4 Step Guide to Generating Software Leads with Content Marketing

grantcole Content, Email, Lead Generation, Traffic Leave a Comment

This guide is going to show you how to put in place a content marketing system that allows you to predictably generate high-quality software leads.

It’s really important you go through this process in order and try not to rush anything.

If one step isn’t working, it has a knock-on effect on the next, so whether it’s your content, your email marketing series or your traffic sources, make sure they’re done to the highest quality possible.

With that said, let’s get started!

Introduction

Are you a software company looking to generate more leads? If so, I want to help you out with this post!

To start off with, I’m going to quickly give you a overview. Here’s what we’re going to be looking at:

  1. How to create a piece of content that provides real value and demonstrates how your software benefits people
  2. How to create a lead magnet that is related to your blog post and gets your readers to provide their email address in return for your download
  3. How to create an email marketing strategy that builds trust with your new email list members and makes them more likely to become paying users
  4. How to get as many people as possible to read our content to start off the process
  5. BONUS: How to use paid advertising to scale your process

So, if this is something you’re ready to get started with, this step-by-step guide is going to give you the exact process that can start you generating clients on demand.

Step 1: Create an amazing piece of content

It’s almost impossible to get away from hearing it. “Just, create great content”

The thing is, though, it’s true.

BUT.

There’s a bit more to it than just writing.

Creating great content is a good start but it’s only the foundation of a strategy that takes someone from barely knowing about your software company, to them seeing you as being valuable to them.

So, in that case, what tools can you use to make sure you’re going to create content that people really want before you’ve written it?

Using Buzzsumo

A great first place to check is Buzzsumo. This will show you what people are already reading and sharing within your industry right now.

First off, go to Buzzsumo and type in a topic. For this example, I’m going to act as if I’m provide content marketing software businesses, so I’ve used “content marketing”.

This gives me an idea of what’s already working within this topic.

Taking a look through the list, the two things that stick out to me most are:

  1. List-based articles work really well with this audience
  2. The best content is either speaking about trends or how to improve your content marketing skills

From here, we can also go through each article and work out why they’re so popular and what ideas we can borrow to make something even better.

Make this content “evergreen”

Something to remember is that the content we’re creating should be “evergreen”, which basically means it won’t become outdated for a long time.

A good example of evergreen content above would be “10 Grammatical Errors That Damage Credibility” as the rules of grammar are (hopefully) not going to be changing for a considerable while.

An example of content that isn’t evergreen would be “2019 Creative Trends Infographic”. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great article but it will become irrelevant as soon as we start to get to the latter part of the year, or maybe even sooner.

The purpose of this particular piece of content is to solve a big problem for our potential clients and get move them further into our funnel.

Because of this it makes sense for us to create something that will be relevant for years to come.

Next up, we want to make sure the content we’re going to write is actually being searched for on Google. This isn’t essential but it definitely makes things easier when we start to build traffic to our content in Step 4.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner

To find out what people are searching for, head over to Google’s Keyword Planner, login (make an account if you don’t have one yet) and type your topic into the “Your product or service” section under the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” tab.

The next page will show you everything that people are searching for within that topic. I used a keyword filter so that only keywords with the word “what” would show up to help me find question-based keywords. This helped me come across “what is content marketing”.

We can also see if there are variations of this keyword we can target with the same page e.g. “benefits of content marketing”, “should I use content marketing”.

After you’ve done this, we need to get around the ridiculously vague “volume ranges”. To do this, add the keywords you’re interested in to a “plan” and then click on “Review Plan”.

Once you’ve done this you’ll want to set a date range of a month and also set your bid limits to £100 to make sure we get all the information we need.

Take a look at the impressions, which we’ll use as our equivalent for search volume. We can see that this keyword alone gets seen just under 1,900 times per month.

Make sure to download this information into a spreadsheet, so you have it for later.

Who are you writing for?

Another thing to consider when creating your content is having your intended target audience in mind. Do you want to reach the Managing Director, Finance Director or the Chief of Operations?

Depending on which person you’re targeting, your article should come out very differently to cater to their interests.

For example, if you were targeting a Finance Director, there’s no point creating an article about how cloud computing can be used to store data more effectively – they probably couldn’t care less.

But, turn the angle of that article into something that explains how much money is saved by not having to buy expensive physical storage solutions and, suddenly, you’ve got something powerful to work with.

Going the extra mile

Finally, make sure the quality of your content doesn’t just end with the text you write.

By adding elements such as headings, images, and videos, you’re able to improve the aesthetic of the article and make it into a much more enjoyable read.

This makes it more likely that your audience will continue to read the article once they’re there, further boosting their trust in you.

If you aren’t confident about your ability to write or simply don’t have the time, it is possible to get someone to write for you.

However, it’s essential that you get someone with experience to help you out. Otherwise, you’ll either be spending extra time editing their work so it actually makes sense, or publishing content that reflects badly on your company.

Step 2: Create a lead magnet

If you haven’t come across a lead magnet before, you may have heard it referred to as an opt-in. conversion resource, or otherwise.

Either way, they all have the same goal of offering a piece of premium content in return for contact details. The contact details you request can vary from just an email address to names, phone numbers and more.

As you might imagine, the more information you ask for, the less likely someone will be to fill it in so it's good to find a balance between lead quality and conversion rate. For example, for Vine Leads I ask for a first name and an email address as a good medium.

Content upgrades

When it comes to actually creating your lead magnet, there’s definitely a varying degree of quality and the last thing you want to do is spend resources on something that your audience wouldn’t actually be interested.

Because of this, we’re going to look at “content upgrades” as our main lead magnet.

Content upgrades are a gated resource that is highly-related to a piece of content. The benefit of this is that it  makes it easier to predict it will be successful in convering readers to leads.

As an example, here's a content upgrade I would expect to be successful in generating conversions on a blog titled "Keeping web visitors reading your article in 2019".

"The exact blog outline template we use to keep readers on our article for 5 minutes longer"

It’s relevant, specific, and is a natural progression from the article they’ve just read. It’s essential you keep this in mind when you’re considering what to have as your content upgrade.

The example above is also a straightforward template and should serve as a reminder that you shouldn't make these particularly long. The content upgrades that work best are those that are small, easy-to-consume, and specific.

Creating a cover image

You'll also need to create an image for your content upgrade. Although it is a completely digital offering, this provides a sense of increased expertise and value.

It doesn’t have to take you long, though. Here’s the cover I used for the content upgrade for this guide.

Although it looks professional (if I do say so myself), this only took about 5 minutes on a website called Canva.

If you haven’t heard of Canva before, it’s an amazing resource to use for super-quick graphic design work.

99% of it is free and the only things you’ll have to pay for will be certain images in their library (these only cost $1 each) and a “Canva for work” premium model which, so far, I’ve not required.

Setting up a landing page

A landing page is, essentially, a web page designed purely to create an action.

In this case, we’re going to be sending people from our blog to a landing page designed to get as many people to download our content upgrade as possible.

Below is the example for this blog’s content upgrade.

And then once you’ve clicked the download button, here’s what comes up.

When I create my own landing pages, I use a combination of Cornerstone, which is a drag-n-drop WordPress plugin, and Mailchimp to take contact details.

It really doesn’t matter how you create it though, just as long as you make sure it's super simple, clean and has only one thing that you can do – download the resource.

That means not getting too creative with your landing pages. The less you have going on, the better it will convert.

As an example, think about every time you go to your checkout on any eCommerce store (e.g. Amazon) and notice how the design and layout get incredibly simple when you’re about to buy.

Creating Pop-ups and in-content links

You need to make it as easy as possible for your potential clients and customers to go from your content to your content upgrade.

In a lot of cases people put their call-to-action at the bottom of the article but, in reality, most aren’t going to read the entire piece - especially if it's 1,500 words long. Because of this, by only leaving a link to it at the bottom of the article, you’re going to be missing out on a load of email signups.

To solve this, make sure you have links to your content upgrade’s landing page throughout the article. Obviously, don’t overdo it and make the blog post seem too promotional but do feel free to break up your text with calls-to-action.

Below is the in-content link I've used to get people from this blog to its content upgrade.

Image

FREE CHECKLIST

4 Step System:
How to Generate Software Leads with Content Marketing

As well creating in-content links, look to use pop-ups to take people from your content to your landing page.

I am fully aware that popups are considered to be very annoying. Still, they do work when used carefully.

For my pop-ups and images, I use a WordPress plugin called ConvertPlug, which was included in my theme but usually costs $21. It’s been a real big help for me but do your research and look for something that works best for you.

The “Thank You” page

After they’ve signed up for your content upgrade, you’re going to want to take them to a Thank You page.

Your Thank You page will aim to achieve these two things:

  1. Introduce yourself to the person that's downloaded your resource
  2. Provide the next step for those that are really serious about taking action

To explain the reason for number 2, roughly 1-5% of people (depending on the quality of your content and/or your type of software business) that download your content upgrade will be looking to take immediate action. Because of this, we want to make it as easy as possible for them.

For a lot of technology companies, you’re going to want them to jump on a call with you. For this, either list your contact details or, even better, use scheduling software (check out Calendly) to get them to book in a call.

Below is how I set up the thank you page for this lead magnet.

Notice here, again, how it’s super clean and doesn’t cause for any distractions.

This is because I want as many those people as possible who are ready to take action to join me on a call.

Still, we know that around 99-95% of people who arrive at this thank you page aren’t yet ready to speak to us on the phone.

This is what we’re going to address in our next step.

Step 3: Email Marketing

Ok, so we’ve now impressed somebody with our content, convinced them to provide their email address for our content upgrade and had one or two people take immediate action.

Awesome!

Still, we’re not going to stop there. We now need to turn as many of the remaining 95-99% of those who downloaded our content upgrade into customers and clients.

The most efficient way to do this is by sending emails to our list that provide real value.

By doing this, we build more trust, which is the key to generating customers for your business.

However, don’t worry about having to send individual emails. In fact, pretty much every time you download a lead magnet, the first few emails that people will receive will already be set up and been automated to send.

This is what we’re going to do and it will allow us to have our list receive high-quality emails from us in the background, while we get on with other work.

If you haven’t already got an email marketing autoresponder, the one I would recommend for starting with is Mailchimp, if you’re beginner or on a budget.

It’s free until you build your email list above 2,000 subscribers and, after this, it’s $30 a month. Once you do hit that threshold, though, you should be making way more than that from your email marketing each month.

If you have more experience with email marketing or want something with extra features for the future, I’d recommend either Market Hero  or Active Campaign. These are both paid services but once you start making money from your email list, it will be more than covered each month.

What emails to send out

As you may expect, there is certainly a right way and a wrong way to send out emails to your list. The most important thing to remember is you have to offer value.

If you just send email blast after email blast about sales, offers and promotions, you’re going to get more unsubscribes than you do sales.

There’s nothing wrong with selling in your emails – it’s just in the way that you do it.

Make sure for every email you send out where you’re directly selling something, you’re sending at least two emails that provide all-out value.

This value can be in the shape of further blog posts, updates on the industry, or more. As long as it’s beneficial to the recipient and relevant to your service, it’s fair game. This is really important as it’s this trust and value that builds you a list of people happy to spend money withyou.

As well as ensuring you offer value to your audience, if you decided to go with something like Market Hero or Active Campaign, you can take this further and set up a process that reacts to certain behaviours.

For example, you could set up specific emails to go those that didn’t open your previous email, giving you a second chance to have it read.

Your imagination and creativity is the limit with your email marketing and experimentation is essential to generate the best results.

Step 4: Build traffic to your content

Now that we have this system in place, it’s time to get as many people into it as possible.

This is because if you get 1,000 people to your content, you’ll have twice as many customers coming out of the other end than if you had 500.

Makes sense, right?

If you want to see this system visually, here’s a diagram of our sales funnel below.

If you're unfamilar with funnel strategies, you'll note that it gets smaller as we move from Awareness down to Sales.

This is because, while you can certainly improve your success rate from each stage, you can’t expect everyone who reads your blog will come out the other side as a customer. 

Either way, to get as many people as possible into the top of our process in Awarness, we have a number of sources available to us.

SEO

This is an obvious choice as we have already found in Step 1 what keyword we’re targeting with the article.

If you’re completely clueless on SEO, don’t worry - this process shouldn’t take you too long and can be quickly implemented.

If your website is based on WordPress, then Yoast is pretty much everyone’s choice for this. If you’re using something like Squarespace, there are in-built functions you can use for this.

The below is what you need to implement on your article – just replace everything with your company and targeted keyword.

Title Tag: [Main keyword] | [Your Company]

H1 Tag: An article heading. This will contain your main keyword.

ALT Tag: Assigned to one of the images on the article. This will also contain be your main keyword.

Meta Description: A quick description of what’s on the page, no more than 156 characters and contains your targeted keyword.

Here’s how it’ll look if you’re using Yoast.

Optimising your page like that may be enough to get you ranking on Google’s first page. However, if not, you’ll need to look at building links to your website.

If this is something you’re not knowledgeable of yet, use a blog such as Moz to understand more.

Social Media

As well as optimising your article for search engines, you can also utilise any social media channels that you currently manage.

Whether you’ve got a LinkedIn company page, a personal Linkedin account, Facebook page, Twitter account, or more, these can be used to distribute your blog post out to as many people as possible.

As well as sending out content to those who follow or like your page, make sure to join other relevant groups to distribute your content as well.

Guest appearances

If you don’t currently have much of an audience or an email list, guest appearances are a great place to build awareness.

Look for websites related to what you do and try to get accepted for writing a guest post. As you would expect, make sure it’s of the highest possible quality you can manage and look to send people from your guest post to either your blog post or straight to your content upgrade.

As well as guest posts, you can also look at featuring on other places such as YouTube channels or podcasts.

BONUS Step 5: Scaling with paid traffic

As a bonus to this article, here’s a method you can use to really scale this and start getting it to generate some really big numbers for you.

Assuming you have your content marketing system in place and have confirmed it as a viable way to get clients, now you can work out, on average, how much money each person on your email list makes for you.

As a real simple example, let’s say on average out of 250 new people that join your email list, 20 of those (8% conversion rate) become £99 p/m software users, making a monthly total of £1980.

Now, if we then divide £1980 by 250, we can now work out that every single person you get onto your list will make you, on average, £7.92 p/m.

You still with me?

This is so important as if you know how much on average every person on your list makes you, you can use paid advertising to get people on your list for lower than that amount.

For our example, we know we can spend up to £7.91 on getting someone onto our email list and start making profit on the first month.

Luckily, using paid advertising to get someone on your list will often cost from around £1-5, depending on who you’re targeting.

That means that if you were consistently getting people to join your email list for an average of £3 you’re making an average of £4.92 in average profit every month, per user.

Now imagine generating 100 new users a month and you’re making an average of £4,920. Pretty exciting to think, right?

Once you’ve got your head around this and get those sort of numbers working for you, it’s simply a case of scaling it up and growing even further from there.

Conclusion

So there we have it, a large post that has the potential to create large results for your technology company if put in place.

The theory on this is quite straightforward – drive as much traffic as possible to your content upgrade and use email marketing to generate revenue from your list.

Still, where the real challenge lies is in having each element working as best as possible. Otherwise, you could be spending a lot of time doing a lot of testing to find out why your steps aren’t performing as well as they should.

Got any questions?

Schedule a call

 

Or email grant@vineleads.com

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