February 04, 2009
How To

How to Create High-Conversion Content for Lead Generation: 5 Key Questions Answered

SUMMARY: Creating high-conversion content for lead generation drew almost 200 marketers to a MarketingSherpa webinar last week. Time constraints prevented presenters from getting to every question asked, including five on creating specific types of content.

We answer those questions on content here. Includes advice for strategies on creation and distribution, pertaining to:
o Targeting white papers to stages of the buying cycle
o Role of ebooks
o Sharing links to news articles and other third-party content
Nearly 200 marketers joined us last week for a B2B training webinar that outlined strategies for creating high-conversion content for generating leads.

Stefan Tornquist, Research Director, MarketingSherpa; Sean Donahue, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa; and Brian Carroll, CEO, InTouch, laid out strategies that included:
o Analyzing your existing content mix
o Targeting content to different members of the buying committee
o Combining traditional tactics, such as white papers, with emerging content channels, such as social media

Presenters couldn’t address every question raised during the 90-minute session. We answer five key questions on creating and deploying specific types of content here.

Q&A on Focused Content

Question #1. Is it more important to focus on the type of content (e.g. research, how-to) or on making sure you have content for each stage of the buying cycle?

It’s more important to have content that focuses on each stage of the buying cycle.

Less than 4 out of 10 (38%) B2B marketers say they tailor their content to specific stages of the buying cycle, according to MarketingSherpa’s 2008-2009 Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide.

That means that you can gain a big advantage over 62% of your competitors when you create high-value content that addresses the different needs and questions the buying committee asks at different stages of the buying cycle.

Question #2. Are white papers best for prospects at a specific part of the sales cycle?

White papers are not intended only for a particular phase of the buying cycle. White papers can work for any stage of the buying cycle.

It’s important to have a range of white paper titles that address the specific subjects or concerns that arise at different stages of the buying cycle. You also should target your white papers to different members of the buying committee, who tend to be engaged at different stages of the cycle.

For example, your content library could include these three types of white papers:

Type 1.
White paper targeting the awareness stage that addresses major concerns of end users of your product or service; they tend to be highly engaged in the beginning of the buying process.

An effective title might provide research or insights into a broad industry trend or your prospects’ operational challenge which your product or service helps manage.

Type 2.
White paper targeting the research and negotiation phases that answers questions for influencers on the buying committee, such as IT personnel who install or manage new software.

An effective topic might be an overview of the implementation process of the specific technology with existing enterprise systems.

Type 3.
White paper targeting the purchase stage that speaks to the economic decision makers, such as CFOs who sign off on deals.

An effective white paper for this stage might outline cost savings, efficiency improvements or increased revenue customers have experienced.

Question #3. Do ebooks have any real value, or are they viewed as a type of spam? (Example: ebooks for sale on eBay with graphics that make it look like it's an actual book.)

The term “ebook” is very broad, and includes digital print formats designed for special electronic readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle. But when we talk about ebooks for lead generation, we’re referring to longer documents in PDF format, typically offered for free or requiring registration to download.

Those kinds of ebooks are indeed a valuable component of a B2B content library.

Typically, ebooks contain the following characteristics:

- Longer than white papers
The standard white paper length is 6-12 pages. For a more in-depth discussion of a topic, ebooks can run anywhere from 20 pages to more than 100 pages.

- Broader in scope
White papers should be tightly focused on a single subject. Ebooks allow you to cover broad subjects, and can be broken up into chapters that highlight specific topics or tactics within that subject.

- More personalized
Ebook authors are usually identified, and the most effective ebooks come from a recognized expert on the topic. The author can be a widely respected executive from your company, or the ebook could be written on behalf of your company by a third-party expert.

When presented in addition to white papers, webinars, or other content, ebooks can stand out in the crowded landscape. For example, network software provider Alterpoint created a 150-page ebook titled “Tips & Tricks Guide to Network Configuration Management.”

The team promoted the book in multiple channels, and achieved a 36% conversion rate on the landing page registration form.

Likewise, presenter Brian Carroll has seen great results from his own ebook, ‘Start with a Lead: Eight Critical Success Factors for Lead Generation Results.’

The book took him 12 hours to write. He then promoted the free PDF download through:
o Company website
o Personal blog
o Email to house list
o Partners and co-marketing deals

To date, the book has been downloaded more than 30,000 times from his website, and sent virally through other blogs.

Question #4. Could you please share an example of using tours and overviews for a service industry instead of a company selling a product?

We singled out product tours and overviews as a potentially powerful but often underused piece of marketing content. Pictures, video and interactive elements can explain complex products more effectively than text.

The essential elements of a product tour can be adapted to introduce prospects to your service. Consider the following key elements:

- Format
Video, Flash animation, or slides with audio are ways to provide an overview of the customer experience.

- Content
Use voice-overs, images and text that walk prospects through the basics of your service model, concentrating on:
o Approach or methodology
o Significant steps and stages of the customer/service provider experience
o Qualifications of company experts
o Unique benefits or services offered
o Customer testimonials

- Call to action
Prompt prospects to take the next step to learn more, such as:
o Offering a white paper or other piece of marketing collateral to download
o Providing contact information to ask additional questions
o Highlighting links to additional sections of your website for more information

This approach worked for Total Training, a software training company. The team there used a video overview tour to introduce prospects to their online training program. The one-minute video was hosted by company founder Brian Moffat, a well-known figure in the online design industry. It outlined key features of the online service, and gave prospects a peak at how the digital training programs worked.

The training video became one of the top five videos prospects viewed on the site, and the first place that the majority of visitors clicked after landing on the homepage.

Question #5. Is it legal to send a link to an article or do you have to get reprint rights?

This question followed a recommendation from presenter Brian Carroll that marketers act as filters and libraries of relevant third-party content. By monitoring industry news, you can find interesting links to send to prospects who have opted in to receive email messages from you.

This technique is legal and does not require you to obtain reprint rights. You are merely pointing your prospects to publicly available articles by emailing them the original link to the publisher’s website.

The key is sharing links to the original articles – not repurposing that content or reprinting it in any way. That would require you to seek permission from the publisher.

Useful links related to this article

How a Consultant Uses Content to Create New Revenue Stream: 4 Tactics

Brian Carroll’s blog post on nurturing prospects with third-party content:

InTouch, Inc.

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