We used a buzzword in the title. We know. It’s not the worst in the world, though.

“Lead gen engine” uniquely symbolizes the process and protocol for funneling intent-driven traffic to your site and capturing visitors’ information. You should have a defined structure in place that does this work for you: It is, after all, an “engine,” which implies a mechanized framework that makes your life easier.

Both B2B and B2C marketers are finding success outsourcing their lead generation activities to vendors, offloading time-intensive tasks such as content creation and measurement.

Through these web content services, you gain expert insight into lead gen theory and a proven business partner that’s singularly focused on inbound ROI.

The nuts and bolts of web content services

As CMI found, 56 percent of B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing task.

Via contentmarketinginstitute.com.

 

In the B2C space, it’s even higher (62 percent).

Via contentmarketinginstitute.com.

 

Content marketing is the engine that powers your inbound lead generation. By design, organic content maximizes your indexable web presence in search and puts your brand directly in front of your target audience without being salesy.

Once you’ve drawn interest (measured via clicks and engagement), it’s up to your marketing and sales team (with support from your vendor) to convert that interest into leads, and leads into contracts.

You can manufacture and manage these workflows by dividing your digital output into quantifiable business units, as seen below:

Content creation

High-quality content is a must. This includes assets of a wide variety that fuel your inbound campaigns and match the search intent of your core audience. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t have the bandwidth to prioritize new content on a consistent basis. In recent months, we’ve been able to populate our site and drive leads by publishing content on diverse topics such as:

If your company isn’t able to pivot quickly and post regularly, you’ll likely need the services of a content vendor accomplished in:

Writing

Blog posts, press releases, case studies, eBooks and white papers should all be components of your content strategy, as each of these products serves various parts of the funnel. Great copy fuels every function of content marketing, as caliber landing pages and compelling CTA text trigger downloads (which capture leads and show progress toward ROI).

Design

Infographics, custom illustrations, document formatting, newsletters and creative imagery go a long way toward adding a visual stamp to your brand. Depending on your audience and industry, site visitors may be interested more so in quick-hitting stats with complementary graphics than in a 2,500 word blog that takes 15 minutes to read. Content that’s design-forward appeals to a different part of the human brain, thus diversifying your lead gen capabilities to include more than a generic, narrow buyer persona.

Video

Taking visuals even further, video will comprise 82 percent of ALL internet traffic by 2021. It’s, quite literally, infeasible to craft a content marketing strategy that does not include video. Animations, web demos, customer testimonials, corporate promos, studio shoots and live-action videos form the backbone of dynamic content.

Search engine optimization

Web content that’s meticulously researched, grammatically proficient and persona focused can still fall flat if it doesn’t also adhere to the standards by which search engine algorithms grade it.

SEO in 2018 requires absolute front-end content quality with structured back-end savvy. This means web pages should be properly tagged with schema for Featured Snippet opportunities in addition to being optimized for RankBrain, Google’s primary AI algorithm which measures click-through rate and dwell time.

Organic ranking

The true metric for online success is cold hard ROI. In terms of lead generation, our central indicator of ROI is leads, both quantity and quality. Content that’s constructed to be easily crawled by search bots, quickly interpreted by ranking algorithms and indexed appropriately on SERPs is the only way to put your message ahead of others (at least organically). Once content is published, its position in search can fluctuate dramatically for nearly a month before RankBrain better assesses your pages’ value to users and ranks them higher or lower relative to other organic listings.

High-intent audience targeting

Search intent (the queries entered into search bars and the motives behind them) is an essential constituent to SEO. Each page on your site needs to be optimized for a single keyword, offering to users the most comprehensive content available on the web for that specific search term. And that keyword should also map to your commercial business goals. Searchers that use intent-driven language in their queries are often further down the funnel and may be more apt to do business with you within a shorter sales cycle.

Promotion and distribution

Content that lives only on your site is akin to leaving your car parked in the driveway – you’re not going anywhere. To magnify your exposure to potential prospects and to send stronger ranking signals to Google, you need your content to be shared on social media and linked back to.

Social media

A stellar, consistent social presence should serve as a soundboard for prospecting. What are followers wanting to know? How are they engaging with your brand? How are you resolving online customer service queries? Social media boosts the reach of your content and creates a two-way conversation with followers who may be looking to purchase from you.

Influencer marketing

But you can’t rely on your branded soapboxes alone. You need other, reputable voices to sing your praise. That’s where influencer marketing picks up the baton. Content that’s shared by relevant industry insiders adds extreme credibility to your brand, which helps qualify your authority and dependability in the eyes of social followers.

Email automation

In addition to social media promotion, your lead gen efforts benefit from email distribution. Email marketing is now the primary medium with which to interact with subscribers and leads. And by automating your email targeting and honing your lead nurturing campaigns, you bring the highest value leads to the forefront of your sales team, allowing them to focus on what counts most: closing the deal.

Syndication and amplification

Spotlighting your work on valuable, niche sites provides another angle to your brand image and increases the total scope of your content’s reach. Guest-posting on third-party sites, syndicating through trusted platforms like Medium and amplifying via every paid, earned and owned media avenue available to you boosts your inbound potential.

From content to conversion to customers

Generating leads through content is, of course, your main mode of inbound success, but only if you actually nurture and convert those leads into paying customers.

It’s a nearly universal business maxim that generating quality leads is the No. 1 challenge the average company faces.

Via hubspot.com.

 

Even more difficult, however, is converting. Still, content plays a role in the conversion process because 96 percent of people who land on your site are nowhere near ready to become a customer. That means you will need to continuously nurture leads (potentially for years) with content that will finally serve a business goal of yours down the road.

What to look for in a web content vendor

Partnering with a content agency isn’t always a clearcut decision. Who’s better? Does price trump all? How expansive should the service offerings be?

We’ve answered these questions plenty of times over the years, and we’ve helpfully published this quick guide. Take a look.

To distill this for you here, your marketing vendor should be able to provide you with relevant industry samples of their work, illustrate their SEO and social media prowess, be flexible with contract terms and have a process in place for tracking and demonstrating ROI across all deliverables.

Shop around, and ask the tough questions before committing to a contract. The future of your lead gen success is at stake, as you’ll be entrusting an outside entity with an immensely important business activity.

But, hey, agencies have been there and done that before. That’s why they exist.

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.