Content upgrades aren’t the only way to plan your blog posts for lead generation; in fact, if you begin and end with the content upgrade without any other strategy, you may find your blog post lead generation strategy goes awry.
Content upgrades are one of the best ways to convert readers into subscribers, and there are many types of content upgrades that will work to drive opt-ins, but they have to be part of a bigger overall strategy in order to generate quality leads that will eventually convert into sales.
And that’s what we all want, right?
1. Plan your blog posts and content upgrades
I’ve talked before about the power of planning when it comes to content marketing. The best content marketers have a strategy for their posts that they work out ahead of time, which ensures that each post is working towards a goal, and can save hours of writing time down the road.
But this doesn’t have to stop with blog posts. If you use the editorial calendar system I teach in Content Intelligence Academy (or anything similar), you can easily add the step of planning what your content upgrade will be — well ahead of actually writing the post.
You must think about what all will be necessary to go into the production of the post, up to and including the time and resources needed to create your content upgrade.
2. Include ONE strong call to action
One place I see bloggers struggle is with the call to action in their posts. Either they don’t have one at all, and the post just trails off with no clear conclusion or next action, or they have so many the reader can’t decide what to do, so she does nothing.
Instead, strive for ONE single, strong call to action — but mention it multiple times in your post.
What should your call to action be? Well, this gets back to my basic rule that you should know WHY you’re blogging in the first place, and more specifically, what the goal of any given post is. Assuming your goal is to write blog posts for lead generation (since you’re reading this article), your call to action should be to opt-in to your email list.
Since you’re on the content upgrade bandwagon now, you know that a specific content upgrade is the best way to entice people to opt in.
So you create a compelling call to download the content upgrade, and you include it near the top of the article and at the very bottom.
Studies have shown that including the CTA near the beginning of the article increases your conversion rates because, sadly, many people don’t read to the bottom of the article. But when they do, they’re clearly engaged with your content, so you want to have a second CTA at the bottom to remind them to sign up for your freebie.
3. Choose your topics wisely
When your goal is to generate leads from your blog, the actual, ultimate goal is to make sales, right? So you want to ensure that the leads you get are well qualified for what you’re selling.
Therefore, you want to carefully choose the topics you write about in order to help people self-select if they are a good fit for your product or program.
Some blog post types, like list articles and link round-ups, can be very popular, shared a lot, and drive a lot of traffic. If you create a nice content upgrade to go with them, they may even drive leads — but are they the types of leads you want?
I could very easily create a blog post listing the 100 best WordPress plugins for writers (or something like that) and then create a valuable cheat sheet people could download. I’d probably get a lot of opt-ins that way. But would those people then want to buy my course on planning editorial calendars, or my upcoming workshop on content upgrades? Maybe, maybe not.
However, when I wrote articles about content upgrades over the last few weeks, and offered a checklist for how to implement content upgrades for your own business, I probably end up with fewer overall leads — but those people are clearly interested in content upgrades, and will be good prospects for my upcoming workshop.
See what I did there?
If you sell high-end coaching or consulting, Neil Patel has a great post on QuickSprout about how to use your blog posts to land very specific business contracts.
4. Conduct market research
One problem bloggers can run into at this point is that they don’t know what topics they should blog about that will lead to the opt-in and eventually the sale. Some are afraid of giving away too much information for free. Others get stuck because they’re trying to give what they know people should want — rather than what people actually want.
And how do you know what people actually want? You do market research.
One of my favorite clients came to me earlier this year all excited because someone in her mastermind group had explained to her that she could do market research for her content, not just her products. She was a big believer in doing research before launching a product, but she’d never considered doing it for her content.
And I had never considered that someone at her level wouldn’t know that she should be researching her content!
Point being: you don’t know what you don’t know, and that goes for you and your customers.
So start doing some strategic Googling.
You can start just with your regular Google search page, and put in some keywords related to your topic, then pay attention to how Google tries to autocomplete your search query. Those suggestions are things people frequently search, and can give you clues into what kinds of questions people have on your topic.
The second thing you can do is do a little keyword research, paying specific attention to keywords with commercial intent. What that means is that the keyword indicates that the person is ready to buy.
For example, “buy yoga dvd” would be a great search keyword to target if you sell yoga DVDs. But “yoga videos free” would be a terrible one to target if you want to sell something — because clearly that searcher isn’t interested in buying.
Brian Dean of Backlinko has a great tutorial on finding keywords with commercial intent.
Once you know what people are searching for when they are ready to buy, you can tailor your blog post lead generation ideas to those topics and meet them exactly when they have a need.
5. Tailor your content type to your audience
Finally, an important part of using these blog post lead generation ideas is that they only work if your audience actually consumes the content. It’s vitally important to present the post and the content upgrade in a format that your audience wants, and that prepares them to buy your course.
A great example is a fashion stylist. A blog post that’s just text won’t convey your information nearly as well as a post that includes text and great photos, or a video that shows people the clothes. Likewise, a content upgrade is going to need to be visually beautiful to attract the right audience. It might be a gorgeously designed closet checklist, or a short video on pairing patterns. Either way, it needs to prime them for your styling course that’s mostly video.
Think about how people will consume your content. If you’re trying to reach busy working people, providing an audio recording of your blog post that they can listen to in the car might be very valuable. On the other hand, if they are consuming your content while they’re at work, an audio or video might not be a good idea because they can’t turn up the sound in their cubicle.