For many companies, content marketing is a direct way for getting new leads. Before they allow you to read or download e-books, white papers, videos or any other content, they present you with a form.

Through forms, companies get personal information about people reading their content. While this approach is absolutely legitimate, in many cases if done wrong, it may lead to an opposite result by losing potential customers. Let's go through the five most common errors companies do in getting the leads through content marketing.

1. Never, Ever Use Complicated Forms

If for nothing else, using overly complicated forms will definitely lower the conversion rates at which your content is being read. Some companies go into ridiculous details before they allow users to download a piece of content. They ask for things like education, job name, skills or other obscurities. Some even force you to register an account.

Companies mostly do this for three purposes:

  1. to evaluate the lead
  2. for statistical purposes
  3. campaign segmentation.

All of these reasons are fundamentally wrong. Why? Because you can’t really evaluate a lead before he has seen/read the content. No matter how great the lead may seem from the details he provided in the form, it is of no use to you if he didn’t enjoy your content. It is as if you were asking people for a movie review before they’ve seen the movie.

The same applies for the statistical purpose. The single most important statistic you should worry about is whether your content is great or not. All other information is irrelevant if you cannot tie it to the fact of if the user liked your content or not.

As for the segmentation, most companies will never use that data for sending customized emails. It takes lot of effort to create segmented campaigns and very few do it well.

Besides, entry forms are not great for statistical data. If you need such data, surveys are a much better way to get qualified leads and optimize your content. They will allow you to ask users about the content’s quality and their interest in it. If you do the survey via email it may even give you a hint which leads are high quality (those that respond).

It is really very annoying to fill out a large form just to see that the content is not great or it’s on a different topic than advertised. Entry forms will not get you that kind of data upon which you may optimize content’s quality. Surveys will.

One more reason to skip complicated forms: in today's world it's no rarity that people don't download the content to their hard-drives. This kind of behavior will continue to grow with the rise of cloud and mobile browsing. And believe me, filling the same form three or four times in a row is a pain.

The only thing that you really need is email and I encourage you to skip that one too. Instead, make filling the form optional. People that will find your content interesting enough will sign up later. People that don't, will not do business with you anyway.

2. Put a Call to Action Inside the Content

Whether you follow my advice about making the entry form optional or not, you should always make sure that you put a clear call to action somewhere inside the content. It can be a subscribe button, short survey, link or any other CTA that the content medium allows you to use.

3. Don’t Overkill the Audience

If you really don’t want to lose your audience, then think before you send a mass email. Firing dozens of emails to a whole database each week will definitely kill most of your leads.

If you really want to make an impression on people, don't use auto responders. Reply manually from a real person's email address with name, phone and everything. I hear you say: "How can I reply to everyone? I have hundreds of new emails daily?" That's why I recommend that you pick up only emails that matter. And if you do your statistics well you can even filter these emails on criteria such as country, time spent reading the content or referrer. You can check if the reader shared your content. That may be a great sign that he is interested about the topic you cover and may be willing to do  business with you.

4. Regularly Clean Your Database

Doing regular clean up of the leads database should be a natural habit of every company. You should definitely clean obsoleted leads or leads that haven’t responded within a year. You’ll do even better when you move converted leads to separate segment in your CRM system and don't bother them with acquisition offers.

5. Not Everyone is a Lead

Don’t forget that not everyone that wants to read your content is a potential lead. It may be a student, researcher or just a random user interested in the topic. Again forcing these users to fill the lengthy form won’t do you any good.

Perhaps these users may not be totally lost to your case. Student will become employee one day and may want to do business with you. Providing content also for these types of visitors may be a great way of getting potential customers in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Managing leads is an important part of content marketing. With the wrong approach you can successfully kill even the greatest lead. These tips are just the tip of the iceberg but they are the most obvious mistakes made by companies eager to surf on the wave of content marketing.

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in other articles by Martin Rapavy:

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