There are many excellent reasons why businesses should add blogging to their marketing mix. But in the end, what you really want from any marketing channel is leads, right?
Now we’re going to caveat this post by saying something really important: content marketing is about the long game. If you try it out for a month and compare it to, say, paid advertising, that’s a bit of an unfair match.
However, just because blogging leans slightly more towards the brand building side of marketing than the pure growth marketing side, that doesn’t mean it can’t generate leads. If you’re strategic about it.
So here are five strategies to get your blog delivering more leads into your pipeline.
1. Pick that low-hanging fruit
There are a bunch of people out there who want to buy your products, use your services, donate to your cause or in some other way do the thing you want them to do. They just need help to get across the finish line.
Imagine, for example, that you’re the CMO of a rapidly scaling SaaS company. Your platform offers a way to shortcut a key process for your customer – but your competitor is saying the same thing.
That’s where a ‘How we…’ post comes in handy. By giving your audience a glimpse behind the curtain – showing them how your expertise works rather than simply telling them you have it – you earn a greater degree of trust. Trust that makes spending money with you that much easier.
Sales-driven blog content isn’t about the hard sell. It’s about facilitating great decision making. By the end of a great sales post, you can legitimately suggest that your reader gets in touch, books a demo or even taps ‘buy now’, because you’ve helped them see why that’s the right choice for them.
“Creating chains of interlinked blog content like this is a great way to guide your potential customer or client along the buyer journey until they become a lead. It also helps the reader to hop off the trail if they’re not a good fit for you.”
2. Keep the not-ready-yet audience on your radar
No matter what you’re offering and no matter who you’re offering it to, there’s no way that everyone in your target audience will be ready to buy at the exact moment they read your blog. This is particularly true in B2B marketing where studies show that 95% of your audience is out-of-market.
Your reader might not have the budget right now. Or they might have just bought something similar. Perhaps they need internal sign off, or they just want to think about it a bit more.
But if your blog has engaged them sufficiently, you can capitalise on your success by prompting them to do something.
You might ask them to follow you on social media, for example, or sign up for your newsletter so that you can continue to deliver useful content into their inbox. Or you could sweeten the deal with a lead magnet and create a nurture series to help move the process forward.
This might not be as immediately exciting to you as getting a reader to call your sales team, but by creating a way to stay in touch, you can continue to market to them until they are ready.
Whatever the case, don’t rely on the reader’s initiative. When they’re ready to buy, they probably won’t find their way back to your brand just because they read your blog a year ago. So create a tentative connection now that you can build on later.
3. Create buyer journey blog chains
Imagine your reader is at the very beginning of their buyer journey. They’re in the dark, not knowing they have a problem or, if they do, they’re only vaguely aware of the full extent of that problem or what’s causing it. You can change that. This is where you create content that helps them to explore the problem, validates what they’re feeling and shows them what the real issue is.
They won’t be ready to buy after reading. But they will be able to learn about the various solutions that can tackle their newly defined problem. After which they might be interested in exploring one solution in particular. And once they’ve reached that point, they might want to know the details of what you offer, including your process and pricing.
Creating chains of interlinked blog content like this is a great way to guide your potential customer or client along the buyer journey until they become a lead. It also helps the reader to hop off the trail if they’re not a good fit for you.
In a blog chain, you’ll adjust your CTA as your reader progresses. The earlier posts encourage further reading, lead magnet downloads or newsletter signups, and the later posts can get more sales-led.
4. Combine your blogging efforts with other channels
Good blog content is foundational. It shouldn’t sit on your website in isolation, with the vague hope that people will stumble across it. It needs to work with the other channels you’re investing in – and even feed those channels content.
The best way to get your blog generating leads is to ensure as many people as possible see it. And that means sitting it within a much wider strategy that includes, for example, social media, SEO, paid advertising, PR and so on.
If you’re using more than one marketing partner, make sure there’s enough communication between them. There’s no point having your PR or SEO agency going off in one direction and your blogging agency heading off in another.
Get your sales team involved too so that they make the most of the content you’re producing. It’s far nicer for a prospect to be sent a helpful blog post than to be hassled with a vague and ineffective, “Just wondering whether you need any help with X…”
5. Serve the robots, as well as the humans
If your sales machine relies on a high volume of input then one of the best and cheapest ways to generate the leads you need from your blog is to combine it with a well thought out organic search strategy.
This does not mean that you pick a few low cost, low competition keywords and stuff them willy nilly into a badly thought out post written by a barely literate stranger you found on Fivr. Not unless you’re happy to sacrifice your long term brand image for an initial flurry of visitors that offer nothing more than vanity metrics.
Google and co are likely to become increasingly human in their approach to judging the value of blog content over time, whereas people are unlikely to become more machine-like. So your flesh-and-blood audience still needs to be your first priority.
But there’s no reason why you can’t serve both robot and human. For SEO-led blogging strategies, we use Frase to ensure that we’re hitting the right SEO targets, leaving our writers free to do what they do best, which is create high value, well written, engaging and informative content.
This is how we helped our client Addland generate 150,000 impressions and 7,000 clicks to their website within the first six months after they launched their land buying platform. It’s also why Blueheart’s internal content creator said our approach to SEO optimisation is so hidden that their posts “just feel like solid, well-researched, empathetically-written articles.”
How to build lead generation into your blogging strategy
As with any marketing channel, blogging needs to be a strategic activity with a clear plan that is outlined at the start and checked on regularly. That plan needs to be based on the needs of your audience, it needs to sit within a wider marketing strategy and it needs to have clear goals from the outset.
You’ll need to set your expectations properly too, giving the blog at least 9 months and more likely 12 or even 18 months to deliver regular and reliable leads, especially if you’ve got a long sales cycle.
Blogging isn’t a lead gen silver bullet. In fact we’d argue that there is no such thing. But with the right strategy and a great team to deliver the best quality content, blogging can absolutely generate leads effectively and consistently for any business.