Content Marketing Lead Generation: The Benefits of Being Authentic

Sue Davison

May 13, 2024

Content Marketing Lead Generation: The Benefits of Being Authentic

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.1 And B2B marketers know this. In 2020, 70% successfully used content marketing to generate leads.2

Content marketing is undoubtedly one of the most cost-efficient and effective lead-generation techniques when done well. But in many cases, this marketing approach leaves a bad taste, and leads get fed up before they convert.

You know what I'm talking about. When did you last relish 'selling' your contact details for supposedly 'free' resources? Probably never. You likely tolerated receiving follow-up emails, offers, promotions and invitations to access additional resources that you didn't want or need. You may have opened the first few emails but soon began deleting them unopened. Then, maybe days, weeks or months later, you hit the unsubscribe button. Your lasting memory of the brand wasn't that it provided you with an invaluable resource but that it tricked you into receiving spam.

You don't need to be one of those brands to generate leads from content marketing. Here's what you can do instead.

Ditch the gated content.

Yes, you read that correctly. Be truly generous and share resources without a trade-off. It will make you the brand your target audience looks forward to engaging with and ultimately buying from.

The authentic approach to content marketing lead generation

Introducing authenticity into your content marketing strategy doesn't mean you have to change your process radically. In fact, it simplifies things. The aim is still to generate leads by delivering valuable content that attracts, engages, and nurtures potential customers, driving them towards conversion and customer acquisition. The only difference is that your approach to the end game is wholly transparent, sensitive and positive for the people with whom you want to do business. No more designing, sending and monitoring unwanted email sequences. No more watching click-through rates drop to depressing levels, and no more tearing your hair out at the growing number of unsubscribes. 

Here's what an authentic content marketing process looks like. Most of it will look familiar to any content marketer, with a few essential tweaks.

Authentic Content Marketing Lead Generation

STEP 1: Understand your audience and its content needs

Before you can create relevant, high-value content that builds trust in your brand, you must understand your audience's questions and pain points at each stage of the customer journey. Conduct online keyword, topic and competitor research. Ask questions and run polls on social media. Talk to your sales team and existing customers. 

Every piece of content that you produce, from your website home page to your latest ebook, should address your audience's needs and speak its language. 

STEP 2: Create a content plan 

Use your audience research to develop a content plan that addresses your customers' pain points at each stage of the customer journey. Then, use a content calendar to schedule publication. 

Remember, the aim is to publish regularvaluable content so that your audience begins to trust your brand as a reliable source of information. As your brand establishes itself as an authority in your industry or niche, your audience will be more receptive to your messages and offerings.

The diagram below showcases some of the most effective forms of content for engaging readers at the awareness, consideration, and conversion stages of the buyer's journey.

Content Types for Each Stage of the Customer Journey

STEP 3: Determine content distribution channels

Develop an understanding of where your customers hang out and focus your content distribution efforts in these places. Establish what topics and content formats work well for each channel and the best days and times of day to publish your content. 

STEP 4: Set reasonable and intentional means of interaction

This is where authentic content marketing differs from traditional content marketing for lead generation. 

Lead-generating content is typically gated. For example, you might share a blog post or social media post inviting the reader to access a free, high-value resource, known as a lead magnet, in exchange for their contact details. Common lead magnets include ebooks, white papers, webinars, free trials, demos, podcasts, templates, and cheat sheets. 

Authentic content marketing doesn't abandon the idea of lead magnets and CTAs; it just shifts the concept. Instead of forcing the reader to give up their contact details in exchange for a 'free' resource, the resource is genuinely free and ungated, and this is stated. 

Replace downloads with free access 

Your CTA button or link should take the reader straight to the free resource on your website's Resources page. But your reader will be sceptical. So, place a statement beneath your CTA that puts them at ease. Explain what they can expect when they click on that button that looks too good to be true. 

When your readers receive the experience you promise, they will view your brand as a trustworthy authority in the industry.

Make sure the resource is top-notch and that the reader can see it is just one of many other highly relevant resources available for free in your resource library. They will be back for more and will likely get in touch when they are ready to buy. 


Copy of Authentic Content Marketing Lead Generation

Inviting further engagement

Your prospect is very happy with you right now. This presents an opportunity to invite further engagement via an email alert when you add new resources to the library. But keep the authenticity. 

If you want to be direct, set a pop-up to trigger when the reader clicks away from the free resource. For a more passive approach, add a sign-up banner to the resource page or an alert bar to your header. 

Whichever option you choose, ensure your sign-up process includes a statement confirming that the reader will only receive the information they sign up for and can unsubscribe anytime. Test different versions of your sign-up form to see which gets the best results.


Authentic Pop-Up

STEP 5: Create, distribute, measure and review

Now, it's time to create and share your content. But don't leave it there. Measure your results and review your strategy. Which resources are popular, and which need to be improved or abandoned? Is one distribution channel yielding better results than others? Does your email unsubscribe rate suggest you're not quite hitting the mark? Make any necessary adjustments.

Other authentic ways to engage

We're not suggesting that you shouldn't send your prospects offers, webinar invitations, company news or anything else that you want to put in front of them. Just ensure they wish to receive these things first, state exactly what they will receive (and don't deviate from that), and confirm that they can unsubscribe easily. 

Here are a few common approaches to maintaining contact with your target audience. 

Email newsletter

Include sign-up banners on your website, blog pages, email footers, and social network bios. Alert bars and pop-ups can also work well. 

Stay authentic by stating exactly what the newsletter will include and how often it is published. You could give the reader the option of receiving it weekly or monthly. You could also invite them to tick a check box if they want to receive additional emails about promotions and sales. 

Webinars or podcasts

With every webinar or podcast you promote, include an invitation to receive alerts when a new one is available. Again, state how often the prospect will hear from you and stick to that. 

Deals and offers

Your customers may well want to hear about your deals and offers, especially if you're an e-commerce brand. Invite your audience to receive alerts via website sign-up banners, alerts or pop-ups. Include links in social network bios. 

Are email nurturing sequences always bad?

No. We're not suggesting that it's never OK to take the email capture approach to content marketing lead generation. A brand can remain authentic and nurture long-term relationships with transparent and sensitively crafted follow-up email sequences – we have helped numerous businesses hit the mark. But it's tricky to get right. So, if in doubt, leave the email out! 

The bottom line

You can indeed lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Neither can you force your leads into buying from you by bombarding them with emails. Authentic content marketing, on the other hand, will gently nurture leads while keeping your brand's reputation firmly intact. 

Need a hand creating authentic content campaigns that will nurture your ideal customers? Take a look at our lead magnet copywriting services. 



  1. McCoy, J. (no date) Content marketing statisticsContent Marketing Institute. Available at: (Accessed: 05 April 2024).

  2. McCoy, J. (no date a) Content marketing statisticsContent Marketing Institute. Available at: (Accessed: 05 April 2024).

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