Content Marketing is a simple idea in theory with a steep learning curve in practice. Basically, you make content that generates leads for your business. That’s the premise of a content marketing plan.

Simple, right? Yes, in the way that the theory of gravity is simple to watch but difficult to document.

When a legendary apple dropped on Sir Isaac Newton’s head, the result was obvious. When centuries of scientists have tried to perfectly document the math behind this phenomenon, the system became vastly more complex. (That’s why it’s still a scientific theory instead of a law.)

Similarly, content marketing starts with a simple concept of the conversion funnel. In theory, prospective customers follow this process organically (like an apple dropping from a tree). But, engineering a conversion funnel actually looks more like a constant feedback loop.

It starts with making an offer (such as an eBook). The offer lives on a landing page, waiting for traffic to convert into leads. On both ends, your advertising (initial contact) and sales follow-up (final contact) need to constantly shift and improve. It’s about as hard as engineering gravity.

The Conversion Funnel

Digital Marketers, especially those who specialize in Content Marketing, build campaigns around the conversion funnel. The concept is fairly simple.

At the top, you have the page views on a referring page. This is the top of the funnel and (obviously) the highest number of users. Often, this is an advertisement that links to your website. It can also be a social media post, search engine result, or any digital marketing channel.

Those who click are the next number. That is often represented as a percentage called the click-through rate. This number is usually small with .02% as an average.

Then, the visitor hits the landing page. At this point, several indicators are at play like on-page time. The goal here is that someone takes the appropriate action like making a purchase, downloading something, or subscribing.

With just this simple overview, you can see how the variables along the way impact effectiveness. Improving the ad will get you more clicks, which raises your click-through rate. Making sure the landing page delivers value will raise on-page time. Content within the landing page will push a visitor toward or away from the desired action.

Tweaking all the parts to perfection improves the efficiency of the conversion funnel.

Like any useful principle, the funnel concept boils everything down to a simple process. However, in real life, a user may deviate from that straightforward path.

They may leave your website and come back later. Perhaps, they may jump around your site and then come back to the landing page. They may get distracted and start looking for something else entirely.

But, the general principle of the conversion funnel helps you see where an eBook fits in the process.

Attracting Readers

At the top of the funnel, you need to attract readers. Ideally, your advertising is more than click-bait and actually represents your eBook well. This raises the likelihood of downloads later in the funnel.

To start, choose the channels that best suit your audience. Whether you use paid methods or non-traditional mediums, you’ll need to select based on audience.

Then, create media that works well on each channel. Some of these may be obvious, like a video on social media. Others may be more unique and inspired. Regardless, make sure that your advertising is both catchy and clear to attract readers.

Encouraging Downloads

On the landing page, there are several things you can do to encourage downloads. First, make sure your form is simple and easy to find. Keep it high on the page and use as few fields as possible. Although it can be tempting to add many questions to qualify your leads, this will lessen the possibility of a download. You can qualify leads later using other techniques like email surveys, website tracking, or sales research.

Additionally, your landing page should sell the eBook. Include a preview of the content that reveals the benefits. This can be as simple as letting them download the first few pages without a gate or as complex as creating a rich media story to engage the visitor.

Overall, you should have content on the page that encourages an immediate download.

Automated Engagement

After someone downloads your eBook, you want an automated way to continue engaging them. For most organizations, this means a 15-minute follow-up email. You can use it as a warm touch with a soft sell to keep them in touch (like an email subscription).

Make sure that you don’t just add them to automation (or a subscription list) unless they opt-in. This violates trust (and raises your unsubscribe percentage). Follow the best practices of email marketing to help convert them to a customer at the proper time.

Integrating with Sales

Evaluating intent turns a lead into a meaningful relationship. So, you need to make sure that your system integrates well with sales. As you qualify leads, through tracking and email marketing, you’ll uncover individuals that should be moved over to sales.

So, keep your sales team in the loop on your eBooks. They can provide valuable feedback about which leads move through the process. Also, they may offer insights into which information is most valuable to your audience.

Then, you can adjust your advertising to narrow in on that target.

Make eBooks a Part of your Content Marketing Plan

The feedback loop is essential to making eBooks a part of your content marketing plan. When you develop an eBook, you can integrate it within your existing content strategy by capitalizing on the key principles behind the conversion funnel. Essentially, the eBook should be the main incentive (offer) to exchange contact information with your organization. So, all of the paths to the eBook should soft sell your audience, priming them to hand over their email address on the landing page.

Then, your eBook leverages your expert knowledge to market your organization and generate valuable leads.