Over the past few months, my Marketing Tips articles have provided an overview of the marketing funnel concept and then focused on strategies for attracting the attention of prospects such as social media, search engine optimization and public relations.
These are all relatively low-cost ways to bring new visitors to your website and are called Top of Funnel strategies.
But once someone visits your website, how do you get them to provide their contact information so they become a lead for your sales team?
Tactics that you can use to secure prospects’ contact information are called Middle of Funnel strategies. One of the most effective lead generation tools that we use is creating an educational download.
The idea is to develop a 3-5 page pdf that provides information that customers will find truly useful in their day-to-day work.
It’s critical that this download is not a sales promotion. In fact, it may not even mention your company at all. Instead, you want to pick a topic that customers seem to have a lot of questions about.
Maybe they aren’t sure what size display they need in a given room for a digital signage solution. Or they are debating the pros and cons of different types of projectors.
You want to pick a topic that will enable you to showcase your expertise while helpfully answering common questions.
What If I’m Not a Writer?
You don’t need to have someone on your staff who can write this download. If you ask around your network, you will likely be able to find a freelance writer that your colleagues have worked with in the past.
As you are interviewing potential freelance writers, you will want to look for:
- Experience working with technology – the writer doesn’t have to have AV-specific experience (although that would be nice) but they should be able to provide examples of previous projects that communicate complex technical solutions.
- Ability to conduct interviews – the quickest and easiest way for the writer to gather the information they need is to conduct interviews with your team as well as your customers. During the interview process, you should ask about the types of questions they would expect to use for these interviews.
- Clarity – when you read their writing samples, do you easily understand the content the first time through or do you find yourself having to re-read sections. The ability to boil complex concepts into straight forward language is essential.
What Is the Best Process?
Before the writer sets off on a first draft, it would be good for whoever at your company is the subject matter expert to sit down and talk through the content with them. The goal is to create an outline of the main buckets you want to cover.
For example, if you want to create a download with tips for selecting a video conferencing system, you may want to be sure to cover:
1. Identifying why the company needs a video conferencing solution
2. Technology categories for the different options
3. Pros and cons of each solution
4. Customer examples who have implemented some of the options
5. Lessons learned from previous installations
Once you have agreed on a general outline and provided the writer with interview contacts for the various topics, they should be able to come back to you with a solid draft.
One big slowdown that can happen at this point is a lot of discussion about word choice, order of the information, etc.
It’s important to keep in mind that the overall goal is to provide customers with helpful tips and it’s not worth spending a lot of time on small details.
How Do I Make it Look Good?
Once you have the content, you will need someone with graphic design skills to lay it out as a .pdf and create an attractive cover.
It’s important to have a colorful and appealing cover because that is what will catch prospects’ eye when you are promoting it.
You can use social media posts and paid social media ads to get the word out about the new download as well as emails to your contact list.
In all of these, I find that it’s important to include a cover image to encourage people to download the resource.
Then What Do I Do with It?
Once you have the download ready, you need to post it on your website behind a form where you can collect at least their email and probably also their name, company, job title and phone.
All promotion of the download should link to the page on your website with the form.
Once the form is filled out, you can provide the download file on the thank you page and/or have an email automatically sent to them to deliver the .pdf.
In an ideal scenario, the form would send the contact information into an email automation using a software like Active Campaign, MailChimp, or Constant Contact.
The person who downloaded the pdf would then receive a series of emails over the next days or weeks with additional educational resources and eventually more sales-oriented information.
Some of these marketing technology solutions include a customer relationship management (CRM) component that will track how many emails each lead opens and clicks as well as possibly their activity on your website.
They can then score the lead and notify your sales team when someone passes the threshold to make them a “hot” lead.
Even if you don’t have a CRM or sophisticated marketing automation solution, you could add each prospect to a monthly newsletter list so that you have a regular touch point with them.
I will discuss newsletters in a future article as another good Middle of Funnel tactic.
You can even have your sales team follow up with every lead, but be aware that these prospects are very early in the decision-making process so the outreach should be more education-focused than sales-oriented.
It’s a good opportunity to learn more about their organization and the types of projects they may pursue in the future even if they are not ready to purchase immediately.
I usually find that a new download can bring leads in over the course of a couple of months. After that point, the people who are interested in the topic have had multiple opportunities to respond.
As you become comfortable with the process of creating lead generation downloads, you can create a content calendar so you are constantly developing new pieces every 2-3 months.
It’s good to rotate the types of topics so you catch the attention of different parts of your customer base.
Some may be focused on specific technologies while others could zero in on vertical market segments like K-12 or retail. Once you have a system in place, you can enjoy a regular flow of new sales leads.