Using Content to Convert Leads to Buyers

One of the biggest goals of marketing is to make people aware that your brand exists in order to get them to the point where they’re interested in learning more. That’s the main job tactics like paid search and SEO do, and when those efforts are paying off, you end up with a lot more people on your website.

That’s a big deal, no doubt, but to make sure your first success leads to the long-term marketing goals that are most important – increasing sales and revenue for your company – getting people to the website is just the beginning. Once there, you need to be able to move them along the sales process.

For that, you need your content to do its job of leading your prospects toward conversion and then pushing them across that finish line. There are a few main types of content that will help in this process.

How to Create Great Landing Pages

Landing pages are one of the few types of content that are entirely devoted to conversion. That means they’re not the right go to for every scenario, but in cases where the ad or link that brings someone to the page gives you reason to believe that they’re ready to take that next step without needing further nurturing, a well-designed landing page is a powerful tool to make that happen.

When to Use Landing Pages

For your landing page to produce the results you desire, you have to know when the time is right to deploy them. In order to deliver the right message at the right time, you have to set your marketing campaigns up with an awareness of where your prospects are in the buyer’s journey as they encounter each ad or a piece of content.

When someone’s in the early stages of doing informational research, they’re more likely to be helped with a blog post or article than a landing page pushing a sale. As an example, a new entrepreneur trying to figure out the basics of accounting who searches “how to do small business accounting” probably isn’t ready to buy a product. Delivering them to a landing page to sign up for a trial wouldn’t make sense, but the small business accounting checklist from Quickbooks that shows up in the search results is much more helpful at that stage.

Landing page example

Someone a little further along in the process and closer to the point of making a purchase may search for “find the best accounting software.” They’re still in the research stage and probably still not quite ready to sign up for a trial, but they are ready to make a deeper dive into the information to make a decision. This is a good case for a landing page, but one pushing people toward a high-value piece of content that helps them learn more, rather than one pushing them toward a trial or purchase.

Compare Accounting runs PPC ads for that search term for a guide packed with the information the searcher would need to make a more informed decision.

PPC ads

So when can you actually push people toward a landing page that promotes the conversion you really want? When they’re searching for what you’re selling. When someone’s at the point of just searching “accounting software,” they’re probably about ready to make a decision. That’s when a simple, to-the-point landing page like the one Wave uses is appropriate.

To-the-point Landing Page

As with anything else you do in marketing, think carefully about the user’s intent. Are they looking for helpful information, or are they looking for your product? If the former, is it the kind of information they’ll want a quick, free answer to, or one they’ll want to look deeper into (and therefore might not mind going through a web form to get to the information)?

Context matters a lot to how well a landing page will perform. Once you’ve got that part down, you have to build the landing page itself right.

Best Practices for Landing Pages

Many marketers have spent a lot of time testing out what works best in a landing page. While each business will benefit from doing their own testing to see what works best with their particular audience, the research that’s already been done on high-converting landing pages has produced some clear best practices.

Match your landing page to the ad or link.

This is a pretty basic, but important piece of advice. Don’t have an ad or email that advertises a webinar on how to improve productivity in the workplace take the user to a landing page focused on a free trial for your productivity software. If they click for one thing and you take them to another, not only are they less likely to care about whatever is on your landing page, but you’ve lost their trust.

Make sure everything you use to promote a landing page accurately reflects what people will see when they get there.

Have a clear focus.

Before you start working on a landing page, figure out exactly what you want your prospect to do. The design of your landing page should be optimized toward pushing your visitors toward that action.

Use the visual design of the page to draw attention where you want it to go. Make your CTA a different color so that it stands out. Put it in a section of the page where people’s eyes are drawn. Everything about the page should lead the attention back to the desired action.

When you look at this page, can you tell where the focus is?

Focus Page

Your eyes are drawn right to that yellow button urging action. No one that visits this landing page has any doubt what action designers want them to take. Make it as clear on your landing pages as it is there.

Avoid clutter.

This relates back to having a clear focus. If you have too many images, links, and text on the page, it will distract people from the main thing you want them to do. Make sure your landing page is clean and simple. Include only as much as information your prospect is likely to need to make a decision.

Make a clear case.

This is where content creation starts to really play a role. You need to convince your prospects that the desired action is worth taking, but in a concise and convincing enough way that it doesn’t become distracting from the main CTA.

It can be tempting here to load down the page with all the information you have about what makes whatever you’re promoting unique and awesome, but make sure you don’t overload it with TMI. Figure out the most persuasive selling points to your prospect and focus on those in your content.

Try to pack the most important information into a line or two that shows up at the top of the page, then you can get more into the features and benefits as people scroll down.

Consider including a video for this part as well as text. Some consumers prefer it and businesses have seen it increase conversion rates by over 80%.

Video Maker

Use social proof.

Social proof carries a lot of weight in people’s minds. A brand talking up how great your products is won’t ever be as powerful to your customer as hearing from someone who doesn’t have a clear stake in the game. For that reason, including social proof is an easy way to make the case you’re making much more persuasive.

Social proof can take many different forms. Some of the most common ones businesses find success with are:

  • Including snippets of reviews and testimonials
  • Listing the number of customers or downloads
  • Including the logos of high-profile customers
  • Quotes from influencers
  • Number of social followers or email subscribers
  • Mentions of awards won
  • List of outlets you’ve been featured in

Social proof

All of these let your customers know that someone else has already seen the evidence and been convinced of the worth of what you’re selling. That increases their confidence that the decision will pay off for them too.

Use a strong CTA.

Finally, you need to craft CTA text that compels people to click. This is tricky and you’ll want to do some testing to get a feel for what really works best, rather than just going on gut instinct. But a good CTA is the finishing touch to drive your visitors toward conversions.

How to Use Content Marketing to Keep People Coming Back

Not all of your prospects will find you at the moment when they’re ready for the pitch they’d get from a landing page. That’s ok. Many of them are still valuable leads with the potential for future conversion.

Content marketing arose in order to help businesses create and make use of opportunities to establish relationships with leads both in advance of and in between the moments when they’re ready to buy. That way you’re more likely to be the first place they turn when they are ready to make a purchase.

It can be tricky to find the right mix between using your content marketing to nurture those relationships while also working to nudge your prospects toward the conversion that you ultimately hope for. There are a few techniques you can use in your content marketing to help you achieve both.

Include CTAs in your content.

As with your landing pages, you should have a clear goal in mind for every piece of content you create. Include CTAs in the content and your overall design to encourage people to take that next step.

For people trying to find the right hiking boots, REI has a thorough guide with lots of useful information on the main things they should know. Within and alongside that content, they include frequent links to pages to shop for hiking books and links to other articles.

CTA in content

For readers ready to buy, the content provides clear encouragement to take that step. For those still wanting to do more research first, there are CTAs designed to keep them on the REI site while they do so. Either way, they continue their relationship with the company.

Link your content to other content.

Internal links are a good way to encourage your prospects to continue the relationship with your content while you already have their attention. As an added bonus, internal linking also has the benefit of being good for SEO.

Every piece of content you create provides opportunities to drive people to other pieces of content they may be interested in. Make a habit out of looking for opportunities to link to other content you’ve created in each new blog post you write.

There are a number of ways to include internal links in your content (some of which are on display in the REI example above). Any mention in the text of a blog post on a subject your past content has covered should be linked. And you can include related links that are offset visually from the main text like Freshbooks does below.

Link content to other content

Use content to promote your products (but not too much).

Your content marketing should primarily focus on being helpful to your audience to help build the relationship. You want to be careful not to make it too promotional, or you can start to lose trust. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mention your products at all.

Look for opportunities to mention ways your product can help that are natural and don’t distract from the helpful advice you’re offering. Not every blog post, video or podcast episode you make should have a product CTA, but when the topic is especially relevant to your product or services and mentioning it could be helpful to the audience, it just makes sense to do so.

You can also use design elements on your blog to include product promotion alongside your content without it being a distraction from the content itself (assuming you design it well enough).

Use content to promote your products

You don’t have to keep your content and promotion separate, you just have to be careful how you use the former for the latter in order to keep your content genuinely helpful and maintain trust.

Pay attention to what works.

Do as much analysis of your content marketing results as you do for your landing pages. In addition to tracking things like traffic and page views that tell you something about your content’s reach, pay close attention to the analytics that tell you how well your conversion efforts are paying off. Every email signup, product trial, or sale that comes from your content should be noted so that you can look for trends in what’s working and shift your efforts to do more of that.

How to Use Email Marketing to Get Leads Past the Finish Line

For the leads that get reeled in with your content marketing, your email list becomes a powerful tool for turning brand interest into purchases. Anyone signing up for your email list is letting you know they’re in your target audience. They may not be ready to buy right at that moment, but they’re committing to an ongoing relationship with your brand that suggests a likelihood to buy later on.

To make the most of your email marketing to gain new sales, here are a few of the best practices to include in your strategy.

Use drip campaigns.

Drip campaigns are a core component of marketing automation and a good way to capitalize on meaningful actions your prospects take. A drip campaign is triggered by a specific action – that could be signing up for your email list for the first time, downloading a white paper, attending a webinar, or starting a trial. Based on that action (and what it tells you about the person who took it), write a series of emails that try to keep the interest that you’ve captured and urge them toward new actions.

When someone signs up for a trial, your drip campaign can focus on how to get the most out of the trial and point recipients to helpful content about how to use the product. When someone signs up to receive blog content, your drip campaign can point them toward some of your most popular past posts to give them a good idea of what to expect. Tailor your drip emails to match the action that triggers them and use them as a way to nurture the relationship.

Email consistently.

Have you ever received an email from a brand you have no memory of? Presumably you signed up for the list at some point, but as far as you’re concerned that email might as well be spam. If the people on your email lists don’t see regular emails from you, there’s a high likelihood they’ll forget your brand and whether or not they ever signed up for your emails to begin with.

To keep their trust and maintain the relationship over time, you have to stay on top of sending out regular emails. But don’t overdo it. One study found that a high frequency of emails was the number one reason people unsubscribed. Most people say they’d like to receive marketing emails about once a week or once a month. What works best for your email list won’t be what works best for another, so try out a frequency somewhere in that general range and test out what works.

Use email customization.

The ideal of good marketing is to reach the right person at the right moment with the right message. That’s hard to do, but the possibilities of marketing personalization are growing as technology makes greater targeting and segmentation possible. Email marketing is one of the areas where businesses have the most power to customize messages based on what you already know about a subscriber and their past actions. Use that.

Email segmentation makes it possible for you to be confident that the emails you deliver to your lists are relevant to their interest. That makes them less likely to unsubscribe and more likely to open and click.

Tailoring your emails to specific personas can pay off big. One company increased their email revenue by 7,000% by sending emails that were focused on the specific product categories their subscribers had shown an interest in. Use the technology and data you have to get the most relevant content and offers in front of your subscribers in order to increase conversions.

Send deals and specials to drive them to buy.

You don’t want every email you send to be pushing for a purchase, but if your emails are consistently valuable and work to build the relationship, then your subscribers won’t be bothered to see emails that include promotions, product announcements, and specials mixed in. Many customers will appreciate any deals you send – especially if they’re email only (that’s a good way to make your list feel special).

Most of this section is focused on keeping the relationship going so that your subscribers will be ready for the sell once you send it, these emails are where you cash in on all the work you’ve done up to this point to help get your subscribers past the finish line.

A/B test your emails.

Most email marketing software makes it easy to do A/B testing on the various parts of your emails to gain useful data over time on what works best. Take advantage of this functionality. You can test out an array of things to help you build better performing emails, such as:

  • Different styles of subject line
  • Different ways to display the sender’s name
  • The best day of the week to send
  • The best time of day to send
  • The types of offers that perform best (free shipping versus 5% off, for instance)
  • The layout of the email
  • How the use of different images compare
  • How different CTAs perform

Over time, you’ll gain a lot of useful information on what works best for your subscribers and can use that information to increase conversions and revenue.

Make Sure They All Work Together

All of the tactics listed here will work better if you create a strategy that involves using them in conjunction with each other. Your emails can drive people to your landing pages and be used to promote your content marketing. Your landing pages can be used to drive people to your best pieces of content when that’s more appropriate than pushing for a sale. And your content can include CTAs that direct people to your landing pages and encourage them to sign up for your email list.

All of these tactics can make the others stronger and ensure the money and time you spend on paid advertising pays off.</p

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Kristen Hicks
kristen@effectivespend.com