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Okay. So you’re busy, right? You don’t have much time between reading this and getting to lunch or checking out for the day. Maybe you’ve got a conference call or a meeting in an hour. But at the same time, you need some help with your content marketing…because you’ve heard everyone talking about how you need it to generate leads. Well, they’re right. But don’t worry—this will be quick.

Below is a 10 step starter guide to get you on the path to content marketing glory. After these brief takeaways, you’ll hopefully be more focused in your content marketing plan and lead generation strategy, and still have time to make it to lunch. Let’s dive in.

1. Know your buyer personas. This step is a must. Every piece of your content should be specifically targeted to your buyer peronas. What problems do they have that you can solve? What challenges do they face? Who are they? Consider using this buyer persona template to keep track of who you’re targeting. If you know your personas, and appeal directly to them, then they’ll feel more connected and inclined to consume your content. This will also help you generate more qualfied leads—leads actually interested in what you offer.

2. Create quality content.  This step takes into consideration both your audience, as well as Google. If you’re not familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), all you need to know is that Google ranks pages based on the quality of their content. Therefore, quality content matters. In fact, quality, remarkable content is what inbound marketing is all about. The goal is to reward your visitors with content that they want to see. (Tip 3 offers a great way to do just this.) Through true inbound marketing best practices, you will gain prospects that are more qualified because they have engaged with your content. Qualifying prospects, enough to be considered Marketing Qualified Leads, is the first step in the sales process. It is Marketing’s job to provide the most remarkable content possible in the hopes of converting prospects to MQLs and eventually handing them off to Sales.

3. Answer questions. Here is another chance for Marketing to engage with Sales. Are there any questions that leads or customers are always asking? Are there any questions that Sales is sick and tired of answering? These are perfect opportunities to create content. You already know that there is a need out there—a need for this particular information. So, create content providing that information. Then, when a prospect does have a particular question or shows interest in a specific topic, Sales is ready with the right content.

4. Keep content promotion in mind. This is always an important step. You could have the greatest content in the world, the most perfect content imaginable, the type of content that answers all of your prospects’ problems and makes you an industry leader—well, without content promotion, that content is useless. Keeping your prospects in mind, choose the best channels to deliver this content to them. Do your prospects use Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Or is email the best route? Find the best way to market your content marketing materials.

5. Allow interactions. This step also involves prospect engagement. If you have a blog, or a video posted to YouTube, allow your prospect to comment and ask questions. If they do so, answer their questions too! This not only makes them feel like you care about what they have to say, but it makes them consider your company a thought leader in your industry.

6. Strike a balance. If your prospects are looking for a simple answer to their questions, that’s what they want most of the time. If you include too much self-promotion within your content (your blogs, for example), then chances are your audience won’t be reading for too long. It is key to find a balance. Typically, it is good to follow the 80/20 Rule: 80% educational content, 20% self-promotion. This allows you to answer all of your audience’s questions, but also keeps you in the back of their mind.

7. Learn how to write headlines. Just as the titles of newspapers, magazines, and books draw in readers, the titles of your blogs and other content should do the same. Learning how to write good titles is easier said than done, however. Take time when creating titles, look at other blogs on the web for ideas, and use key words that will attract prospects and sit well with Google. Many marketers attest to brainstorming at least 5-10 titles before choosing the one that is the best fit. Try this practice next time you write a blog.

8. Use a wide range of mediums. Don’t limit yourself, and don’t limit your prospects. By offering a diverse set of content forms, such as blogs, whitepapers, infographics, videos, eBooks, and case studies, you will appeal to more prospects. It is said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity—apply this to your content marketing. Try something new every once in a while.

9. Track your success. How will you know what’s working if you’re not paying attention? Keep track of how many readers each blog post generates, how many downloads each eBook or whitepaper receives, or how many views a video has. This will help you know what works and what doesn’t. Use your marketing automation for the data-driven heavy lifting. Marketing automation software is key for providing both Marketing and Sales with the guidance they need to better understand what type of content converts and what doesn’t.

10. Know your buyer personas. No, this isn’t a typo. Knowing your buyer personas is just that important. Always remember to ask yourself: Who am I creating this content for? What is the purpose of creating this content? Is it to educate? To answer a question? If you know your buyer personas and you know your purpose, chances are you’ll create content that is both relevant and enjoyable.

Now that you are armed with the quick guide to content marketing, it’s time to put these tips to use. Start a great content marketing campaign that will generate leads and nurture them into customers. Learn more about LeadGen tips and ideas in the eBook below.

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