If you are mapping out an onsite content strategy for your brand with your team, be prepared: the meeting may end up with your employees on opposing sides, clashing over the purpose of the content.
On one side, you will have employees fiercely defending web site content as a tool for lead generation. And on the other, you’ll have marketers championing content they can share on social media, regardless of the leads.
Neither is wrong.
The content that appears on your company’s website can serve many purposes, most often to engage readers, evoke a positive emotion, encourage participation or provide information—all while putting forth a strong, unique voice for the brand. Each page on a website, however, cannot serve all these different purposes and audiences at once.
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Divide and Conquer the Content
What these two sides are quarreling over is content for demand generation and lead generation. Demand generation seeks to drive awareness and interest in your product or company, including consumers who have never heard of you before.
Lead generation, on the other hand, goes a step further by seeking to capture the contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers, of interested consumers. Lead generation seeks to make contact; demand generation seeks to make a name.
The type, style and location of a company’s onsite content depend upon its purpose, but there are often distinct features.
Lead Generation: Long, Detailed and Gated
Lead generation content is often very detailed and lengthier than other pieces of content. It identifies a problem that its potential customers experience or offers help in making an informed decision about a product or service. For example, an accounting firm for businesses may provide a whitepaper that, with the help of an industry analyst, examines common errors that businesses make.
Whitepapers are often used for B2B lead generation, but whitepapers work for B2C businesses as well, just in a different form: thorough, informative how-to guides and printables are often attractive to consumers. It’s important that the content is robust—readers want to know it’s worth spending one-minute entering contact information.
Lead gen content is often gated, i.e., a person must enter an email address and/or other contact information in order to access the content. However, website landing pages—the page on which a user lands when searching for a specific topic—often act as lead gen pages if they are crafted with that intent in mind.
Demand Generation: Short, Sweet and Open to All
Companies use Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to communicate with consumers on a one-to-one basis (with an audience, of course). These platforms can be used to distribute onsite content to an audience who might otherwise not see it at all. Because this audience is so large, the content must be accessible; that is, it must be interesting enough for people to visit your site to read the content. Blog posts, infographics, videos and other short-form content are quickly digestible and more likely to be shared. These pieces of content are distributed so widely that gating it defeats the purpose. While you may not procure any leads immediately, the awareness generated about your brand for particularly viral pieces of content may result in leads further down the line.
Crafting the Content With Keywords and Queries
Keywords are a driving force behind content. Naturally, the person overseeing the pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns may be more concerned with the website content generating leads than driving awareness—after all, PPC campaigns can cost a lot of money, depending on the targeted keyword, and the results must be measurable in order for the campaign to make sense. So crafting content around keywords that contains no method of obtaining leads may seem like a waste of time.
The social media team, however, can’t keep sharing the same landing page from the website, and they don’t want to keep pushing out content that asks readers to submit information. Additionally, lead generation can’t be accomplished if your name is overshadowed by your competitors—who, most likely, are offering content beyond the scope of “contact us for more!”
To better tailor your content, examine the queries—not the keywords—to determine which content best accomplishes the goal. Queries are what the user actually type into the search engine (“pros and cons of accounting software”) vs. the keywords themselves (“accounting software”). Examining the queries can give you great insight on improving your landing pages for lead generation, creating new lead gen content and developing shareable content to increase brand awareness.
Like the content itself, the queries have distinct features that tell you how to approach the reader.
Lead Generation Queries: Planning to Purchase
The queries that represent an audience more likely to contact the company are those already looking to purchase. For example, the query “compare accounting software” means that the person has the intent to buy accounting software, and they’re now looking for the best option. This is an opportunity for a brand to provide content that caters to this query, in particular, perhaps offering a landing page that compares versions of accounting software and highlights the software’s features.
Questions, complaints and comments from current customers can help drive content for lead generation as well. A customer who purchased your software may have been unaware that it wasn’t compatible with his operating system; you can use this complaint to add more content to your website landing page.
Demand Generation Queries: General Information
General industry-related queries such as “what does accounting software do” or “types of accounting software” show that the reader isn’t yet at the stage to make a purchase—they’re just looking for information. Supplying general information content about your industry will forge relationships with consumers just starting to look for your product or service. By becoming the first source of information, you’re positioning your brand as an authority in the industry.
Queries like “2015 trends in accounting” or “how to avoid accounting errors” function as jumping-off points for blog posts or infographics that can be shared via social media. These readers aren’t necessarily looking to purchase, so they won’t appreciate being contacted by your company—but they will appreciate free information.
Striking a Balance
Content produced for brand awareness may eventually lead to a conversion as consumers buy the brands they know and trust. Investing in content that generates awareness now will help lead generation in the future, but that doesn’t mean that content for lead generation and demand generation can’t run concurrently—you just have to find the right balance.