How To
9 min read

How to Generate Quality Leads With Content Marketing in 2022?

Soniya Jain

June 21, 2022

The verdict has been out for years now.

Content marketing is one of the most effective ways your business can generate quality leads.

As per this infographic by Demand Metric, content marketing generates 3x the leads for 62% lower costs than traditional marketing.

Another report from CMI states that 60% of marketers report that content marketing generates demand/leads for their business.

If you think you would belong to the rest, 40%, if you took the CMI survey, don't worry.

This guide has been created for folks like you who believe in the power of content marketing but struggle to make it work for them.

Whether you run a B2B services company or a SaaS business, after this read you will have learned how lead generation from content marketing actually works and how you can use it to your advantage with a step-by-step guide.

Let us get started.

Key terms to understand how to generate leads with content marketing

Many terms in this guide may have different meanings for different people. In order for us to be on the same page, we defined some of these key terms.

These by no means are official definitions. They are just there to reduce ambiguity and simplify your understanding.

Lead

A lead is the contact information of an individual acquired from some data collection form. 

At a minimum, it should include the name and email of the person. 

If you are collecting business emails, it’s easy to find company details. Otherwise, you may want to have a separate, mandatory company field during lead submission.

Quality lead

A quality lead is an individual or business that maps to your target audience. 

Quality leads have a higher likelihood of becoming paying customers.

Ungated content

Ungated content includes marketing materials like:

  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Infographics
  • Videos

This type of content is accessible online and doesn’t require a user to provide any personal information.

For example, this valuable resource on "What is SEO?" is an ungated content example.

Gated content

Gated content includes marketing and sales materials like:

  • Whitepapers
  • eBooks
  • Reports
  • Webinars
  • Templates 

This type of content requires the user to provide their personal contact information in exchange for the content.

A landing page usually accompanies gated content with a form (the gate) to access the actual content.

For example, this content calendar template kit from SEMrush is gated content.

Landing page (product/service)

A landing page is a sales page or online brochure about the product or service you want the user to buy. 

The core goal of any landing page is to get conversions. A business's website can have multiple landing pages, including the home page.

For example, this is a landing page from Calendly targeted toward salespeople.

Conversion

A conversion is an online event that happens when a user completes an action that is defined as a conversion goal by the business. 

No two conversions are equal or hold the same value. However, defining and tracking conversions is a great way to measure content marketing progress.

Some examples of conversions include:

  • Submitting a lead form on a services company's website
  • Signing up for a free trial of a SaaS product
  • Subscribing to an email newsletter
  • Registering for a webinar
  • Sharing a content piece with others
  • Opening an email
  • Initiating a live chat

Note: Not all conversions will result in a lead (contact information). For example, sharing an article doesn't require providing any personal data by the user.

Content Reach

Content reach is the number of unique people who have viewed a piece of content. 

You can measure it using various metrics, depending on the type of content. Some common metrics include:

  • Page views
  • Post impressions
  • Video views

Lead Generation Equation For Content Marketing

To maximize the number of leads you generate from content marketing, you’ll need to understand the following equation:

Leads generated from a content piece = Content's reach (Traffic) * Conversion rate (No. of people who took a lead action/Number of people who viewed the content)

This equation will help you understand the effectiveness and progress of your content marketing in generating leads. 

Attribution Models For Lead Generation

Depending on the type of attribution model you use to credit different content items, your calculation of the equation above will vary.

For example, if you use the last-click attribution model (commonly used), all credit goes to the blog/article that was last visited before a user filled out the contact form.

Ideally, every piece of content that was viewed by a prospect before becoming a lead should be credited. A multi-touch attribution model is usually used to accomplish this.

For this guide, we will assume a multi-touch attribution model. This implies that if a piece of content has been viewed in a user's conversion path, it helped generate a lead.

How does lead generation from content marketing work? 

When businesses generate leads with content marketing, it typically happens from one of the content-driven conversion paths below.

Read on to understand them in more detail.

Ungated content to gated content conversions

This conversion path involves a user:

  1. Consuming an ungated content piece like a blog article
  2. Clicking on a prompt to download some gated resource or asset like a whitepaper
  3. Filling in their details (lead) to access the resource

Here is a quick video walkthrough of this path in action:

Video caption - Ungated to gated content conversion example - Marketo.

Video download link

Ungated content to landing page conversions

This conversation path involves a user:

  1. Consuming an ungated content piece like a blog article
  2. Clicking a link to a landing page or sign up form
  3. Filling out a contact form or signing up for a software trial

Here is a quick video walkthrough of this path in action:

Video caption - Ungated content to landing page conversion example - SEMrush.

Video download link

Ungated content to email newsletter signups

This conversion path is typically easier than asking users to create a free account or fill out an inquiry form. 

The core idea is that you make awesome, ungated content that the user loves so much that they choose to opt-in via email (or other channels, like messaging) to get updates about your new content.

The leads generated from this path are often not ready to buy something. Over time, they need to be nurtured to qualify or disqualify as a potential for sales (MQL).

Here is a quick video walkthrough of this path in action:

Video caption - Ungated content to email newsletter signup conversion path example - James Clear website.

Video download link

Step-by-step guide to generating leads with content marketing

Now that you better understand how content marketing-driven conversion paths work, let’s put this knowledge into practice and generate tons of quality leads for your business!

Here are the primary steps for building a lead-generating machine powered by content marketing.

1. Focus on your buyer personas

Staying focused on your key buyer personas is essential for multiple reasons. There are two in particular that are relevant to lead generation and content marketing.

First, you want your leads to belong to a buyer persona that you have defined. This ensures the quality and value of potential customers.

Second, your entire content marketing strategy should revolve around the key personas you would like to:

  • Attract
  • Engage
  • Convert

If your business already has well-defined buyer personas driving your content marketing initiatives, that is a good foundation.

If you haven't invested time in documenting your target personas, you should get it done. This exercise will take your lead generation efforts from content marketing to the next level.

How to start building buyer personas

Here are a few critical details that you should document about your target audience to create better content and generate quality leads:

  • What are the essential jobs/tasks that your potential customers want to complete that you think your product/service can help with?
  • What are the main pain points/blockers in completing those jobs?
  • What is your persona expecting to gain from completing the job successfully?

You can learn more about creating buyer personas online. Here is a helpful starter guide from Buffer.

2. Create SEO-optimized, ungated content

With your audience and goals clearly defined, it’s time to give them tons of helpful content that they can access for free (ungated). We are talking about the core of content marketing, creating content that people love.

Your ungated content can be anything from social media posts to YouTube videos to blog articles. However, this guide will focus on creating SEO-optimized website content to attract your target audience.

Focusing on SEO-focused content has several advantages like continuous traffic, control over the format, high-intent search visits, etc.

Here are some excellent tips to rock your website with SEO-optimized content:

  • Do proper keyword research.
  • Make use of topical clusters.
  • Follow all best practices for on-page SEO.
  • Leverage the power of interlinking
  • Stay focused on meeting the reader's needs

3. Create and link your gated content with ungated content

Now it’s time to combine the power of ungated content with gated content.

Gated content is also referred to as a:

  • Lead magnet
  • Content upgrade
  • Content offer

Creating such content is often more challenging, but it provides a valuable asset in your content bank if you get it right.

Examples of gated content types include:

  • Whitepapers
  • eBooks
  • Free templates
  • Webinars (live and recordings)
  • Newsletters
  • Survey reports

How to create gated content

Here are some tips for creating great gated content:

  • Offer so much value that someone may even want to pay for it
  • Invest in good formatting and design
  • Update it regularly for the freshness of information
  • Include CTAs with links within the content itself

How to use ungated content with gated content

You can use gated and ungated content together for lead generation. 

Here are some tips for generating leads using the ungated to gated conversion path:

  • Use visuals to make your gated content stand out in your articles. Typically, gated content links are added to the end of an article, but you may choose to add them where they work best
  • Write persuasive copy text that conveys the asset's value clearly and nudges the user to check out more details

  • Create a compelling landing page to support the gated resource. Here is a good example. In this case, they also let the user get a sneak peek before actually committing to downloading the resource
  • Optimize the resource download form for conversions. Only request information that you need at this moment. It is essential to understand that, even though the user is considered a lead after filling out the form, they may not be ready to become a customer. You need to reduce friction for them by simplifying the first entry into your lead funnel.

Pro tip: CopyAI’s suite of tools can generate the perfect copy for your content in seconds. Try it now to improve your resource downloads.

4. Create and link your landing pages with ungated content

The best quality leads will often come from a visitor completing an action on your product/service landing page. 

Such pages are specifically designed for the visitor to learn more about what you offer. The conversion action is usually a service inquiry or a free trial for software.

Tips for creating high-converting landing pages

Some key tips for creating high-converting landing pages include:

  • Make the value proposition clear in the hero section
  • Add social proof benefits like reviews, ratings, testimonials, and case studies
  • Write benefit-oriented copy
  • Use actual product visuals to instill confidence
  • Make CTAs clearly visible
  • Track conversation rates and optimize pages over time

Here is a curated list of top-performing landing page examples to inspire you.

Once you have great landing pages for visitors to check out, it’s time to make them discoverable and accessible via links and CTAs in your ungated content.

How to use landing pages with ungated content

Here are some strategies for incorporating landing pages with your ungated content:

  • Use links contextually in the body when talking about a pain point that your product or service can solve
  • Keep your link anchor texts relevant yet concise
  • When using image-based CTAs, add some product visuals with the copy text
  • Experiment with CTAs to multiple landing pages to see which one gets the most traction
  • Optimize your placements and copy based on data

5. Create and connect email newsletter forms with your ungated content

If you create excellent content that your audience loves, they will want more of it. This is your opportunity to make it easy for them to stay tuned to your future content releases by using email subscriptions.

Basically, your avid readers can provide their email(technically a lead as per our initial definition) to regularly receive content updates in their inbox.

Over time, you can nurture this audience (your email subscribers) into qualified leads or even customers. More strategically created ungated content can get visitors to inquire or sign up for your offering.

How to use email signups with ungated content

Here are some actionable tips for implementing email signups with your ungated content:

  • Make email newsletter signups easily accessible from the content page
  • Write excellent microcopy to convey the value of signing up for your newsletter
  • Use existing subscriber numbers or testimonials as social proof in your copy if you have the privilege
  • Ask for the bare minimum information in most cases. For example, only ask for the reader's email
  • Be transparent about the frequency and content of your email communication. Use the double opt-in email subscription method
  • Create a separate landing page for your newsletter if you think it can help elaborate on the subscription's value. Here is an example of a newsletter landing page with over 1 million subscribers.

6. Track and optimize your lead generation efforts based on collected data

Measuring the performance of your content marketing program for lead generation is a pivotal aspect of achieving success in your lead generation efforts. 

Knowing what is and isn’t working will give you clear insights into where to focus and what actions to take.

For example, if you are generating a lot of traffic to your blog for a high-intent search query but cannot generate enough leads, it becomes a challenge of poor conversation rate.

The next step is to determine the actual cause of the problem based on the data. In the example above, you’d need to determine whether the click-through rate from the article to the landing page is low or if the conversion rate on the landing page itself is down. 

If it’s the first one, you should focus your efforts on optimizing CTA copy and placement.

How to follow a data-driven content marketing strategy for lead generation

Here are some valuable tips for following a data-driven content marketing for lead generation strategy:

  • Define your primary KPIs or metrics clearly. For example, "Unique page views from a certain country," instead of just page views
  • Plan and implement a system to track your metrics
  • Make your reporting clear and actionable
  • Connect your metrics with your marketing goals for better alignment
  • Run controlled experiments that are informed based on data. For example, reducing input fields in an inquiry form and tracking conversation rate

Closing thoughts

If you want to hear it one more time: "content marketing works for lead generation." Both statistical and anecdotal evidence has proved it.

If your content marketing strategy has not been generating the desired results (leads), it’s time to focus on the foundations of generating leads with content marketing.

Remember, it’s ok to start slow. This process is a marathon, not a sprint. You just need to love marathons! 

If conversation rates are your Achilles heel, then giving your marketing copy an AI-powered refresh may do the job for you.

A free trial won't hurt, would it?

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