Creating and maintaining a blog strategy can be likened to building a house. You need a strong and stable base on which your content can safely rest.
Laying your concrete slab and the construction that follows are just the first steps. Even once the structure is in place, there’s more that can be done to fortify your house. Likewise, though your blog may already be generating traffic and leads, you can always take it one step further.
One of the key aspects of content marketing lies in experimenting. Tried-and-tested tactics you know that work should ideally be balanced with exploring new methods you can use to amplify your message.
So your blog articles may be performing and traffic to your site is on an upward path… but have you thought about what you may be missing out on?
From ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, and infographics to podcasts, webinars, and beyond, the variety that exists in content marketing is like a delectable salad with flavourful and rich ingredients.
This is especially so for B2B content marketing, where one of its ingredients is downloadable content.
Creating a lead generation campaign with downloadable content often requires much more effort than producing a blog post. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
Synergies can be created between both blog and lead generation strategies to ensure a more effective and efficient process.
In this article, we’ll go through the different steps of creating a lead generation campaign plan with downloadable content such as a guide or an ebook that unifies both blog and lead gen strategies.
Step #1: Define the topic and angle
The idea of a lead generation campaign for downloadable content is based on a quid pro quo exchange: users receive content they are keen to consume that they cannot obtain elsewhere and in exchange, you receive their contact information.
Like all exchanges, it’s important to ensure that expectations are met. That means that the quality of the content, which is what they consume after they relinquishing their contact information, needs to be just as important as what attracted them to the content in the first place.
So aside from impeccable writing and quality design, the topic and angle of the piece must be relevant and catchy. It should also offer much more value than what’s already been written before (be it by you or by others) and is freely available on the internet — whether in terms of analysis, data, or insight.
The focus of the piece must be one that hasn’t already been covered by others. This can be done by honing in on a niche area of a wider topic, basing the content on exclusive data, insights, and tips, or any other approach as long as it’s insightful and practical to the user and provides value that can’t be obtained elsewhere.
Step #2: Create the content
The work required in this second step varies according to whether the content is curated and written based on existing content or created from scratch.
Realistically speaking, downloadable content like an ebook or a guide usually consist of at least 3,000 words.
If it’s a topic you’ve never tackled before, putting it together will be a time-consuming process (remember that the key to the piece is in its quality).
This is where the synergy between blog and lead generation strategies comes into play.
Your lead generation campaign can be run on one or various pieces of content that you’ve already published.
Keeping in mind that content marketing is more often than not about addressing your target audience’s pain points, it’s likely that the topic you choose for your downloadable content has already been written about in one (or more) of your blog posts.
So why not use these published content as a base for your lead generation campaign? All you have to do is give it a premium touch. Here are some ways you can do so:
- Dive deeper into one (or more) talking points
- Interview industry experts and specialists for a fresh angle
- Launch a survey to collect data and statistics on the topic
- Create graphics to convert it into more visually attractive and digestible
If you’re starting from zero, this process would be somewhat reversed. Regardless of the groundwork laid, you simply have to split up the content and delegate different portions to the blog post and the lead generation content separately.
For example, if you were to create a survey to collect exclusive data and statistics, you could include a summary of your main findings in the blog post and highlight one or two interesting statistics or takeaways. The rest of the material can go into a downloadable ebook with the blog post as a means of promotion (more on this later).
Step #3: Design the content
Once you have the content prepared and you’ve crossed and dotted the t’s and i’s, the next step would be to make it… pretty.
A decade or so ago, this step would’ve been extremely time consuming and costly. Chances are, it’d either have had to be handled by a professional designer or a member of your team would have had to pour days into learning Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.
Long gone are those days. Today, content marketing teams without the luxury of a professional designer have a host of easy-to-use and free visual marketing tools at their disposable.
The learning curve for these tools is often much more gentle than that of Adobe’s tools. Plus, their features and functions are so similar that once you get familiar with one, it won’t take you much more time to get up to speed with the others.
With Canva, for example, you can create professionally designed ebooks and guides in just a few hours, depending on the length of your content and how customised you want your design to be.
There’s also Piktochart. Even though it positions itself more as an infographic maker, it also offers templates for ebooks and guides and is extremely handy when you need to create graphs and charts for your downloadable content.
Whatever tool you opt for, make sure it offers lots of templates and leaves you enough space and creativity for personalisation.
Once you have the basic design worked out, you’ll want to present your content in the most visual way possible. For this step, you’ll want to apply the same rules you do when including text in infographics. Here are some tips:
- Avoid large blocks of text on one single page or on consecutive pages
- Break up your text with images and graphics
- Put emphasis on quotes and phrases by presenting them in a larger size or changing their typography
- Separate chunks of text visually by using a different background colour
- Highlight notable statistics in a different format
- Include icons and/or a summary for better content digestion
If you’re basing it off a template, most should already fulfil the above-mentioned points. For example, here’s a template offered by Canva that you can adapt.
Step #4: Create a landing page for your lead generation content
Landing pages are another important aspect of lead generation campaigns with downloadable content.
Aside from playing host to the form users fill in to access the content, it’s also the main conversion tool to get those leads.
A good landing page should have a clear value proposition and call to action or other elements such as testimonials or frequently asked questions. Ultimately, it should address the WIIFM or What’s In It For Me aspect.
If you think about it, landing pages for downloadable content are like blind dates.
There’s no telling how well you’ll enjoy it if there’s limited and basic information to create an impression. That’s why the value proposition is so important.
Having users interested in your content isn’t enough. You need to convince them that the content is worth leaving their personal information for.
Think about your downloadable content as if it were your product or service — what benefits do users get from it? Consider these questions:
- What pain points does your content address?
- How is it different from other pieces of content you’ve already published?
- How is it different from your competitor’s content?
- What can the reader gain from reading it?
Value proposition aside, it’s important to describe the content so the user has a better idea of what to expect. For example, here’s how HubSpot describes its SEO audit kit.
Landing page options
There are different options available for creating a landing page depending on the resources you have and how your website is constructed.
If you’re using WordPress or website builders such as Weebly or Wix, the most straightforward option would be to build a landing page using one of their templates.
Alternatively, you might want to check out landing page creators such as Instapage or LanderApp. Note that these tools may not be optimised for organic ranking or SEO, but they are easy to use, quick, and relatively inexpensive. Some are even free or offer a free trial.
Pro tip: If your resources allow for it, you could get a web designer to create your landing page. This will be costlier and more tedious, but it may be a worthwhile investment if you’re thinking of launching future lead generation campaigns as it gives you a well designed and personalised page to work with for future landing pages.
Don’t forget to show your gratitude once the transaction is through (i.e., once they’ve filled out your form).
If you’re using landing page creators, these often also provide tools for creating thank you pages on which you can provide more information on where and how they can access the downloadable content (eg. if there’s a link to click on, if you’ve emailed them the file, etc).
Thank you pages are usually simple in design, and you can take the opportunity to incorporate an element of conversion with calls to action to download other content or to promote related products and/or services.
That’s exactly what HubSpot’s done on their thank you page of their SEO audit kit we saw earlier.
Step #5: Launch a promotion campaign
Once you have your content written and designed and your landing page has gone live, you can kick off your promotion campaign.
To get leads, you need downloads. To get downloads, you need traffic to your landing page. And to get traffic… well, you need an action plan to promote your brand new content.
If your landing page is properly optimised, you’ll likely be receiving organic traffic without having to do anything more.
But that’s far from sufficient because
- You’re not going to receive traffic immediately since SEO takes time
- Landing pages often don’t rank as well as other types of content
Content on landing pages is often not as rich and keyword-filled as blog posts, which makes ranking much more difficult.
Even if you end up somehow taking that sweet top spot on SERPs, not launching a campaign to promote your content would be losing a golden opportunity to generate additional traffic and leads.
Plus, a campaign helps you amplify the reach of your content, which increases the chances of it being discovered by others and even shared on social media. That, in turn, creates potential for backlinks and higher rankings.
Here are some additional touches you can include in your promotional campaign.
→ Promote your new content on social media. This pairs extremely well with Facebook or LinkedIn ad campaigns for leads acquisition.
→ Include CTAs and banners at selected key points on your website and links to the landing page on pages with content that touch on the same topic as your new content.
The latter also helps with internal linking and you’re also boosting the chances of users navigating their way to the landing page for your downloadable content after having landed on these pages.
But this isn’t all you can do. There are so many other ways to create synergies to promote your downloadable content. More specifically, email marketing and blog promotion.
The combination of lead gen and email marketing is akin to that of Harry, Ron, and Hermione: They’re at their best when together.
An email marketing campaign makes a massive difference in results — something a client of ours can certainly vouch for. The following graph shows the traffic to their ebook landing page before and after the launch of an email marketing campaign.
With just one email, they received as many as 650 visits to their landing page in one week.
If that doesn’t seem like much, consider this: of the 650 visits, 300 ended up converting, which equates to an impressive conversion rate of around 45%!
You might now be thinking: Why would you target your email list if you already have their information in your database?
Well, though you may already have their data, there’s no harm in targeting them again as there’s a chance of acquiring more information to complete their profiles. Plus, it also serves as a quick ‘hello, we’re still around and come check out what we’ve been getting up to lately.’
In any case, if you already have their information but have yet to convert them into clients, this is a great way to nurture these leads and take the relationship to the next step.
If you want to go the extra mile (and if your budget allows for it), you could even reach out to relevant media for sponsored email campaigns targeting their databases.
Blog post series
If you’ve created your content from scratch, you’ll have, in your hands, an original and valuable piece of content.
To maximise your efforts and resources, consider splitting it into different sections by subtopic and over time, publishing them on your blog as if they were a series of related articles.
This is beneficial for two reasons:
- It helps with SEO. Only using the content as downloadable content for lead gen purposes reduces the chances of ranking for keywords, since copies on landing pages are often kept to a minimal. By separating them into various blog posts, you exploit the chance for the content to rank organically and increase visibility for your keywords.
- It generates traffic to your landing page and potential leads. As we briefly touched on in step two, you can link to your landing page (another point for SEO) to help to encourage traffic and subsequently, leads.
Plus, these blog posts will give readers a taste of what they can expect in the ebook, which breaks down the ‘fear of the unexpected’ factor in our blind date scenario, which means they’ll be more willing to download it.
Simply add a disclaimer in the post to inform readers that what they’re reading is an extract of a full version they can download if they’re interested in finding out more. And voilá, there’s a perfect spot to direct them to the landing page!
You could also include banners in the blog post to promote your downloadable content with a CTA that takes them to the landing page.
Pro tip: This tactic of splitting your downloadable content into subsections can also be applied to emails. Simply select some of the more interesting takeaways of your downloadable content and include them in your emails. Don’t forget the link/CTA to your landing page!
Need help with your lead generation campaign for your downloadable content or content marketing strategy as a whole? All you have to do is… ask!