BuzzBundle

An advanced technique to drive traffic with Twitter

Using the tactic I’m about to show you, I got a 180% increase in traffic from Twitter over a three-week test period. Check out my acquisition data in Google Analytics:

Twitter Traffic

I don’t have a large following and I didn’t do any paid promotion. Best of all, this entire technique is automated. I set it up once and didn’t have to anything for three weeks.

(Hat tip to Robbie Richards. This is a combination of two techniques laid out in one of his articles.)

1. Calculate the best times for you to post on Twitter

With the help of a service like Tweriod, you can get to know when your followers are most likely to interact with your tweets.

2. Grab the headline of each article you want to post on Twitter and paste them into a spreadsheet

You’re going to create multiple unique tweets for each article. The more tweets you create, the more times you can post the article without annoying your followers.

Twitter Snippets

When you publish a new piece of content, try tweeting it out twice a day for two weeks and once a day for the rest of the month. Since your followers aren’t all online at the same time of the day, this maximizes the amount of people you reach with your tweets.

If you’re struggling to come up with tweets, use this copywriting formula from Copyblogger.

3. Find related articles that your audience will love

Next, head over to Buzzsumo and type in a keyword related to one of your articles. This’ll bring up a list of popular articles related to that keyword. Grab the URL of one of the top shared articles and paste it into your spreadsheet.

Do this for each of the articles you want to share on Twitter.

4. Append your articles to those posts using Snip.ly

Once you’ve got all of these highly shared articles, head over to Snip.ly and append one of your articles to each one.

Snip.ly will generate a separate URL for each of the highly shared articles. This separate URL will have your article’s URL attached to it, as well as your picture, a short description and a call to action button that links to your content (as shown in the screenshot below).

twitter-traffic-sniply-560
Click for larger image.

5. Schedule the posts with the Snip.ly CTAs

Finally, use Buffer or Hootsuite (or whichever scheduling tool you use) and automate all of your articles and the Snip.ly URLs to be shared on Twitter, based on the best times for you to post.

When users click on your Snip.ly link, there’s a chance they’ll click over to your content as well.

By choosing articles that are already proven to get tons of clicks, you give your article the potential for even more exposure.

Not only will you attract the right people with your content, but you’ll drive traffic while you sleep.

How to drive targeted traffic with forum marketing

There are forums for almost any niche or topic, and they’re jam-packed with ideal customers.

First, find a forum related to your niche. To do this, Google search strings like:

“Your niche” + “forum”

“Your niche” + “powered by Vbulletin”

This should bring up a list of forums.

First, you want to find a forum that’s active. Go through each forum and look at these metrics:

  • Go to the “New Posts” section and look at how recent the posts are.
  • Look at how many views each thread is getting.
  • Look at how many replies each thread is getting.

These indicators will tell you whether the forum is active.

After that, make an account and edit your signature. The signature is going to be the gateway to your content.

Forum Marketing Signature

Use some compelling copy to entice people to click to your content, and link to your content at the end.

For example, if I were to drive traffic to the article you’re reading right now, I would create a signature like this:

Struggling to get concrete results from your content marketing campaigns? Check out my 2,500-word article showing you how to generate leads directly from your content, right here.

Finally, go through the forum and answer people’s questions with in-depth answers. Be as helpful as possible. Do this for an hour or so per day, and you’ll drive consistent targeted traffic to your content.

Try to be one of the first posters on a thread. If the thread gets popular, your post (and your signature) will be one of the first ones people see over and over again.

Using Quora to drive traffic

Similar to forums, people are hanging out on Quora searching for the information your content provides.

All you have to do is get on there and show it to them.

The person who wrote this case study found a lot of success on Quora for a small amount of work, and Quora sends me about 48 visitors per three hours of work answering questions. This equates to 16 visitors per hour.

And as I will note later, the more questions you answer, the more potential your traffic has to compound.

So how do you get started?

  1. Head over to Quora and create an account. Beef up your profile with social proof about what you know, your interests, etc.
  2. Then, use their search bar and enter a keyword related to your most valuable piece of content.
  3. Go through and provide unique and in-depth answers to people’s questions. At the end of each answer, link to your content as the natural next place to get more information – like I did here:
Quora Traffic Answer
Here is the thread for the screenshot above, so you can see this in context.

Many of those threads still get views years later. This means the more questions you answer, the more potential your traffic has to compound.

Engage your target audience directly with BuzzBundle

BuzzBundle is a tool that allows you to interact with your target audience directly on various channels. You can use it to find people who are asking questions related to your content. When appropriate, your answers can then direct them to your content.

Here’s how it works.

  1. First, you enter in all of your profile information for Facebook, Twitter, forums, Yahoo Answers, your blog, etc. This is what lets you post replies to people straight from the program.
  2. Then, enter in the keywords you want BuzzBundle to search for. Here’s what I inputted when I was driving traffic to a recent lead generation article:
BuzzBundle Keywords

I chose keywords like “lead generation,” “attract leads,” and “lead generation strategies,” so BuzzBundle would pull up conversations where I might be able to introduce my article.

Once you’ve inputted your keywords, it scours social media sites, blogs, Q&A sites and forums for the keywords you inputted. You can then join those conversations and direct people back to your content.

The free version of the software limits you to about 50% of the overall conversations happening. The paid version gives you full access.

Here’s what the interface looks like after BuzzBundle has searched for my keywords:

BuzzBundle Interface-560
Click for larger image.

You will notice that all of the highlighted words are my keywords. These are all tweets, Facebook posts, forum threads and Yahoo answers where people are discussing a topic directly related to my content.

Now, all I have to do is go in there and direct people to it, like so:

BuzzBundle Engagement 1

That can lead to a nice reply (and probably a click through to your website):

BuzzBundle Engagement 2

And a new follower:

BuzzBundle Follower

(This happened as I was writing this article.)

:)

You can use BuzzBundle to send people to your content, landing pages, products, services – anywhere you want to convert visitors.

Part II: How to Capture the Traffic that Arrives

Now that you know how to drive traffic with your content, let’s learn how to capture it.

Here are three of the best ways:

  1. Pop-up forms
  2. Content upgrades
  3. Landing pages

Pop-up forms

Many people denounce pop-up forms, saying they’re intrusive and diminish user experience. However, the numbers can tell a different tale.

Case study after case study reveals the impact pop-up forms can have on sign-up rates. For instance, WP Beginner was getting 70-80 subscribers per day before installing a pop-up form. After installing one, that number jumped to 445-470 per day – a 600% increase!

As usual, you still need to give visitors a compelling reason to subscribe. And just because it works for some people, doesn’t mean it will work the same for you.

Test whether the increase in signups is worth the possible decrease in user experience. One way is to run a pop-up form for a month and compare your lead increase with the change in user experience signals, like bounce rate, time on site and pages visited.

Then, compare that month with the previous month and decide whether a pop-up form make sense for your site.

For your first pop-up form, I recommend the SumoMe List Builder App, mainly because it’s easy to set up.

And it’s free.

Content upgrades

Content upgrades are opt-ins embedded within the body of your content.

I first learned the power of content upgrades in this case study by Brian Dean. He got a 785% increase in subscribers with just two content upgrades on his site.

They give the reader bonus material related to the article they’re reading. In exchange, the reader gives up their email address.

Here’s an example of a content upgrade:

Content Upgrade SumoMe

For this type of content upgrade, an opt-in form pops up when someone clicks on it, like this:

Content Upgrade Pop-up SumoMe

Here’s why content upgrades are so powerful:

Readers can ignore your sidebar.

They can ignore a form at the end of your posts.

But they can’t ignore an opt-in they’re forced to scan over as they’re reading. If they’re reading your article and a CTA appears mid-way, they have to look at it. Their eyes can’t avoid it.

Offer more value

To make content upgrades as successful as possible, literally “upgrade” the content they’re reading by giving away additional learning materials or resources in exchange for contact info.

This could be checklists, ready-made spreadsheets, a private master list of resources, bonus strategies and tactics – anything of value related to what they’re reading.

One of the easiest content upgrade services I’ve come across is the SumoMe Leads App. It’s a paid service, but their free trial will be more than adequate to get you started.

If you’re looking for a 100% free option, I created my own content upgrades simply by linking to a landing page at various points in my articles.

Content Upgrade Link

So that’s an alternative you can try.

Landing pages

Landing pages have one goal:

Convert visitors into subscribers, leads and customers. In other words, they’re designed to capture traffic.

You should create landing pages for every key conversion you want to make, and design your site to direct traffic to those pages.

One way to do this is to combine your landing pages with the previous strategy (content upgrades). For instance, I’ve got links to landing pages spread out twice in one of my cornerstone articles. Here’s one of them:

Landing Page Content Upgrade

That link then takes people to this landing page:

landing-page-contentupgrade
The landing page I link to from one of my cornerstone articles currently converts at 24.29%.

Including links to landing pages helps you convert more of the traffic that arrives to your content.

If you want to learn how to create high-converting landing pages, check out Unbounce’s seven-day lead gen landing page course.

One More Crucial Tactic

Without this final tactic, none of the above strategies will be as successful as they could be.

The final tactic involves the content you create, why you create it, and how it impacts the lives of the people you create it for. This is what I call genuine content marketing, and it’s crucial to the success of your marketing campaigns.

Think about it this way: Your traffic generation and lead capturing tactics make up the fishing rod and the hook. Your content is the lure, and as any avid fisherman will tell you, if you don’t have an attractive lure, your rod and hook won’t do anything for you.

To implement genuine content marketing, think about the impact your business has on people’s lives. Consider the why behind everything you do and then let that shine through your content.

Frame yourself as a teacher rather than a business. Provide free value so people build trust in you and your brand. Become a trusted advisor rather than a marketer. Help your prospects as much as possible with the free content you produce and distribute, and when they’re ready for your services, they’ll know exactly who to go to.

Have you used similar tactics to generate leads? Let me know in the comments below. I’m happy to discuss them.

– Michael Karp


BuzzBundle Engagement 1

About The Author

Photo of Michael Karp

Michael Karp is a content marketing strategist. He runs Copytactics, a site where people can learn how to use content to grow their businesses and make the world a better place. Just for Unbounce readers, he put together a PDF with all of the lead generation resources mentioned in this article (plus three additional resources).
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Comments

  1. Tom says:

    Excellent guide, Michael – thank you!

    I also suggest using Openr (http://doc.pm) in addition to snip.ly for link sharing promotion. The free account option allows 10 shares per day.

  2. John Rowan says:

    Hi Michael, based on your advice I downloaded BuzzBundle and I am already gaining more followers and likes by the day. What a great little tool it is. Thanks for the article!

    • Michael Karp says:

      No problem John!

      BuzzBundle is a powerful tool. I love that it can be used by anyone from casual bloggers to marketing departments to drive traffic and build a following.

      Have fun!

  3. Nandini says:

    Hi Michael, some great insights there! Have tried Quora myself similar to what you’ve mentioned. BuzzBundle and Snip.ly seems like great tools for marketers. Keep up the good work!

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