How to Create Written Content that Generates Leads

social media how to Do you need more leads?

Are you looking for creative ways to use your blog content to improve your conversion process?

In this article, you’ll discover how to identify and patch the weaker part of your funnel by writing the right type of content.

How Content Drives Leads

Written content works in many ways.

Some writing pulls your audience toward you, building awareness.

Other content builds trust and compels your audience to take action. In other words, content can be useful at strengthening different parts of the conversion funnel.

The “funnel” is just a metaphor for the path that visitors take on their way to becoming leads, starting with awareness and ending with action. If you’re not getting leads, it’s because there’s a weakness in your funnel.

istock-funnel-image

Create the content you need to strengthen your conversion funnel. Image source: iStockphoto

What follows are many tips to help you generate more leads with your written content.

#1: Raise Awareness at the Top of the Funnel

At the top of the funnel, your goals should be to:

  • Get attention.
  • Establish relevance to the topic.
  • Support your branding.

If your conversion rate from visitors into leads is good (above 2%), but your traffic is low, the top of your funnel is weak. Here are some tactics and topics that will help increase your overall traffic.

Include Search-friendly Blog Content

Traffic from search engines is an excellent way to fill the funnel at the top. One of the fastest ways to fill the funnel with referral traffic from search engines is to align your web content with key phrases. Before you write your next blog post, research key words that relate to your product or service and write your blog posts around these keywords.

Write Guest Blog Posts

Guest blogging on external sites offers three benefits to the top of the funnel.

First, as you post on blogs other than your own, your social following grows. Next, the posts improve your link popularity and make your site more likely to rank higher in search results. Finally, every guest post you write strengthens your network of allies.

andy-crestodina-bio

Links in a guest post and bio can drive traffic back to your own site.

Share Your Content

Of course, you should share everything you publish across all of your networks. Better yet, learn to adapt your web content to perform well in other places. After you publish a blog post, create a supporting video and post it on YouTube. Then, turn it into a presentation and put it on SlideShare.

Publish List Posts

It’s a fact that some types of posts get more clicks than others. Numbered lists tend to get more clicks because they set an expectation with potential visitors: they’re organized, scannable and provide multiple items that are useful or interesting.

list-post-example

List posts like this one encourage people to click through and read.

#2: Encourage Consideration in the Middle of the Funnel

In the middle of the funnel, your goals should be to:

If your site has few shares and no comments, if traffic from campaigns is low and your email list isn’t growing or if very few visitors return to the site and the average visitor sees fewer than two pages, the middle of your funnel is weak. Try these tactics and topics and create a stronger middle funnel and keep your brand top of mind with visitors.

Write Detailed, Authoritative Posts and Pages 

How-to posts help you demonstrate your expertise and position your brand as helpful. Visitors love them. Truly useful How-to’s are the posts that compel visitors to subscribe and follow, and these actions lead to repeat visitors.

Link Related Topics With Relevant Content

If your website has detailed pages about topics A and C, but not B, your visitors will leave to find that information elsewhere. Ask yourself if you’ve missed an important piece of content. Write those pages and link them to the related pages on your site.

internal-link-example

MOZ linked the text “T-shaped approach” to a related article that further informs readers and leads them deeper into the site.

Collaborate With Relevant Influencers

Build credibility by partnering with people whom your audience trusts. Contribute to relevant blogs and invite relevant bloggers to contribute to your site. This collaboration is a form of endorsement that strengthens the perception of your brand.

Use a Personal Tone and Be Approachable

Building a community means being a person. Let your visitors hear the voice of the brand in the writing and see faces in the team section. They should see interaction in the comments. Faceless companies just aren’t as memorable and prospects won’t stick around if your brand feels impersonal.

#3: Drive Action at the Bottom of the Funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, your goals should be to:

  • Turn “suspects” into prospects.
  • Build trust.
  • Inspire visitors.
  • Start a conversation.

If the conversion rate of your website is below 1%, you’ve got a problem at the bottom of your funnel. If your site doesn’t have a complicated lead generation process or a confusing ecommerce checkout, the problem is probably your content. These tactics and topics will help you support the bottom of your funnel and move your visitors to action.

Tell Stories That Show Your Values

If lists are for the top of your funnel, stories are for the bottom. Take your time and write posts that tell people the complete story of why you do what you do. The story should show you care and why the work you do makes a difference, whatever it is!

Show Evidence of the Value of Your Services

Numbers can be powerful motivators. Use data to prove your results and give your visitors a reason to trust your abilities.

Also, remember that anything you write is marketing, but anything someone else says is social proof. Use the voice of your customers throughout your site as testimonials.

Publish Content That Answers the Most Common Sales Question

For every prospect who contacts you and asks a question, there may be 100 others who didn’t bother to reach out and ask. Listen for those common questions and publish the answers in a research article or in an FAQ section on your site.

faq-content-example

Content that addresses concerns held by multiple prospects can bring them that much closer to the conversion point.

Guide Visitors From the Blog Into the Marketing Pages

A great marketing blog gently steers its visitors toward the marketing pages. The posts you publish should be relevant to your products or services and link to marketing pages within the text. Use these links to guide visitors deeper into your funnel toward conversion.

Include Calls to Action Relevant to the Posts

Are you suggesting that people connect with you? Is there a call to action at the bottom of your web pages and blog posts that encourages visitors to contact you? Or is each page a mini–dead end? Nudge your visitors toward your contact page with quick calls to action placed strategically throughout your site.

call-to-action-example

To increase conversions, place calls to action throughout your website.

Write Articles for Specific Prospects

Do you have a few potential clients who just aren’t ready to sign your proposal? Do they have specific concerns? Are several of them worried about the same thing? Write a post, case study or white paper that addresses that concern. Even if it doesn’t close the deal with current prospects, the post may warm up your next lead.

Conclusion

Know, Like and Trust.

You’ve heard this before. People work with those they know, like and trust. These aren’t just vague concepts. They’re specific parts of your conversion funnel. If there’s a problem with your funnel, you can fix it with specific tactics and specific topics.

Use the tactics outlined in this article to make the weak parts of your funnel more efficient and effective.

What do you think? Do you know of other ways to fix a funnel? Do you have any questions? Let us know with a comment below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Andy Crestodina

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. Other posts by »




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  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    Andy, this is some remarkable information on creating written content that generates leads. In my opinion, content must build trust and invite action. I’m just set on using content that works as marketing and marketing is successful if it moves your product or service at a profit.

    Putting something in the world for awareness is useless if it doesn’t lead to taking action, down the road.

  • Andy Crestodina

    Yes, it’s all about the intent of the content. There are far too many bloggers writing without a specific outcome in mind. Something like 2 millions posts are published per day. But how many really have a specific purpose?

    Thanks for the comment, Patrick. Glad if this was useful to you!

  • Andy Crestodina

    Yes, it’s all about the intent of the content. There are far too many bloggers writing without a specific outcome in mind. Something like 2 millions posts are published per day. But how many really have a specific purpose?

    Thanks for the comment, Patrick. Glad if this was useful to you!

  • http://www.mathewporter.co.uk/ Mathew Porter

    This is true, many blogs seem to generally be rammed full of useless information or guest posts that have no contribution to the site apart from generating the blog revenue.

  • http://www.mathewporter.co.uk/ Mathew Porter

    This is true, many blogs seem to generally be rammed full of useless information or guest posts that have no contribution to the site apart from generating the blog revenue.

  • http://workado.com/ Justin McGill

    Really like the flow outline of Awareness, Consideration, Action. A great rule of thumb as a general outline when you’re creating content that needs to generate leads.

  • http://workado.com/ Justin McGill

    Really like the flow outline of Awareness, Consideration, Action. A great rule of thumb as a general outline when you’re creating content that needs to generate leads.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Really solid advice, Andy. I like how you addressed customers at different levels and offered appropriate actions to drive them to a sale.

    I think the most valuable piece of advice here in terms of content is adapting it to perform well in other places. While it can be time-consuming, ensuring that the copy and images are appropriate and resonate with specific audiences is key in driving traffic.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Really solid advice, Andy. I like how you addressed customers at different levels and offered appropriate actions to drive them to a sale.

    I think the most valuable piece of advice here in terms of content is adapting it to perform well in other places. While it can be time-consuming, ensuring that the copy and images are appropriate and resonate with specific audiences is key in driving traffic.

  • Sarah Bauer

    This is a great piece that I envision could help provide a groundwork for small business content marketers who need some direction (any point in strategy development). It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly limitless landscape of creation and publication; having prescribed approaches definitely eases the chaos of it all!

    Cheers
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • Sarah Bauer

    This is a great piece that I envision could help provide a groundwork for small business content marketers who need some direction (any point in strategy development). It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly limitless landscape of creation and publication; having prescribed approaches definitely eases the chaos of it all!

    Cheers
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    Excellent article! I like this concept of the funnel. It’s a good way to look at it.

    I definitely think most people fail at conversions with number 3 — failing to drive action. I’ve been lured in by interesting figures only to get confused in their Call to Action in the end.

    If it’s any help, people should read a book called “Cashvertising” by Drew Eric Whitman. He really knows how to teach people to nail in their Call to Action in very few words. The book is a real eye-opener for many people, so I strongly suggest it.

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    Excellent article! I like this concept of the funnel. It’s a good way to look at it.

    I definitely think most people fail at conversions with number 3 — failing to drive action. I’ve been lured in by interesting figures only to get confused in their Call to Action in the end.

    If it’s any help, people should read a book called “Cashvertising” by Drew Eric Whitman. He really knows how to teach people to nail in their Call to Action in very few words. The book is a real eye-opener for many people, so I strongly suggest it.

  • http://www.annbevans.com/ Ann Bevans

    This post is a keeper! Great framework for thinking strategically about what to write to get specific results.

  • http://www.annbevans.com/ Ann Bevans

    This post is a keeper! Great framework for thinking strategically about what to write to get specific results.

  • Pete

    Thanks for the informative article Andy. Content marketing works great when you understand the issues and problems that your audience is dealing with and you can create content that educate, update, and inform your audience on these issues.

    Now, how would you come up with the content strategy for an audience that you have no idea what issues or problems that your audience is dealing with?I want to market my service to a particular industry and want to attract their attention through content marketing, but I don’t have any ideas what problems or issues they are facing.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    I love your conclusion, “Know, Like, and Trust”: you can only turn those
    prospects into leads if you were able to provide what they need and
    build a strong connection with them. Great approach Andy!

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    I love your conclusion, “Know, Like, and Trust”: you can only turn those
    prospects into leads if you were able to provide what they need and
    build a strong connection with them. Great approach Andy!

  • Floyd Jerkins

    Andy, good info, concise and to the point. The creative content is not easy to get started let alone keep up with. It takes time, planning and energy. You laid out a step by step process to get started.

  • Floyd Jerkins

    Andy, good info, concise and to the point. The creative content is not easy to get started let alone keep up with. It takes time, planning and energy. You laid out a step by step process to get started.

  • Andy Crestodina

    Exactly right! People generally know this, but they often don’t know where they’re having trouble. Or maybe they don’t realize the content can be created for a specific purpose: to be known, be liked or be trusted.

    Your podcast overlaps several of these categories. The interview format lends itself to sharing, which increases awareness, while conversational tone builds trust…

    Great to see you here, John Lee. I appreciate the input!

  • Kim

    That is so true. It’s so easy to get caught up in the endless amount of things you can do with content (and marketing in general) and lose sight of your goals. Thanks for writing an awesome post that helps people identify where the weaknesses are in their funnel and how to resolve them.
    Bookmarked!

  • Kim

    That is so true. It’s so easy to get caught up in the endless amount of things you can do with content (and marketing in general) and lose sight of your goals. Thanks for writing an awesome post that helps people identify where the weaknesses are in their funnel and how to resolve them.
    Bookmarked!

  • Amanda Shaw

    Thanks for breaking content creation down into steps that correspond with the sales funnel—not only interesting but also extremely useful! This is a post I’ve bookmarked.

  • http://www.wingreenmarketing.com/ Don Montgomery

    Andy, thanks so much for this very informative article. The post itself is a perfect example of what it is teaching. And your finish — “know, like, and trust” — could set the stage for another 500 words in its own right. The content publisher must be known, liked, and trusted, and its content must be informative, educational, and useful while avoiding the feel of being a sales pitch or promotion.

    Don Montgomery
    @WinGreen_Mktng

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  • http://www.digitalinsights.in/ Digital Insights

    Great article Andy, like how you have categorized content in different levels know, like and trust.

  • Pingback: How To Generate Website Traffic By Writing Content







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