There are a multitude of ways customers can engage with your business but the more time you spend in digital marketing strategy, the more one path keeps coming up: From organic traffic to email subscribers to customers. In this blog, we explore why this three-step traffic conversion strategy is so popular and how you can set it up for your company.
How Does it Work?
While each of these steps often appears in other strategies, combining them in this way has the following benefits:
- Each step is fairly inexpensive and none of this strategy requires investment in top-level marketing automation tools. (Smoke them if you’ve got them, though, of course – it can only help!)
- Your customers are already familiar with these engagement strategies and understand the outreach you’re doing.
- The activities of reading your blog and signing up for emails is user-initiated, so you’re already halfway to a qualified lead. For the same reason, it will feel less creepy when you reach out because it has been invited.
- Qualification is easy to bake into the signup process or email metrics.
Step One: Build Organic Traffic
You know what your company does best and you should have a good idea of what makes a good customer – a combination of traits and behaviors that you have made into personas. So you know who you’re writing for, which is the important thing to focus on.
Build Personas and Write for Them
Whether you have a mature content strategy or you’re just starting out, it’s important that you build your content around these personas and target your efforts at building content that engages the right prospects. If 90 percent of your ideal customers work in finance, make sure your content speaks to their unique motivations and pain points. It should go without saying but I have seen bloated content programs that ignore important audience features like these. Like all other forms of marketing, when you’re trying to engage everyone, you’re engaging no one. Focus on your most likely customers and your efforts won’t be wasted.
Understand the Basics of Content SEO
Search engine optimization will not get you out of doing the hard work. You still need to write for humans first, and that takes talent and effort. But some small tweaks – such as how your content is structured, the keywords you use, and the way you link your site – can have a tremendous impact on how easily search engines find and understand your content.
Choose Your Content Types Wisely
When starting out with content, most companies think about blogs first, and they’re a great place to start! They’re low-lift, cheap, and pretty robust. Blogs are the wunderkind of content marketing. They draw likely customers, show your thought leadership, reinforce your brand, and are robust enough to allow for some sales messaging.
However, it’s important that you’re centering the prospect and their needs, and producing content that meets them where they are. Where in their customer journey are they? What do you have for people who have no idea what you do? What about those who are extremely knowledgeable about the subject and are comparison shopping? Do you have case studies and proof points for them? What do you have for people who are not quite convinced that your product or service has what they need?
Write What You Know, Bravely
Great content is engaging, well-produced, easy to understand, useful, and knowledgable. There are some things that your company does best, which means they know more about those things than most people. Tap into that institutional knowledge about topics that relate to your work. Start with your company FAQ. What are the questions you get asked all the time? If people are reaching out, it’s because they probably googled it first. Writing answers to those questions will help you capture some of that search traffic (and divert some of your customer service hours as well).
Use keyword and competition research to figure out what topics and keywords to cover. And remember: You don’t have to be the most knowledgable person about the topic but you do need to offer useful, interesting, and easy to digest information. Write from a place of generosity and the traffic should follow.
Resource: Great Marketing Takes Courage
Step Two: Capture and Convert Casual Visitors into Email Subscribers
Once your content program is underway and your posts start to drive search traffic, how do you turn that traffic into customers? Think about search traffic as casual traffic on the highway passing your business. Maybe they read your content, maybe they found it relevant, and maybe they even got what they were looking for but how will you ever find them again? This is where email subscription comes in – it creates a permanent connection with the prospect that you can use in step three.
Technology can definitely smooth this process. Having a prominent link to an email signup facility is a must for all technology businesses, and I also recommend popups provided they have time or scroll delays and are suppressed from important pages. Also, don’t forget that signing up for your emails is voluntary so you should make your offer compelling. Frequently, this involves setting up another content program – email alerts with relevant information or resources, for example – so you have something to offer in exchange for the email address.
Pro tip: They didn’t sign up? That’s OK. You have another chance to lure them back through retargeting.
Step Three: Nurture Those Subscribers to Become Customers
This is where your hard work starts to pay off. Not only have you created content so compelling that search engines are sending traffic your way but those visitors have given you their email addresses. The strategy now is to thoughtfully, carefully convince them to become customers with an email nurture campaign.
Email automation is very simple to set up, optimize, and manage – even for those with small teams – but it’s worth giving some thought to how best to manage your audiences and what messages to send them. For example, the content piece they clicked on might give you an indication of their vertical or industry, what stage of the customer journey they’re in, or their motivations and pain points. Think about your personas and make your messaging match what you know about them. You also want to make sure every email’s offer pushes the prospect further toward a sale, not backward. This can take some care. With all the effort it took to get your prospect here, it’s the last thing you want to have them drop out now.
It’s Never Too Early to Start Qualification
Looking back from the end of the process, it’s easy to see that the more information you can collect on a prospect at early stages, the more you can focus your messages, content, and offer in later stages for better results. Some of the signals that will be helpful for you include:
Vertical or industry
Is the content piece they clicked on for a particular vertical that you can use to identify an audience and write messaging tailored to them?
Stage in the customer journey
Does the content piece speak to being in a particular stage, and how does that impact the messages you send?
Motivations and pain points
Does the content piece speak to specific pain points that you can answer in your messages?
And some other useful data points you can ask when they sign up:
Role and influence
This can tell you how likely they are to be the ones buying the product in a B2B opportunity.
Company size and story
This can tell a story about the company’s goals and capacity to spend big in a B2B opportunity.
The earlier you qualify the lead, the more you can tailor your messaging and the more relevant and compelling your messages will be. It’s never too early to qualify – even by cutting out content ideas that you’re pretty sure will never attract potential customers. Focus on your customer personas and you can’t go wrong. Good luck!