Though content marketing should be the backbone of any bootstrapped marketing strategy, many companies find themselves in the “content creation rat race,” as Derek Halpern calls it.
Drive-by traffic can come in swarms from all over the web, but it isn’t sustainable if no effort is made to convert one-off visitors over to email.
That’s why in this chapter, we will highlight some key ways marketers and entrepreneurs can revamp their strategy content and off-site features. Instead of a small bump in Google Analytics that quickly dissipates, you’ll be ready to get people on an email list to extend the communication.
Even if you don’t have a content marketing strategy in place, this chapter will position you to be more prepared than 90 percent of startups out there … so get ready to take some notes!
Integrate Email into your offering
One of the smarter ways to gather email leads online is to simply integrate email into your product’s usage. The most basic technique here is requiring an email to sign up (which most companies do), but this is also an opportunity to get creative.
Ruben Gamez, founder of Bidsketch proposal software, integrates email into his product by requiring your email address to see a sample copy of an assembled proposal.
This results in qualified leads signing up via email, thereby capturing an audience that has already shown interest in the product’s capabilities.
The important thing to keep in mind here: be straightforward with your potential signups. This means being completely honest and transparent about what handing over their email means for them.
If you plan to include them in your newsletter after the signup, notify them. Many people will not object to this, but if you try to sneak them into an email campaign when all they wanted was to sign up, you’ll create a lot of discontent (not to mention kill your credibility).
Integrate Email into your offering
Email leads are most effectively captured through landing pages. Since landing pages focus on a single outcome, they are fantastic for conversion rates in general, and this also applies to acquiring more email addresses—so don’t get skimpy on creating them!
Create a landing page for each downloadable resource, for each guest post (more on these later), to explain why your newsletter is worth signing up for, etc.
If the desired outcome of any webpage is an email signup, the structure of the content should be styled as a landing page; in other words, no sidebars, no footer, a subdued header, and plenty of single-column copy that dives right in to what the page is about.
If you need more advice on creating landing pages that work, check out the advice featured on Unbounce.
Create Free downloads
Downloadable resources can be an incredible source of new email leads. They also provide prospects with useful information that helps them get more use out of your product—so they’re a win all-around.
The reason to put them behind an email opt-in (besides the obvious benefit of growing your list) is to qualify the people signing up; only the most interested customers will bother with an email form to access the content marketing that suits their needs.
These resources can come in a variety of formats, for example:
Promote your resources Far and Wide
Resource-style content such as white papers, eBooks, and infographics is made for promotion. While blog posts and traditional articles are a great way to reach out to people (“Hey, thought you might like this recent piece we did on…”), you can get a lot more mileage out of a broad set of evergreen resources.
One way to promote this content is to take an already existing resource and transfer it to a new medium.
Slideshows are pretty much the perfect platform for this, because they mostly rely on a redesign and don’t suffer from Google’s duplicate content marketing penalty.
For example, we took our “75 Customer Service Facts, Quotes & Statistics” eBook and created a set of slides for use on SlideShare.
Notice that the call to action at the end of the presentation leads to our resource page, where visitors can download the eBook in exchange for their email address. This process is effective because it lets you work with content marketing you have already created and turn it into something that generates leads on an entirely different platform.
Additionally, there’s always the old-fashioned way to promote your resources: reach out to fellow entrepreneurs, bloggers, or even journalists and shoot them a personal email with your latest resource attached (hint: don’t make them opt-in!).
You provide them something for free, which starts the process of reciprocity, and, in turn, they may write about your latest creation and drive new visitors to your site.
Guest Post with a Purpose
Guest posting is always benefited by a laser focus on generating new email signups.
You’ve heard how great companies like Buffer have benefited from guest posting (especially in the early days), but what many entrepreneurs and marketers don’t realize is readers are suffering from byline blindness—the result of an over- saturation of guest bloggers.
Since so many guest posts are now floating around the web, bylines are getting ignored. So in order to maximize the return on your guest post, you need to get strategic.
The best way to do this is to integrate step #2 (landing pages everywhere!) with your guest blogging efforts. In other words, create a landing page for each “big” guest post that you write.