If you’re putting in the time and effort to create and publish content for your business, you want to make sure you’re doing it right—that means generating traffic, building trust with your audience, and even generating leads. The best way to do that is with a solid content marketing strategy.
Today, we’re going to cover:
Here we go.
A content marketing strategy is a plan for growing your brand’s audience by creating and distributing content that engages, educates, or informs.
While this definition explains what a content marketing strategy is, there are some parts that you’ll need to define for your business. The first part is what growing your audience means for you. A lot of businesses use content marketing to grow their brand awareness. Showing up in the search results is a great way to get your name in front of your potential customers.
Moz’s brand name appears five times here, for instance. That’s bound to stick.
But content marketing is great for generating leads, too. In fact, 70% of B2B marketers report generating leads from content. The key is setting up a content strategy with this in mind.
The rest of the parts in the definition you’ll need to determine include the format of your content, the platform for your distribution, and how it’ll engage your audience. We’ll talk about how to settle on each of these below. But first, let’s talk about why it’s essential to spend time developing a content marketing strategy to generate leads for your business.
You need a content marketing strategy because your content marketing efforts will be more effective—not to mention more efficient—with a documented plan in place. And that’s not just my stance. More than half of the most successful marketers have one in place.
Even more? Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and creates three times more leads. So if you take the time and effort to get it right with a documented strategy and awesome execution, you’ll be well on your way to generating more low-cost leads for your business.
Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and creates three times more leads.
The benefits of content marketing are too great to ignore. So without further ado, let’s get to work on your strategy.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to developing your content marketing plan, all the way from initial goal setting to ongoing updates to keep your content fresh. Let’s jump in.
The first step in your content marketing plan—or, let’s be honest, any plan—is to set your goals. What are you hoping to do? Why are you creating content?
In this case, the short answer is probably to generate leads. That’s a great place to start, but it’s not quite enough. Next, you need to make sure your marketing objective is something you can act on. For that, we’d recommend using a SMART goal.
This acronym stands for:
So, for example, instead of saying your goal is to generate more leads, set your goal to generate 25% more leads from content over the next two quarters. That’s something you can track, measure, and work towards.
Next, you need to identify your audience in order to create content. The best way to do that is to take a closer look at your buyer personas. These are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal customers, and they’re excellent tools for content marketing strategies.
Use these personas as a starting point for creating content that your audience would want to consume (keeping content marketing trends in mind as well). After all, you’re creating a content marketing plan to generate more leads, so you should be creating that content with your ideal customers in mind.
Ask yourself some questions based on your personas:
The first few questions are great for thinking of topics for specific blog posts, videos, or themes you can cover. For instance, this blog post is about developing a lead-generating content marketing strategy. This is far from the only post about content marketing on the WordStream blog, though. There’s a whole content marketing category with all kinds of helpful tools and resources.
That last question is a great way to get started with some competitive keyword research, which leads us to the next step.
In order to create content that generates leads, you need to make sure it’s reaching people. We’ll talk more about distribution channels later, but you should have SEO in mind from the beginning for most of your blog posts, and even videos. 63% of web pages don’t get any organic traffic at all—you don’t want to be a part of that statistic.
So use the topics that your ideal customers are interested in as seed terms to start your search in your keyword tool. When your results come up, consider your audience again and how interested they’d be.
And the other sites your ideal customers are reading? Use your keyword research tool to see what their top-ranking pages are and what content generates the most traffic. This can be a great place to find video or blog post ideas for your brand. You don’t want to recreate content, but if it’s out of date or not a good match for the search term, you can write something better.
Search intent describes the purpose of an online search. When you’re looking for something to make for dinner after work, you might search “30 minute dinner.” The goal is to get a recipe that you can make in about half an hour. You’re not looking for a definition or an explanation or to make a purchase. That’s not the search intent here.
See? Google knows.
You want to rank organically, and you want to offer your audience what they’re looking for. That’s why search intent is important to keep in mind.
There are four common types of search intent:
For your content strategy, you want to focus on informational and commercial intent. Someone looking for educational content about a topic or looking for information to influence their purchase. Leave the navigational and transactional to any login or pricing pages your company has.
In order to develop a compelling, lead-generating content marketing strategy, you need to prioritize creating high-quality content.
As of today, there are about 3.75 billion web pages indexed. That doesn’t mean all of these rank, but it does mean that, regardless of your brand’s focus, you’re going to have some competition.
Even more, you’re going to be competing for attention. We all spend time on our phones, answering emails, watching Instagram Reels, or scrolling through TikTok. And then we all get that wave of shame when we see our screentime reports each week—or maybe the last one’s just me. Regardless, the average person spends about seven hours online each day, and a big portion of that’s spent consuming content. In order to hold your audience’s attention, you need to be creating great content.
Lots of opportunity for great content across the content marketing funnel.
The good news? This content marketing strategy is a good place to start. Once you’re ready, be sure to create content that answers their query and offers your audience value. Then, take the time for content editing to ensure you’re not missing any mistakes or opportunities (our editorial calendar template may be helpful here). That’s how you can create high-quality content that not only deserves to rank, but also generates high-quality leads for your business.
This next step is key: In order to capture those leads, you need to optimize your content for conversions. For your video marketing, that means focusing on your thumbnails or ending your content with a CTA. For your blog post content, that means strategically placing CTAs throughout your post.
The best way to do this is to align your CTAs with your content. What does that mean? Let’s consider this example from Later. Here’s an in-text CTA in a blog post about Instagram creator features that let you monetize your content:
The text is highlighted and bold, and it’s eye-catching centered on the page. But even more importantly, it’s directing the reader to related content that they’ll likely be interested in. It’s more information about making money on Instagram.
Another great way to optimize your content is to offer gated content, like a spreadsheet or template that users have to provide their email to obtain. Here’s an example from HubSpot offers free resume templates on its blog post about the best resume fonts.
In this one, HubSpot uses a big orange button right at the top of the page to capture as many leads as possible.
Once you’ve created your marketing collateral and made sure it’s optimized for leads, the next step is to distribute. Now, you might be wondering why you need to do that if you’ve optimized it for keyword and search intent. But the goal is to get your content to as many interested people as possible, so you need to do more than SEO.
After you’ve posted your content on your website, you should share on social media, send a compelling email to your database, post on relevant Reddit or Quora threads, or even use it for webinar or conference materials.
A great example of content distribution from Semrush.
Pro tip: Repurpose your content in multiple mediums for maximum distribution. You can use part of a blog post to script a video, use multiple blog posts to build a guide, and make a chart from a data project into an infographic. That way, you can use one or two pieces of content to create four or five different types of content that you can use in your email marketing, across your social channels, and even throughout your website.
Time for some bad news: After you’ve distributed your content and started counting your leads, you’re not exactly done.
Content marketing trends change, so your strategy needs to include a plan for updating your old content. Now, you should do this thoughtfully. Let’s say your company sells electric cars. A short post announcing a new location opening up? Probably not necessary to update. A cornerstone blog post on the emissions from standard and the potential environmental impact of switching to electric? Might be worth checking in on new research to make sure you’re offering the best information to your audience.
So make room for monitoring the performance of your content and then updating as needed. That way, you’re content can always be generating leads for your business in the background. A content audit could really help you out here! Use our content audit guide blog post (with free templates!) to stay on top of your performance.
That was a lot! Let’s recap the nine steps to creating a lead-generating content marketing strategy:
Now, go create great content and start getting more leads!
Céillie is Head of Marketing for Building Ventures, a VC firm focused on funding and mentoring early-stage startups in the built environment space. Previously, Ceillie led content strategy for Unstack and managed the award-winning blog at WordStream.
See other posts by Céillie Clark-Keane
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