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Ditch the ebook: Content planning after lead gen liberation

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If you’re looking for content planning ideas that don’t involve ebooks and gated content, they’re right here!

No forms, no scrolling through 18 irrelevant pages to find what you need, no unwarranted calls from our sales team.

What a lovely way to consume content!

At Cognism, we’ve kicked lead generation out of content planning. We don’t want to write boring, gated ebooks anymore, and we bet you don’t want to read them anyway.

And it has worked. Just take a look at our Unique Page Views in the last year, since we changed our approach to content planning in March.

Cognism Unique Page Views

In this article, we’re going to get to the root of the lead gen content planning problem, and illuminate the trail away from B2B boredom.

Feel free to pick a section from the menu to the left, or scroll through for the full article.

The problems with MQL-driven content planning

We’ve already established that ebooks are often boring. The content has to be well crafted and incredibly valuable to produce an enjoyable ebook.

How else can an ebook strategy damage your content?

As is so often the case in B2B marketing, the fundamental issue is time. Ebooks require a huge amount of time to publish, and you’ll end up with a flavourless cake that consumers only want a slice of.

Surely writers are too creative to get bogged down by time-consuming, uninteresting content!

MQL-driven content planning doesn’t take writer or consumer enjoyment into account. It’s designed to generate leads, regardless of lead quality, regardless of content quality.

There’s a better way.

How to kick MQLs out of content planning

“But we still need leads.”

Good point, but they don’t have to come from gated content.

Gated content leads tend to be of lower value. These people haven’t expressed an interest in your solution, they’ve just downloaded some content. They might not even fit your target audience.

If you can create high-quality content, aiming only to provide value, the leads will still come, and they’ll convert at a much higher rate.

Your sales team will be having fewer conversations, but they’ll be better conversations.

If that’s not enough (and it might not be), find another way to source leads. Take a look at a sales intelligence solution to provide the contact data you need. There are better options than boring content.

Content planning without lead generation

If you can shift the responsibility of MQLs away from content, you’ll have time to get involved in far more exciting tasks.

Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

Optimise in-feed content

What happens when your content doesn’t have to go anywhere?

If the goal is to provide value, not direct readers to a lead form, you become freed from your own website. You can take the value direct to your audience.

This opens up possibilities like producing video content for your social media page, creating an ungated podcast, and answering questions on forums. The possibilities are almost endless.

This one small change gives creative marketers so much freedom to have fun with their content planning.

Split content between journalism and SEO

What do we mean by journalistic content?

We mean looking for the hot topic, and creating content that tells a story, without worrying too much about on-page SEO.

If your writers aren’t focused on creating 8,000 word ebooks, they’ll have the time to put an ear to the ground and find out what people in their space are talking about.

This content will establish your brand as thought leaders, quickly jumping on emerging trends and giving your take.

The rest of your writers should focus on SEO.

With the new time SEO writers have on their hands, they can upskill. Take classes on SEO and learn more about how they can elevate existing content, and create new content that puts your company on the map.

Having someone dedicated to updating and optimising existing content is the most reliable way to increase your unique page views quickly.

By splitting your content focus between these two areas, you’ll be providing more value in the short-term, while growing your brand over time.

Build a network of content contributors

With your new-found time, start building a network. When you see someone posting interesting content on socials, reach out. If you attend a great talk at an event, get their email. These people are putting themselves out there to gain followers, and they’ll likely be keen to get involved in content you’re creating.

If you keep adding people to your network, you’ll eventually have a reliable list of contributors to contact whenever you need a quote or some information. Your content will be powered by thought leaders, rather than the research of writers. We can’t do it all!

Get to know your audience

Hang out in the same places as your audience.

You want to get involved in the conversations they’re having. If you’re consuming the same content and having the same conversations, you’ll be able to talk to your audience the way they talk to each other. You’ll be able to provide answers to the questions they’re actually asking.

Diversify your content

Based on your customer research, you can get more experimental with the types of content you produce.

If your audience enjoys entertaining media (and they probably do), think about setting up a TikTok, or producing content specifically made for YouTube. Deliver value in an entertaining way and you’ll gain followers. This content strategy has resulted in astronomical growth for some smaller marketing teams.

Be a nosy neighbour

From an SEO perspective, make sure you’re aware of the new content your competitors are creating.

Whenever they release a piece of content, to which they’ve clearly dedicated a lot of resources, ask yourselves why. Which keyword are they targeting? Why is this useful to them? And more importantly, would this be useful to us?

If the answer is yes, the next question should be ‘how can we do something similar, but better.’

This level of competitor research and content planning becomes possible when you’re not spending as much time on a boring ebook strategy.

Experiment with your voice

Without a monthly MQL target, you can afford to take greater risks without worrying about falling short one month and looking bad.

How about trying a different voice for a month on social media? Or how about writing a couple of articles in a different style?

You might just find something that resonates better with your audience, striking the right balance between professional and conversational.

Try it out, your audience might prefer it!

Improve the consumer experience

Spend some time thinking about the layout of your blogs and blog home page. Ask yourself, is it easy for people to find the information they’re after? You might need:

  • A search bar
  • A ‘featured’ section
  • Topic clusters
  • A 'you might also enjoy' section
  • Relevant CTAs
  • Links to relevant content
  • Separate pages for content types (i.e. video, podcast, webinar)

This also means not neglecting your mobile audience. Find out how many people are consuming your content on mobile, it might be more than you think.

Optimising blogs for mobile is a quick fix that’ll hugely improve time on page and encourage consumers to come back.

Step up the reporting

You’ve got more time for reporting now, and the MQL isn’t the star of the show.

Review your content and see which pages are performing well for unique page views, time on page, and CTA conversions.

Getting the full picture of the state of your content will make it easier to plan ahead wisely. Understand what’s working, what you need to avoid, and what you need to do more of.

Those who do not understand the past are doomed to repeat it, and those who do not report on their content are doomed to write boring ebooks.

Update: We recently recorded an entire episode on creating content that generates demand. Find it here.

Free yourself from B2B boredom

If MQLs are suppressing the growth of your content team, you have to get rid of them. Find a sales intelligence platform to provide the high-quality leads you need, so you can make content fun again.

Check out some of our favourite sales intelligence platforms.

Or, head straight for the best. Speak to a Cognism expert today.

Book a Cognism demo

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