Have you heard about MarketingSherpa? Their weekly newsletter is a must-read for me. It’s seriously like taking a sneak peek into your competitor’s business. They also offer occasional training, and I recently sat in on a webinar, “How to create high conversion lead generation content” – in other words, how to create web content that does a better job of converting leads into buyers. It was great stuff, and I wanted to share it with you.
First, I loved their 3 ground rules for all web content, which reinforces what I always tell my clients:
1. Your website isn’t about you. It’s about your customers. What do they want to know? Does your website meet their needs, or does it leave them frustrated and wanting more? Unfortunately, this #1 rule is the one most often ignored.
2. Segment your website by prospect type. CEOs and engineers may both be involved in a purchasing decision, for example, but they have very different hot buttons, and you must market to them differently.
3. Create content for each stage of the sales cycle. You must address prospects who are just browsing (Does the prospect even know he has a problem? Does he know about your solution?), prospects considering your product/service (What does he need to know to put your company on his shortlist?), and those ready to make a decision (Is he comfortable that you’re the one for him? What do his peers say? What’s the ROI?).
These 3 rules should frame the context of everything on your website.
Finally, the webinar got to the really good stuff. I’ve already got tons of ideas buzzing around my head right now for my own website, and I know you will too.
Top 12 Types of Content according to MarketingSherpa:
1. Research. Prospects love to hear about themselves, their competitors, and their industry. And presenting original research results makes you an expert. Email surveys are easy to create, if you have a large enough list. Or conduct your own research on publicly available information and form a conclusion. But keep the research objective, not self-serving, or prospects won’t trust you.
2. Classes, 101 Education, and Glossaries. This works especially well if prospects feel like they should know your information but don’t. It also helps with SEO – Google likes this kind of content, as do industry bloggers and other newsletter publishers who might link to your pages. But keep it objective. Educate your prospects, don’t sell to them, or you’ll lose their trust.
3. Tours and Overviews. If your product is complex or too cumbersome to take along on sales meetings, virtual tours and overviews are perfect. Remember to make the video short and entertaining (or at least not boring), keep the visuals varying and the graphics spot-on, be careful when using screenshots (sometimes the print is so small it’s useless), and don’t forget to finish by telling the viewer what to do next.
4. News. About the customer, not about you! Summarize and analyze current industry news, or take information that’s publicly available and re-package it in a chart or graph.
5. Backstage Pass. Attend an industry event and pretend you’re a newspaper reporter – walk the floor, listen to the buzz, interview the event’s top speakers. Use an inexpensive digital recorder to tape the interview “live at the show” and create a podcast on your website. Ask every single person you meet the same short list of questions, and publish the results of your survey. Blog about it. Use your imagination.
6. Personality-Driven Content. Create atmosphere and personality with a regular column or section of content on your website. You can also try publishing re-prints from well-known industry newsletters or chapter excerpts from books (with permission, of course).
7. Thought Leadership. White papers with attention-grabbing titles can go viral and generate lots of downloads. If you don’t have your own white paper, hire a writer to create one for you or syndicate one from a third party.
8. Success Stories and Case Studies. Send your case studies out as press releases for extra mileage. But don’t send the same story to competing publications – you’ll anger and embarrass a reporter who runs the same story as the competition, and he will never again open another email from you.
9. Q&As. Give an expert a list of questions and publish their answers. (Note that you may get more candid, conversational answers if you interview the expert live, in person or over the phone, rather than in writing.) Weave a few SEO keywords into the questions if it makes sense. If the answers are long enough, give each question its own page and create a micro-site within your larger website.
10. Company/Product Information. Give prospects all the details they need to make a buying decision (this includes pricing information). This builds credibility and makes you appear more honest, useful, and helpful. Include photos, testimonials, calendars, historic company info, product hotlinks, press releases, pricing information, and, of course, lots of specs.
11. How-To. Present information that your prospect will use every day on his job, and make it genuinely informative, not fluffy. Ask yourself, will someone be compelled to print this out? Use graphics to clarify your points. Include free tools to download, or at least samples to view, to help prospects with a job-related task. Don’t just tell them what to do, help them do it.
12. Top 10 Lists. Channel your best David Letterman shtick and use top 10 lists to engage readers: top 10 jokes about…, top 10 problems with…, top 10 questions on…, top 10 ways to improve…, top 10 lessons learned…, top 10 biggest surprises… Get creative!
This webinar gave me new ideas and reinforced what I’ve been preaching to clients all along. I love MarketingSherpa’s emphasis on keeping the customer front and center. The encouragement to be creative also excites me. I can’t wait to start incorporating more of this in my own site, and I look forward to seeing what all of you come up with, too!