Without really meaning to, I’ve created at three-part series on content marketing.
Today I’d like to take a look at how to create contextual calls-to-action that drive sales, which are the best and most effective way to measure owned media efforts.
What do you want people to do after they’ve read, listened to, or watched your content?
- Do you want them to download longer content?
- Do you want them to participate in a free trial?
- Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter or blog?
- Do you want them to request a meeting or proposal? Do you want them to hire you or buy your product?
The answer could be yes to all of those questions or it could be yes to just one or two. Know what it is you need to achieve and use your calls-to-action to help you get there.
Create Contextual Calls-to-Action
Let’s look at three different examples for building community, generating leads, or driving sales.
Build community. We have, what we call, the Facebook question of the week.
We sell our brains for a living. Like attorneys and accountants, our time equals money. So when someone asks me if they can pick my brain, it makes me go a little insane.
We were talking about this during a staff meeting one day, and the idea of our creating video was still on my mind, and someone said, “Why don’t you let people pick your brain through our Facebook page?”
And so Facebook question of the week was born.
Our goal is to do nothing more than build community and engage friends, clients, prospects, and competitors.
People “pick my brain” or ask me a question on our Facebook wall. I answer it in a less than two minute video, which I shoot using my computer’s camera, and upload to YouTube. Then the video is embedded onto the home page of our website, in the sidebar here on the blog, and is distributed to all of our social networks.
We measure not only how many questions we get, but how many video views, how many visitors to those pages on the website and blog, how many comments, how many social shares, and how many new likes we get on our Facebook page.
This also makes the person asking the question feel really special and important because they gain one minute of their 15 minutes of fame when my entire organization is talking about it that day, which leads to creating loyal brand ambassadors for life.
Generate leads. The very best way, particularly for business-to-business organizations, to generate leads is through content.
Think about your content in two ways: Free and paid.
The paid doesn’t necessarily mean money is going to exchange hands. Rather, they’re giving you something in exchange for your content. Something such as an email address or phone number.
Let’s say you want to have a monthly webinar that you’ll host for free, but people have to register to attend. This is both a free and paid model. They are paying you with their email address, which means they have given you permission to market to them, but they get to attend for free.
But how will you generate leads with one webinar? This is the fun part! You get to use traditional and new tactics to gain registrations. You’ll use media relations, email marketing, social media, direct mail, content, and advertising. In some cases, you’ll be marketing the webinar to people you already know, but they could be prospects who haven’t made a decision to work with you, former clients, or someone new entirely.
At this point, you can decide if you hand those leads over to your sales team or, if you have a lead nurturing program, if they go into your system for follow-up content to push them through the marketing funnel to a decision.
Drive sales. Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion, uses an eBook, “Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy” as his entree to prospects who want to hire him for consulting. The book is free and, when someone calls, inquiring about his consulting services, he sends them the link.
He then tracks whether or not the person has downloaded the book. If they do, he gives them a few days to at least start reading it before he follows-up.
If they don’t download it, he knows they’re not a qualified lead for him and he doesn’t waste his time.
This is very scary to do.
But think about how you buy, particularly if it’s something you don’t consistently buy.
Things such as big ticket items (cars, computers, cameras, appliances), professional services (lawyers, accountants, PR firms), or gifts (my husband does this when I say I want something expensive such as pots and pans or knives so he can find the best price). What’s the first thing you do? You search online. You read. You do your research. You educate yourself. So the philosophy then becomes, if the prospect isn’t willing to do the research and educate him or herself, Marcus doesn’t have the time to do it for them.
That’s just one example of how to use content to drive sales. But what if you sell something that has a long sales cycle or is expensive or is purchased only once very 10 years? Then your opportunity for content increases dramatically because you want to be top-of-mind when your prospect is ready to buy. The best way to do that is to continually offer the most valuable content to help prospects begin to trust you, to build kinship, and to drive purchase.
Track how someone found you: Do they subscribe to your blog, do they follow you on Twitter, did they download a white paper, did they attend a webinar, did they attend a live Q&A you did through Google Hangouts, did you meet at an event? Knowing that will help you determine the types of content they need next to make a decision.
Calls-to-Action in Content
Your content isn’t just about these three things. You also want to be thinking about:
- A call-to-action on every piece of owned media you create. This could be social share buttons, a subscription, or requiring an email address for download.
- Landing pages where people download your content. These help you to track the effectiveness of one particular piece of content.
- Registration (i.e. email address and phone number) in exchange for some piece of content.
- How to build your database.
- How to continue generating leads.
- How to nurture those leads with new and interesting content.
- How to convert those leads to customers.
- When to bring your sales team in and integrate your efforts with them.
If you’re able to create a holistic approach like this with all of your media efforts (paid, earned, shared, and owned), you’ll soon become the hub in the wheel of information and your communications programs will be an investment that has a pretty significant return.
A highly modified version of this first appeared in my AllBusiness Experts weekly column.