We need leads to survive. They’re our reason for being, marketing’s concerted contribution, and one of the three main goals of content marketing after brand awareness and thought leadership, of course.
But before we get leads, we need email addresses. They fuel our distribution strategies. Without them, we’re left paying for clicks and oversharing on social.
Two Approaches to B2B Lead Generation
Building up your blog subscriber base
Most marketers jump right to gating content, and yes, that’s a workable strategy if you have a strong following of commitment-ready prospects. But if you did, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.
Gating content should be part of your strategy, sure. But a totally underrated approach to lead generation is building up your blog subscriber base.
The reason I say that is if you don’t at least try to build up a solid subscriber base, then you’ll have a hard time reaching the critical mass necessary to reach the right (and new people) with your content. What’s more, a subscriber base is an engaged audience. They’ve seen the value of your content and have requested to receive more of it. That’s 10x better than a paid-for list.
If You Build It, They Should Come... Right?
Let’s look at what typically happens at most companies. Their content marketers and writers work hard to create a piece of content. Maybe it’s a blog post or an ebook, they (or their social media marketers) share it out, and they close their eyes and pray to the almighty marketing gods that people will read it.
The typical flow is:
But it should be:
Thanks to Noah Kagan for this flow.
By emailing your published content to your subscriber base, you’re all-but guaranteeing views. And those high-quality views validates to Google that your post was useful, which is great for boosting your authority and ultimately your SEO. Meanwhile, those eyeballs turn into more eyeballs as your engaged subscribers click the share button. Suddenly you’re seeing more views, more subscribers, and eventually more leads.
Capturing Email Addresses
If you’re super focused on building a subscriber base then use the following best practices to ensure you’re capturing as many as possible.
Simple design: Follow the KISS rule and keep it simple, sweetie! (or stupid depending on your preference). This rule applies to all marketing. If you want to stand out and get someone to actually read your value prop and CTA, keep the design simple and straightforward.
Clear value prop: Ok so if you don’t ask, you won’t get, but in this case, you need to do more than simply ask for their email. In a tight and concise statement, you should articulate the value they’ll receive in exchange for their email address. What will they get in return? And why would they want that?
Personalize: Anytime you can pre-populate a visitor’s email address, do it. Do the heavy lifting for them, so all they have to click is submit.
Experiment with placement: There are three high-performing placements for blog sign-ups: “above the fold,” form embeds, and overlays.
"Above the fold" forms appear at or near the top of your blog. Typically they work because they’re highly visible and take up the most valuable real estate on your site. As visitors return to your site, time after time it’s front and center. And if your value prop is strong enough, it’s like you’re giving them a constant reminder they have to scroll past to see the content they want. Why not get it direct to your inbox?
Form embeds work well on your blog because they’re always there. No matter what page of your blog you move to, there’s always a subscription form peeking out at you. These can also be applied to your resource center and content hub.
Overlays appear over your content. Essentially they’re pop-ups that can be timed to “pop up” and ask for your email address.
Whatever you choose, test and experiment to see what works for your audience.
Add to email signature: If you’re looking for another avenue to collect email addresses, add a link to subscribe in your email signature. Ensure your entire marketing team does the same, but go one step further and ask the front-line staff (sales especially) to add it there as well. And as a bonus tip, add a link to subscribe to your auto-responders or out-of-office message.
Getting In On the Action
Not all blog subscribers will convert. That’s a fact. But that doesn’t mean they’re not a valuable asset in your lead gen game. So stop benching this strategy.
**Stay tuned for next week's article on how to turn B2B blog subscribers into sales-ready prospects**