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If you want to beef up your content marketing strategy, it’s not enough to rely on the same techniques over and over again. You want to make sure that you are continually improving, reaching the right people, and hitting (maybe even surpassing) industry benchmarks.

Industry benchmarking is a powerful way to help you distinguish which marketing practices you should adopt or stop using. It allows you to accurately gauge your competitors’ performance using analytical data. You can then use this data to interpret performance factors, predict trends, and ensure your strategy is up-to-date with modern consumer demands.

Analyzing whether or not your company is on par with industry benchmarks is imperative. It helps weed out the tactics that need improvement or eliminate those that are no longer useful. It also helps your team set goals and provide insight into how much more you can do with your upcoming campaigns.

Many tools can help automate the benchmarking process. However, the data needs to be analyzed and understood. The first step is to determine the areas you want to track. For instance, if you have a personal blog, you may want to focus on things like website traffic, bounce rate, and time spent on your site.

Let’s discuss some of the most common metrics you should know, what they track, and the average benchmark across multiple industries.

 

Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate is the percentage of your audience who convert to customers. Usually, high conversion rates mean that your marketing strategies are successful. Lander reports that the average landing page conversion rate across all industries is 2.35%. However, don’t be complacent as values vary per sector.

Average Landing Page Conversion Rates

According to a study released by Unbounce, the top industries with the highest percentage of conversion rates are vocational studies and job training (6%) and business services (5.5%). Those on the lower end of the spectrum are higher education (2.6%) and real estate (2.9%). Note that even the lowest figures cited are higher than the global average percentage.

 

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of your page visitors who leave without exploring the other pages of your website. They may have even opened a piece of sponsored content but closed it immediately after seeing the first page. Ideally, bounce rates should not be too high. You want your audience to stay on your website and navigate to other pages.

Digishuffle shared their 2017 bounce rate benchmark reports and showed that the industries with low bounce rates are real estate (49.25%), shopping (47.85%), and automotive (46.34%). No doubt, visitors to these pages surf through many products offered on the same site. After all, the end goal is a purchase during each session.

Average Bounce Rate by Industry

It’s different for blogs and entertainment websites, however. They have a higher bounce rate of 76.47%. The market behavior for this industry indicates that a user tends to consume a single piece of information and then continues with their day.

 

Average Session Duration

How much attention are your readers giving you? This varies by what kind of content you produce. If you have a lot of text-heavy articles, you can expect that the average time is longer—unless they didn’t understand your message, got bored, and left before they finished reading your content.

The more time spent, the better. Brafton pooled the statistics of 181 websites from 2015 to 2016 and deduced that the average session a visitor stays on a site is 2 minutes and 17 seconds. The outlier here was the hospital and healthcare industry, racking up 3 minutes and 38 seconds.

The difference is enormous compared to lifestyle blog posts who only get an average of 1 minute and 20 seconds of screen time, which reveals why that industry has relatively high bounce rates.

 

CTR (Click-through Rate) and CPC (Cost Per Click)

All companies want high CTRs. It’s the immediate response of your audience when they see an ad that piques their interest. It sends a message that your ad is compelling and you’re able to maximize your ad’s placement and budget. Related to that is CPC. That’s the amount marketers pay for each click gathered by advertisements on search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. The lower you pay, the better.

Wordstream released a graph of the average CTR of ads in Google AdWords. Dating and personal services have the highest percentage at 3.40%, with legal services garnering the least amount at 1.35%. Keep in mind that the average for all industries is 1.91%

Average CTR by Industry

CPC data shows that dating websites have a low CPC of $0.19, which justifies its high CTR. Similarly, legal ads pay a hefty $5.88. The average CPC for all industries is $2.32.

Average CPC by Industry

When analyzed, dating websites have a lot of creative freedom regarding copy, as they capitalize on human emotion. On the other hand, legal services have a harder time due to the demands of their professions and some restrictions enforced by Google and government entities.

It’s important to regularly keep track of this data and see how you can improve your CTR and CPC.

 

Email Marketing

Email is not dead. In fact, it’s an incredibly powerful marketing tool now more than ever. There’s a lot of data to look at with email marketing analytics, with the most notable figures being open and click rates.

You want to pay attention to which emails consumers are opening. It usually has something to do with an enticing email headline and brand recall. If the receiver is a fan of your brand, he or she will give your message the time of day.

MailChimp shared that the industry-wide open rate average is 20.81%. The top performers were emails related to hobbies (27.35%), government entities (26.52%), and the arts (26.03%).

Email Marketing Performance by Industry

On the other hand, click rate refers to the number of people who clicked links on your email. How enticing is your product? The top three industries were hobbies (4.78%), media (4.55%), and government (3.65%). The average for all sectors is 2.43%.

 

Final Thoughts

Benchmarks keep you on track. With the ease of recording data through services like Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Facebook Ads, it’s no excuse not to pay attention to the figures. Working with data will help improve your brand’s presence and your whole content marketing strategy.

So, how well is YOUR content performing? Register for a FREE Content Analysis today!

The numbers are in. LinkedIn appeals to 41% of B2B marketers as their main social media network and is where 80% of B2B leads are generated.

The number one professional social network is also the channel where 43% of marketers have sourced their customers. What’s more, about 50% of LinkedIn users are more likely to buy from businesses that they have interacted with on LinkedIn.

Given the positive impact of LinkedIn on B2B marketing and branding campaigns, it’s important that you know how to properly leverage the platform by avoiding common mistakes. You wouldn’t want to spend unnecessary time and resources building a LinkedIn presence only to come up short because of a simple oversight, would you?

Here are some of the biggest (and most avoidable) mistakes businesses make on LinkedIn:

1. Inactivity

It’s counterproductive for your brand not to be active on LinkedIn. The digital era makes social media networks like LinkedIn an effective channel for connecting with partners and customers alike.

However, you’re likely to miss out on these opportunities if you fail to establish your social presence on LinkedIn. Without regular updates, your community won’t know if you’re still around and you risk losing touch. You can help your company keep active on LinkedIn by regularly posting status updates, publishing relevant and high-quality content, or engaging your connections in meaningful conversations.

2. Impersonal Connection Requests

It might be tempting to send as many connection requests as possible to LinkedIn users to expand your network, but unless you take the time to personalize your message, you won’t get the results you want.

You’d do better to explain to your prospects why they should accept your invite by focusing on what they can get from connecting with you. That said, before inviting companies to join your network, make sure you know the nature of their business, what they do, who their customers are, and where your products or services fit into their business.

3. Spamming

Having LinkedIn users accept your connection request does not give you the license to send them random, irrelevant messages that aren’t worth their time or attention.

It’s not advisable, for example, to hard sell to someone who barely knows you or what your company has to offer. Instead, you should direct your efforts toward getting to know them first – their interests, activities, goals, and challenges – to truly understand if you can really help them.

With the right strategy, LinkedIn can be a great B2B marketing tool for building relationships with your target market.

4. Ignoring Reviews

Modern-day consumers are taking advantage of social networks to rate businesses in terms of the quality of their products or services. And with people spending more time on social media, it’s easier than ever for anyone to see what LinkedIn users have to say about your company. Obviously, negative online reviews can affect your branding, marketing, and sales efforts.

To help your business get more positive reviews, listen to your customers’ feedback and always address their questions, comments, or complaints. It’s not enough to be present on social media. Brands need to actively engage with their audiences and correspondingly respond when engaged with.

5. Zero Employee Involvement

Before you look for outside for help to spread word about your company, approach your employees first. They can and should be your brand’s top endorsers, helping boost your engagement, visibility, and most importantly, building an air of trust and authority. On the other hand, not paying attention to this resource group may reflect poorly on your ability to maximize your internal assets.

Statistics say there are about 50% of employees who are already sharing things on social media about their employers, including job posting, blog articles, and other useful content.

You can use LinkedIn or other third-party tools to make it easy for your employees to promote your brand or your content to attract more traffic to your site, expand your market reach, or gain more leads and followers.

6. Ineffective Posting Strategies

LinkedIn remains the best B2B social media platform to this day, so it only makes sense that you must develop a marketing strategy specifically for LinkedIn users.

When it comes to posting your content, for example, you need to be aware of the ideal time and frequency of posting. This is to help ensure your success in engaging your audience or attracting leads and potential sales through the content you’re sharing on the platform.

LinkedIn users seem to be receptive toward consuming content at various times during the day, around early morning and early evening hours. Just make sure to track your metrics to gauge if you’re posting at the best time and frequency for your particular audience.

7. Overpromotion

You may be using LinkedIn to promote your product, service, or business, which is perfectly fine, but you should never overdo it. Instead of focusing on your brand, you should, first and foremost, think of your audience. Veer away from posting promotional updates or sales pitches because you can be sure they will not appeal to your audience (unless the “perfect” opportunity presents itself, which doesn’t happen often).

When crafting or sharing content, always make it your goal to serve the needs and interests of your audience. This type of engagement is also an effective way to gain new followers in the LinkedIn community. Eventually, you’ll get people trusting you and talking about your brand more.

8. Don’t Optimize Your Page

Failing to optimize your company page is inexcusable. This is where people go first to find out about your business, product, service, or even job opportunities. If users don’t immediately find the information they’re looking for, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll leave your page and find the information they need somewhere else.

Optimize your LinkedIn company page with a good use of target keywords, a mix of important marketing and investor information, and mobile optimization techniques. Like any other marketing touchpoint, your page should effectively showcase what your brand is, why you operate, and what sets you apart.

9. Lack of Sponsored Content

Many brands run ads on LinkedIn, but not nearly as many have tried their luck on LinkedIn Sponsored Content. That’s understandable because it takes more effort and resources to produce a relevant, valuable piece of content, than short ad copy. However, investing in sponsored content definitely has its advantages.

Sponsored content on LinkedIn is native, and you’ll get a ton of traffic from professionals and decision makers looking for educative information. If your brand can deliver on and satisfy that search for knowledge, you can capitalize on an opportunity to position your brand as an authority figure, building trust within the right circles.

Wrap Up

LinkedIn is one of the most important and versatile channels in the social media space. Use it to enhance your company image, audience engagement, and lead generation, among other B2B marketing goals. Just don’t be guilty of these costly mistakes and you’ll go far.

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No matter how great or valuable your content is, it won’t be worth anything if nobody reads it. However, with all the content being published online, getting your message in front of the right people is a critical factor in how well a piece of content performs.

Before you think about promoting that blog posts or infographic you’ve got waiting on your desktop, it’s important to know how and where to do it. When you systematically research your audience, you’ll gather the demographic and behavioral data you need to reach them—on the right platform, in the right channel, and at the right time.

If you want your content marketing campaign to be a success, you need to understand what effective content promotion and content distribution are. It’s not just about investing in great content creators and producing highly valuable content, then sharing it on social media. Laying the foundation to expand your content’s reach and exposure should always be prioritized in any successful content marketing strategy.

 

Content Promotion vs. Content Distribution

Content Promotion vs Distribution

The terms content promotion and content distribution may sometimes be used interchangeably. However, there’s a difference between the two, and it’s important for content marketers to understand it.

Content promotion is the act of putting your content on as many channels as possible so that your target audience can find you. Put simply, you’re making your content available to the public.

On the other hand, content distribution has more specific goals. Rather than simply sharing your content and waiting for anyone and everyone to engage with it, you distribute your content to specific, targeted individuals and communities where the likelihood of engagement is increased.

Content Promotion Example
(Content Promotion Example)

The difference between content promotion and content distribution lies in the objective. Content promotion is all about sharing your content with the world, while content distribution is focused on only targeting the people “high potential” accounts, so that conversion rates are maximized.

Content Distribution Example
(Content Distribution Example)

Publishing content on your blog, optimizing it for search engines, and sharing it on various social channels is content promotion. Pushing your content through email newsletters, email outreach, and SMS updates is a form of content distribution.

 

Questions to Ask in Reaching Your Audience

Questions to Ask

Now that you understand the difference between content promotion and distribution, you need to ask yourself these questions to determine where and how to reach your audience:

 

  1. What is your goal in creating this specific piece of content?

Every piece of content should have a goal. Whether it’s to build brand awareness, drive leads, or increase user engagement, you need to identify them before any activities can commence.

Do you want people to visit your online store, even if it’s just to browse, or do you want them to sign up for your newsletter so that they can be notified of future discounts and store events?

Your goals will dictate your content sharing strategies—where you’re promoting, when you’re promoting, and how you’re promoting. Whatever your goal is, eliminate distractions by keeping efforts focused solely on activities that drive the achievement of that goal.

 

  1. Who do you want to read or see your content?

Determine your target market by understanding who you’re trying to reach and why. Create a clear profile of your target audience. This is crucial to your overall content strategy. Without a clear picture of who they are, your strategy won’t be optimized for the right audience.

Are you trying to reach existing customers or potential clients? Do you want millennials to see your content, hoping that their social sharing powers will help you drive brand awareness? Or, are you trying to reach out to c-level executives or managers in charge of purchasing and business decision-making?

Either way, you should create detailed buyer personas, taking into account the demographics and psychographics of your target audience.

Buyer Persona Example
(Buyer Persona Example)

Demographic Data

Psychographic Data

 

  1. How does your target audience consume content?

Now that you have a clear profile of your target audience, you can determine how they consume content.

Are they usually on their smartphone or do they use their laptop or desktop computers more? Do they appreciate short videos rather than long articles? What keywords do they use when searching for content online?

Go where your audience is and speak to them in a language that they understand. Determine how, when, where, and why they consume online content and plan your content promotion and distribution strategies accordingly.

 

  1. When do you want your audience to see your content?

Some content is evergreen, while others are time-sensitive. For example, if you’re creating a piece for Christmas, then your content needs to reach your audience before the holidays. For specific content like this, it’s important to know that time is of the essence.

Again, you can always go back to your buyer persona data to determine how you can best reach your audience in time for the holiday rush.

 

Develop and Implement an Effective Content Distribution Plan

Planning Content Distribution

You’ve already answered the pertinent questions and have the information all laid out. You can now start to develop and implement an effective content promotion and distribution plan.

 

This is where it all begins. Audit your content and available channels. You need to determine all the platforms, channels, software, and tools you wish to include. List and analyze what channels you already have that can help you promote and distribute your new content.

If you have an existing blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, or other digital channel, determine how many followers or subscribers each channel already has, and whether your audience engages with your brand on that channel.

Are these existing channels and tools enough for you to achieve your goals? Are you equipped with resources and manpower to launch a widespread promotional campaign on multiple channels?

If not, then determine what you can afford to remove, change, or add to your existing channels. This is when you should revisit your marketing budget and reevaluate the content strategies that generate the best results.  

 

SEO can help you narrow down the audience your content will reach. Choose a long-tail keyword that your target audience uses to search for content. Tools such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer and Google AdWords can help you look for relevant keywords with significant search volume.

Focus on only one to two pillar keywords to help you narrow down your targeting and rank on search engines. This will also make it easier for search engines to determine what your content is all about.

Make sure you’re incorporating your keyword on the page itself. Proper on-page SEO will make your content more visible and easier for search engines to crawl and index.

 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube are some of the most commonly used social networks in content promotion. Get your content out there and post it on the social channels where your target audience spends time.

Join groups and communities where you can find your target audience. For instance, if you created content specifically targeting mothers, a good idea would be to look for social channels that mothers commonly use to source out information. Do they use Pinterest often or are they more engaged on Facebook?

Again, you need to go back to your buyer persona to help you determine which channels are relevant to your target audience.

 

Paid advertising is now more targeted than ever, be it through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, or any other major advertising platform. You can also consider retargeting ads so that your content has a second chance to reach users who either entered your keywords in a search engine, visited your website, or a range of other triggers.

You may be thinking that you have a piece of highly valuable content and that you shouldn’t be paying for people to read it or see it. No, you’re paying so that people will know it exists. Again, no matter how great your content is, if it’s not seen, it’s like it doesn’t exist at all.

 

Email is a great way to establish and nurture a relationship with your existing customers and followers. It’s also a super effective content distribution channel.

If you already have email subscribers, then you should repackage your content for email, and let your subscribers know that there’s new content available on your blog or video sharing channel.

Make sure to segment your email list so that you’re only sending your content to the subscribers that want it. Personalizing your email will also help build your relationship. Consider email marketing in your content distribution plan to reach your target audience.

 

Text messaging may be one of the oldest mobile marketing strategies, but it’s still the most effective. It’s instant, direct, and personal. All subscription-based mobile devices have SMS, so you can be sure that your message will reach them.

If you already have an SMS database, you need to segment it and filter out your target audience. Remember that content distribution targets specific people that fit your buyer persona. From here, you can create a short and simple SMS marketing message with a CTA that will lead your users to your content.

Keep in mind that SMS regulations can get complicated, so make sure you’re adhering to SMS marketing best practices.

 

Influencer marketing is a great way to distribute content. Since influencers have a niche following, you should do your research and find influencers with audiences that fit your buyer persona. The goal here is to persuade these influencers to become your brand ambassadors and help you reach your target audience.

With influencer marketing, not only are you gaining exposure to your target audience, but you’re also building trust because you’re associating your content with a trusted authority figure.

 

When you create content, especially if it’s an article or whitepaper, you most likely cited references and linked back to their original content.

Reach out to these sources and let them know that you mentioned their expert advice in your article. This will encourage your sources, who are most likely industry leaders as well, to read, share, and support your content marketing efforts.

 

It’s the age of big data, and every marketer knows that effective analytics is key to the success of any marketing endeavor. For every campaign, determine the KPIs and metrics relevant to your content distribution strategy, and dig deeper. The end goal is to determine which strategies are performing and which should be given the boot.

This will help you revisit and reevaluate your strategies. Keep testing. There’s no one-size-fits-all content distribution strategy, and every organization should continuously seek their very own best practices through localized data analytics.

 

Conclusion

Content promotion and content distribution go hand in hand. If you promote your content without distributing it properly, then it’s probably going to be a long, waiting game. If you distribute your content without promoting it, then you’re narrowing your reach and may miss out on potentially great customers.

When you’re distributing content, remember to repurpose it so that it’s unique for every distribution channel. Again, there’s no single best practice when it comes to content distribution; it all begins with understanding your goals and knowing your target audience.

Want to find out how to effectively take control of email as a distribution tool? Download our FREE Email Marketing Campaign Checklist today!
Checklist for Setting Up an Email Marketing Campaign

The term “Lead Magnet” has become a bit of a buzzword, especially in the last few years or so. But what exactly is a lead magnet? And why is everyone making such a big deal about it?

In a nutshell, whenever a prospect lands on your website, your end-goal is to drive profitable action. But visitors are seldom ready to make purchase decisions right away. That’s where lead magnets come in.

“Lead magnets are free content you give your website visitors in exchange for their contact information so you can build your email list.”

When you use lead magnets, you grant them access to gated content, and in return, they fill out a signup form on your site. And voila! You just got them to join your email list, which can make it a whole lot easier for you to engage with and convert them into future buyers through email marketing.

Think of lead magnets as a reward for opening a dialogue and engaging with your brand.

Who Uses Lead Magnets?

What's The Deal With Lead Magnets?

You’d do well using lead magnets if you are:

  1. Trying to Initiate Interaction

The vast majority of first-time visitors aren’t ready to buy. Rather, they’re more likely just looking around as they shop for options. Maybe they’re doing some product research. Maybe they’re just interested in an educational infographic you published.

But you can’t give up just yet and let your prospect slip away. The simple act of browsing your site is a promising indication that sooner or later, they might become a customer.

While they’re at this stage of the buying process, you can take the opportunity to offer free content. It’s a good way to connect with your leads, especially when you’re able to give them something valuable and relevant in a content format that appeals to them.

Your free offer can also help you build a sense of confidence, trust, and authority amongst your sales prospects. It’s a gesture that reflects serious efforts from your end to provide “real” value.

  1. Concerned with Quality Lead Generation

Lead magnets are particularly useful for your content marketing team if your focus is on the quality of leads and not quantity. Gated content is not available for everyone, but anyone who wants it enough will be willing to share their personal information with you. (This includes their name, email address, occupation, company, annual revenue, and anything else that helps your sales team personalize and improve their communications).

By getting these details, you can paint a better picture of these prospects, and in the future, you can also take advantage of qualitative information to craft better lead magnets that are more attractive to your target audience segment.

Gating your content might lead to a reduction in traffic and page views, but you can pretty much guarantee that the users who do end up viewing your content will be better in terms of quality and relevance to your product offering.

Use Your Lead Magnets Wisely

Use Lead Magnets Wisely

Research says that when you give your subscribers a good idea of the kind of content they’re signing up for, the opt-in rate can rise by almost 85%. But because of the large scope of information required to put together a whitepaper, or any report/guide that tries to break down a complex issue, not every company feels compelled to include these downloadables in their content lineup.

But, for people looking for facts, trends, figures, or industry insights, downloadable content is a goldmine of information. Now that you’ve created excellent, unique content that generates interest, it’s time to put your lead generation mechanisms into action. You can do this by gating your content. Gated content simply requires that your prospect offers up a few key details like their name, email address, and location, to name a few in exchange for access to your content. Once you’ve exchanged contact information with your prospect, you’re ready to start nudging that lead along your sales funnel with a nurture campaign.

Here are the stats:

You probably won’t want to gate all the content on your website because that will likely have a negative effect on traffic. It’s always a good idea to build up a healthy balance of gated and ungated content, so you’re still making the most of content marketing for SEO while saving your best content for those that really want it.

Top Lead Magnet Ideas

What's The Deal With Lead Magnets?

Since you aim to “magnetize” your sales leads to join your email list, you should make sure that your lead magnets offer something valuable that’s specific to the interests of your target audience. Here’s how:

  1. E-books

People love eBooks because they’re easy to download, save, and read, especially those in PDF format.

Your eBook could be something as simple as a PDF version of a blog post so users can download it for offline reference at a later point. Online users don’t always have the time to read long-form articles, so offering a “takeaway” version can sometimes be enough to compel prospects to sign up.

On the other hand, you can also create a comprehensive eBook that’s related to a particular blog post but offers more detailed actionable tips. You can then use it as a content upgrade so users can choose to sign up if they’re interested in the blog post and want to learn more about the topic.

If you’re in the recruitment business, for example, you could create a job search handbook that helps job seekers make the most of their time. By focusing on a topic that represents your brand and is beneficial to your leads, you are in effect enhancing the credibility of your company.

There are a few strategies you can implement with eBooks. Just make sure you’re specific about who you target and how you convey value.

  1. Whitepapers

As previously mentioned, whitepapers offer in-depth reports and expert insights that typically present a problem and provide a solution. You can use this type of content to promote your brand’s products or services, and even your position on a particular subject. That being said, you should never come off as aggressively salesy. The objective of a well-written whitepaper is to inform, educate, and persuade based on facts and evidence, not to broadcast how great your product is and why they need to buy it now.

Whitepapers can be grouped into three types:

Because readers expect such a high degree of expertise backed by proper research, whitepapers help brands build trust and position themselves as an authority figure in the industry. What sets them apart from eBooks is that they’re far more serious in tone and less flashy. Demand Gen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report also stated that whitepapers are the top content type used to make B2B buying decisions.

  1. Quizzes

For digital users with short attention spans, sometimes it’s worth considering interactive content that forces users to engage. Enter the quiz lead magnet, where you provide some form of assessment or test and interpret the result of their answers at the end.

For example, young parents might want to take a quiz to know if their parenting style might be too restrictive or too liberal for their children. Since it’s natural for parents to want to know whether they’re raising their kids right, it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll be inputting their email address to get a copy of the test results.

  1. Checklists

One good thing about this content type is that it’s short and sweet. You can easily put together a spreadsheet with headings or subheadings along with concise copy to list important items or to-do tasks that can guide people in organizing a particular activity or process.

The idea here is to simplify a relatively complex activity and to provide step-by-step instructions to readers who might be relatively new to that particular field of knowledge. If you’re planning to create a checklist, make sure your steps are actionable and keep the copy to a minimum.

  1. Research Reports

These content types are arguably the hardest to produce because they require original research, which can take a significant amount of time to collect and analyze. However, this also makes them all the more appealing to your audience because the same information simply cannot be found anywhere else.

If your team has the capacity to collect and analyze original data, developing a research report is a fantastic way to generate leads and build a name for your brand as an industry expert. A great example of a brand using research reports for content marketing is HubSpot with their State of Inbound Report.

  1. Cheat Sheets

Everybody loves cheat sheets because they save people a lot of time by cutting to the chase. They work similarly to a checklist, only cheat sheets have a more actionable nature to them.

Cheat sheets are especially useful if you’re sharing tips that help readers understand complex tasks for the first time. A good example of this type of content might be “A Handy Cheat Sheet for Beginning Ad Writers.”

When developing a cheat sheet, always remember to keep things brief and concise. It’s not about telling a story; it’s about getting straight to the value of your content.

  1. Coupons

If you’re trying to drive sales on your ecommerce store, free coupons can be highly-effective lead magnets. By offering discounts, you’re creating a sense of exclusivity, giving prospects more incentive to make purchase decisions. Further, instill a sense of urgency by making your discount offer limited. This usually creates enough “fear of loss” to drive initial purchases.

Airlines, travel agencies, fashion stores, food and beverage companies, and other retail businesses are more likely to offer free coupons because of the high price sensitivity of their markets.

  1. Free Trials

A free trial is a very logical offer for your sales leads. By signing up for a free trial to, say, a SaaS tool, your leads can see how your product works first hand and determine if it’s something that can be integrated into their operations.

These factors are helpful as your potential customers decide to continue with the purchase down the road. You should also design your free trial lead magnet with an email workflow that follows-up when leads don’t convert into buyers after the trial period expires.

  1. Webinars

Webinars are usually highly anticipated and well received because prospects want to learn from the experts. Their interactive nature and opportunity for learning make them highly sought after and are often the highest-converting lead magnet formats.

One of the most important things to keep in mind with webinars is to engage and interact with your audience. Remember, you’re doing this for them, not your brand. Relevant interactions create even more value for your audience, so the more you’re able to engage, the more likely your webinar will be a success.

To further enhance your webinar’s magnetism, offer it live as well as via a pre-recorded video so your prospects can view it at their own convenience. Not everyone operates in the same time zones and working hours.

Key Takeaway

To sum up, using lead magnets is key to your marketing strategy if you’re looking to build a relevant contact list and establish a relationship with your prospective customers. Email marketing is still delivering the highest ROI of any other channel, so the quality and size of your contact list are extremely important.

Both you and your leads stand to benefit from lead magnets: you give your leads content that they want for free, and you get the contact information you need for your lead email campaigns. But before going out and creating a lead magnet, you should always ask yourself this question:

What can I give away for free that will make my prospective customers’ lives better?

If you have an answer to that, you’ve got yourself a great idea for a lead magnet!

Download our free whitepaper on How to Attract the Right Prospects with Lead Magnets today to start growing your brand with gated content marketing!

Get your messaging right for each of the decision makers as this is vital to an effective and efficient conversion of leads. Make content part of your marketing process.

Learn more by watching the video below!

 

Does your business have a blog? If so, great! It’s good that you’re giving away helpful and educational content for free on your blog. But, when you’re creating more comprehensive and valuable material (like guides, whitepapers, case studies, and reports), it might benefit your lead generation strategy more if you put it behind a signup form.

You’re giving your audience more value, so your prospects shouldn’t have any qualms about giving you their email address, or maybe even more. Gated content is a great way to incentivize lead generation and capture valuable lead information

According to the 2016 Content Preferences Survey by Demand Gen Report, 96% of B2B buyers want more information and input from industry thought leaders.

If you’ve created tons of helpful and educational articles and established yourself as a thought leader, your audience will already see the value in your content. So it’s only fair to start asking for something in return. Through gated content, you can collect information that you can use to nurture these leads and guide them further down your sales funnel.

Buyers want content that can help them benchmark their strategies and compare previous experiences with their own. The aforementioned Demand Gen Report survey found that 51% of B2B buyers rely on content published online for before they make a purchase decision. In addition, they want helpful and educational content rather than advertisements.

The same report found that 63% of B2B buyers read at least one case study during their research, and 47% consumed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales agent. This goes to show that gated content is indeed effective for lead generation.

Why Whitepapers?

Whitepapers hold enormous potential for B2B marketers. First, a well thought out whitepaper can pave the way for blog posts, discussions, and other accompanying content pieces. Second, a well-written whitepaper also differentiates you from competitors in the eyes of your reader.

B2B buyers value whitepapers that provide data and analysis. This makes whitepapers effective in establishing your organization as an industry leader with highly-valuable insights. Demand Gen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report also stated that whitepapers are the top content type used to make B2B buying decisions:

Content-Preferences-Survey-2016

So, in creating your B2B content marketing plan, make sure that there’s a whitepaper lined up. We’ve outlined the components that make a whitepaper great, so you can properly plan and develop your next awesome piece of B2B content marketing content.

Here’s What Makes a Great Whitepaper

What Makes a Great White Paper?

Conclusion

Think of a B2B buyer who is doing research about the best solution for their identified problem. In their research, they’ll be likely to consume multiple articles from various sources. But your whitepaper provides all the information they need in just one PDF file. In coming across your whitepaper, the buyer may get the impression that your content is more valuable than an assorted collection of short blog posts.

A fact-based whitepaper can help you establish your business as a leader by cutting through the noise with content that’s backed by research and statistics. Pique your audience’s interest and generate highly qualified leads with your gated whitepaper.

 

Check out our collection of whitepapers for more marketing and sales best practices!

Marketing automation allows us to scale mundane tasks–like sending emails–so we can reach a much larger audience more efficiently. This process allows marketers to provide timely responses and distribute relevant content more effectively than ever before.

With all the modern tools available to marketers, one can’t help but ask – is marketing automation killing creativity? The idea behind these systems is that they facilitate sending templated messages on a large scale. Which means marketers run the risk of using generic communications that aren’t personalized and see individual prospects as no more than a number on a list.

If marketing automation tools are not utilized properly, they can kill the creative process and result in mediocre and ineffective marketing campaigns. Businesses that use marketing automation tools need to implement personalized processes to enhance targeting and relevance.

How to Keep Things Creative

Keep it Creative

 

 

Apart from shaving precious hours off of your daily marketing tasks, automation tools also provide you with much-needed data and key performance metrics. This information is crucial in creating and developing the best strategies that work for your specific industry or niche.

View these tools as a resource and use your data to understand your audience, but don’t forget to listen to what they’re saying. Comments and responses on your social media and blog posts indicate how well your content is performing. Heed suggestions and recommendations from your potential customers, as well as from past and current clients. Use a prospect’s unique information as a reference point in future communications.

Data from marketing automation platforms is just the tip of the iceberg. Remember that behind all of this data are real people who matter.

 

 

Automation tools such as email marketing platforms provide templates that you can use to optimize your email design. Some marketers rely heavily on the templates provided.

If you’re pressed for time and need to use these templates, then, by all means, use them. The primary function of these tools is to save time, and time is important to us all.

Having said that, you should always try to tweak templates to match your brand personality and target audience. Most of these templates can be easily edited. Utilize these templates, so you don’t have to invest too much time and effort on structure, but be sure to incorporate your own design and context into every marketing campaign you launch.

 

 

According to WP Engine, personalized content performs 42% better than generic content. This is where marketing automation tools come in handy. They provide data you can use to personalize messages and make it easy for you to segment your target audience and buyers.

Personalization is more than just placing the first name of your subscriber in the headline or body of an email. It’s about creating content that specifically addresses your unique buying persona’s issues, problems, and challenges, and providing them solutions for their particular situations.

 

 

Some marketers leave it all up to their tools to do the work for them. Be the supervisor and boss of your automation tool. Tell your machine what to do, and don’t let it dictate your next action. Think of your automation tool as an employee that you need to micromanage.

Don’t fall into the path of least resistance, but feel free to delegate menial tasks to the tool, so you can focus on coming up with compelling marketing missives. Work hard on creating campaigns that capture the attention, emotion, and interests of your target audience.

 

 

Some may argue that marketing focuses too much on numbers and metrics instead of the creative force behind a successful marketing campaign. However, by testing and analyzing, you get to quantify and qualify success.

So, test your content to determine which strategies work, and which don’t. Conduct A/B testing and watch the results closely. However, make sure that you don’t get bogged down. Use this data so you can constantly re-invent your strategies and find the one that works the best for your brand.

You want your communications to always be relevant. Don’t fall into the trap of creating messages once and never updating them. Habits change. Interests change. People change. Keep your automation tools updated, so you’re always delivering the “right” message.

Bottom Line

Marketing tools don’t think for us – so they shouldn’t hinder creativity. They’re there to provide data from which we can base our strategies. To avoid sounding like robots, most automation tools allow for the use of personalization tokens that alter the content to make it more relevant to particular individuals. Take advantage of this feature and let’s rid the world of emails that start with “Hi there” (cringe).

If I were to leave you with a single piece of advice when it comes to marketing automation, I would say to keep things “human.” Remind your prospects that they’re speaking to a real person. Remove the “noreply” and let people respond directly to you. Also, injecting a bit of personality into your message never hurts, as long as you’re doing it gracefully.

Marketing will always need creative minds because no automation tool can ever replace human ingenuity. Analyze your processes to make sure you’re using automation in ways that help your company instead of hurting it over the long run.

You publish an incredible amount of content every day. But how do you guarantee  you stand out from the crowd? Make sure that your content gets noticed. We know you put blood, sweat, and tears into creating fantastic material for your brand, and we want to help it reach the right audience at the right time through intelligent content marketing distribution channels.

Watch the video and know how to do things right this time.

 

Content is indeed King. Various lead generation techniques depend on the production of great content to build relationships with customers and nurture them towards buying your product.

Watch this video to learn more about content marketing and how you can maximize it to generate leads.

content-marketing-thumbnail-blog

 

These days, many tasks can be accomplished without human intervention. We rely on machines to perform mundane tasks, allowing us to focus on more mentally challenging activities. For instance, we’ve come a long way since the first Ford Model T production line was created. People no longer stand on a conveyor belt to do the same mind-numbing work day in and day out.

In today’s digital landscape, businesses have come to rely on automation to perform a large bulk of their marketing tasks. From social listening to data analysis, technology has been a huge enabler. But if there’s one thing we’ve yet to find a machine able to do properly, it’s crafting a compelling blog post.

Sure, there’s software that can pull content off the internet for you. It’s as close to automating blog posts as you can get, but be forewarned, as these typically create posts based on RSS feeds. Which means that you’re likely to end up with sub-par or duplicate content which can come off as spammy. Worst case scenario? You might even be charged with copyright infringement!

Suffice it to say, blogging is best done the old fashioned way. That is, with an actual human being behind the keyboard crafting their ideas into a blog post, and publishing it after (several rounds of) editing.

Blogs are also widely recognized as an excellent way to generate leads, and a huge help when it comes to achieving a robust bottom line. In fact, HubSpot claims that marketers who prioritize blogging are thirteen times more likely to have a positive return on investment.

To drive the point home further, take a look at the business gains you’ll get from blogging:

 

How Blogging Helps Generate Leads

Blog Generates Leads

 

  1. Establish Your Position as a Thought Leader

When you produce insightful content on a regular basis, you demonstrate industry expertise. Providing valuable content that few others are offering will quickly establish your position as a thought leader. Educating your readers about the industry you belong to will turn your brand into a go-to resource. When you do this on a regular basis, you’ll be acknowledged as an important voice who is worthy of your audience’s attention and patronage.

Sharing valuable information is a great way to get customers to trust your brand, and blogging is the perfect platform for you to do exactly that.

 

  1. Build Authority and Establish Trust

The key to establishing authority is not only to craft high-quality content that’s valuable to your target audience, but to do it on a consistent basis. Establishing trust takes time. There’s no shortcut to gaining a new prospect’s confidence. You need to prove that you’re the real deal and not just a fly-by-night operation.

Publishing quality content in a steady fashion shows that you’re offering a service or product that is here for the long haul and that you’re not simply looking to make a quick buck.

Even the mistakes you commit can help inspire trust in your followers. As long as you’re honest and find solutions to any oversights, it will not diminish your authority. You’re showing authenticity by letting them see your human side. You’re taking your audience on a journey and showing them how you handle problems that come along the way.

This transparent strategy was evident when Buffer published an article telling their audience that they were experiencing financial trouble and had to layoff some of their team. As long as you have a sensible solution to address any honest mistakes, you won’t lose authority or a follower’s trust. If anything, it might even enhance it.

 

  1. Boost Your SEO

Blogging increases your digital presence so that you’re more visible on Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. The more valuable pages you put out there, the more favorable your ranking will become.

Blogging increases inbound links by as much as 97%, which improves your search rankings. These factors, in turn, attract even more visitors through search and improve your blog readership.

 

  1. Engage Your Audience

Quality content attracts the right audience. It pulls them in, captures their attention, and increases your chances of turning them into loyal customers. Your blog can be a venue to answer questions through the content you publish there. But, you have to make sure you’re doing this on a consistent basis to maximize results.

 

  1. Generate Quality Leads

Once you’ve captured their attention, offering a suitable reward in return for their contact information is a great way to generate qualified leads. A blog can be used as a lead magnet where visitors are offered something of value in the hopes that they’ll provide their email, address, zip code, and other details in exchange for something of value you’re providing.

Quality leads are more likely to have a better customer lifetime value compared to cold leads. You can also use their contact info for target marketing and advertising purposes. 

 

10 Ways to Optimize Your Blog for Lead Generation

Optimize Blog for LeadGen

How do you turn your blog into a lead generating machine? Here are a few ideas you can work with:

 

  1. Offer Exclusive “Gated” Content

Leave out a little extra for loyal followers that casual readers won’t normally get. Do this alongside the free content you’re already posting on the blog.

Of course, you can’t eliminate your public posts. You’re going to need some content for search engines to crawl, so you get the SEO benefits. But, make it worthwhile to buy into your exclusive offer by giving them something that free access can’t provide.

For example, you can set up an exclusive section on your blog that provides in-depth insights on concepts already tackled in regular blog posts. You can host webinars that provide detailed feedback that’s customized for clients who provide their contact and personal information.

 

  1. Your Blog Should be Integrated into Your Main Website

You might be tempted to put your blog on a separate domain, but you’ll miss out on many opportunities to generate leads if you do so. Unfortunately, if you make your blog a separate entity, your main site won’t benefit from the search engine rankings you’ll get from inbound blog links. Your brand identity on the blog should consistently mirror what is on your main website.

A visitor’s first encounter with your brand might be via a blog post, and they might not even land on your homepage. Give them a seamless customer experience with your brand regardless whether they’re on your blog or the main website.

 

  1. Try Marketing Tools Like a Slide-in CTA

A slide-in call to action (CTA) is a nifty tool you can use for blog readers who’ve managed to scroll all the way to the bottom of your post. It’s an indication that your prospect is interested enough to consume all of your content. This is where the Slide-in CTA comes into the picture—literally.

A box on the lower right-hand corner slides in with an irresistible offer your prospect can’t refuse. Your CTA could come in the form of a white paper, in-depth details about the post, or other valuable content in exchange for the reader’s contact information. This type of CTA is generally a lot less annoying than a pop-up.

 

  1. Another Marketing Tool to Try: the Hello Bar

A Hello Bar is a bar that appears at the top portion of a website, typically spanning the page. It’s hard to miss since it is located in the area on the screen where a visitor is likely to see first when the page opens. Hello Bars often include a call to action to help drive traffic to landing pages or squeeze pages.

Readers who don’t click immediately but read the post will find that the “Hello Bar” follows them as they scroll through. It has been proven to be an effective tool to drive targeted traffic and build your email list in a relatively short period.

 

  1. Link to Other Useful Internal Resources as Often as Possible

When you write a blog post, be mindful of specific words or phrases that are related to other posts or content within your site. Throughout the post, link these words (i.e. Database Marketing) to other resources on your site.

Keywords can be linked to landing pages or other pages, and you can have these lead to related offers or deals that your prospects might find interesting. It could be a webinar sign up, a free trial, or an e-book that expounds on a certain topic.

 

  1. Maximize the Real Estate Around a Blog Post

The “leaderboard” at the top of the blog, the sidebars on either side of a post, and the space at the end of an article are prime real estate on your website. Don’t let these spots go to waste by not putting CTAs, banners, or buttons on full display.

The footer following a blog post is also a great opportunity to include a supplementary offer or another exciting piece of content. That space can also be used to link to landing pages to encourage subscription or CTAs that require email registration.

 

  1. Include Irresistible Perks

Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Consider adding free shipping or discounts when they sign up for your email newsletter. This boosts your chances of gaining new subscribers and interested customers.

In some cases, offering a physical catalog could be used as a way to collect email addresses. IKEA generates leads this way by giving prospects the option to download an online catalog or have a printed version snail-mailed to their delivery address. You just need to fill out the form that includes your email address or physical address.

This is also a chance to keep in touch with a prospect through an opt-in button that adds them to your email list for updates or other special perks.

 

  1. Add Subscription Services

Offering a subscription service gives your visitors an easy way to sign-in to receive regular blog updates through email and RSS feeds. When they do, a subscriber is notified each time you publish a blog post.

Most blogging platforms include subscription plug-ins, while other email marketing services can integrate a plug-in that allows you to build your subscription list. Other providers can offer this for free such as FeedBlitz or Google FeedBurner.  

 

  1. Make it Easy to Share Your Content on Social Media

You can do this by adding social media icons in and around your blog post. This encourages visitors to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other sites, which in turn, helps enable your audience to expand your online network.

You want to drive traffic to your site as much as possible and social sharing is an excellent (and easy) way to complement your lead generation campaign.

 

  1. Stick to an Editorial Calendar

Aside from creating quality content, the key to successful lead generation through blogging is consistency. You have to abide by a schedule for creating regular content and publishing a post based on your editorial calendar. You can either do this manually or use plug-ins that map out topics and publishing schedules on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual schedule.

To avoid burnout, make sure that you create a sustainable plan by delegating certain tasks to freelancers and different content creators on your team.

 

Business Blogging Tips

Whether you’re just about to start your first B2B blog post, or you already have a blog up and running on your website, here are some B2B blogging best practices and tips to help you build a strong online presence:

1. Know Your Goal

Before you start drafting a new article for your blog, determine what your goal is for this particular post. Is it to attract new visitors? Is it to generate business leads? Or is it to subtly inform your readers about the updates to your products and services? Having a goal to start with will give your posts more direction, making it easier to determine the steps you need to take to reach your goal.

2. Know Your Audience

Determine, who your audience is, and why you are writing for them. Keep in mind that visitors may read your blog for a variety of reasons. It may be to research a topic they barely know about, or it may be due to their need to address an immediate problem or concern. The more you know about your audience, the more personal and relevant your content will be.

3. Think Before You Post

Remember that your blog serves as an extension of your company’s values and morals. Thus, your content should reflect your company’s values. If your business values education and professionalism, make your posts more polished and formal. On the other hand, if your brand values entertainment, make your posts amusing and fun to read.

4. Be Consistent

For your blog to be a success, you must publish content on a regular basis. A little bit of downtime can cause you to lose readers you’ve worked so hard to gain. You definitely don’t want to see a sharp drop in your blog’s analytics.

5. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

Make your blog more searchable by keeping it SEO-friendly. Optimize keywords that are likely to be used by visitors when they’re searching for information related to your offerings. Integrate your blog with a writing platform like WordPress. Unless you’re a keen developer, these platforms will make your articles much more easy for search engines to find and index.

6. Make Subscribing Worthwhile

Your blog subscribers are potentially probably going to be your best source for generating highly targeted leads. Blog subscribers already love your content, so provide them with exclusive bits of content to help guide them further down your sales funnel.

 

Things to Remember

If only engaging content could be summed up in a neat algorithm, fed into a machine, and used to create blog posts at a flick of a switch, blogging would be so much easier.

Until then, the best thing to do is to come up with a strategy that enables you to churn out quality content on a regular basis. We mentioned a few digital tools you can use to free up time and resources. Make use of them so that you’re not overwhelmed by tasks that can be easily automated.

Don’t forget to use social media to drive traffic to your landing page. Iterate on these ideas, and it’ll be just a matter of time until you establish authority in your niche and fill your sales funnel on a continual basis.

In the end, remember that blogging is basically a means to an end. In this case, the end is lead generation (and a healthy bottom line). It’s also an opportunity for you to connect with customers in a way no other software or app can ever replicate. But, for it to work, it needs your active involvement.

 

Make blogging a fundamental part of your business and lead generation efforts. Follow best practices and your perseverance and persistence will pay off in the long run. Get access to our FREE whitepaper to find out why content marketing is crucial for your business!

3 Ways Content Marketing is Crucial to Your Business