Middle of funnel content is about helping people searching for a solution to choose your solution. Examples of this would be white papers and case studies (especially when selling high priced products and services) and product or off-product webinars.
Bottom of funnel in content marketing is when you’re focus is on converting those interested personas from upper funnels into customers or least to have them try your product in a way.That’s sounds like a lot of work. And it is. There are no shortcuts in quality content creation. However, considering your resources are probably always limited, what I’ll try to cover in this post is how to maximize the potential of a single, great content asset to fit all layers of the funnel, qualifying buyer personas at each step, and with that decreasing the noise, filtering your audience and help you create more sales-ready leads.
And so, I’m happy to reveal my check list on how to promote a lead magnet:
Step 1: Identifying Your Buyer Persona
The first step in any marketing campaign is to make sure you’ll be addressing the right audience. The traffic to your content and landing pages will not matter if the visitors aren’t targeted. You want to be crystal clear on who you want to visit your landing page and download your lead magnet at a high conversion rate.
I’m not just referring to their age and country. Try to answer the below questions when defining your target audience, as this will be the basis for both the content creation and traffic acquisition process.
How old are they?
What country do they live in?
What’s their job titles?
Where do they hang out online?
What do they believe?
Who do they trust?
What are they afraid of?
What are they seeking?
Who are their friends?
What do they talk about?
What operational or personal results does your buyer persona expect to achieve by downloading your content?
Step 2: Creating a high quality top of funnel piece of content
Your only focus when creating this piece of content, is on creating something that people will gladly give their
email address for. You want to answer a generic question in your industry with something actionable, that people will Save to Pocket or bookmark. There are tons of content formats, most of them are mentioned on CopyMonk’s 101 Lead Magnet Ideas.
From my personal experience, the most converting magnets in B2B SaaS are comparisons, best practices and predictions.
For example, this white paper topic, comparing the 3 cloud vendors Amazon, Microsoft and Google converted at a 19% over time, even with 1 external link and this lengthy form (which we’ll dive into later). However, other guides providing actionable, off-product insights also work. This landing page, offering best practices for CRM management converted sales executives at 9.6%.
There are plenty of ways to find topics to write about, like looking up keywords related to your industry to find Topics on Quora, tapping into discussions on your topic on Reddit, looking at successful industry related blog posts from the past, which could use a refreshment and more.
- Did you browse Quora for questions relevant to your industry?
- Did you search Reddit for discussions on your topic?
- Did you search for successful industry blog posts or white papers from the past?
Step 3: Creating a lead magnet landing page
#1: Survey your sales team
Here’s an unpopular theory to creating landing pages: If your bottom line is revenue, (and you know that essentially, it is) add as many fields as you want in order of achieving that metric.
Thing is this – Your conversion rate will probably suffer from lots of fields. However, you should seriously consider taking the hit if you’re limited in content creation and nurturing resources. Especially if the trade-off in this case will be creating near sales-ready-leads. Take an example from this landing page I’ve created for cloud optimization software Cloudyn. Before publishing the page, I surveyed the sales department, asking them what information about the prospects will make them happiest for qualification purposes, and created the fields exactly for their needs. Cloudyn is in the cloud cost optimization space, therefore, information like annual cloud spend is extremely useful to them, since the whole pricing mechanism of Cloudyn is based on percent of spend. If the sales development people at Cloudyn could know that a prospect spends more than $10M annually on the cloud, they could put in extra effort in nagging that lead for further qualification. In addition, they disclosed to me that they’d like to know whether the leads are just looking to expand their knowledge, or are actively seeking a 3rd party solution. Consequently, we added a specific question for that on the form: “Are you considering using cloud optimization tools?”. Remember top, middle and bottom of funnel leads? See what I did their? With one question, I’m able to filter leads through the 3 funnel steps. You’ll be surprised to learn that if the lead magnet is intriguing enough, people will gladly submit all your fields in order of getting your detailed report. That is, of course, if the traffic to the page is already qualified at the source (see “Step 3 – Acquiring the right traffic to your landing page” below).
#2: Building your landing page
I like using Unbounce for all my lead magnet landing pages. Why? Agility. I want to be able to A/B test not only design elements, but also form fields, set up integrations to my email marketing software, SFDC and more. I also love adding hidden form fields, enabling me to track conversions per source, medium and campaign automatically:
I’ve created hundreds of lead magnet landing pages, and my main tips for anyone creating a lead magnet landing page campaign are:
- Use an image portraying the cover of your white paper/ebook – and test a thin book image versus a big fat book image. I’ve tested this many times before, and turns out that different audiences and different questions respond differently to landing pages depending on how thick the book looks. Interesting thing to test, I know, but sometimes people just want a quick read, and so a big looking book might cause friction. On the other hand, some people might look at your lengthy form and thin book and be like: “I’m not giving away all my details for that 3-pager!”.
- Use as little text as possible, but create an intriguing headline. You don’t want to reveal too much about the resource you’re marketing, apart from a general description of the topic it covers. This resource of title ideas is sure to inspire you in this process.
- Add the number of pages your resource contains to the page, as this also acts as a friction reducer.
- Strip the landing page of all external links, apart from your company logo, which should like to your homepage. Better to add a UTM tracking to that link. Occasionally, you will get people coming from your landing page and converting deeper down the funnel on your actual website. You want to be able to track their referral source.
- If the guide is part of a sequence, it makes sense to add links to the sequences. However, if you see your conversion (look at overall conversion) gets affected, you may want to add links to those other resources as part of your automatic follow up email (See Step 5)
- Make sure you optimize your page for SEO, by setting up meta tags prior to publishing.
- Make sure your page is optimized for social sharing, by adding Facebook OG tags (which also work for Linkedin).
- Make sure your page looks amazing on mobile. Consider removing/adding texts, playing with form fields and other design elements.
- Did you create 2 types of white paper book cover images?
- Did you add form fields reflecting your sales development needs?
- Did you strip all external links from your page apart from your logo leading to your homepage?
- Did you create hidden fields for proper campaign attribution?
- Did you integrate your page with other marketing tools such as Marketo, SFDC, Mailchimp or Hubspot?
- Did you setup SEO settings to the page, including title, descriptions and alt tags?
- Did you set up social sharing tags?
Step 4: Acquiring the right traffic to your lead magnet landing page
#1: Defining your target audience (again)
Now that you’ve published your conversion oriented landing page, you want to make sure the traffic coming to the page is pre-filtered. In order to properly do this, we’ll need to go back to when we discussed identifying your buyer persona.
Most of the traffic you’ll be acquiring will come from social media platforms, therefore you want to know exactly where your avatar hangs out online – what blogs, websites, and social media platforms they use, and types of media they consume.
#2: Creating your social ad campaigns
Linkedin is probably the best source for filtered, quality B2B sourced audience acquisition. It’s almost a PPC manager’s dream. On Linkedin’s self-service ad network, you can target people on the right hand-column with 5X5 passport-sized ads, and directly in the news feed with sponsored content. More premium solutions include bigger banners and personalized InMails, but let’s leave those out for now.
The best performing ad unit for content promotion is the news feed, which to my mind provides a serious opportunity. Why? Because Linkedin sucks. It seems to me like the guys at Linkedin only care about how many connections I have. Therefore, they optimized adding connections for users so heavily (not to mention their growth hacking spam trick where 50% of the people I know spammed their entire contact book with an invitation to join Linkedin without them knowing they sent this invitation), that they encouraged people to connect with people irrelevant to them, which essentially made the news feed boring as hell. At least for me. I’m seeing irrelevant content over and over. Why is this an opportunity? People still browse through Linkedin. And when targeted correctly, those people will be surprised to finally see a piece of content in their feed that is actually relevant to them. This will cause in pretty solid CTRs, and ultimately – decent priced, high quality conversions.
Targeting criteria on Linkedin:
You can target people based on:
- Their job title (this is aggregated, therefore not all possible title are targetable).
- Groups they are members of (We all know about those groups which used to be interesting but are now a collection of mostly spam posts, right?)
- Skills they are endorsed for.
- Companies they work for.
- Seniorty (C-level, VP etc.)
- Company size.
- First of all, if you’re targeting enterprises only or SMBs only, you can and should filter that serves that purpose right from the start through the company size filter.
- You can also exclude irrelevant industries from your targeting. Say for example your target audience is sales executives in the tech industry, you can filter out CPG as an industry.
- I love targeting group members. Step 1 (defining your target audience) should have you set with a list of groups your target audience hangs out in. Why do I love linkedin groups for ad targeting? Well, people who joined groups are more active Linkedin members. Originally, they joined those groups in order to expand their professional network and knowledge. They are the perfect audience to target with helpful content.
- Same goes for skill endorsements. People who add endorsements are more avid Linkedin users, which increases the chances of them coming to the platform and seeing your promoted content.
- I like to slice these both together (groups AND skills) under 1 campaign.
- Job titles can also work along with skills or groups (you want both targeted personas and active users).
- Your audience size should be between 20,000 to 80,000 if you want to keep it highly targeted.
- You want to create link ads (and not an image ad with a bit.ly). The best spec of a Linkedin newsfeed link image is 180X110.
Creating your sponsored posts
- In your 180X110 image link ad, use as little text as possible. A simple image of the book, with a CTA to download should do the trick.
- The post text can be up to 160 characters long.
- Optimized for both mobile and desktop titles should be be up 70 characters long.
- The link description shouldn’t top 110 characters.
- Did you find the relevant groups your target audience is a member of?
- Did you find the relevant skills your target audience is endorsed for?
- Did you use company size targeting?
- Did you exclude irrelevant industries from your targeting?
- Did you combine more than 1 filter in your target audience creation?
- Did you use optimized texts and images with your sponsored update ads?
Similarly to Linkedin, what I like about Twitter is that I can use the research done in step 1 in order to properly target my audience right from the start. On step 1, you answered questions like where does your audience hang out online, what do they believe, who do they trust and what do they talk about, remember?
Targeting criteria and what works on Twitter:
Well, all of the answers to Step 1 can be translated into sharp Twitter targeting. What you want to do here is to use step 1’s answers to create 3 different tests (or: Twitter Campaigns):
- Test 1: “What do they believe, and who do they trust” – AKA influencer handle campaign. You want to create a campaign for followers of your industry’s thought leaders. Unlike Facebook, on Twitter you can create this targeting person-based, so essentially you can have every follower of every important evangelist, publisher or blog see your content. Coming up with this list after a little research should be relatively easy, and there’s probably a ‘top 100 people in industry X to follow on Twitter’ to help you with. Google it.
- Test 2: “What do they talk about?” AKA keyword campaign. You want to find the most used hashtags and keywords for your industry and target people engaging with those keywords with a separate campaign. Here’s a great free tool to help you with Twitter keyword discovery.
- Test 3: Competitor targeting – Remember you can target followers of every single handle on Twitter? Great. Now, create a campaign targeting followers of your strongest competitors. By definition most of them should very much be in your space.
Creating your sponsored posts
- You want to create website cards, with images at 800X320. Again, use a visual of your content. Try and use contrasting colors the the Twitter blue vibe.
- When creating a website card, make sure you use the right CTA. I like using “Learn More”
- Create different cards for your 3 different campaigns, with the only difference being different destination URLs in your card, so you can alter the UTM parameters and make sure you can track each campaign’s performance separately (Influencers VS. Keywords VS. Competitors.
- Did you find the Twitter handles your target audience follows?
- Did you map out your target audience’s most engaged-with hashtags and keywords?
- Did you create different website cards per campaign?
A common belief is that Facebook is solely a B2C network, and that B2B businesses would therefore find it difficult to acquire customers. But the whole point in content marketing, is that we’re not hard-selling anything, but marketing ourselves through appealing content. Therefore almost every type of content, even professional, can still do well on Facebook.
Simply using the Facebook “Interests” option won’t do the trick for most businesses because the aggregated keywords Facebook offers is often too wide, which might result in irrelevant traffic acquisition. Remember that we’re trying to get relevant traffic, not just ‘traffic’.
What you want to do is start with uploading data from your CRM to Facebook and create a “Facebook Custom Audience”. Custom audiences enable businesses to upload a list of their customers’ email addresses or phone numbers and then retarget them within Facebook. After uploading that list, use Facebook’s unique ‘Lookalike’ targeting, which takes your email list, for example, and searches Facebook users with similar characteristics.
What works on Facebook
- Take your current email list from your CRM and upload it as a CSV to Facebook to create a custom audience.
- Create a Facebook Lookalike of that audience, within your primary target country. Start with making the lookalike 1% similar to the overall country population.
- Add extra slicing by filtering your audience from #2 with relevant “Interests”, using your persona profile created in step 1.
- Use Facebook Pixel to create a custom event upon landing page from submission. Then, you can track conversions coming from the campaign, and after a while, you can even create a lookalike of people coming from Facebook and submitting the form on your page for even better targeting.
Creating your ads
- After deploying the pixel, make sure your campaign objective is ‘website conversions’ and that you’re optimizing towards lead submissions, and not website visits.
- You want to create news feed and right hand column ads, with images at 1200X627 (or any spec at a 1.91:1 ratio).
- Use a visual of your content. Try to use contrasting colors the the Facebook vibe.
- Make sure your ad uses a maximum of 20% text on the image (Facebook’s grid tool will help you verify this)
- The post text can be up to 90 characters long if you want it to be mobile optimized.
- Title shouldn’t exceed 25 characters long.
- The link description shouldn’t top 110 characters.
- Did you create a lookalike from your basic email list?
- Did you map out your target audience’s Facebook interests?
- Did you deploy Facebook’s Pixel and created a custom event upon landing page form submission?
#3: Distributing your lead magnet on Quora
It’s likely that there are people hanging out on Quora searching for the information your content provides.
One of my clients found a lot of success on Quora for a small amount of work, and are steadily generating traffic to their lead magnet Here’s a screenshot of their Quora traffic and leads generated for their lead magnet in the past 3 months:
What you want to do to see this level of success, is:
- Go to Quora and create an account, adding social proof to your profile about what you know, your industry of expertise etc.
- Break your lead magnet into sections per different topics.
- Try and find topics on specific questions your lead magnet answers. If those questions are missing, you can simply ask them anonymously.
- Answer those questions with content from your resource, and add links to your landing page for ‘more in-depth data’.
This step is fundamental at lead magnet marketing campaigns I run for Cookie Jar’s clients, and is almost a certain way of building quality, ready to convert traffic to your landing page.
#4: Internal promotion
You might think that it’ll be a mistake to try and take your website visitors off your main site, after all the effort it took you to get them there in the first place, but truth is, almost 95% of your traffic will probably leave your website without converting. There’s a chance that occurs because most of your traffic feels you’re asking them for too much. Signing up to a service takes much more commitment than simply downloading a piece of content, therefore I’m all in for converting traffic into content leads, especially if you’ve set up your landing page form for instant lead qualification, as outlined above.
For me, the best ways to internally promote a lead magnet are:
- Adding CTAs on relevant blog posts. If your lead magnet is a comparison between 2 vendors, and your latest blog happens to mention one of these vendors, it makes sense to contextually add a CTA asking readers to download your premium content on the same topic. Do this screening for all your blog posts within the last 18 months. You’ll have to take my word that It’ll be worth your while.
- Use SumoMe’s Scroll Box Pro. If you haven’t heard about SumoMe yet, they’re on a mission to build email capturing tools for any website, using pop-up forms and other forms of intrusive lead generation tools. Scroll Box is defined by the guys at SumoMe as “a polite way to ask your visitors for their email address as they finish reading your latest blog post or learning about your product”. Essentially, it’s a popup that comes up in the corner of the screen upon scrolling down.
Most of the SumoMe products are free, and are used by millions of websites. The product will usually encourage you to build a simple email opt-in, which can be great for some businesses. In the B2B SaaS arena, especially with relatively high priced products, I’m afraid a simple opt in won’t cut, as a plain email might require a lot of nurturing and data scraping to qualify. We want sales-ready leads, or at least, opt ins with a lot more data. Therefore, what you want to do is upgrade to List Builder Pro (for $10 a month) and use your scroll box to create customized CTAs to your lead magnet, in the right context. It will look somethijg like this:
Note the connection between the blog title and the lead magnet pop up. You can set up the scroll box to trigger only in the right context. In the above example, I’m triggering readers of a blog post discussing Microsoft Azure with a CTA to download an in-depth review of Microsoft Azure. I just started this test a couple of weeks ago, and here’s the conversion rate to click I’m seeing so far:
SumoMe just published the average conversion rates from scroll box customer’s are seeing, and said that an average conversion rate to simple email opt-in on scroll boxes is 0.94%. What we’re seeing above is a total conversion rate of 1.4% for the full form sales-ready lead.
- Use SumoMe Welcome Mat Pro. Welcome Mat is another tool that displays a full-screen call to action that shows when visitors land on your site. Here’s how I’m promoting my lead magnets with this tool
And on the landing page, the overall conversion rate I’m seeing from my welcome mat campaigns is:
This campaign is converting at 0.6% for the full funnel, when, according to SumoMe, the average conversion rate to plain email opt-in from Welcome Mat is 1.76%. I can definitely live with this conversion rate given the length of the forms on my pages.
- Send the lead magnet to your email list. Say you’ve built a solid email list, but you’re lacking data on those people apart from their email, and maybe their name. You can now use your lead magnet as a lead qualifier. Send a newsletter offering your lead magnet as a free gift, and gain important data on your email list upon submitting the hefty form on your landing page.
- Did you add contextual CTAs on blog posts and pages relevant to your lead magnet marketing campaign.
- Did you set up SumoMe Scroll box and Welcome mats?
- Did you create different boxes and mats based on different web pages?
Step 5: Moving leads down the right path with auto-responders
Remember that long form on the landing page example I talked about earlier? Well, apart from the obvious lead qualification, there’s another reason for collecting all that personal information, and now that you have it, you can use it to reach out to your prospects via an automated email, saving valuable sales rep time.
Using Unbounce’s MailChimp integration and field mapping, you can tag all of the fields so when a lead filled in and submitted the form, this information is sent to MailChimp, where an automation funnel can be created per specific field submission. In example, for leads with low MQL potential, you might want to simply send a link to your white paper:
On the other hand, leads indicating they are actively looking for a solution like yours can be triggered to automatically receive an email looking like this:
Imagine the sales development time saved, the scalable qualification process, the pipeline you can build – All with one, automated lead magnet marketing campaign.
As you can see, the personalization doesn’t stop at the user’s name,which is about as far as most marketers can go if they use ‘basic’ forms that don’t return more detailed data. Thanks to the in-depth data that was collected using the more detailed form, I can create a far more personalized message.
- Did you integrate your Unbounce page with Mailchimp using field mapping for all relevant form fields?
- Did you create different types of automated responses per qualification level?
While this is a solid start to running a lead magnet marketing campaign, there are tons of other tactics that I didn’t touch on here, and there are tons of other tools that could go into the planning of a lead magnet campaign, like using retargeting, exit-intent pop ups, Facebook and Twitter Lead Cards and more. It’d be great if you help me out: Which tools and tactics have you successfully used in your lead magnet marketing campaigns?