Are you struggling to generate leads with content marketing? Do you know the content marketing mistakes that are costing you leads?

Content marketing has proven to attract plenty of leads. Hubspot discovered that businesses generate 54% more leads with inbound marketing than with paid marketing.

They also found it to be economical because twice as many marketers said that inbound marketing captures below average cost per lead than outbound methods.

Implementing an inbound strategy has been shown to double average site conversion rate from 6% to 12%.

If you have been executing a content marketing strategy for a while and are finding it impossible to generate sufficient leads, then you are doing a lot wrong. Therefore, in this article, I am going to discuss in detail which content marketing mistakes are costing you leads…

Writing For Everyone

There are 3 kinds of professional blogs…

Viralnova variety of general blogs

One variety is sites like ViralNova and Bored Panda that publish generalized posts on almost every topic. Their strategy is to use click-bait headlines to trick a lot of people to visit their website. With their misleading headlines and incomplete content they don’t make any attempt to build a trustworthy relationship with their audience. Even Facebook is against this type of content.

Sites like viralnova monetize with ads

These sites still succeed as they have no specific target audience. They get people on to their website and make money by the number of impressions their ads (like the above) get. Losing the trust of their visitors doesn’t really matter to them as 80% of blog visits are new. There’s always going to be plenty of new visitors to attract.

Then there are sites like Huffington Post and The Daily Beast that publish traffic attracting posts that are more informative as they aim to build a loyal audience. These sites again produce content on a broad range of topics because just like ViralNova, their revenue depends upon advertisement impressions and clicks.

kissmetrics niche business blog

And finally, there are niche blogs like the Kissmetrics blog and Conversion XL. These sites aren’t interested in attracting all types of traffic, but just the right type. They are part of B2B businesses that offer consulting services or subscription products that want to attract the customer who will purchase from them again and again. Hence, they create content that is meant to build a relationship a specific audience. If you’re reading this article it is probably because you own a business blog.

Kissmetrics for example chiefly focuses on publishing articles on marketing because they target marketers. They want to attract people who will purchase their analytics and conversion products.

Publishing content meant for a specific audience might only attract a small fraction of readers, but it will help maintain a really high conversion rate.

You too can be as successful as these business blogs if you stop writing content meant for everyone. You need to figure out who your audience is and write content that will answer their questions. It’s about pleasing the few who will eventually subscribe to your list and then hire you or buy your product(s). Neil Patel for e.g. used to write one blog post that is focused on generating one lead.

Hence, I am going to show you how to understand your audience below…

First, decide who you are writing for. You need to be specific with things like if you are writing for the CEO of the company or someone like the head of the marketing department or individual entrepreneurs and freelancers. If you are trying to target all of them you will need to create different blog posts meant for each of them.

Survey Your Target Audience

Next, conduct a survey using tools like Survey Monkey or Qualaroo to dig out more about your target audience. The aim is to learn as much as you can about them and their company. You need to find out what types of painful problems they want answers to. This post has a list of questions that can get you most of the answers.

The next step is to use these answers to see and feel what your audience sees and feels by creating an Empathy Map. As it will be easier to write exactly what they want to read when you can empathize with them.


Empathy Map from Design for Delight on Vimeo.

You can learn how to do this by watching the above video.

All this data will make it easy for you to personify your audience. Henceforth creating content they want to read should be easy.

For doing this accurately, you must take advantage of tools like the Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Long Tail Pro and Buzzsumo. For a complete guide on how to get keyword research right, read this guide from Brian Dean.

A business that really understands its blog readers is Unbounce. You can see them target a specific audience in this post on how to create a case study that converts. It doesn’t just speak about creating a case study, but on one that converts because they want to attract visitors who will be interested in their landing page software. These type of blog posts will ensure that a good percentage of their visitors convert to leads.

If you begin writing articles for the correct audience your blog should, at least, reach the minimum conversion rate. According to Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo which has over 750,000 email subscribers, this should be around 2% i.e. for every 100 visitors your blog should get 2 sign ups.

If you still don’t achieve this conversion rate it is because you aren’t making the most of lead magnets and opt-in forms. Therefore, I am going to discuss them in detail now.

Not Using A Lead Magnet Or Only Using OneDon’t ask people to sign up for free updates

Instead of asking people to sign up to a newsletter or free updates (as in the above screenshot from the Exact Target blog) you should always persuade them to sign up in exchange for a lead magnet. This lead magnet can be an ebook, white paper, webinar, case study or another type of gated content.

A Lead Magnet Can Get You More Leads

This can increase sign ups by almost 10 times as discovered by Chris Spooner. Initially, Chris’s design blog was capturing a measly amount of 10 sign ups per day as he was only asking people to sign up for updates. Later he made a modification and asked people to sign up in exchange for a bundle of free design resources. He also placed his opt-in form in more places. This boosted his conversion rate from 10 a day to 80 to 100 per day.

So create a lead magnet right now. The first lead magnet you create should be on a popular topic. It must answer the question that is most frequently asked by your audience. The solution provided in your lead magnet should also be detailed, unique and advanced.

Offer a good lead magnet

A great example of a basic lead magnet can be found on Social Media Examiner. When you visit their home page you are greeted by a feature box opt-in form which asks you to sign up in exchange for a free copy of the Social Media Marketing Industry Report. It answers the most pressing questions about social media marketing. This works because this is what their audience wants to read.

Before they offered the report, Social Media Examiner used to offer a video on how to market with Facebook, the world’s most popular social network. These lead magnets are definitely working as they have helped them acquire over 433,693 leads.

Use more than one lead magnet

If you are serious about attracting the maximum number of leads, creating only one lead magnet for the entire strategy will not suffice. You will need several. Each lead magnet can answer a different question. A company that excels at marketing with lead magnets is Hubspot.

Offer Several Lead Magnets

If you visit their Marketing Library, you will find an array of Ebooks, webinars, templates and so many other lead magnets. They create many of them because they know that not all their visitors will be interested in one lead magnet. Different lead magnets will help capture different leads. Hence, like Hubspot, create as many as you can.

And then promote them. One of the many ways Hubspot does this is by placing an opt-in form at the end of the blog post that asks people to sign up in exchange for the lead magnet. They do this very cleverly by only placing the most relevant ones.

An example is this post on Data Storytelling where they mainly inform you on the right tools you can use to collect data and how to create visual content based on the information.

Use Relevant Lead Magnets in Blog Posts

If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you will notice the above image which leads to a landing page where you can download a guide to creating beautiful charts and graphs. This way of only using relevant lead magnets should help them attract a high number of leads.

Not Using A Variety Of Opt-in Forms

As aforementioned, Chris Spooner was able to 10X his conversion rate for 2 reasons. One was by using a lead magnet and the other was because of using multiple opt-in forms. As I have already discussed the latter, I am now going to discuss opt-in forms in detail.

For successfully generating leads you need to create various kinds of opt-in forms and place them in different parts of your blog as all opt-in forms will not be visible to all users. Below you will find a list of the most imperative opt-in forms your blog must have …

a) The landing page:

The basic opt-in form every blog should have is the landing page. The landing page is more than just an opt-in form as it contains other things like copy, testimonials, and visuals that can entice even the most skeptical readers to sign up. This page can be promoted with blog posts as seen on Hubspot above, with ads and various other methods.

Use an Ebook Landing Page to Generate More Leads

An example is this Ebook landing page from Get Response. All the copy and images on that page are dedicated to getting people to download that free Ebook. There’s also a testimonial present at the bottom of the page which lets readers know that the content inside the Ebook is useful.

A well designed landing page can get your more signups

A well-designed landing page can increase opt-in rate by 321%.

For more tips on creating content landing pages, read this post.

b) The feature box:

A feature box is an opt-in form that is placed at the top of your blog. It is one of the first things the reader sees.

Thesis Blog Installed a Feature Box

The above screenshot consists of a feature box that was installed on the Thesis blog. After installing this box their daily new email subscribers increased by 51.7%. You can easily install this box by using tools like Plugmatter, Thrive Leads and Sumome.

c) Pop overs:

A pop over is a form that pops up on your blog after you visit it. Many people avoid using them because they find them annoying and think their readers will too. But they are worth the risk as they can increase conversion rate by more than 800% as discovered by Darren Rowse of Problogger.

Popovers can increase conversion rate

After installing it, his photography blog’s daily conversion rate shot up to 350 from 40.

popovers don't affect visitor behaviour

His blog engagement didn’t suffer either as after installing it his page views per visitors remained almost the same. They actually increased a little bit.

Experiment with popover optin forms

Even Dan Zarrella had similar results when he installed a pop over on his blog. As you can see in the above graph his conversion rate increased, but the bounce rate remained steady.

So instead of assuming that popovers will drive visitors away, test them out for yourself. While it is installed on your blog check your analytics to see if things like time spent, bounce rate and page views remain stable or if they change drastically.

You should be able to use many of the aforementioned email marketing tools to create your pop over form. They will also have options like delayed appearance where the opt-in form appears after a time delay instead of right after the visitor lands on the blog. There’s also exit intent where the form appears once the user’s cursor scrolls out of the browser. You can experiment with them by creating split tests to see which option gets you the most opt-ins.

Another opt-in form that is similar to the popup is the slider where the opt-in form slides in from the bottom of the screen, usually the right side. These are known to be quite effective too.

d) Content upgrade forms:

Another sign up form that is being used frequently these days is the content upgrade where the link to a relevant gated content is placed within the blog post. When the reader clicks on this link, a pop over appears and the reader can sign up through it.

Brian Dean of Backlinko was able to increase his conversion rate by 785% using the content upgrade.

Content Upgrade on Backlinko

You can see a content upgrade in action in the above post itself. Around the top of the post you will find a rectangular box. Click on the ‘Download’ link in it and the content upgrade will appear asking you to sign up.

Brian created this content upgrade using Leadpages. You should be able to create it with Thrive Leads too.

Creating a unique lead magnet for each post shouldn’t be hard, as many bloggers just offer a PDF version of the post they are reading. You will be surprised with the number of people this can help convert.

Make sure you install all these opt-in forms on your blog to increase conversion rates. Another opt-in form you can install is the one that is placed at the end of the post. I haven’t discussed this in detail here as I have already written about it earlier in the post.

Many people also like to use the sidebar opt-in form. But if you are using the feature box you probably won’t need to install this too.

Not Using Other Sites To Generate Leads

Your site isn’t the only platform you should use to attract leads. There are so many other options like guest posting and syndication that can help you generate leads. I have discussed them in detail below.

e) Guest Posts

Guest posts are mainly used by marketers to build backlinks, but they can be used for many more things. One of them is to get more subscribers. Bamidele Onibalusi was able to generate 100’s of subscribers from his guest posts.

You too can attract several leads with the help of guest posting.

To accomplish this, you will need to modify your guest posting strategy. You will need to begin guest posting for relevant sites with huge numbers of subscribers instead of only writing for sites with a high page rank. This is because people who are already on another sites list will be more likely to sign up for your list too.

Bamidele Onibalusi got all those subscribers because he wrote guest posts for sites like Smart Passive Income and Problogger. The content these sites published was very similar to the content he published as they are all about blogging and making money online and they both have a large number of subscribers.

Promote a Relevant Lead Magnet in Your Guest Post

In his guest posts, he even linked to a very relevant lead magnet. For e.g. in this post, he linked to a landing page that contained a lead magnet that showed people how he makes $3000 online. It helped him attract an average of 400 subscribers.

Look for blogs with a huge number of subscribers

If I were running a website design company, I would guest post on a site like WP beginner as they have over 370,000 subscribers and they do share their blog posts with them. If I want to be sure about it I can always sign up and check for myself.

After that, I will write a guest post on WordPress design that is relevant to one of my lead magnets and link to the lead magnet at the end of the post just like Bamidele Onibalusi did. This should help attract a whole lot of new leads.

If possible, you should also link to your lead magnet within the content itself. Some bloggers will let you include content upgrades. So make sure you enquire about this.

This guide should help you quickly find popular blogs that accept guest posts.

f) Syndication:

Another method businesses very rarely use to generate leads is white paper syndication. White paper syndication is when you host your white paper and other content on a third party site to which your target audience subscribes.

This site will promote your white paper to the target audience they have already built a relationships with and, in turn, get you a massive number of leads quickly. Coretrace, for example, was able to use this technique to promote its white paper and webinars and increase its leads from 0 to 20,000 in one year.

Make the most of white paper syndication sites

Some popular white paper syndication services you can try are TradePub, emedia and Find White Papers.

These leads aren’t cheap, though. Price per lead starts at $30 and can go all the way up to $80. But leads are more qualified as you get various other details like position in the company, number of employees, contact address, phone number, etc. along with basic details like name and email. For a complete list of popular white paper syndication services and their prices check out this report from Tenton Marketing.

g) Slideshare:

You can also use Slideshare to collect leads. It is highly effective because it gets 500% more traffic from business owners than Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Framebench was able to use Slideshare to get 500 sign ups in 3 days from the traffic that it directed to their website.

They also generated 75 sign ups on Slideshare itself.

You too can do this by adjusting slide settings so that a popup form appears when the reader browses through your slides. You can choose the slide in which you would like the form to appear and the details you would like the form to ask.

You can learn more about it by browsing through the above slides.

To sum up, writing for everyone and not using plenty of lead magnets and opt-in forms to convert as many of your blog visitors are the biggest content marketing mistakes that are costing you leads. And don’t forget to take advantage of white paper syndication sites as they can quickly boost up your lead generation efforts.

Therefore, you should modify your strategy today to eliminate these mistakes and you will soon begin generating more leads. After that, the next step will be to nurture these leads.

What other common content marketing mistakes can cost businesses leads? Please leave your comments below.