Are you a very new business owner? Are you a one-person shop? Let’s say you are a coach, consultant, artist, designer, WordPress guru, jewelry maker or creator of handmade soaps … you get the idea. If you own a small business, and you don’t have a large budget to spend on PPC or Facebook advertising, you want to pay attention to this post.
You especially want to pay attention if you have been in business for less than 12 months, meaning you are still new at this, or not seeing any traction yet. In this post, I am going to teach you how to attract more leads (email subscribers) with content marketing. You will learn to build an email list filled with hot leads that are that much interested in your offerings, be it products or services.
Before your eyes glaze over with the term ‘content marketing’, I actually want you to forget that this term exists. Just forget about it. The term brings up all sort of stuff for people because either they don’t quite get it, or confuse it with other forms of marketing. The best thing would be to stop calling it and just focus on creating content that builds your email list. Deal?
Now, it is likely that you already have a website up. That you have some content on it. You might even be publishing a monthly newsletter, publishing content on various social media platforms, but there are two problems with what you are doing.
- You are not clear on your approach. You don’t know what type of content to create for a specific goal or a particular platform. What goes in your blog vs newsletter? What should be put in a membership site? What should you say on your squeeze page? You don’t know how to connect all the dots. You can’t quite fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Everything is a guess to see what sticks.
- It is not working.
So basically, the second problem is the direct result of the first one. If you don’t know what you are doing, the only time you are going to see some success is if it’s a fluke. You don’t have a hand in it. When you fix the first issue, the second one gets fixed automatically. So let’s concentrate on fixing it.
Why publish content?
Let me ask you a question: why you do publish content on your website?
Is it because you are supposed to? Is it because everyone else is doing it? Because some marketing guru told you to? Is it because you enjoy writing and creating a community?
The main reason you publish content is because it pre-sells your products and services. Meaning, it qualifies the buyers. It separates people who will never, ever buy from you from those who will. Lots of people come to your site. Some of it might be ready to make a purchase there and then but vast majority of people won’t. When you publish strategic, highly relevant content on your website, you get their attention.
These people say to themselves – hmm, this content is highly useful. This helps me in getting closer to my solution. I better find out what else this person is offering. I don’t want to miss any of their content so I’d better get on their list. You see what’s happening there? You are getting the attention of people who are most likely to buy from you. You are attracting your ideal customers and clients with your content – that’s what you are doing.
The goals of your content marketing should be:
- Find new potential buyers (leads)
- Convert leads into people interested what you have to offer (prospects)
- Convert prospects into paying customers
- Create trust, authority and credibility.
Every time you want to create a piece of content for your website, your newsletter or your social media outposts, you need to ask yourself this question. What content can I create to get the attention of my prospects?
Content marketing simply means talking about your products and services in a way to demonstrate how they fit within your customers’ lives. Discussing the need for it and what they’ll get out of it. Once you truly get this idea – the reason for all this content creation is to pre-sell – and understand the strategy, you can supercharge your ‘content marketing’ efforts.
So how to you begin the process of creating an effective content strategy? How do you make sure you are not making big mistakes with your content?
First identify your ideal customer
Your ideal customer persona will drive your content. Without knowing exactly who your ideal audience is, you are just taking stabs in the dark. I suggest sitting down and creating a detailed persona for who your ideal buyer looks like. It needs to specific and highly detailed. It needs to be so specific that you can imagine writing to this person, having a chat with this person. Its fine to have more than one personas, but you should definitely create one.
Also, this needs to be your best customer – your ideal client. The person who you love working with, who energizes you and you can’t wait to talk to them. This can’t be someone who fills you with dread, who is always late in making payments or worse, broke. Here is a post that I wrote earlier that will outline this process in detail.
Then think about how exactly you do you help them. What problems are you helping them solve? And why should they choose you over others? Now only publish content which will appeal to this person. Think of your content as a customer/client attraction tool.
Decide between free and paid content
Your next step is to think about what sort of content can be created as entry level, free content. Lot of people get stuck here so I will talk about what you give away for free and what you should charge for. Remember, free content solves easy problems. You don’t need a commitment from people to consume this content and take action.
On the basic level, this content can be published on your blog (or your website in the form of articles – you don’t have to call it a blog), posted in the form of social media updates.
You definitely need to publish content to attract new people on an ongoing basis. You need to be constantly adding people to your list, reap the SEO benefits, attract backlinks and allow people to share your content with their friends.
- This can be introductory level content that is quick and easy to consume for the most part. This speaks to your ideal audience. Make it enjoyable and easy to share.
- This is your foundational content. Things you want all prospects to be aware of in order to do business with you. You can talk about your readers’ problems and provide quick solutions, talk about the benefits of what you offer and publish success stories, address their objections and help them make an informed decision.
- Interlink your content and optimize for SEO by using language and phrases your idea customer uses to search online.
- You should also publish some of your best content as guest posts in order to get in front of other people audiences. Here is a complete guide on guest blogging in case you missed it.
Sign up offer
On the next level, it can form your sign-up offer. This can be slightly more advanced content.
- PDF such as an ebook, a report or a white paper.
- An ecourse such as video course, or series of trainings sent via your email autoresponder (a sequence of 7-10 theme-focused emails that gets triggered from the moment someone signs up to your list). The autoresponder is highly effective for the simple reason that it helps create a deeper connection with your new subscriber. Think of it as a series of gestures and gifts after a great first date to create a memorable impression on someone you just met. Make sure to create content around a problem people are looking to solve and it is presented in a unique, interesting manner.
When it comes to creating paid or premium content, this should solve complex problems. And you also need people to commit in the form of money and time.
Think about how much are you asking of your readers: Low commitment? Blog posts. A bit more commitment? Content they receive once they sign up to your list. Even more commitment and access to you? Paid/Premium content as ebooks, subscription based membership sites, online programs etc.
Great. Now you understand the difference between free vs paid, and know what to offer and when, what’s next? Understanding and applying the AIDA sequence in your content marketing.
Follow the AIDA sequence
AIDA simply refers to attention, interest, desire and action.
When you are creating content as the primary way to attract leads, think of it as an ongoing conveyer belt. People find you through your social media content or word of mouth, you have got their attention. Now, you have to lead them through the AIDA sequence so they go from curious folks to engaged readers to a customer.
Let’s see what that looks like:
You have to grab their attention before anything can happen. They have to find out before they can do anything. Your blog content is ideal for this. This is often bite-sized (although long form content works well when it’s part of your overall content marketing strategy – such as this post you are reading right now.) Linkbait content is fantastic where you try to include other people within your content to bring value to your readers, their readers and new readers. However, don’t create this type of content all the time or you will look desperate.
You can also publish white papers, reports, ebooks, and manifestos – anything that leads to people sharing it with their friends to get your content in the hands of brand new people. Headlines are crucial. This is why content creators and copywriters spend hours on nailing the headlines. Do your best but don’t obsess about it. People really obsess about creating attention grabbing content, but they don’t realize that getting attention is easy, keeping them interested in the hard part.
Once you get their attention, you’ve got to hold on to it. This is why you should post at least once a week. You want to keep their attention. This is why you need to write irresistible intros. Keep your ideal reader in mind. How many times do they want to hear from you? Which format do they like best – written, audio, video? Think about length – do they prefer shorter or longer posts?
Create content that is useful and interesting, both. Include different lengths. Hold their attention. Talk about their problems. Give them action steps for quick wins but let them know that the problem will get worse if they don’t anything now. Remind them you have solutions and can help them meet their needs.
Publish case studies and success stories – they are great for holding attention. People see themselves in these stories, they are test driving your products/services in their heads. Let them imagine bright futures before they buy.
If you have talked about their problem, they want to know the answer. It is time to harness the power of desire. When they want something, they want to know how does what you offer apply to their situation. They want to know whether it will work for them. They want you to convince them that your product or service will indeed solve their problem.
Remove their objections. The fact that the solution exists but they can’t have it just yet, will increase desire. Being engaged is super important also. Make sure you keep these people in the loop till they leave or buy.
Don’t put too many calls to action competing with each other all over your website. Or you will end up confusing people. What is most important to you right now? Are you building your list and engaging in a massive social media promotion? If so, put a big banner saying sign up to my list. Install a pop-up plugin if that is something appropriate for your audience. Ask people to get on your list every chance you get.
But don’t ask for people to buy at the same time. Remember, your priority is list building for now. You are not closing any sales. But when you are, close the deal. Take people through the AIDA sequence before they land on your landing pages. If you have attracted the right person, keep them interested in what you have to say, created desire for your offerings, they should take the action you want them to take. If not, you have attracted the wrong person.
Finally, it is time to optimize your landing pages. This is how you do it.
Optimize your content landing pages
A content landing page is a page that’s designed to get a reader to take a form of action. The most common examples are about pages, squeeze pages, contact and services pages.
You want to keep tweaking those landing pages and keep improving the conversions. You want more people to contact you, more people to sign up and more people to form a favourable impression of you and increase their level of trust.
Here are some of the actions you can take to improve your landing pages.
- Have you made it easy for them to find out the most important information without having to dig deep?
- Do you showcase any content pieces that add to your credibility and competence?
- Is there one clear call to action?
- List all those things that will help your prospective buyers evaluate you to see whether or not you would be a great fit for their particular needs: Your credentials, your experience, testimonials from happy clients or customers.
- Are you stating your USP clearly that will help them choose you over your competitors?
- Do you see anything that might be unnecessary and even annoying to people looking for information about you?
- Do you link to your hire me, or work with me or services page?
- Have you got a link for people to sign up to your email list?
- Are you happy with your about page?
Work with me page
- Have you summarized your main offerings?
- Have you gotten rid of anything that is unnecessary or adds clutter to this page?
- Have you given them all the details and the next steps?
- Have you got something that will gently push them or motivate them to take action now rather than later?
- Are you generally happy with your page?
- Have you made it as easy it can be for them to get in touch with you?
Want even more tips on content marketing? Read this article to find out 20 quick content marketing tips every blogger should know. Remember, your content creation is a continuing process. In this ongoing cycle, your goal is to follow a three step process.
Attract. Engage. Convert.
As long as you are paying attention to all three stages of the content marketing cycle, you have nothing to worry about. You have successfully turned your content into the ultimate the lead magnet.