You’ve made it to Step 3 of our Sample Marketing Plan. Huzzah!
That means you’ve identified your buyer personas, and created dynamic, valuable, relevant content that answers their questions.
So now’s when you really take hold…
Step 3: Capture the persona on the site.
Fred is going to discover Safety Inc. through all of this relevant content we’re creating. Once he’s there, our next step is to capture him on the company’s website. We work to achieve this by offering him something of value—certainly valuable enough that he would consider handing over his contact details to receive it. This is the act of converting website visitors into leads.
If you have no way of converting anonymous website traffic into leads on your site, then you are wasting a critical opportunity for your business. Your website needs to be a revenue producing member of the team, and not just a static brochure showing some stock photography and an outdated “About Us” section. The sales opportunity begins as soon as a prospect gets to your site, and you need to immediately spark their interest, capture their attention, and provide value to them so they will want to stay and look around. You can’t let them leave without having them take the first step in the relationship.
Optimizing your site for multiple opportunities that reach out and grab your visitor is a critical element of inbound marketing. Think of your website as the first response salesperson on your team. They should be responsible for qualifying a prospect, getting the prospect interested, and building a level of perceived value–building thought leadership–so that, before the prospect has even reached a live member of the team, he is already pumped and primed.
Once such way to create opportunities on the site is through the use of premium offers.
A premium offer is how we describe a type of content that lives behind a gate; in order to access the piece of content, a website visitor will be required to submit a form with some basic information.
Usually these are longer-form pieces of content, like ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, and the like. Occassionaly it might be some sort of engagement opportunity, like a live webinar. Whatever form it takes, it’s a step up from the content you share on your blog and social media.
Now, there is plenty of content that is available for open access on the site, like the aforementioned blog and social media, so no one will ever feel coerced or cheated into having to fill out a form as they seek answers and information. But the higher in value the information being shared, the more proactive the visitor will have to be to receive it.
This is one of the greatest tools in the inbound marketing arsenal: a self qualifying process that helps move a stranger down the sales funnel. Note that this process would be taking place regardless of whether or not you were using inbound marketing, but the difference here is that we can determine what process they should follow, and give them direction that will provide meaning and results for your company at the end.
Every website visitor is taking steps when they come to a new site – wouldn’t you rather have a say in what those steps are, and where they’re leading?
Creating that download or offer that we’re going to use on Safety Inc.’s website is going to be a matter of reflecting back to the buyer persona, understanding what Fred wants, and identifying his exchange/ transaction point. In other words, how impressive does our offer have to be for him to give us what we want in return? Fred knows we’re going to use his contact info to reach out to him. So we’ll therefore phrase the offer in a way that shows we’re serving Fred first.
He needs to be certain that when he gives us his information, he won’t just hear about how valuable Safety Inc.’s products are, but rather how they will solve his problems, and provide actionable solutions for him. Our offer won’t be Safety Inc.’s product catalogue, but rather a breakdown of information that can solve the issues and challenges he is up against…and of course there will be overlap between those challenges and what Safety Inc. sells.
For Safety Inc.,we might write an ebook that breaks down the specific, unique challenges that each season presents to facility managers. We’ll allocate 2-3 pages for each season, and cover points like leaf removal in the fall, snow and ice damage in the winter, turf care in the spring, and pest control in the summer, for example. And, in that large-scale overview that simply address challenges we know our audience faces, we might also mention that when dealing with any flood or water damage, it’s crucial to use high-quality safety gloves, such as Safety Inc.’s patented pairs, in order to avoid electrocution.
In this way, we’re demonstrating an understanding of their world in a neutral way, but reminding them why it is that we’re experts in the space–because we have solutions for those very problems.
In order to take full advantage of the conversion opportunities that a premium offer can provide, there are a few elements that are critical to keep in mind:
- Great design
Remember–you’re asking for something in return of this offer, so it needs to really shine. This is more than just putting a relevant picture at the top of a blog post–it’s a uniform, clean design that reflects the content’s value as well as the company’s personality. While our content experts would write the text for the ebook we’re writing for Safety Inc., our experienced designer will be the one to transform that content into a high quality piece that will catch prospects’ eyes, and be deemed worthy of filling out a form for.
- An idea of what information you want in return
You could set a really high barrier for entry when compiling the form that will enable access to your offer. You could require a lot of specific information to be filled in before a prospect is able to click download. But should you? While a higher barrier that makes clear what information is relevant to a given piece will usually mean a more quality, targeted lead, it will also mean a lot fewer of them. Which could be fine and what you are trying to achieve, but just beware to not un-qualify prospects out too early. They’re not yet sure what they want or not, and therefore might not be inclined to answer questions if they haven’t seen the value of the offer yet. Don’t scare off prospects; you can whittle them down after they’ve shown interest.
- A process to promote the piece
Your premium offer is going to live on a landing page, that will be accessible through a form filled out on a different landing page. But how does your audience find this piece of content. You need to promote your offer throughout your website, and the best way to do that is through calls-to-action, or CTAs. These can live at the end of blog posts, on the sidebar of your webpage, or as popups. They should be graphically dynamic, and be clear in what they’re promoting: what the ebook is, and why someone should click through to it.
Another effective way of promoting your premium offer is by writing relevant blog posts that are available for open access. These posts can give readers a taste of what they’d find in the ebook, and can jump back to the offer through internal links and customized CTAs.
If you follow the above steps, and successfully capture a lead through your premium offer, then…you’re not quite done yet. But you can move on to Step 4…