What Types of Content Actually Drive Leads?

Neil Bhapkar
Neil Bhapkar VP Marketing, Uberflip

Posted on June 8th 2013

What Types of Content Actually Drive Leads?

content marketing strategyI recently read an estimate that content marketing is now a $44 billion industry. This got me thinking – what does that even mean? Did “content marketing” even exist ten years ago?

The reality is that content marketing has always existed. It’s the labelling of it and the tactics within it that have evolved over time. Thirty years ago a big-time professional services firm (accounting, law, consulting – pick your poison) still put together whitepapers, articles, graphs, and videos for the purpose of positioning themselves as thought-leaders and to ultimately drive leads.

Where things have changed is the delivery of such content. Whereas before content was delivered primarily through ads, mail, memos, and events, today content is delivered digitally. It’s delivered through email, social media, and search engines (SEO). It’s delivered across device platforms, browsers, screen sizes, and even countries.

The primary goal of content marketing continues to be about driving leads. But where should you hedge your bets? Given unlimited resources you could create endless videos, whitepapers, newsletters, infographics, blogs, webinars, etc. You could have unlimited employees and influencers creating conversations about your content through social channels. The reality is, however, that marketers need to do a better job at understanding the effectiveness of tactics within the content marketing tool kit.

It all starts with understanding your target audience or your target persona(s), and reaching them through the content channels that appeal to them most. This is the easy part as most marketers either have good data or just a gut feeling as to who their target audience is and how to reach them. But how do you validate this? Here are some ideas:

Understand Your Lead Source

If the primary goal of content marketing is to drive leads, then make sure you know where your leads are coming from. There’s a whole marketing ecosystem of CRM and automation software that aim to achieve this lofty goal. If you’re driving more leads from your blog content than your webinar landing page, focus more on blog content. However, every lead is not the same…

Leads Are Great – Revenue is Real

Inbound marketers will argue this, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter how many leads you have if you can’t effectively convert them to customers. Leads are a good early indicator of channel effectiveness, but ultimately content marketing ROI needs to be based on customers and revenue – not leads.

Content Should Be Viral

Social media has become the most prominent delivery mechanism for content marketing. Often your content assets can only go as far as your social reach. If your Twitter following is full of fake accounts, all you have is a big, fake, vain follower number. If you have a real following, you’ll have an audience of influencers and advocates who will share and create conversations around your content. That’s virality for you! Measure which types of content tend to go viral.

Work With The Resources You Have

You may come to understand which types of content drive more leads and conversions for your business, but another factor to consider is the time and money that goes into different types of content. Depending on the resources available to you as a marketer, focus your efforts on producing content that you know to be effective.

At Uberflip, we’ve figured out the document piece of the content marketing puzzle. Whether you’re creating whitepapers, presentations, ebooks, newsletters, or marketing kits, it’s clear that PDFs don’t give you any insight into how effective your content is. Uberflip does. But that doesn’t help our customers when they need to compare their content marketing documents against other tactics such as videos, social, or even their blog content.

With that said – here’s what’s coming: www.uberflip.com/get-a-hub

Neil Bhapkar

Neil Bhapkar

VP Marketing, Uberflip

Neil is a digital marketing professional who currently serves as the VP of Marketing for interactive marketing start-up Uberflip. Neil has previously worked with global brands such as Kobo, Lavalife, and GlaxoSmithKline. Neil's expertise includes content marketing, online lead generation, web analytics, and digital strategy. Neil has an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business. Follow Neil at @NeilBhaps or visit www.uberflip.com/blog for similar thought-leadership content.

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Comments

This is a must-read article for everyone involved with Content Marketing.  The section on "Revenue is Real" is especially important because it shows that lead conversion is the key to success.  One thing that is new today is the increasing use of Marketing Automation as provided by companies such as Hubspot and Marketo.  Neil is right that this historic use of content marketing isn't new, especially as a cornerstone of a comprehensive marketing plan.  But what is new is the use of digital media and social channels to expand your reach.

We at SocialEars have been working closely with Innovative Marketing Resources (IMRcorp), Hubspot, and Marketo on exactly these points and in helping customers better understand the transition of content marketing into the social media domain.  Marketing readers of Neil's article should take the time to understand his points to maximize their success.

Well done!

Great comment! Thanks for your input.

Here's my "Hub" for those interested in more content from me: neil.uberflip.com