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How do you optimize your digital marketing strategy to generate more leads?

Frankly, that's a broad question. To find your way through the digital marketing jungle of today, you need to better understand trends in digital marketing today.

Because of how complex digital marketing is today, we gathered some do's and don'ts from practitioners and will share an overview of best-practices to be used in 2020 and beyond.

Leave some practices behind

Chances are, if you spend five minutes around someone working in content marketing, you'll hear "lead generation." Marketers chase leads like Ponce de León chased the Fountain of Youth. They plan for it; work for it; eat, sleep, and breathe for it.

But generating leads has become more important and more complex. That said, several specialists shared the lead generation practices they recommend tossing out with the new decade.

  • First, lead generation through social media advertising is not what it used to be.

    Tytus Golas, founder of Tidio, chooses to give less importance to growing their social media reach in favor of focusing on their blog and SEO: "We will continue investing into Facebook ads, and they still work fine, but we plan to slowly switch our attention to bringing more organic traffic from Google."

    Adam Hempenstall, CEO and founder of Better Proposals, states that the leads the company gets from social media ads are not qualified: "They churn pretty fast." The company will stop social media marketing and organic reach efforts, and start focusing on other practices, as discussed in this article.

  • Automated and generic messages don't work anymore. People want content that is relevant to them. This is the first time we're mentioning the tendency toward relevant, personalized content. It won't be the last time you hear of it.

    Arek Ponski, founder at Teambuzz: "Automated and generic messages should be off the menu for any business. We should turn to a more personalized approach."

  • Be original, don't choose strategies that have become mainstream. Stand out by looking at your business from a different angle. Choose one main tactic and let the others play a supporting role.

    Daniel Ndukwu, founder at Kyleads, confirms: "Content upgrades aren't as effective as they've been in the past. This may be due to the tactic's becoming mainstream."

The consensus with the marketing specialists we spoke with seems to be that pay-for-play marketing should stay in the 2010s, along with automated, generic messages. Though new, relevant content is still a valuable marketing strategy, it might need to be approached from another angle.

Stand out

Because of digital transformation, the world of marketing is filled with competition. Everyone is fighting for their space online. They're duking it out for their product or service to win that coveted number one spot.

But for every business, product or service, there are hundreds, if not thousands of competitors offering essentially (or exactly) the same thing.

So, how can you get your service or product to stand out?

The answer is personalization. By personalizing your content to reach the right person with the right content, you have a leg up on your competition.

No matter what you offer, you should be able to segment your audience. The challenge:

  1. To define (and distinguish) segments
  2. To create content for those segments
  3. To reach each segment with relevant content

But what does that really mean?

Define

Get to know your audience. Interact with them. Where do they spend their time? What are they interested in? What problems are they trying to solve? Through personal conversations and community management, reach out to your audience and build authentic relationships with them.

Create

Use the information you gathered to create relevant content that will interest your audience groups: horizontally, by focusing on different product categories, services, etc.; and vertically, by creating content that works from the top, through the middle, and down the bottom of the sales funnel.

Don't forget the value of visual content. There's a reason videos are among the top marketing tools year after year!

Reach

You could create the best content in the entire world, but unless you get eyes on it there's little to no value in it. That's why it's so important to expand the reach of your content. There's a myriad of ways to do that, including a solid SEO strategy with link-building, video marketing, and content optimization.

Spread your segmented content through various channels, such as gated resources and live chats.

1. Encourage interaction

The internet is filled with a lot of static content. The problem with such content is that the interaction between you as its maker and the reader is only one-way. The audience can only read and share your content, nothing else.

Interact with your audience. Go for the win-win, where you both get the info you need, preferably in a conversational, pleasant environment.

Ask questions

Survey Anyplace, my company, has a lot of customers who use quizzes or assessments to generate leads: Questionnaires are a great way to engage in an interactive conversation: you get to know your respondent because of his/her specific answers, and the respondent gets to know you through the results and recommendations they get from you.

Creating content, such as quizzes, will give you a better understanding of your audience. As a result, you'll be able to create a more targeted marketing campaign in the future.

Chat

Another example is conversational landing pages: A lot of websites use a chatbot or live chat operator to interact directly with website visitors. People visit websites with a specific objective in mind. When they can ask their questions directly, they will converse much sooner because they have found what they were looking for.

Tytus Golas of Tidio engaged in some A/B-testing and concluded: "We've noticed that conversational landing pages performed much better than traditional ones. With 30% of customers expecting live chats on the websites they visit, it's clear that this form of acquiring leads will only gain more popularity in the years to come."

Educate

Another way to engage and interact with your target audience is by offering educational content, which results in a perception of high value, expertise, and reliability.

Online learning and training have become an essential part of online business. Create an online course or webinar to provide your target audience with useful information.

Teambuzz booked success by scheduling 1-1 demos with target customers.

Kyleads built a few landing pages that gave away a free course. Daniel Ndukwu: "These pages convert at roughly 35% because the perceived value is much greater than an e-book or cheatsheet."

Include a promotional offer at the end of a webinar; you have just provided a highly interested audience (bottom of funnel) with relevant content, increasing the chance of conversion enormously.

Michal Leszczynski, content marketing manager at Getresponse, will be focusing his lead generation tactics on webinars: "People nowadays prefer learning through video content, live or on-demand."

Reactivate

Sometimes you don't have time to follow up on every lead. Promising leads get lost along the way. Reconnecting with these leads is an effective tactic.

At Compose.ly, the company has successfully reactivated old conversations by engaging in a database cleanup email. "We reached out to old leads to check in on them and asked for their help with cleaning up our database," said Composely's Joyce Chou. "This was a simple way to reconnect with old leads and contacts, and restart any conversations that were lost along the way."

2. Ensure reliability

Choices confuse prospects. A review or referral can make all the difference in making a choice. They motivate someone to commit to you instead of your competitor. And the more reviews, the more reliable you'll be. It's a tactic you should be investing in in 2020.

Carsten Schaefer of Crowdy.ai will focus his efforts this year in generating leads using social proof: "Some of the most popular social proof tools include reviews, testimonials, conversion notifications, star ratings, and many others. It makes your company strongly reliable. That's exactly what you want in the context of digital transformation where personal contact is reduced to a minimum."

Don't underestimate the value of being a trustworthy business. Customers will search for reviews or referrals before spending money on anything.

3. Build or participate in a community

Build a network or community around you where you can come to talk about your business with other similar businesses.

There are a lot of opportunities here, including cross-promotion (promoting someone's business if they promote yours).

At Survey Anyplace, we engage in guest blog-posting to connect with its community and optimize link-building: When you write a blog, include mentions to other blogs then make sure they return the favor. The quality and ranking of your own website will increase when you are mentioned by other domains.

Adam Hempenstall of Better Proposals is a community-builder: "I spend a lot of time on social media, and I've been very active in different SaaS Facebook groups. Every time someone needs help with sales, I jump in. Over time, people started associating my name with business proposals. Even when I'm not around, people will recommend my business. This took me years to accomplish, but it's one of the best investments of time for my business."

Social media might not be the ideal channel to generate leads any longer, but it can still serve as a venue where people and businesses come together to share content, opinions, reviews, and other information.

4. Optimize your content

SEO strategies need to be adjusted continuously. If you want your content to generate qualified leads, you should pay attention to the following trends.

Make Google fall in love with you

Create strong landing pages, manage a blog, and get backlinks to optimize the quality of your website and your domain rating. Create and share online material that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in products or services.

Georgios Chasiotis of Minuttia: "It's obvious that someone who's looking to know more about creating an online course would be willing to share their email address to get access to a more comprehensive resource around that topic."

Teambuzz plans on taking link building and guest-posting more in 2020. Arek Ponski: "In 2020 and beyond, we plan to scale our efforts in SEO and subsequent organic traffic and leads that come from this channel."

E-A-T BERT

Pay attention to your Google ranking: Ensure the quality of your website is perceived to be of high quality; use link-building and a smart SEO strategy. Maybe E-A-T and BERT ring a bell, too? If not, you might want to research them.

E-A-T is Google's new acronym to point out what a high-quality page needs in 2020: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Build your content around these three principles, and you'll climb in Google rankings.

Google's BERT update focuses more on the meaning behind words than the actual words themselves. This means that search intent becomes more important.

Lesley Vos of Bid4Papers: "In 2019, I focused on blog content and topic clusters for generating traffic and converting leads into customers. In 2020, I'm going to go more in-depth with that, further exploring content optimization with E-A-T and BERT in mind. High-quality content that meets search intent and is well-optimized for Google's featured snippets is a powerful instrument for lead generation."

Video

The presence of video affects the most important SEO ranking factor: quality. For Google, video is evidence of high-quality content. As part of a media mix on a site, it helps send signals to search engines: Your page or site contains rich media relevant to search requests.

Voice search

Nikola Baldikov of Brosix points to the importance of voice search in optimizing the quality of his website: "This will become an even more important area for SEO in 2020, as more and more people are using voice search as opposed to text search."

* * *

Because marketers all start to apply the same methods and strategies, it becomes hard to stand out. That's why you need to make sure 2020 is your year to shake up your marketing strategy and focus on tactics of the future instead of clinging to the past.

Be original. Choose one main tactic, and let the others play a supporting role.

Leave your comfort zone and try new things. The digital world is expanding rapidly, and so are the channels and possibilities through which you can communicate.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Stefan Debois

Stefan Debois is the founder and CEO of Survey Anyplace, an online software tool to create engaging surveys, quizzes, and assessments.

LinkedIn: Stefan Debois

Twitter: @sde77