By Sujan Patel.
We’re all on the same page that producing content for marketing purposes is important. But are you generating content for content’s sake? Or are you actually using your content to attract customers and close sales?
The key to getting the highest possible ROI from content marketing comes from deploying it appropriately across all of your customer acquisition channels.
Below, I’ve covered 26 ways startups can use content to attract and close customers. There’s some overlap between channels (and I’ve left content marketing off as a channel, since acquiring customers through content is the whole point), so pick and choose the tactics that make the most sense for your growing company.
1.Publish new content regularly to engage visitors and improve the “freshness” (an SEO ranking factor) of your site.
2.Update old content on your site for improved search performance, in addition to creating the perception among prospects that your site’s data is current and accurate.
3.Build content for your website that answers common customer questions. In doing so, you’ll naturally incorporate the many different keyword variations prospects and leads use to discuss your brand’s products and services, improving your search visibility.
4.Map your content specifically to buyer intent to improve your search presence for motivated prospects.
In an article for Search Engine Land, contributor Derek Edmond gives an example of how this buyer intent mapping process for B2B clients can be used to produce content that improves SEO and drives conversions:
Paid Search and Social Ads
5.Develop lead magnet content that can be given away to encourage paid ad clickthroughs.
6.Add high-value content to the landing pages to which you’re sending paid ad clicks in order to increase the Quality Score and/or relevance of your ads (increasing visibility and decreasing costs).
7.Use the data gathered by your ad analytics to identify content gaps on your site that could be preventing visitors from converting into customers.
Organic Social Media Marketing
8. Load all new content pieces created for your website into your social channels (use a tool like Meet Edgar to ensure they’re seen by prospects who are active at different times).
9.Develop exclusive content for social followers, based on what your analytics data tells you will most likely interest them.
10.Use content to drive engagement in free or paid private social groups (for example, a Facebook Group built for your followers).
11.Encourage social group members to produce user-generated content that can be leveraged in other customer acquisition campaigns.
Melissa Ramos, who used free Facebook Groups to drive $60,000+ in revenue in her first six months of business, exploited the power of content by creating theme days for her followers:
“I have Win Wednesdays, I have a Thursday Follow Love Fest, I’ve got Feel Good Fridays and Saturday Sweat where people post their photos of some, like big hike they just did, or the bike ride they went on or playing with their kids in their backyard.”
According to Ramos, content challenges like these improved the relationships she had with her followers, turning many of them into customers when she was ready to launch her products. These relationships spark emotional engagement, which leads to raving fans that tell more people about her products.
12.Build a custom landing page for visitors from every site where you guest blog that encourages opt-ins and features your top-performing content (bonus points for hand-selecting the articles that are most relevant to the topic of your guest blog).
13. Offer a unique coupon code to guest blog readers (with permission of the site’s owner) to turn individual articles into customer acquisition centers.
14. Use interest in the different content pieces you’ve created to build email list segments, which you can then target with more specific conversion appeals.
15.Ask for subscriber responses to content pieces you’ve created in order to gain insight into their thoughts and concerns (further improving your ability to release customer acquisition content in the future).
Affiliate and Advocate Marketing
16. Supply your affiliates and advocates with high-value, customizable pieces of content they can use in their own customer acquisition campaigns.
17.Develop training content for your affiliates to help familiarize them with your company, what you know about your customers and how to sell to them.
Publicity and Public Relations
18. PR and media members are pretty resistant to sales pitches thinly disguised as stories. Instead, pitch stories based on the content you’ve created for a less-threatening approach.
19.Create content that’s so exceptional it earns your company press (and, consequently, new customers).
When I released my ebook “100 Days of Growth,” I made $119,000 in the first six months. But because of the press the book received, I earned even more than that — $192,000 — in new consulting engagements.
20.Give away targeted content pieces in exchange for landing page opt-ins (you should be doing this already — no excuses!).
21.Have marketing work with sales to develop content pieces based on specific objections your salespeople hear commonly throughout the customer acquisition process.
22. Incorporate content pieces into your ongoing lead nurturing campaigns.
23. Use the release of new content pieces as an opportunity for salespeople to reach out to prospective customers with value-added information.
24. Advertise high-performing, popular pieces of content case studies or whitepapers your company has produced in your print ads. Encourage viewers to request them from you — a much easier ask than trying to get a sale off a print ad — which will also enable you to better track the ROI of your spend.
25.Pay to have your best content printed off and included in gift bags given to attendees.
26.Give exceptional content pieces to top prospects (or to anyone who walks by your booth). Printing costs are cheap — have your best lead magnet ebooks, case studies, whitepapers or other assets professionally printed so that attendees can carry your brand away with them.
I was at a Rise of the Rest event hosted by AOL founder Steve Case recently. On the way out the door, I was handed a free copy of his book, The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future. I wouldn’t consider it to be a customer acquisition ploy, necessarily, but it was a powerful gesture nonetheless.
Using Content to Drive Your Customer Acquisition Strategy
Don’t worry — you don’t have to use all the strategies above to turn followers into customers using content. Pick and choose the handful that seem most applicable to your business. Iterate based on the data you receive about the performance of your campaigns.
Remember also that this list isn’t comprehensive — either in terms of the channels covered or the tactics provided. You may have other opportunities to drive customer acquisition through content that will be even more effective for your brand than the ideas I’ve shared here.’