Guest post by Rahul Varshneya.
According to a Content Marketing Institute survey, 93% of B2B marketers use email to deliver content. However, 55% of content marketing teams are small and often have just one person creating content for an entire organization.
While business executives are aware of the power of email marketing, their interest does not always translate into sufficient investment to support a profitable strategy.
Without a solid lead generation strategy, companies don’t have enough raw leads to convert into sales opportunities to meet revenue and growth objectives. Therefore, fixing the conversion problem requires first fixing the lead generation problem.
How to generate more leads for your email marketing plan
Lead generation is the front end to email marketing (lead qualification and nurturing). The goal of lead generation is to not only collect new leads but to pre-qualify them. This enables more targeted nurturing with email and faster handover to the sales team.
So, improving lead generation efforts requires going beyond fixing primary mistakes and focusing on optimizing lead generation workflow.
Start by creating more relevant lead magnets
Match your lead magnets to blog posts. Every time you offer a lead magnet that doesn’t mesh with the topic or add value to the blog post or the landing page it is served on, you lose the opportunity to generate new leads.
To prevent this lead leakage, sit down with your marketing team and discuss individual lead magnet ideas for each of your top-performing posts. These are called a “content upgrade.” Since this is an expensive and time-consuming process, create lead magnets in phases, with three (or more) lead magnets in each phase.
A contextually-relevant lead magnet is a logical continuation of what the visitor reads in your blog post. Because readers have already been engaged by the blog post, they won’t mind submitting their email to unlock the content upgrade and get more value.
The techniques listed below are based on this central idea of content upgrades. They are premium list-building tactics that help you optimize lead generation for your business.
1. Provide contextually-relevant lead magnets.
Often, marketers will create just one or two generic lead magnets and use them on all their blog posts and landing pages.
For example, if a UX design agency creates a “checklist to hire experienced UX designers” as a lead magnet, it may be served on the following blog posts:
- How to train a junior UI Designer to be a UX Specialist
- Latest trends and outdated strategies in UI/UX design
- Common mistakes while hiring Senior UX Designers
The lead magnet, however, is suitable for only the third post. When visitors read the first two blog posts, they would instantly notice the lack of relevance. Without relevance, it’s highly unlikely they will trade their contact information for that asset.
Content upgrades, on the other hand, are highly contextually-relevant lead magnets that add more value to the blog post or the landing page.
Some common lead magnet types include:
- Checklists – Suitable for long-form blog posts over 2,500 words
- Tools – Suitable for case studies and how-to articles
- Video tutorials and slide decks – Suitable for educational posts
In the above example of the UX Design agency, all three top-performing posts must have their own specific lead magnets.
For blog post number one, all the training resources customized for training a UI designer can be compiled into an eBook or a video-over-email course. For the second post, one of the trends can be examined in detail, with the findings of the study released as a report.
You can also conduct a secondary study by analyzing existing studies and compiling or visualizing the most impactful stats in your report.
2. Optimize the design of your lead capture form.
You may have difficulty generating email signups even with a lead magnet offering significant upgrades. Visitors might still not subscribe if they are not convinced of the value or are concerned they may be bombarded with spam. Redesigning your website to get more leads and higher conversions needs a more strategic focus.
To persuade hesitant users, try one of the following techniques:
- Show the image of a sample email on the lead capture form. Alternatively, you can share a link to a portfolio page of your best emails.
- Share your posting schedule with the timing and frequency of your emails. By being transparent about your posting schedule, you avoid being perceived as spammers.
- On your lead capture form. share the social proof with the exact number of email subscribers in your list or an image showing one or two of your best client testimonials.
Without a consistent visual identity in the lead form and the lead magnet, they may end up looking unprofessional. Visual identity includes the company logo and the company’s default color scheme included in the lead capture form and within the lead magnet content.
3. Optimize email design for conversion.
To quickly move leads through the sales pipeline, use email marketing to nurture them towards a purchase event on their customer journey.
Conversion goals are not atomic. A user will rarely purchase something from you (or perform any other conversion goals) on the first visit. Instead, smaller actions like social shares and comments and research on product pages indicate user’s motivation to purchase much more accurately.
To capture the granularity in the user’s journey, break down the conversion goals into macro and micro goals.
Optimize email design for engagement-based micro-goals, by tweaking the email design to include adding direct links or buttons to:
- Create an account
- View a product
- Add product to cart
- Explore related products
- Share and comment on social media.
This helps minimize the effort subscribers must take to move forward on their customer journey.
4. Use customized landing pages for guest posts.
The usual guest posting workflow is to publish a guest post with backlinks on a relevant, high-authority blog. While this sets a path for new leads to flow into the entry point of your funnel (i.e. your website), it does nothing to capture those new leads.
To capture these leads, this page must offer a content upgrade lead magnet to add more value to what they already learned in the guest post. Consider adding a layer of personalization on this page by directly addressing them as visitors from the guest blog.
As a hypothetical example, let’s assume visitors on the website of Shamrock Industrial Cleaning Services read a guest blog. They find a backlink to a landing page on the website of Excel Washing Services.
To capture these leads flowing from the Shamrock website, the Excel website will host a landing page offering a content upgrade for what visitors read on the guest blog post. They might also add a personalized discount that is “only for visitors from Shamrock Services.” Tracking is possible through UTM or URL parameters.
This new workflow not only provides inherent value-add of content upgrades but it also pre-qualifies the lead before it moves through the different stages of the sales pipeline.
5. Use Thank You pages to attract warm leads into the email list.
A new customer who has just completed a purchase or has use your service is considered a ‘warm lead” for future sales. The level of trust is high. By using a relevant lead magnet that gives them incremental value, you can easily sell convert this trust into additional dollars by upselling your products/services.
You already have their email address to share the transaction confirmation. However, this cannot be assumed to be the consent for receiving marketing emails. Besides, due to strict GDPR guidelines, you cannot sign up EU users to your email list without their explicit consent.
A lead capture form on a Thank You page helps overcome this barrier by explicitly asking for their permission after they have already taken an action to show their trust with your company.
Email marketing is a time-consuming yet highly rewarding process. There are lots of moving parts to an effective email marketing strategy. It all starts with your lead generation process.
Content upgrades are used to find lead magnet ideas that users will find instantly relevant when viewing the lead capture form. These can be further used to increase lead magnet relevance on blog posts, landing pages, and guest posts.
Apart from the relevance, social proof signals also improve the lead capture rates of the forms.
Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder and President of Arkenea. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader in numerous media channels such as Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.