Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all posts from our UK team here.

Standing out online is about creating content that your target audience loves. Consistently. But the path from online publishing to making sales can seem awfully unclear sometimes. Here are ten tips for supercharging your content and nudging your prospects smoothly through your sales funnel – from finding one of your blog posts to parting with their cash.

1. Make it easy to sign up to your newsletter

In a digital world of code and pixels, it’s sometimes easy to forget that content marketing is about people. More specifically, about nurturing relationships with people. So one of the golden rules is to capture an email address from your visitor as quickly as possible.

Every piece of content you produce should be optimised with a newsletter signup form (with a clear, benefit-led call to action) and links to your social media profiles. If a reader enjoys one of your blog posts, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to read more of the same in the future.

2. Give your audience a reason to engage

Ah, the perennial advice of every digital marketing blog ever: create great content. But what exactly is great content? Where is the boundary between great and…ungreat? Well, that’s largely down to you. Or more specifically, your target audience.

You see, content marketing is about filling the gap between your product and your target audience’s fears, needs, problems and desires. If they want to be entertained, entertain them. If they want a nice garden, use your green-fingered expertise to publish lawn-growing tips. If they are learning a musical instrument, teach them about the benefits of building practicing habits. This applies to every piece of content you create, not least with email campaigns.

Email marketing can be an incredibly cost-effective way of reaching out. But bombarding your reader with irrelevant communications that push for the hard sell could have dire consequences. Not only will your reader not act, you could turn them off your brand forever. Your goal is to inspire, educate, inform and entertain. Sell the lifestyle that surrounds your products, not the products themselves.

3. Get to know your prospects

The more you know about your prospects, the better your chance of creating content they will engage with. Use every means possible -Google analytics, social media, clickthrough data etc – to research your prospects and find new contacts. It leads the way to better targeting which ultimately result in high quality leads.

4. Segment your subscriber list

If targeted communications rule the roost, you should look for ways to segment your email subscriber list based on what you know about your prospects and where they are in your sales funnel. For example, let’s say you run an e-commerce business that sells garden supplies. A new subscriber is unlikely to be bowled over by a BOGOF weed killer campaign.

But someone who regularly opens your emails and has specifically engaged with your content about keeping your garden free of weeds is much more likely to take up your offer. The bottom line is that you should be ready to produce different content for different people at different times. You have to build relationships before you can close sales.

5. Email campaign automation

The more you automate your digital marketing, the more free time you have to concentrate on the rest of your to-do list. With our email marketing software you can create email campaigns that are triggered by certain events. The most obvious example is a welcome email that is automatically sent to new subscribers. But that really is the tip of the iceberg.

6. Make sure everything is mobile-friendly

One of the biggest boo-boos when it comes to content marketing is failing to optimise for mobile. With users increasingly choosing smartphones and tablets rather than desktops to browse the web, it’s essential that your website and emails look great on all devices. Prospects don’t have the patience to grapple with content that doesn’t work seamlessly on their smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. When you fail to cater for mobile users you alienate your target audience.

7. Keep keen eyes on your analytics

If you are serious about converting leads with content marketing, you should be prepared for constant testing, tweaking and fine-tuning. Study trends in your analytics to gain insight on how people engage with you online. What pages are people exiting from? What links are getting the most heat in your emails? Find the sticking points and rework.

8. Build momentum with offers

A neat way to fast-track engagement is to hit your prospects with an offer they can’t refuse. That might be a flash sale of 50% off all of your products for one-day only.The aim is to make your offer so compelling that your prospects can’t resist taking action. And don’t forget to create a sense of urgency or scarcity to your offer:

  • 50% off all products for 24 hours only
  • £10 voucher for the next 100 people to follow us on Twitter

9. Follow up queries from your prospects. Quickly.

It’s amazing how many businesses drop the ball here. When you have gone to the effort of attracting your prospects, the last thing you want to do is leave them waiting on a query they have made with you. Whether it’s an interaction on social media or an email to your support team, these interactions are an easy way to forge a relationship with your prospects and build trust in your brand.

Lots of businesses talk the talk when it comes to customer service. Few actually walk the walk – which gives you a great opportunity to stand out. Keep your tone of voice on point with the rest of your written content.

10. Reward your existing customers first

With all this talk of sales funnels, lead nurturing and content marketing, it’s easy to obsess about attracting new customers and clients. But don’t forget your existing customers. The old saying goes that marketing to new customers is five times more expensive than marketing to people who have already purchased from you. Worth keeping in mind when it comes to your after-sales marketing strategy.

What are your content marketing success stories? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.