Looking for more large-scale ways to generate leads through your content? Here, contributor Ann Smarty takes us through her seven must-have tools, from research to content creation, for better lead-gen through your site.
Every year the methods marketing and SEO agencies use to generate leads changes ever so slightly. The need for a solid strategy remains the same, but between algorithms from Google and the overall attitude and expectations of customers, finding the right balance is complicated. Learning from missteps remains a way of finding what works for you, but nothing beats having some solid ‘go-to’s that never steer you wrong.
To me, the way forward has always been content. Whether I’m trying to increase traffic flow through SEO tactics, creating links and connections via influencer marketing, engaging one-on-one via social media, or just giving my user base something of value through my expertise, content is at the center of every effort.
With this in mind, I truly believe that content generation and expansion is the best way to generate the most effective leads, including local leads. This is true at every level of the sales funnel and for every kind of product, whether you are selling a tangible item, a service or yourself as a brand.
Understanding The Content Drive Funnel
So, how do we apply the sales funnel concept to content? It’s simple:
- Top: This is where you begin to create content that is ‘all-encompassing’ on a topic. For instance, you might target the commercial-intent keyphrase “chicago lawyer” but take a more generalized approach in your content marketing, e.g. create comprehensive guides on Chicago-specific legal matters, history of Chicago legislation, etc.
- Center: This is where you begin actively engaging your readers, tying them up to your brand. You’re narrowing your focus and offering more specialized information about your chosen topic. It’s within this area of the funnel that much of your authority is being built. You’re showing your user base that you are trustworthy and able to provide what they need.
- Bottom: Specificity is the name of the game at the bottom of the funnel. The top two levels have filtered down to this base in order to provide a platform for expanding on the best products, brands, and services you can recommend. In other words, you have them paying attention, now it is time to catch them.
To sum up:
|Top||Discoverabililty and awareness (where to go, local influencer interview, local business spotlight, etc.)|
|Center||Engagement + Brand Loyalty (courses, apps, webinars)|
|Bottom||Purchase (product/service details, features/benefits, case studies, testimonials)|
Targeting these funnel segments requires some tools to help you create the best local lead-generating content possible. Some of these are apps, others are just general forms of content that get the job done. All of them should be on your must-use list. (For the sake of focus, I’ll only list tools helping with the top two parts of the funnel, as the bottom totally relies on your product.)
Start with Top-Funnel content
This is probably the most important part of the funnel (from the content marketing perspective) because it determines your brand discoverability. Your top-funnel content needs to ensure that your content will be discovered.
1. Discover region-specific informational queries with Serpstat
I’d like to make it clear right away that we are not going to talk about local rankings here (i.e. Google Maps results or the local three-pack). Your site content targets informational queries (read more about those here) which can only trigger non-local results and that’s where we want to extend our discoverability to, so it’s important that we target organic rankings, e.g.:
As I mentioned in my previous article for BrightLocal, Serpstat is a great keyword research solution because it provides advanced filters allowing you to filter “toponyms”, i.e. keywords that contain geographic names:
This is a great option as it informs local keyword research and helps you to identify patterns and trends to follow when crafting your content.
2. Monitor your content performance, especially in important region(s) with Rank Tracker
Another great way to improve your ranking for region-specific informational queries is to monitor where you currently stand. Monitoring rankings is also a great way to keep an eye on your competitors.
BrightLocal Rank Tracker is a multi-feature, position-monitoring tool that lets you monitor both your organic and local rankings.
3. Monitor local hashtags using Cyfe
Hashtags help discover content and discussions that are missing from Google, providing you with the opportunity to extend your content reach outside the scope of your competitors. I particularly like using hashtags for content brainstorming and niche research:
Cyfe is a great hashtag monitoring tool which offers an unlimited number of widgets, so you can create one huge dashboard, all monitoring and archiving your chosen hashtags:
4. Capture leads on your website with LeadGen widget
Email marketing is the third most influential form of outreach on the planet. Writing well-formed content via email is a fantastic way to reach your audience and build a solid communication chain that gives you access on multiple levels. An email reaches their work inbox but it also reaches their mobile device (because who doesn’t have their email connected through their phone these days?).
BrightLocal’s Lead Gen widget is a great way to offer free local SEO reports and build lead-generating email communications from there. It’s easy to install, very affordable, and offers quite a few display options.
5. Discover more leads with Leadberry
Apart from people using your opt-in forms to sign up, there’s another way to claim your in-content leads:
Leadberry takes your traffic (through the Google Analytics API) and gives you a rundown of each visiting company. Using various business databases, including Linkedin, Leadberry gathers contact, business, and social data for you. This way you can also identify local businesses to reach out to.
You see who the visiting companies are, how they found your site and what content they are spending the most time. It is amazing for collecting in-content leads and developing topic-focused lead nurture campaigns. Seeing that a potential client is spending a lot of time on your site’s ‘social media’ section? Why not hit them up with an email all about your social media offerings or content?
Engage your leads further with Middle-Funnel content
Content is not as effective in driving direct sales right away as it is in building loyalty and engaging your future customers further. Here are a couple of solid content asset ideas that will engage your readers and turn them into your brand ambassadors:
6. Create an online course with Uscreen
I fell in love with creating courses a couple of years ago and I still find them immensely popular to this day. People want to learn, and when you have something that you can teach, it provides you with a valuable tool to engage your email subscribers and readers even further.
Uscreen is a great platform allowing you to easily create, host, and take full control over your course. You can use your custom domain, brand your course and, most impressively, create a custom mobile app for your course to enable you to reach your students through push notifications:
7. Run regular webinars with Join.me
Another great way to engage your audience further is to run weekly or monthly webinars or software demos. You can handle this internally or hire existing niche influencers with the required experience to do it for you (the latter might be more effective in terms of engaging more people, as people tend to prefer to interact with people they’re already familiar with).
However, Join.me does limit you to up to 50 possible attendees. If you need more (and if you’re webinarring well, you should!), you may want to try GoToWebinar, which allows up to 2,000 attendees, depending on the chosen package.
The best part of running webinars in this way is that you can use those webinar recordings to update your course on a regular basis and thus keep your current audience engaged.
I’d love to hear what you think!
Do you have a tool that you think belongs on this list? Is there a particular lead-generating content strategy that has been especially helpful for you in the past? Let me know in the comments!
Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com as well as the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been in internet marketing for more than 10 years, is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal, and is a current contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable.