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15 Powerful Content Ideas to Bring More Traffic to Your Website

The power of content marketing has been proven time and time again. Yet, it is surprising how many companies have yet to adopt it as part of their marketing strategy. What’s worse, are companies that spend valuable time and resources on content creation, but are doing it completely wrong.

Then, there are companies who have bought into the power of content marketing. They have an effective strategy, and they’re seeing results from their investment. This is the kind of company that needs to be emulated.

15 Powerful Content Marketing Ideas

If you aren’t sure where to start, if your strategy is stale, or if you’re not sure how to use content to generate leads, read on to learn.

1. Blog posts

Blogs are the standard when it comes to content. While certainly not new, I consider blogging the foundation of most inbound lead generation plans. Many of the content ideas included in this post are extensions of a blog, or at the very least are facilitated through blogging.

There are 3 key pieces to blogging:

1) Consistency

While more often is typically better, it is more important that you maintain a schedule. If you can only commit to blogging once a week or twice a month, you are better off doing that than trying to fit in 3 blogs a week and then eventually stopping altogether because it isn’t sustainable. It all depends on the resources you have and the business you are in.

2) Quality

Short, regurgitated articles are unlikely to bring you any valuable traffic, and even if you do get readers, they won’t return. So this goes back to the schedule again: you are better off with a couple of high quality posts a month than several a week that are poorly written and low quality.

3) Inspire Action

Blog posts should inspire readers to convert in some way. They should be supplied with a call to action, something that turns regular visitors into leads. This requires lead generation tactics on your blog.

Newsletters and email updates are common ways to gather new leads from a blog. The ideas below are also great additions to your blog that will bring in more leads and readers that are in various stages of the funnel.

If you are looking to develop a content strategy or boost your lead acquisition, a blog is the place to start.

2. Data and Statistics

Testing and research allows you to gain valuable insight into how effective your tactics are, and provides a fresh perspective for new ideas. Conducting your own tests is not only a valuable tool for you though, it becomes a powerful piece of content that you can leverage.

Sharing this evidence highlights you as a credible thought leader in the space and that kind of transparency will gain your brand a lot of trust. But even more, you are providing information that is not available anywhere else. It’s not just one of a kind, but uniquely valuable, as Rand Fishkin points out in his recent Moz post. This also has enormous SEO value. Publishing content that is genuinely unique, not just repurposed information said in a different way, but actual new information is profoundly influential.

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Neil Patel of KissMetrics and Quicksprout, does a great job of this. He conducts experiments of his own and then with full transparency, he uses interesting visuals and concrete data to write on compelling subjects such as whether you should repost your content on other websites.

This kind of content is not for the faint of heart - be prepared for a longer timeline and a lot more work than your average piece of content, but if done well, the payoff will be worth it.

3. Case studies

Case studies, like data and statistics, allow you to create and share uniquely valuable content that cannot be found elsewhere. It builds more trust and credibility for your brand because you can prove your success. They can be repurposed in a variety of ways, from blog posts to infographics. And people love to see how everyone else is doing it.

The tricky part about cases studies is whether or not to use them as a lead generation tool. They are proving your amazing abilities as a company, why would you want to hide all of that information behind a form? One tool that I have used in the past that has been effective is giving away a portion or overview of a very powerful case study for free, just enough to get the reader interested, and then asking for their email to access a full report that would include deeper details, before and after statistics, more in-depth information, etc.

There is no shortage of companies that develop case studies. HubSpot has hundreds of client videos and articles on their website and they do a great job of highlighting the critical information of each one and allowing visitors to sort through them easily.

4. Cheat sheets

People love cheat sheets and it’s a great way to get new leads into the top of the funnel. Utilize different topics to target people at different levels of the decision making process.

If you create a cheat sheet, be prepared to put some hard work into it. People expect a useful, high quality guide to solving a specific challenge or problem they are having. Imagine that everything you put out into the universe will serve as someone’s very first introduction to you, it will serve as that person's first impression of your company and brand because often times, it is. If your cheat sheet doesn’t actually teach them anything new or serve as an effective tool for them, you are not proving yourself to be a knowledgeable and credible source of information on that subject. This is especially problematic if your cheat sheet centralizes around an area that your company specializes in. If that is the case, they are unlikely to return again and especially unlikely to become customers.

Marketo has 42 cheat sheets on a wide range of subjects available on their website. The sheer volume of cheat sheets that they have produced proves to me that these are an effective inbound marketing tool; in their case however, they offer their cheat sheets for free and ask for your details to access their meatier content pieces such as their guides and success kits. You will have to decide the right mix of free and closed content for your own brand.

5. Contests & Giveaways

Contests and giveaways are two of the easiest and quickest ways to get an influx of leads into your funnel, but in this particular case it is typically quantity over quality.

It is imperative that your contest and prize match your audience! (If you don’t know exactly who your ideal customer is, go back and develop some buyer personas as your first step before launching into any of these content ideas). I have seen some major blunders before at companies who offer prizes completely irrelevant to their target audience. Yet, somehow, they are surprised when none of the leads turn into prospects. The closer you get with your contest/giveaway, the higher quality your leads will be.

6. Guest posts

Despite the concern over guest posting, which started this time last year, it is still alive and well. The biggest threat Google made was to guest posts that aren’t “high quality,” but the need for high quality content has continued to become more important in every facet of marketing, and guest posting is no exception. As long as you're developing unique, useful content, you won’t have anything to worry about.

When it comes to guest posting there are two ways to go: guest posting on other blogs and allowing guest posting on your own.

Again, both come back to quality over quantity. You certainly don’t want inferior content being published on your own site, and every other blog you post at will be holding your pieces to the same high standard.

Getting guests posts for your own blog is fairly straightforward. Make it clear that you accept them, give suggested topics or subjects that you are interested in posting, and be sure to review and edit if necessary. Spin Sucks has an excellent guest posting guidelines page as an example.

Having other blogs post your content is much trickier. If they clearly accept guest posts, it’s a bit easier to get in front of the blogger, but there is likely also more competition; if it is not clear that they accept guest posts, it can be tough, but not impossible. The first step is to develop a relationship with that blogger through sharing their content, tweeting at them, engaging with their brand, commenting on their articles, etc. You should be doing this anyway. Before pitching them, make sure you understand their audience and writing style, and offer them an exclusive piece of content that has not been published elsewhere.

Practice quality over quantity.

An interesting article that you spent some time on that is posted on a popular blog is worth more than 10 low quality articles a month on sites with no traffic or an irrelevant audience. It takes quite a bit of work, and quite a lot of patience, but can have a big payoff when successful.

7. Lists

You simply can’t go wrong with lists. They are versatile and eye catching, and people simply love them.

For maximum effectiveness, utilize both “top” and “complete” lists i.e. Top Marketing Blogs that highlight 5 of the leading authors in online marketing with an overview of why you selected each one, and then more comprehensive lists that are exhaustive on a particular topic, such as The Complete List of Outbound Marketing Practices.

Almost every blog has occasionally published a list of some sort. HubSpot has a variety of top and exhaustive lists on a range of topics such as landing pages designs and the essential steps for client onboarding.

Cracked.com, a humor site that posts multiple articles daily, uses lists more than any other site I have seen, but they go a bit overboard with it. List articles are definitely something you can overuse, but integrating them into your content strategy wisely and sparingly is a must.

8. Aggregation of articles

One benefit of aggregating content is that you can publish a lot more information with fewer resources. Another advantage is that you can become the go-to source for news and information; rather than visiting 5 or more blogs a day, your readers know you will pull the best content out there and provide all in one spot.

However this strategy must be done correctly so that you aren’t simply stealing content. Be sure to add your own unique thought and opinions to the information you're pulling. Give credit back to the original source and be sure you are only sharing news that is topical and relevant to your audience. Follow those steps and article aggregation can be an effective tool in your content arsenal.

9. User Generated Content

A great way to create a community, engage your audience, and keep fresh content coming is to utilize user-generated content. It benefits your content strategy, and turns your customers (and potential customers) into your own brand advocates. And because the content is coming from a variety of people with different experience, skill sets, and backgrounds, it provides a plethora of different content types and topics.

MOZ has one of the best strategies surrounding user-generated content. They have a great community of people that you can post to their YouMoz blog, and the posts that get rated the highest, then get promoted to the main MOZ Blog. It is genius because you can utilize customers/leads you already have to help you bring new leads into the top of the funnel with minimal effort; the toughest part if just getting the traction you need to build a sustainable community.

10. Free Guides, especially How-Tos

While not original, “how to” guides are essential for any business and great for SEO. “How to” remains one of the top search queries in Google.

It’s also great for a wide range of businesses and audiences, anything from travel to DIY to sales, the basics to more advanced, and specific topics. Basic or 101 Guides will attract people who are closer to the top of the funnel, who are likely new to the industry or service. More advanced guides will establish your credibility as a leader and will be beneficial to those who are further down the funnel. The best strategy is to incorporate both.

The Content Marketing Institute does a great job of this on their website, they have included an entire list of “How To’s” in their sidebar. Of course we have our own Lean Labs guides here as well available for free.

11. Newsjacking

Newsjacking is by far the most difficult on this list but can have the greatest return. You have to have your timing down to a tee for this to be effective, it needs to come right before everyone starts talking about it, so that you become a go-to source when it hits. Not only do you have to be on the pulse of what is happening, you have to be able to create and turn out content on the fly. Execute it well though, and you will become part of the trend, and that is invaluable.

The most famous example of newsjacking is probably the Oreo add when the Super Bowl blackout occurred a couple of years ago. David Meerman Scott, who actually coined the term newsjacking, features a write up of it on his blog. Even though Oreo has nothing to do with football, their ad worked because it was timely, funny, and they found a way to incorporate it in with the events in a tasteful way (trust me, newsjacking can go very wrong).

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12. Demos

Video demonstrations are an absolutely must have. Before blogging even, if you have a product that can be showcased through a demo, this is a necessity.

When people get further down into the funnel and reach the point where they want to specifically know about your solution or product, a demo is going to be what they are looking for. This is not a tactic to pull in a large number of leads, but the leads you do get are going to be high quality on average and quicker to turn into sales.

The videos should be short, no more than 2 minutes. If you don’t have the resources in house to create a high quality demo, it is worth the cost to have one professionally created as it will be a piece of content you use for years to come.

13. Polls and Surveys - then Publish

Polls and surveys are great because they are quick and easy pieces to publish and they are also quick and easy for your readers to consume.

Not only will these provide your business with some insightful information, you can then publish your findings for another piece of unique, interesting content.

As with all other content, make sure your questions are relevant to your audience and a topic that will get them engaged.

14. Comments

Comments are valuable, but tough to achieve. If you can find a way to generate conversations about your brand it is powerful. The key is that you must remain engaged with your audience. Get people talking, commenting, asking questions - but don’t stop there. Talk back with them, answer their questions, point them to additional resources you have that they may enjoy. It is also a good sign that you are creating quality content and a great way to inspire new content ideas.

Mark Schaefer of {grow} is phenomenal at creating engaging content that inspires his readers to comment, and he is by far the best at responding both on his site and within social media. His posts regularly have comments in the hundreds and it is rare for him not to respond to every single one.

Don’t just strive to get commenters on your own blog though, comment on other blogs, it will increase your network and drive more traffic to your own site.

15. Live Blogging

Live blogging is when you attend an event and literally write about it live. It becomes an incredible resource for people who would have liked to attend but couldn’t, but it also attracts attendees at the event.

Incorporate hashtags, event photographs, and other social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram for more exposure and engagement.

Lisa Barone is the best I have seen at this; her AdTech NY live blog is the most recent and as always, is very in-depth and informative. Her lead acquisition strategy is to tell people to register for updates right away, since there will a large amount of content available as she writes about each session she attends. Another option is to write about each session, then have exclusive opinion pieces about topics presented at the event that visitors can only receive if they register.

Create The Content Your Audience Wants

This list is certainly not exhaustive; there are dozens more content types that can boost your traffic and bring in more leads. Not every, single one will be right for your business or audience, but select a few to test and see how they work.

What type of content have you found to be the most effective in generating leads?

Written by Samantha McCollough / February 2, 2015

Writer. Reader. Lover of naps, dogs, sunshine and ironic humor. Samantha's specialties include SEO, content marketing, and rescuing turtles in the road. Oh, and she's a #marketing engineer... with an artistic flair.

Articles by Samantha McCollough