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Content is king when it comes to nurturing leads. But that content must be relevant to the needs of your prospects, requiring a “deep understanding of your target audience,” says Jillian Bannister, CEO of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto.

Regardless of the form your content takes — articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, whitepapers, info-graphics or tweets — the information you provide must be convincing enough to engage leads and be delivered in a manner they prefer.

“Leads come in all shapes and sizes,” Bannister says. You must recognize that they have different preferences for receiving information and will be at various stages of the nurturing cycle. So, your content must be relevant to leads at each stage.

Here are some tips for creating content that engages leads and moves them toward becoming clients:

> Research your audience
Get as much information as possible about your leads. That information might be based on demographic or psychographic criteria, income levels, investing behavior and communication preferences such as email or social media.

This information will allow you to develop content that is relevant to your audience members and determine how you can reach them most effectively. You may need to conduct your own research, hire a third-party firm or simply find out more about your leads by asking them.

> Provide original content
The tone and style of your content should match the characteristics of you audience members. If your leads comprise a cross-section of individuals with various attributes, then your content must be developed with this broad audience in mind.

Your content must be educational, adds Andrew Broadhead, communications manager with Ext. “It should not be a product push.”

To be effective, you should, as far as possible, use original content that addresses relevant topics in a new way or incorporates a fresh look and feel to a subject.

Content should address basic themes, Broadhead says. It should be unique and noticeable and be differentiated to stand out from the clutter. Keep content on reserve or in the “pipeline,” Broadhead adds.

> Determine a delivery method
While social media has emerged as the most popular method for reaching leads, the way you deliver content must suit the preferences of members of your target audience. Note that the preferences of leads within the same target audience might vary, requiring that you use various methods to reach them.

As well, Broadhead advises, break up your contact list with the aim of sending different content to different categories of leads. For example, blogs are more general in nature and can be used to reach newer leads, whereas a newsletter that addresses more specific subject areas can be used to reach a more targeted list.

> Include a specific call to action
You send content to leads with the expectation of being able to convert them to clients. In all cases, you should have a specific call to action, Bannister says. That call to action should provide clear instructions on a course of action, even if it is to simply contact you for more information.

This is the second part in a two-part series on nurturing leads.

Click here for part one: Nurturing leads by email

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