Many companies still believe that Digital Marketing is all about ad campaigns and social media. Some of us, when entering Rock, also thought so.
Our experience in the company has shown us that Digital Marketing possibilities are endless and that, with a solid Content Marketing strategy, not being able to invest in ads is irrelevant.
Over time, we managed to build a stronger base of contacts through a completely organic strategy. And this still allows us to generate several business opportunities every month.
Of course, nothing happened overnight. In the last months, we have been testing and developing many strategies. That’s why we decided to write this article.
In the next lines, we will talk about the best practices we have implemented to generate demand here at Rock, which currently allow us to create more than 700 sales opportunities every month.
Besides, we’ll share some important tips which will surely help you improve your results.
These are the topics we’ll go over:
- Starting with the top of the funnel: attraction
- What we consider a business opportunity
- What about the other contacts?
- 14 tips to generate leads without spending on ads
Starting with the top of the funnel: attraction
First of all, none of this would have been possible if we hadn’t started from the top of the Content Marketing funnel, that is, generating traffic for our blog.
Many companies already understand the need to create a blog and feed it with relevant content optimized for the user’s intention in search engines.
But, many times, we feel that this is left aside in digital strategies, deemed as something secondary. At Rock, our blog is essential in generating the results we have today.
In Content Marketing, everything starts with attracting visitors — and obviously, in our case, it couldn’t be any different.
What we consider a business opportunity
At Rock Content, we consider business opportunities the incoming contacts that fit the lead or MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) criteria, and, therefore, can be processed by our sales team.
But this may vary from company to company, as each business has an ideal customer profile — a buyer persona — and needs different data from its users.
The objective is to best qualify them and learn the best way to lead them through the sales funnel.
Based on the development of a buyer persona, it is possible to define which type of information we need from the prospects for them to be qualified as leads or MQLs.
For example, if you are in the B2B (business-to-business) environment, does knowing the size of your prospect’s company allow you to identify whether it’s a good business opportunity? What about knowing their location?
For us, what differentiates a lead from an MQL is that the MQL seeks Rock on its own, looking for help and requesting a dialogue with our consultants actively, while the lead has not yet taken this step.
In other words, an MQL is more likely to be ready for the purchase. However, this does not mean that a lead should not be considered a business opportunity.
What about the other contacts?
Much of our contact base does not meet our lead or MQL criteria and is therefore not considered a business opportunity for Rock — at the moment.
However, this does not mean that we exclude these contacts. They continue to be attracted through free content and newsletters.
This is very important since one of the main objectives of Content Marketing is to educate the market.
One day, who knows, one of these contacts may become a potential customer.
14 tips to generate leads without spending on ads
Now that you understand how we rank the business opportunities in our base, we will show you the strategies we use to attract and convert these people.
We’ll give you tips that may also be useful to your Digital Marketing strategy. You are probably already familiar with some of them, but here we will show you exactly how we apply them to generate results.
1. Define your buyer persona
All the actions we will mention in this list are much more effective in practice because they take into account our buyer persona.
The buyer persona is the semi-fictional representation of our ideal customer. It includes name, position, professional goals, main marketing problems, among other data.
It allows us to understand how to direct all our strategic actions within the marketing team, creating content focused on the people we want to reach and their respective buyer’s journey, which helps optimize our efforts.
2. Organize your sales funnel
Before implementing several marketing actions, we suggest that you organize your company’s sales funnel.
In case you are not familiar with the term, we explain. The sales funnel represents the stages that a potential client goes through before buying a solution.
This helps the marketing team align with the sales department because it establishes procedures so that everyone meets the business objectives.
After defining the funnel, you will be able to make better decisions and improve your marketing strategies and actions, achieving better results.
3. Create free downloadable content that will attract your audience’s attention
Content is the main pillar of Rock Content, which is why we feed our blog every day with information useful to our audience.
When it comes to generating contacts, it is interesting to create more complete content or use different formats from those normally published on the blog, offering them as downloadable materials.
In exchange for this free content, you can request information from the user, such as their email address, which will be important for their qualification within the contact base.
Below are some downloadable content formats that we use here at Rock.
This is the free material format we use the most. Basically, it’s a long and complete content on some topic that can help our buyer persona.
Spreadsheets and templates
Spreadsheets and templates are very effective because they are practical and reusable content.
Studies are content that requires more work but generates a lot of value and attracts new audiences’ interest.
Other content formats we explore are:
4. Automate your marketing strategy
The use of tools and software is essential to optimize your work routine, enabling you to concentrate more on strategy and less on the operational part of your marketing strategy.
In addition to making your work easier, marketing automation tools offer tangible data that allows you to make better decisions in the future.
You can also monitor your results with greater efficiency, integrate marketing processes, and be more productive.
You can also segment your audience and work on it in a thousand different ways.
5. Develop good landing pages
Remember we mentioned the pieces of information that are essential to qualify our contacts as leads?
In our landing pages, we request this information in return for free quality content — like those mentioned in the previous topic.
Landing pages are an essential part of any strategy that targets conversion, so you should make sure they are suitable and enjoyable for the user.
To do this, make it very clear what the offer is and, whenever possible, run A/B tests.
Here is an example of our landing page offering an ebook about SEO.
Another important aspect is the dissemination of such offers.
What are your strongest channels: blog, social media?
Remember that when spreading your lead generation materials. An interesting and complete content that doesn’t reach people is ineffective.
Tip: create an editorial calendar, so you don’t forget to share your materials regularly.
Thank you page
One strategy that brought us good results was adopting a thank you page, displayed to users whenever they download any of our content.
We included in this page other materials that may interest our buyer persona so that they remain engaged and perceive value in our brand and our content.
We’ve also added our free trial offer aiming to direct the persona to more advanced stages of the sales funnel.
6. Use the power of your blog to convert your visitors
As we mentioned, we wouldn’t have reached these numbers if it weren’t for our blog’s growth.
To do so, we have attracted visitors from the organic positioning of content in search engines, aiming to help them solve their problems and, at the same time, create relevance and authority for our company.
Once the blog strategy is implemented, it’s time to add conversion points to this channel so that visitors can take a step further towards meeting our business goal.
Never forget to harness the power of your blog to capture contacts that may later become sales opportunities.
Below are some examples of conversion points we use in our blog.
Banners (Rock Convert)
We use two types of banners on blog posts and create both using the Rock Convert plugin, a feature available on Stage. You can install it for free on your WordPress and start capturing leads right now.
The first type is a banner that converts a blog post into a PDF for download:
The other category includes offers of downloadable materials, like the ones we mentioned before:
This plugin provides information regarding the number of clicks the banners receive and is very easy to use.
Our forms work in a similar way to rich material banners.
Its main advantage is that it is not necessary to access another page to download the content. The user can fill out the form and share their data while reading the post.
This greatly increases the chance of conversion, as it reduces the user’s journey.
Implementing these forms helped us a lot, especially when we went through a phase of slow lead generation.
For many materials, we asked users to leave only their email information, as our sole goal was to increase our number of subscribers.
Then, from other email marketing strategies — which we will explain later —, we developed other ways to turn them into leads and MQLs.
These forms can be created in marketing automation tools, such as HubSpot or Salesforce.
Pop-ups appear when you open certain pages on the internet.
We know it sounds like something very inconvenient. But when used wisely, pop-ups can generate great marketing results, such as longer time on page and better organic positioning.
The main strategy we use to generate demand through pop-ups is to provide offers related to the subject the user is looking for in a given post.
For example, whenever we are promoting a webinar, we take advantage of the blog’s organic traffic to generate leads. We do this by adding a pop-up offering the subscription.
Similarly, on the bottom of the funnel posts — closest to the purchase —, we have placed a pop-up that allows the reader to schedule a chat with a consultant.
We apply this type of strategy in the majority of our most accessed posts.
7. Create a newsletter delivery strategy
Our weekly newsletters are directly related to the excellent results we generate.
As we mentioned, our base was built from a totally organic strategy. And since the beginning, we have been very careful in nurturing these people with educational content by email.
Ask yourself: which problems do you need your potential clients to know to generate value to your business and educate them on their consumer journey?
Do it through pieces of content and send them in your newsletter.
In our strategy, we opt for a more humanized type of writing from the beginning, treating our contacts as we would like to be treated.
Over time, we have built a relationship of trust with them. Today, we have an extremely engaged base that really seeks Rock Content as a solution to their marketing-related questions or problems.
8. Create nurturing flows focused on your buyer persona
After defining our buyer personas, we have created nurturing flows aiming to speak directly to each of them.
Unlike newsletters, which are one-off shots, nurturing flows are sequences of recurring emails sent to your contact base’s specific target group.
For example, one of our buyer personas is a marketing director at a major university, and one of their main problems is dealing with the competition to attract new students.
From this data, we produce a flow only for our leads that fall into this profile and create a sequence of emails. They focus on the difficulties faced by the persona’s business and the possible solutions as well.
First, we send educational content — such as ebooks and blog posts — so that the persona understands how the visibility of Content Marketing can help attract new students.
Then, we present success stories from other universities, until the contact reaches the funnel’s end and realizes the value of our strategy. Then, we send them an email inviting them to contact us.
There is no formula or a correct number of emails for a flow; it will depend on your strategy. The important thing is to practice, test, and change tactics whenever necessary.
9. Hold webinars
The webinar has several advantages that make it attractive in terms of content format. Moreover, it also shows to be a good option for companies because:
- it is easy to consume — and also to produce;
- video content is on the rise;
- it allows the creation of interactive experiences;
- it humanizes the company;
- it generates authority.
Whenever we explore this kind of content, we get good results. However, be careful not to provide live broadcasts that are merely for show.
You need to think about what subject can be interesting, either to your public or to your company, and what questions your buyer persona has. You could also approach themes focused on the top of the funnel.
10. Share your customers’ stories
Nothing better to convince someone to buy a product or service than showing the real results they can achieve.
A successful case study, with real data on how your solution has helped other people or companies, is a piece of content that generates a lot of value.
It is especially important at the bottom of the funnel, which is close to the purchase decision.
11. Establish an interactive content strategy
Interactive content is a great tool to extract valuable information from your leads.
This type of content provides more attractive experiences for users, consequently generating more engagement and conversion in your pages.
There are several interactive content formats — we are sure you already know most of them. Examples:
Besides promoting engagement, the secret to the success of interactive strategies lies in the ability to further qualify your potential clients.
For example, this Rock Content’s Spanish study case is an interactive experience:
Throughout the content, we inserted quizzes that help us to better understand the profile of the user. For example:
- “What is your company’s biggest marketing challenge today?”
- “Does your company already use a Content Marketing strategy?”
Depending on their answers, we can qualify them as potential leads and better understand their Digital Marketing maturity.
On the other hand, if the user requests to speak with one of our consultants, the team will have valuable information to better approach this potential customer.
And how do we create interactive content at Rock?
We use our own tool, Ion. Here you can check all the features and benefits this platform offers.
12. Seek to make strategic co-marketing alliances
An excellent way to reach new audiences is to make marketing partnerships with other companies with similar objectives.
What is co-marketing? Basically, it is a marketing activity carried out together with another company, such as creating an ebook or webinar, for example, aiming to promote both brands.
Co-marketing works very well for the acquisition of new contacts and the gain of visibility for your business.
The efforts to promote the content will come from two or more parts, and, in the end, all the leads generated will be shared.
But be careful before investing in co-marketing!
Make sure the company you want to partner with has the profile of the audience you want to reach and that it doesn’t end up being a competitor.
If your co-marketing’s main goal is lead generation, it’s interesting to understand the other business’s reach in terms of numbers — so that the results delivered by both parties are balanced.
13. Offer free evaluations
Offering a free evaluation is excellent for your potential client to realize your business’s value and later commit to hiring you.
The probability that someone will start using your solution is much higher this way.
Here at Rock, we offer a free consultation with our Content Marketing experts. So, the prospect can see the weaknesses of their online strategy and understand how Content Marketing can help them face their challenges.
We frequently promote this free trial offer in our materials, blog posts, and email messages sent to our base’s most qualified leads.
14. Make frequent alignments between marketing and sales
It seems basic, but establishing frequent communication between the marketing and sales teams makes all the difference in demand generation.
The sales team can provide many ideas for marketing, for example:
- the main questions of contacts that seek Rock;
- their main marketing challenges.
With this information, the marketing department can create relevant content that helps the leads.
Another very important thing is to align a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales. This is a document that defines what the obligations of one team to the other are.
For example, the marketing team should determine what information defines a sales qualified lead (SQL).
Also, the salespeople’s role is to define how many contacts a sales representative should try to establish with a lead before leaving it aside.
And now, get to work!
We have reached the end of our article! We hope you enjoyed this content about lead generation.
We are sure that, by testing new strategies like those we mentioned, you’ll be closer to producing real results for your company.
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