“Nuts and bolts. Nuts and bolts. We got screwed!!!”
So goes a derisive chant fans make to basketball referees after a perceived bad call.
Today, let’s talk about some other nuts and bolts, the website elements you need in place to not only maximize the reach and visibility of your content marketing, but to also make it a huge driver in your sales process. In other words, you need these elements, at least some of them, to turn content into dollars. Indelicately put, if you don’t have most of these nuts and bolts, you’ll be the one who’s screwed.
Before we break down the individual elements, it’s important to note this post is the third part of a series on the content marketing process, and we also wrote a cool overview article, “Content Marketing: The Best Way to Reach Today’s HR Buyer” (no registration required), detailing why content marketing is the best way to engage and and influence HR so you earn the right to discuss how you may do business together. There is some information in it that we’re not including in this blog post series, so we suggest you check it out.
We started the series with an overview of the process, before getting into the nitty-gritty with “Define, Plan, Budget.” That first step in the process is to define your brand, develop a content marketing plan and come up with a realistic content marketing budget. If you haven’t done those things, go check out that post, then come back here. For the rest of you, let’s begin the big reveal of website elements:
Buyer persona research: The concept of buyer personas is vital to understand for inbound marketing, a category that includes content marketing. The idea is pretty simple: All those wonderful people who potentially would be interested in giving you money for your product(s) can be put into a few different categories based on different pain points and other factors. You flesh each category into a persona — you can even give the personas names — then target your marketing and sales to the specific personas. For content marketing, this means you should write content for specific personas, both for your lead generation and lead nurturing processes (more on these later). One company reported a targeted persona strategy lifted their sales leads 124 percent. To determine your buyer personas, an excellent tool is Hubspot’s “Persona Development Worksheet.”
Keyword list: You need people to find your website and your content, right? To maximize your visibility, research keywords and habitually put them into your content and on your website. As noted in Copyblogger’s keyword research guide, choosing “the right words” is critical. A quote: “Choose the right words, and you’ll receive traffic, subscribers, revenue, influence… everything you need to be a success. Choose the wrong words, and you’ll be just another nobody that doesn’t get it, forever clamoring for attention but forever ignored.” A caveat: It’s important that when you choose keywords you choose ones that you can rank highly for; there’s no value in being on page 200 of search results.
Search-optimized copywriting: While it’s important to use keywords, again referencing Copyblogger, “much of what determines the ranking position of any page is due to what happens off the page, in the form of links from other sites … Put simply: If your content isn’t good enough to attract good, natural links, it doesn’t matter how 'optimized' that content is.” So, you need writers who know how to use keywords and to write compelling content that not only attracts your buyer personas, but also generates links from other content creators.
Call-to-action buttons: When people visit your site, you want them to take action. You get them to do this with call-to-action buttons. For content marketing, a common CTA is a download. Minor changes in CTA buttons can dramatically affect conversion rates, so let’s talk best practices. According to Onboardly, there are four elements to consider with CTA buttons: color, shape, placement and message. Color: connect your aesthetics to your core brand (except never use red, which often stops people from clicking). Shape: rounded corners work best. Placement: make sure your CTA is visible and distinct. Message: tell people what they get (“get your free whitepaper”), so they feel in control, instead of ordering them around (“download”), in which case they might be more resistant.
Landing pages/lead collection: For content marketing, landing pages are used to capture leads. A landing page, sometimes referred to as a registration page, consists of a registration form and a short description of what people get in exchange for filling it out. In content marketing, people receive major content pieces, such as white papers, e-books, research reports and webinars. Typically, people are asked for their name and email address; you can choose to request more information, but doing so can reduce registrants. See Unbounce for a great list of landing page tips, and for a larger guide, see Hubspot’s e-book “Optimizing Landing Pages for Lead Generation and Conversion."
Thank-you pages: As Hubspot noted, after a person fills out a registration form and becomes an instant new lead, you should always send them to a thank-you’ page, which delivers the content you promised on the landing page. The four most important components of a thank-you page, according to Hubspot, are access to your offer, social media sharing links, secondary calls-to-action and auto-response emails. Access to your offer: Reassure people they are on the right page by including the title of the offer in the title of your thank-you page, then provide a means to download or view your content. Social media sharing links: People are more likely to share your content after having consumed it, but make sure your share buttons link to your landing page, not your thank-you page, or you will lose out on lead generation. Secondary calls-to-action: Offer further offers, such as subscribing to your blog, other content they might be interested in, or perhaps a free trial. People who take this secondary step show more engagement with your brand, and thus are better leads than those who don’t. Auto-response emails: Set up automatic emails to provide more offers, which is another way of increasing engagement and evaluating/nurturing leads.
CRM integration and lead tracking: Once someone has filled out a registration form and become a lead, it’s important to track their activities on your site. Software options such as Hubspot and Marketo do this. By tracking the pages they visit, you get a good idea of leads’ level of interest in your brand and products, which is a precursor for effective lead nurturing, which, not coincidentally, is the next element on our list.
Nurturing campaigns: A few stats: MarketingSherpa: 65 percent of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing. Forrester Research: Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales leads at 33 percent lower cost. The Annuitas Group: Nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. Clearly, lead nurturing is important. The challenge of lead nurturing is it requires having enough supporting (aka no registration required) content (articles, case studies, blog posts, infographics, etc.) to send to leads. Essentially, your lead nurturing in content marketing should consist of distributing content that establishes and supports your value proposition, and also addresses potential sticking points. That way, leads become more receptive to sales discussions. For advanced lead nurturing, vary the content depending on the persona.
And those are the website elements that will help you maximize your success with content marketing. You can choose to create and maintain them on your own, but there are also a number of vendors, such as Hubspot and Salesforce, that can help you with different aspects. This is important stuff. Doing it well and doing it poorly can be the difference between success and failure. Don’t let a lack of website elements, or poorly executed ones, be the undoing of your content marketing.
Next up in our discussion on the content marketing process will be content, split into two categories, premium (registration required) and supporting (no registration required). Content is obviously the foundation of the process, so if you liked this post, you’ll probably want to check it out.
Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars HR team member Eric Anderson.