by Nora Flint
While there are a lot of SEO benefits for blogging, in the end, most business owners who blog want to make money from lead generation with their audience. Needless to say, this is easier said than done.
Think about it. How many blog posts have you read in your life, and how many times have you bought something from the site? My point is that people read a lot more blogs than shop online. Generating leads by blogging can be difficult on a level just shy of alchemy.
According to a report from Track Maven, two thirds (66 percent) of blogs from businesses get fewer than 10 interactions. The report notes that 43 percent of professionally marketed blog posts receive fewer than 10 interactions and nearly a quarter (23 percent) receive none at all.
However, there is also a lot of data that shows content marketing is an effective way for businesses to generate leads. The data cited by Track Maven also found that B2B companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads per month than those that do not.
There is no philosopher’s stone for turning blog readers into customers, but there are things website owners can do to improve their chances of a successful conversion. Here are the 7 smartest lead generation tips using social media.
#1. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
The internet has changed the face of information by making it possible for any person to create content that can be seen by many. At one time, if you wanted your work to be seen by thousands, you had to be published in a printed paper or magazine. Now, anyone can be a writer.
This has led people to search for information from sources online when they would have gone to books (or how-to VHS tapes) a decade or two ago. This give business owners the opportunity to become a trusted source for potential customers.
For example, a cabinet maker can write about design options, material choices and so on using their products as examples. People who have questions about these topics will be searching online and they will be introduced to the brand by the article and may even buy a few cabinets.
This can work very well for businesses that the resources to create helpful videos for consumers. People turn to YouTube and other video sites to find how-to videos for common problems. For example, car part dealers can create a video on how to fix a problem, then link to the products needed in the video description.
I can attest to the usefulness of this from personal experience. I have a 2004 Mustang and I’ve used the videos from parts dealers to help me diagnose and fix problems I had. Even if I didn’t buy a part from the company that made the video, it’s likely that some of the people who watched it did.
When using content marketing to generate leads, remember to use a soft touch. If the content produced by a brand feels more like a full-on advertising than anything else, people won’t stay on the page and may even develop a bad perception of the brand.
As I mentioned in a recent article, a strategy for turning micro conversions (e.g. reading a blog) into macro conversions (e.g. buying a product from site) takes time. You don’t need to cram every marketing slogan and angle into every post.
#2. SHARE YOUR CONTENT ON APPROPRIATE CHANNELS
We often think of the internet as making the world a smaller place because we can easily communicate with the other side of the world. But in a way the opposite is true, the internet has made the world far larger than ever before.
There are probably two or three times as many internet profiles as there are people on the planet, and cyberspace gives us all more places we can be (this is going somewhere, trust me). Content marketers who want to generate leads need to learn where, in the ever-growing world, their target audience can be found.
For most business-to-consumer and business-to-business retailers, key audiences can be found on the major social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. This is why a good starting point for generating leads through content marketing is sharing content on the major social networks.
Of course, that just for starters. Business owners should search for the spots on the internet that are popular for an industry or target audience but are a little off the beaten path. Specialty websites, forums and subgroups within social media networks may hide the people most likely to buy a product.
Reddit is a good place to look specialty audiences. There are threads on Reddit devoted to just about everything, so business owners trying to generate leads should submit their content to the thread so it’s seen by audience that’s looking for this type of material.
Reddit is also useful for finding topics to write about. Reddit ranks items on popularity so it’s easy to see what headlines are trending and which are losing their popularity. It’s even helpful in seeing the style and tone of content that performs well with potential customers. Read this article for more ideas on high-performing keywords.
In some respects, generating leads from content marketing is about the law of averages. If the content gets shown to the right group of people enough times, you will see a steady rate of leads. But it has to be shown to the right audiences.
#3. RESPOND TO COMMENTS QUICKLY
Website owners who want more leads from content marketing can be like kids asking for seconds before finishing what’s on their plate. One of the best ways to get more engagement is to take good care of the comments you’ve already gotten.
Though it may seem otherwise, people aren’t just posting comments just so they can hear themselves speak. People want the chance to engage with content creators and like-minded fans. And often, the leads are generated from the readers in the comments.
A healthy comment section also encourages people to share the article with friends, family on social media. This, in turn, spreads the content to more people and potential customers. It also benefits the SEO when the link gets shared more frequently.
Responding to all comments quickly establishing a company as being responsive to their customers and fans. This builds trusts in a brand for people visiting the site for the first time, and generates loyalty for people who see their questions and comments are being answered.
Most comments will not be leads that will turn into sales. But if a business can encourage enough people to comment, by responding to the comments they’ve already received, then they will eventually get comments from people who need the company’s products or services.
#4. MAKE SOCIAL SHARING EASY AND FUN
Another way to make sure social sharing is fun is having a good description and image set for sharing the link on social media. When a link is shared on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, the sites automatically find the headline, featured image, and snippet for the link.
Many websites don’t have these items set up and the default values are usually unlikely to gather attention, even if shared on a person’s Facebook timeline or Twitter feed. Getting someone to share the content is only half the battle when trying to generate leads through content marketing.
The other half is having a link where the social media post it generates is engaging enough to get new viewers, and potential customers, to click. Make sure a featured image is set and that it’s properly sized so that it’s not a thumbnail when used for a post.
For the written parts, make sure that the meta description title is set as the headline for the article. I’ve seen links where the default title is the category is the name of the website or the taxonomy of categories before the link. The same thing can happen with the description.
These sort of errors are likely due to issues with the content management system or website. The best way to be sure that shared content looks impressive to consumers is to set the link’s image, headline and description manually.
#5. KNOW WHEN TO SCHEDULE CONTENT
When you schedule your content can be just as important as what you write or how your write it. Websites that are able to create content that is valuable and timely for their audience will see better engagement than their peers.
It may seem like a little thing, but the data suggest that publishing content at the right time can have a huge effect on engagement. The sharing app AddThis noticed that they saw the highest engagement among their customers in the middle of the week.
AddThis said that, generally speaking, websites can see up to a 57 percent increase in engagement on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They recommend that content creators with limited resources should focus on publishing on these days since it will provide the biggest bang for the buck.
The ideal time of day to post varies from industry to industry. People who follow the financial industry know the times of days to expect reports to be released and when the most important numbers come out.
One of the keys to engagement is knowing the best times for your industry. Just being a few hours or day behind can make a post irrelevant for sharing, since the information has already been out there.
Time of day also affects what kind of content should be published. The AddThis report cited earlier found that people were more likely to read long-form content during work hours. Website viewers were 20 percent more likely to scroll through content on weekdays from 9 am – 5 pm.
Use metrics and traffic analysis tools to discover the times your audience is most likely to engage with content. Though it may seem otherwise, the times when people engage with content are not random.
#6. POST CONTENT REGULARLY
Business owners who want to use a blog to promote their services and engage fans need to understand that it is a long-term endeavor. In order to see the SEO and conversion rate optimization benefits from blogging, it takes consistent and regular posting.
For SEO, more posts means more links to index and more ways to keywords that can be targeted. It’s not a direct correlation. More pages does not mean higher rank. But having more content gives a site more chances to rank and more overall links, which does boost SEO.
The Track Maven study cited earlier found that engagement was linked to the output of a blog.
Improving SEO is related to increased engagement because it means more of the content’s target audience will find the content in search. And more viewers mean more people who will want comment.
It’s important to remember that only a tiny fraction of the people who view content engage with it by sharing or commenting (and liking when applicable). Usually, less than 10 percent of the viewers of any piece of content will engage by sharing, commenting or liking.
This means that increases in the number of people who visit a website will eventually create more of the engagement you want to see. And the engagement often snowballs. People start commenting when they see other people commenting.
Regularly posting content also encourages engagement from the people who read the content. People want to comment on content they find when the community and the authors are active. If there are weeks between each post, readers don’t know if anyone will ever see their comment.
Another benefit of regularly posting content is that it more clearly defines the scope and tone of a website or blog. This is important because it will encourage people interested in a subject matter to treat the site as a place to discuss the things they care about.
#7. INSERT VALUE PROPOSITION INTO CONTENT
As was mentioned earlier, successful content marketing requires a subtle touch. People don’t want to have advertising slogans shouted at them in blog posts or social media, but they do expect some useful product information to be a part of the content they get from a company.
Mastering this balancing act is essential for generating leads through content marketing. A roofing company that has a post about how to prevent leaks would be remiss if they didn’t mention things such as their warranty or why their product is less likely to leak.
Value propositions are necessary. You don’t want people to reach the end of the blog post and wonder if they will experience an issue if they were to use the product or service from the company that wrote the blog.
It’s also a good idea to insert useful links and product ads on the blog page, such as on the sidebar. If there’s a main graphic on the homepage that is used to bring people to a main attraction for the site, there should be a smaller version in the sidebar.
People who come to a site from a link to a blog post may not go to the homepage. So it’s important to make it easy for people who come for the blog to see the other things the site has to offer. The lead generating content and content for the blog can not be separate. Otherwise, there will be a lot of missed opportunities.
Turning blog readers into paying customers may seem a bit like turning lead into gold, but this is alchemy that business owners can do on their own. Any business that is willing to invest in creating content can turn that investment into useful business leads.
Granted, Hubspot is somewhat biased source, but their data shows that inbound marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to see positive return on investment than those who do not.
Statistically speaking, generating leads amongst all the people that come to a blog post or other piece of content is rare. But that doesn’t matter in the age of the internet. Even if the response rate for leads is only 0.5 percent, it’s not too hard to get content seen by 1,000 people, thus generating 5 leads.
Of course, business owners should hope for a higher conversion rate than that. One way to do this is to use analytics to find what’s work best for your audience. TruConversion has all-in-one software to help businesses fine tune their website for maximum effectiveness. Take a look and see how it can help you generate more leads from your content marketing.
Does your company have a strategy for lead generation? Do you tips using social media sound smart to you?