Is your B2B content truly primed to generate leads? If you’re like a lot of B2B marketers, the answer is “not as well as it should be.”
Chances are, you’re probably busy putting out fires and sometimes lose focus on the broader picture of what your marketing content needs to be doing. Or you’re finding yourself so caught up in the day-to-day grind that you forget about the ways you should be optimizing your content to improve conversion opportunities.
Snap out of it!
Optimizing conversion opportunities is far too important, especially considering that 63% of companies say generating traffic and leads is their #1 challenge to begin with.
Whether it’s a blog post, a landing page for your latest eBook, a new pillar page on your website, or another type of inbound marketing content, here is a list of the 7 things you really should do to help increase qualified lead conversions.
1. Start With a Thesis Statement
I know, I know! When you hear “thesis statement,” torturous hours of English class come to mind, but a thesis is essential to organizing your content in a way so readers quickly know it's relevant. You have a limited amount of time to catch (and keep) a reader’s attention, so your content needs to clearly define the topic you’ll be covering and why it matters.
Because you’ve created target personas as part of your inbound strategy, you know your best prospects’ challenges, pain points, demographics, needs, hurdles, etc., and your content should reflect a clear and concise understanding of their situation and a specific problem they’re facing.
Keep your thesis as simple as possible and very clear. After all, if you don’t know the points you want to make, you’re going to end up rambling about all the services you can provide, and all the options the product has, and all the payment options available, and all the industries your equipment can be used in, and all the…you get the idea. Don't lose your focus or your conversion opportunity. In blogs, that thesis statement may even help you rank for SERP features like snippets by answering a searcher’s question succinctly.
2. Create Quality Content
I heard someone say, “Well, of course I have quality content.”
If it’s customer-relevant, meaning it speaks to the needs and issues of your target personas, awesome. You’re certainly on your way to being a reliable information source that will bring visitors back to your site for more.
But if that recent blog post was quickly thrown together just to meet a deadline, the landing page was written 15 minutes before it went live, or a non-writer wrote either one, you may want to take a second look and ask these questions:
Does the text address a key customer problem or are you just listing and promoting a product's features and benefits?
Does the content really demonstrate value and that you’re an expert people can trust, or is it just “fluff?”
Give your target audience something of value to walk away with: a method for improving productivity, a more streamlined way to process travel expense reimbursements, a way to reduce the time required to test food products in the production line, etc. Search engines liken high-quality content with a high-quality website, so make sure yours has enough meat to it.
3. Use Compelling Headlines and Subheads
We live in an era where reading is being replaced by skimming and short attention spans. That means catching someone’s attention quickly (5–10 seconds) to convince him or her to read more. Any longer than that and people may bail and take your lead conversion opportunities with them. Your headlines and subheads should be compelling, clearly stated and relevant.
Tell people at a glance what they’ll find on the page and what they’ll get by reading further, and include targeted keywords to increase the relevance to potential leads. Also, ensure the headline fits with the content. Few things tick people off more than clickbait.
4. Draft Helpful Meta Descriptions
If you’re forgetting, or half-heartedly drafting meta descriptions for your pages, you're potentially missing traffic that could bring lead conversions and customers. Meta descriptions are brief lines of text (1–2 sentences) that describe the page to someone who is searching. Its goal is to convince the searcher to click through to your site. So, make sure you’re writing these descriptions — you have a max of 160 characters — using active language that tells the person who's searching what he or she will receive.
Work in keywords to increase relevance, but don’t include keywords just to stuff them in. Increasingly, search engines rank results with meta descriptions that can display answers to a user’s query without ever having to click through to the website. That’s a major challenge, so the key is to give just enough information that entices people to want to know the whole story and click through to view your content.
5. Research Keywords
You’ve probably heard it before: write your content for people first, then for search engines. Yes, including keywords and phrases in your content that potential customers are searching for is definitely important for getting your content found.
Where possible, work keywords — ideally long-tail keywords — into headlines, subheads, page URLs, meta descriptions, social media and body copy. But don’t overuse them. Keep your copy natural — rather than forcing in keywords — if you want to increase the likelihood of visitors engaging with your content and converting.
You’ll also want to leverage keywords as part of a broader content strategy with pillar pages and topic clusters. Search engines look for websites that are authoritative and provide exhaustive information on a subject. Give those search engines (and your customers) what they want by grouping your content into categories and providing high-quality internal links that can serve as a one-stop shop for visitors. Doing so can boost your content’s rank and help you get found.
Make it easy for people to share the value you’ve presented with others – include embedded social sharing buttons or links for the reader to share the content on their social media channel of choice (like those at the top of this article).
Including social sharing links on your blog and landing pages can help readers expand their reach (and yours). If what you've written in your blog or eBook addresses relevant customer questions and issues, then readers will be more naturally inclined to pass it along. While this won’t necessarily increase conversions dramatically at the outset, every little bit helps. And, as your company’s social following and reputation for providing solid content grows, conversions will begin to increase, too.
7. Use Calls to Action
Your blog might be what attracts a person to your site, but they’re not a lead until they make themselves known. Which means your content must contain some sort of call to action (CTA) — one that matches the content. For example, if you’ve posted a blog about “How to Deal with Confined Spaces when Upgrading Pump Systems,” then make your CTA something like “Download our Project Planning Spreadsheet,” not “Get Our eBook about Steam Grinders.” Also, make sure your CTA designs are clear and compelling. Need inspiration? Check out this post from our friends at Design Roast.
Another important aspect of effective CTAs is designing forms so they're easy, not annoying, to complete. That means balancing the customer’s effort to complete the form with your need for information. You want them to convert into a lead, so don’t make them scroll through a drop down menu of 25 options or give up the birthright of their first-born. There are other conversion form tips to consider, too, like where it's placed on the page and whether the amount of information you're asking for matches the value of the content you're providing. Keep it simple: first name, last name, email and possibly a couple relevant fields that help you better qualify the lead.
Don’t forget that there are other types of CTAs you can leverage, including live chat, chat bots, video CTAs, etc. You can also refer visitors to a non-gated pillar page that draws them further down the consideration phase. Always encourage readers to take one more step to discover other reasons you’re the solution they’ve been looking for.
With all the day-to-day responsibilities you have as a marketer, it’s easy to lose focus on the essential elements needed for your content to attract quality leads. When you keep these basic principles top-of-mind you’ll more easily stay on target.
Editor’s note: this article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and current best practices.
Posted by Meg Hoppe Meg provides creative vision to all client projects and serves as the agency's chief content writer. She has extensive experience writing for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, financial services, and healthcare. Meg started in advertising and has become a thought leader in digital content creation and inbound marketing.