“Show us the leads that came from your content marketing.”
It’s a tough request to hear from your boss. But you’re hardly alone if you can’t answer with confidence. According to HubSpot’s content marketing trends report, one of the biggest challenges for marketers is creating content that produces direct, trackable leads.
However, it’s important not to give up leveraging content to create avenues to bring leads into your sales funnel. After all, any content — from blog posts and whitepapers to one-pagers and guest-contributed articles — can have “lead adjacent” value. When used in pay-per-click campaigns, emails, or other marketing vehicles, your content can provide education, nurturing, and so much more.
Still, you won’t be able to confidently show the content-lead connection until you take two steps. To start, you'll have to have a solid content management system in place so you can analyze and track the performance of your content. Then, you'll need to lean into the power of gated content. Believe me when I say that this is a simple recipe for lead generation tracking magic. Just ask the professionals at StarCompliance (Star), a leading provider of financial compliance software.
Our team worked with Star to generate and deploy a variety of content assets to promote its robust STAR Platform. Part of our content marketing strategy included an update of its "Surfing the Tsunami of Regulation" e-book.
The e-book was a hit for the Star team because it gives the audience an overview of the most up-to-date financial regulations in multiple markets: the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and more. For people involved in the world of financial compliance, having "Surfing the Tsunami of Regulation" as a go-to resource from trusted experts is important. In fact, it’s so important that Star decided to make it free.
Once completed, the e-book was uploaded as a piece of gated content on Star’s website. Visitors were referred to one of two unique landing pages through a number of search engine-optimized pathways. Once on the landing page, readers were asked to complete a simple submission form in exchange for a downloadable copy of the e-book.
Want to use gated content to generate leads for your own business?
For eight months, we evaluated analytics in HubSpot for the two landing pages. The outcomes were not only appealing, but also easy to report:
353 total form submissions
57 new leads
By gating this e-book, Star was able to report the ROI of one of its most vital content resources to key stakeholders. Due to the sophistication of its CRM, the marketing team was able to collect key data on prospects, as well as see what other content the landing page visitors viewed.
Hearing about Star’s success and how you can turn your assets into lead generation tools, you might be tempted to start gating every piece of your content. But forcing your audience to share their information for any and all content on your site is not a reasonable way to produce content marketing results. Instead, follow this advice to begin driving and monitoring leads:
A 300-word blog post won’t cut it as a gated content piece. However, other resources like longer whitepapers, helpful one-pagers and checklists, and one-of-a-kind e-books can be perfect for gating.
As you’re developing upcoming lead generation initiatives, identify which content belongs behind a locked door. Be sure that your contact capture forms ask for just the basic information that your salespeople need. Downloading gated content shouldn't feel like signing a contract for your visitors — they'll bounce if you ask for too much information.
If someone who downloads your content doesn’t turn into a lead right away, don’t give up hope. Some sales cycles can last up to a year or more, and the person who downloaded your content instead of calling your sales team right away might just be in the awareness or consideration stage.
Never underestimate how profitable it can be to play it cool and not be overly eager to sell to someone who’s just not ready. Using lead nurturing strategies and tools, keep sending these people pertinent, helpful content (that's not gated — you already have their information), and I’ll bet many will convert down the road.
The only way to measure and monitor your content’s lead generation capabilities is with a CMS. Using one (like HubSpot) gives you all the data you need to monitor, analyze, and share progress toward your goals. Having this information at your fingertips ensures you'll have a succinct, data-driven response the next time your boss asks you to show them the leads that have been generated from your content marketing efforts.
One last thing before I leave you: When reviewing analytics in your CMS, take notice of the other ungated pieces of content your gated content readers have engaged with on your site. If that content exhibits healthy engagement rates (time on page, bounce rate, etc.), then you've found fodder for your next great gated resource.
I’m a digital marketing strategist who firmly believes that every decision should be data-driven and that education should be lifelong. When I’m not optimizing content for search visibility or reporting on KPIs, you’ll likely find me at a local trivia night with an IPA in my hand.