Reach Buyers With Powerful Content
“Content marketing” isn’t a trend. The term is new, but the practice is old.
The classic example is John Deere’s
Furrow Magazine, established in 1895 and still published today, which helped farmers
educate themselves about agricultural problems and solutions. It established John Deere as a
trustworthy, helpful resource. It also indirectly sold (and still sells) plenty of equipment. The basic
premise of using content to win and keep customers has not changed.
What does your potential customer want?
Content marketing is all about offering people something that they value, that they connect with
your brand. In the best case, it also encourages their engagement and interaction with you. What
that “something” is depends on your audience, your company, and your product. You can use
traditional products such as magazines, white papers, eBooks, or webinars; you can use newer
tactics such as interactive games; you can hold events or use billboards or write messages in the
sky – whatever works for your audience. In whichever channels they prefer.
Quality content makes your website more powerful.
Whether people find you by searching specifically for your brand or searching more generally for
a solution to a problem, the content on your website determines much of how they perceive your
company and your product or service. Content that educates, informs, or entertains helps visitors
to get to know you and encourages them to begin a relationship with your company. It can also
nurture existing customer relationships.
Experiment with different structures for your web content: Longer or shorter copy; more or fewer
images; more or less white space. Also try different formats for complementary media: podcasts,
video, white papers, eBooks, infographics, and so on. Use internal links to help people find more of
what they’re looking for on your site. (This is helpful for SEO as well.)
Add testimonials to your web
pages when and where you can.
They offer powerful evidence in
support of your offers, and third-
party validation for your company.
“...in a real lead
every page has a
— JIM STENGEL,
Former Global Marketing Officer, Procter & Gamble
SEO: Get Found And Get Known
When a potential buyer looking for your product or
service does a search, you hope your most relevant
web page will show up on the search engine results
page (SERP). It’s very good to be on the first page
(only 5% of searchers go on to the second page)
and it would be especially nice to be the first listing
on the first page (which will draw about 33% of the
total clicks on the page, says Forbes).
To get those kinds of results, you have to:
Have great content that fulfills the searcher’s intent and expectations.
Optimize your most important web pages for search. Search engine
optimization (SEO) is complicated, and it’s good to have a professional
on staff or a consultant you trust to help in certain areas, such as link
profiles and schema. That said, there’s a lot that the average marketer
can do to enhance SEO.
The “fine art of being found” has many factors.
The number-one most important thing is to have content that meets the
reader’s expectations. In addition, well-chosen keywords used in natural
language patterns, bolstered by synonyms and rich semantic context, are
important. So are crisp headings that help guide the reader through the text,
and images with alt-text tags. Your metadata (page title, description, and so
on) needs to be the right length and say the right things. All these factors
(and many more), used well, can help you compete in the SERP rankings.
For in-depth guidance on SEO essentials, see Act-On’s eBook:
SEO 101: The Basics [and Beyond]
SEO analysis tool can
be used for web pages
and landing pages.
Draw Buyers to Landing Pages
According to Marketing Sherpa of clicks for B2B companies are directed to
a home page rather than a specific landing page.
That’s the result of marketers
setting their links up this way, and it’s a huge missed opportunity. The people who click in
are probably not interested in your company per se; they’re much more likely to be looking
for ways to accomplish a goal or solve a problem. Help them discover how they can get what
they want (with your products or services).
Think of your home page as a store entrance. It’s a visual menu of content, which highlights
key areas that might interest people most. It’s a starting point. In the context of search, online
ads, or email, the last thing you want to do when someone raises their hand to indicate a
specific interest is to direct them to the front door. You want to take them inside, as quickly as
possible, and show them the exact shelf and product they need. Use landing pages to direct
them to the exact piece of content that will solve their problem, meet their need, or answer
But – how can you make sure that the landing pages to which you’re directing traffic are
optimized for converting leads? Here’s the answer: You test your landing pages.
A/B testing is the preferred method for testing which elements perform the best for landing
pages (and emails, too). You can test layout, headlines, calls to action, buttons, forms, and
more. Isolate each variable and test one thing at a time. A/B testing will incrementally improve
your results so that you get the maximum conversion rate on your page.
To see a testing scenario, turn to page 12:
Make contacting your company
easy and obvious. Include a
phone number; it indicates
accessibility and fosters trust.
Appendix: Testing Landing Page Conversion
Direct Attention With Calls To Action is the offer made via a button, image, or phrase that lets the reader
take that critical next step with you – whatever that step may be. The CTA’s purpose often is to
offer something of value (e.g., a white paper, video, survey, webinar, etc.) in trade for the reader
providing their contact information. That makes CTAs a critical component of lead generation
You can use CTAs in email, social media, ads, and on your website.
In order to create the perfect call to action, you need
to know exactly what you want your audience to
do. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell like “buy now,”
but it does have to clearly state exactly what your
audience should do next.
CTAs most often take the form of buttons, banners,
images, and text. Test various placements and
colors; testing is the only way to know for sure what
your audience will respond to.
Use just one focused CTA per page. You can put it
in different forms (text, buttons, images, etc.) and in
different locations (top of page, bottom of page), but
make sure they are consistent with each other and
make the same offer.
Capture People’s Data With Forms
Your online forms are the one place on your website where you can capture contact data that a prospect willingly provides. You can get
permission to interact with a potential customer, and gain information and insight into their needs. Form-related actions you can do:
Collect prospect data during event registration or survey sign-up.
Add a form to a landing page and drive traffic there using links
in emails, social media, and ads.
Set customer-facing automated trigger responses to form fills,
such as confirmations, thank-yous, and download links; set
internal responses such as alerts to the sales team.
Proper form creation can have a huge impact on
conversion rates. Here are a few best practices:
Make the value proposition clear. Let the reader know what’s
in it for them, and use a heading and sub-heading to help
describe the benefits of filling it out.
Make sure that your form fields are clear about what information
goes in them. If someone is confused at any point, they likely
won’t complete the form, or may enter bogus information.
Put your form above the fold so it can be seen and filled out
Shorter forms are usually better, but it’s good to experiment
with form lengths. The more fields, the fewer people who will
sign up – but they may be better qualified.
As with every other aspect of lead generation:
test, test, test.
Which form would you rather fill out?
According to Marketing Sherpa’s most recent Lead Generation Benchmark
Report (2012), generating high-quality leads remains the top challenge for 71% of organizations,followed by lead volume (44%) and generating public relations “buzz” (36%). Those numbers have remained steady.
“We found that firms that have implemented marketing automation
contribute 44% of the sales pipeline via marketing programs versus the 34%
contribution from firms that had not implemented marketing automation.”
— LORI WIZDO, Forrester Research,in The Forrester Wave™: Lead-To-Revenue Management Platform Vendors, Q1 2014
Until this decade, lead generation was a
two-part function. B2B marketers used
advertising, direct mail, and other means to
create awareness of the brand. Salespeople,
typically inside people working with telephone
and one-to-one emails, would prospect for
leads. Websites were often static.
As buyers increasingly turned to
the web, rather than vendors, to
educate themselves, the company
website has become the company’s
way to catch attention and generate
interest — and generate leads.
Act-On can help.
The lead generation
process now begins earlier,
with a prospect’s initial
interest, and the sales funnel
has become the buyer‘s
Your website is
the key to facilitating that
journey — from the first
step to the closed deal.
Testing Landing Page Conversion
Marketers sometimes go with a “gut feeling” that something will perform
better, but running a test can surprise you. At a lead generation summit in
2013, Act-On partnered with Marketing Sherpa to test a landing page
conversion. This was a very interactive test, with conference attendees
voting on some of the elements being tested in real time.
Testing starts with a control.
The control for our test – seen at left –
featured a single white paper. The reader needed to fill out four data fields
to get the paper. We tested two other treatments: One made multiple
offers; the other increased the number of fields in the form by one. These
treatments stemmed from two hypotheses:
By offering prospects a choice between three incentive
options, we will add to the perceived value of the offer and increase the
Lead Gen rate.
By increasing the perceived value with the additional
incentive options, we can collect more information without negatively
impacting the overall Lead Gen rate.
The question we wanted to answer was:
Which incentive approach is more effective for generating leads?
Landing Page Treatment 1
We asked the audience to predict which treatment would win. As you can see on this chart,
the audience overwhelmingly believed Treatment 1 would be the winner.
What do you think?
For this specific test, with our target audience, we had three key learning:
A choice of incentive does not increase perceived value
The perceived value does not outweigh the perceived cost
The additional Job Title field reduced the lead gen rate by 11% Control
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Act-On Software delivers cloud-based integrated marketing automation software. Marketers can manage all their online marketing efforts from a single
dashboard that can be seamlessly integrated with CRM, giving sales access into various marketing functions. Act-On’s fresh approach to marketing automation
gives its users full functionality without the complexity other systems impose, and makes campaign creation and program execution easier and faster.
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