98% of the people who visit your website will leave it without taking any action.
We can measure this in Google Analytics, its called Bounce Rate. But there is a way that you can capture the interest and attention of many of the people who’ve come to your website before they hit that ‘back’ button. That’s to offer both free and ‘gated’ content (hidden behind a ‘virtual gate’ which can only be accessed in return for their contact information). But the content must contain the information your website visitors are searching for.
Why should you do this?
Most visitors who come to your website aren’t anywhere near ready to buy anything. They’re simply looking for information. When you give your website visitors information, you start to create a relationship with them. They begin to think of you as someone who knows what they’re talking about. You become known as an expert in your field.
If they really like your information, they’ll return to your website. They may even share your information with other people, just like them. Which means, they can expand your marketing reach for you. For free.
There’s another compelling reason to ‘educate’ your prospective customers, and that is educated consumers make the best customers. Customers who engage with a company’s educational content are 29 times more likely to buy its products or services than those who have just seen a media ad. They’re also five times more likely to buy than those who were approached via direct marketing, according to research. (Harvey, Bill, ‘Consumer Education Produced High ROI’, Next Century Media, 2006)
What’s more, they’re 94% more satisfied with their purchase and 93% more likely to share their experiences with friends or colleagues. Your free and gated content—tip sheets, video demonstrations, infographics, guides, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, special reports, white papers, case studies, and articles—shouldn’t come across as sales messages. Instead, they should be useful, relevant and informative.
This is the way you will help to build trust, credibility and loyalty with your website visitors so that when they’re ready to buy a product or service like yours, it’s you they think of first. This is known as ‘content marketing’, and it puts your prospective customer or client in control in the early stages of the sales cycle, learning about your company’s approach to the market or problem that needs addressing.
Content marketing gives your leads a conversion path to follow in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
Understand your prospective customer’s needs
Before you start creating any content, it’s crucial that you discover the questions your prospective customers want answers to. You need to find out:
- What do your prospective customers want to know?
- What burning need do they have?
- What’s their biggest problem or challenge?
- How do they make buying decisions?
- What information are they looking for?
Ask your prospective customers the biggest question or challenge they have and then create content that provides the answer or solution to it.
You should also look at what your competitors are doing regarding content. Find out how they are positioning and branding themselves. Do they appear to have a content marketing strategy? If so, is it effective? And, how can you differentiate your content marketing from those of your competitors in a way that reinforces your brand message?
Some people worry that if they offer free content that prospective customers will no longer need their products or services. But that’s not the case. Your free and gated content will position you as a trusted expert in your field.
The more information you reveal, the more respect, trust, and loyalty you will earn from your website visitors. And if they find the information useful and interesting, they will be more likely to share it with their friends or colleagues.
Tell prospects enough to get them interested in hiring you or buying your product to solve their problem. You don’t need to give away every secret you’ve ever discovered in your working life.
At the end of your content, offer your prospective customers something they’ll find irresistible: a discount on their next purchase or a free telephone consultation, for example. Put a deadline on the offer to encourage them to take immediate action. Or say that it’s only available for the first 20 people who respond. Give booking or discount codes to add credibility to your offer.
Tell people what to do
You do need to tell people exactly what they need to do to get your offer. So, if you want them to call, provide the telephone number and tell them to call it. If you want them to go to a landing page, give them the link. It’s better to provide too much rather than not enough information. What you don’t want to happen is for your reader to get confused and not take the desired action.
If you offer people a free telephone consultation, make sure that you have space in your diary to accommodate them.
If you offer them a discount on their next purchase or booking, make sure procedures are in place to accept their booking or discount codes.
Make it easy to share
The easier you make it for people to share your content, the more likely they are to do it. For example, if you offer email and social media sharing buttons in PDFs you’ll make it easy for readers to share the PDF with others—which they might not have otherwise done.
Make sure the email and social media sharing options you embed in PDFs populate information in the target social media. Do the same for email sharing options. To encourage people to promote your PDF on social media, offer them social media buttons that when pressed populates the tweet or Facebook post for them. If you pre-populate the tweet for people, include your shortened URL so you can track results. It’s important that you do track the results of your content being shared on social media.
Share online articles
You can also submit articles to LinkedIn and to other people’s blogs to widen exposure to your brand. It’s a fantastic way to encourage people to visit your website while at the same time demonstrating your expertise in your market.
Your articles must address some of the challenges that your prospective customers face and provide the information they want.
It will need an attention-grabbing headline, valuable and original content, and a Call to Action (CTA) that gives people a strong reason to click the link to your website.