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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Jan 19, 2017 12 min read

How To Use Content Marketing To Turn Inbound Marketing Visitors Into Leads

Want More Leads? Publish The Right Types Of Content — It’s That Simple

Content Marketing and Inbound MarketingEvery so often I look back at what I’ve written about to make sure I’m creating a highly educational and helpful platform for people to learn about inbound marketing, demand generation and revenue acceleration.

I recently noticed that while I’ve mentioned the techniques we use to turn website visitors into leads in a couple of articles, it’s been over a year since I focused an entire article on the conversion strategy methodology that consistently produces results. A year in marketing time is like 10 years in regular time. Our practice area is changing so quickly that what we did last month is rarely what we’re doing this month.

Here’s how to make sure youre turning your high-value website visitors into leads for your sales team.

Understand Your Prospects’ Buyer’s Journey

I mean really understand it. What are they dealing with that caused them to contact you? What are they concerned about? What are their past experiences? How long do these purchase decisions usually take? How many people at the company typically participate? Who are they and what are their roles? What other types of solutions are they considering? It’s not always competitors.

Map out all the steps in the buying process in detail. Consider including places prospects get their information from, which might include websites, industry associations, magazines, conferences, influencers, advisors, etc. No matter what you tell them during the sales process, they’re going to be getting information from other places and it might contradict what you’re saying, so you need to know who else is talking to them.

Map The Questions They Ask

Mapping Your Prospect's Buyer JourneyIf you did nothing else, it would be wonderfully helpful to know what questions prospects are asking at what stage in the buyer’s journey or in your current sales process. Youll have questions that people ask all the time. In our case, how long until I see results? But prospects also will have questions that they never ask. In our case, what’s the best way to go about selecting and evaluating the right inbound marketing agency for our company?

You have to identify as many of these spoken and unspoken questions as possible, and you have to leverage as many resources as possible. Your sales team is going to be an excellent source of these questions. So is customer service or technical support, if you have those teams. If you have great customers who are willing to help out, consider asking them to walk you through the questions they had while they were going through their search.

You want to understand where in the sales process these questions occur. You’ll quickly find different questions during the awareness stage of a buyer journey than during the consideration stage and the decision-making stage. Once you finish this exercise, you’ll have a content strategy that will help you know what you need to create to convert visitors into leads regardless of their stage in their buyer journey.

Create Content That Answers Those Questions

This brings me to the content creation task. Once you have the buyer journey mapped and the questions overlaid on top of the buyer journey, you can start to look at creating content that answers those questions.

During your content creation conversations, consider your buyer personas. What types of content are they open to consuming? Creative people love pictures and video. Analytical types like research, data and charts. Sixty percent of people identify as visual learners. Keep all of this in mind as you create the content you need to convert people on your website and in your sales process.

Integrate The Content Strategically On Your Website

Now that you have the journey mapped and the content identified, it’s time to apply it. If you misapply it on your website, you’ll miss out on most of the conversion opportunities. Remember that people in the awareness stage don’t yet know, like or trust your company.

They’re not filling out a 10-field form just to get a whitepaper. While you might want a ton of information on every prospect, you really want the email address for people at the awareness stage so you can continue to nurture them. I’d advise you to settle for that one simple field and call it a day.

Conversion rates drop as you add fields until you get back to 10 fields, and I think that’s simply because longer forms are used for high-quality contact collection, so keep your form fields short if lead generation is your goal.

As you get down into the buyer journey and your prospects get more comfortable with your company, you can ask for more information. If you use smart fields on your web forms, visitors should not have to provide information they’ve already given you; either those fields are prepopulated or they’re hidden. Either way, this is an effective technique that makes form completion easier and can improve your conversion rate.

Produce New Content Monthly (At A Minimum)

Need more leads? Produce more fresh content. We’ve found this played out via experiments time and time again. When we publish new content, we get more leads. When we let our content get stale, the lead flow declines. The same holds true with clients. When their budget allows us to create more original content for them, they get more leads, or when they work with us to create the right content more frequently, they also get more leads.

But when their budget and access to resources make content creation more challenging and thus less frequent, they tend to see fewer leads, even when website visitors and organic search rankings increase. Again, this is part of how inbound marketing works. It’s a series of connected tactics, not a collection of isolated tactics. One breakdown in the execution and you get spotty performance.

Promote The Content Off-Site

Using content on your own site to turn visitors into leads is brilliant, but using that same content off-site to drive new visitors back to your site is true genius, and this should be part of your inbound marketing and content marketing efforts.

If you’ve successfully identified your buyer journey and you know where your prospects are spending their time, its relatively easy to target those web properties and offer to supply them with high-value, creative and educational content for them to offer their community members. Now you’re leveraging existing content, offering it to an entirely new audience and driving referral traffic, backlinks and new visitors to your website, where your freshest content is waiting to convert them into leads for your sales team.

Track And Test Everything

Inbound marketing is going to take time and you’re going to make some mistakes; it’s a self-learning effort. The good news is that you’ll have data on everything you do. A few weeks after you post your content, you should know whether people are interested in it or not. Track whether they click on the CTA buttons, visit the landing page or convert on the page, and monitor how much information they provide you. These are all solid data points on how well you’re delivering content that converts.

This means you’ll have the ability to run tests or experiments to improve the performance of all these metrics. CTA not working? Test different titles, different graphics and different placements on the page. Landing page not converting? Test headline changes, copy changes, image changes and form field selection.

Once you get into the habit of running optimization-related testing like I’ve described above, you’ll see benchmarks being established. Then, you should be working to outperform those benchmarks. As you deliver better-performing campaigns, those metrics become the baseline and you keep striving for better numbers. Continuous improvement month over month ensures your marketing is getting better and better month over month.

If we can all admit that traditional advertising tactics are a lot less effective today than they once were, then you’re really just transitioning the work of creating ads and impression opportunities into now working on creating content to target, attract and convert prospects into your company’s ecosystem.

Yes, there are more moving parts, the effort is more complex and it takes more ongoing effort to support it, optimize it and ensure it produces business results. However, if you do it correctly, this type of marketing should produce better results and be much more efficient. You are targeting only those people who have expressed interest through their actions, instead of targeting people who might one day possibly need what you do. To me, it seems like a very positive step in the right direction.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.