Businesses and agencies have long used "opt-in bait" to attract interest form their target market, and to generate leads. We're long into the age of content, and it seems that everyone has jumped on the content marketing bandwagon in some way or another. But why do I call it a bandwagon, and why is it a "problem"?
The biggest issue is something I call "eBook apathy". You can't navigate search results or social profiles today without coming across some sort of guide, report or whitepaper. Many of these look, on the face of it, to be offering information of great value, but deep down you know that much of what is on offer is nothing more than an opportunity to capture your valuable contact details, and to enter you into a sales funnel of some description. That's not to say there is anything wrong with eBooks as a whole, and they prove extremely beneficial for particular markets - you'll see them promoted all over the IA site after all - it's all about the content and the intention.
Why am I telling you this, and lifting the lid on the very industry in which we operate? Well, it's my belief that we've reached the point where the majority of web users understand the way things work, and there's no wool to be pulled any more. It was the same for Google ads - search engine users have long-sinced made the distinction between companies that earn their place on page 1, and those that pay for their position at the top.
Couple with this, though, is the quality aspect. Not everyone appreciates the credibility aspect of content marketing, and the risk to reputation, of sharing content that falls below the standards expected by our target audience. After all, by the time the reader has downloaded and digested the content, they're already in the database. "Job done" as far as the less scrupulous marketer is concerned. But it doesn't (and shouldn't) have to be this way. As a credible business, it's time to ensure that we're creating content that reflects our expertise and ethics.
A call to arms, then. Challenge the Status Quo, and be one the companies that turns down the easy option; that refuses to follow the path well-trodden - building your credibility is as much about staying true to your values as it is about giving your target market what they really want. Think about more disruptive ways to engage your audience, and to improve their experience of "marketing" content. If you're going to earn their valuable contact details, and welcome them into your database of leads, then it has to be with vehicles that deserve the exchange. In short, If the world really needs your product or service, then generate the REAL interest it deserves.
What can you do now, to guarantee your message grabs the RIGHT people?
1. Ask your existing clients - what woud get their attention?
What would REALLY help them, and what would they dedicate their valuable time to interacting with or digesting? Use a short survey or Google Form to capture their responses, and consider making it anonymous - this shouldn't be seen as another opportunity to capture lead data!
2. Brainstorm ideas by focusing in on niche buyer personas and your most profitable offering.
Identify which lines offer you the greatest returns, and determine the client profile to whom the product offers the greatest benefit. Get creative with ways to disrupt them, and draw attention from the right individuals to your campaign. Ensuring relevance and quality at the top of the funnel ensures relevance and quality at the point of sale.
3. Connect with the right talent.
If you don't have the creative or technical skills to get your lead generation campaigns off the ground, then go and find them! The myryad freelancer sites available will point you to a number of creative options, ranging from web development and design skills, graphics, copywriting and more.
Are you using ever more creative ways to engage your target clients? We'd love to hear your success stories in the comments below...