By Mark Sherbin published July 18, 2013

Use SlideShare to Turn Your Marketing Channels into Lead Gen Tools

marketing-channel-lead-generation-toolThe future looks bright from the floor to ceiling windows of the One Montgomery Tower. The view is from SlideShare’s San Francisco residence, a collaborative space shared with LinkedIn, its parent company.

Most content marketers are familiar with SlideShare; in fact, many of you who work in the B2B space are probably already using it. But chances are very few of you are using it to its full potential. Over the coming weeks, the Content Marketing Institute will roll out some of SlideShare’s biggest secrets for content marketers looking to use the platform more successfully.

Why is SlideShare a great platform for content marketers? Well, it’s hard to ignore the numbers:

  • It’s one of the top 150 sites on the web: SlideShare even beats out well-known websites, including popular online community Reddit and file-sharing giant MediaFire.
  • It draws 50 million unique visitors a month: SlideShare visitors spend time sifting through additional content, rather than bouncing after their initial visit — 3+ minutes on average.
  • At any given moment, SlideShare visitors are perusing around 1,140 slides: That’s an impressive level of viewership — with a lot of potential for creating engagement. (All stats pulled directly from SlideShare, some updated based on interview.)

Content marketers everywhere are extending the benefits of SlideShare into new and unexpected areas; but the best ways to unlock its value may still be simpler than you might think.

I sat down with Kevin Fisher, a SlideShare solutions consultant, to talk about how organizations are achieving amazing results from their content marketing efforts on the platform. Kevin was kind enough to share a few of the strategies behind those successes. For today’s post, we discuss ways to use SlideShare to turn any marketing channel into a lead generation tool.

Lead forms that are more powerful than they appear

Content marketing has little value if it doesn’t impact the bottom line — and lead generation is the first step to sales.

This certainly isn’t news for most marketers. Yet many of the top distribution channels content marketers use take incomplete or inconsistent approaches to lead gen.

SlideShare offers tools that can make lead gen easy. With a Pro account, content marketers can add pop-up lead forms at any point in a presentation for a variety of purposes, such as building an email list, collecting demo requests, or soliciting other actions your company considers to be a next step on the path to conversion.

In addition, SlideShare’s presentation iframe is embeddable in websites and blogs — just snag the code by clicking “embed” at the top of the presentation frame — which can provide a huge lead capture advantage. For instance, if you like your blog to look as clean and uncluttered as possible, a SlideShare presentation enables you to include multiple calls-to-action — such as an email sign-up box and links to related content — without adding bulk to your page.

In fact, SlideShare presentations are easy to embed just about anywhere online, which extends their reach far beyond the limitations of a website. “Most marketers don’t realize this, but you can embed a presentation in a tweet,” Kevin explains. “You’ve just turned your Twitter account into an effective lead gen tool. Your target audience doesn’t even have to leave the site.”

There isn’t much effort required, either. Just share your SlideShare link over Twitter, and anyone who opens your tweet will find the embedded presentation. Your SlideShare page (i.e., the page where your presentation is hosted) even keeps a record of how many views it’s received through various social channels — Twitter included.

However, the ability to embed presentations and add lead forms is just the tip of the iceberg. To get the most out of your SlideShare efforts, you’ll need a coordinated approach.

How to create a steady stream of leads

Achievers, an employee engagement software company, launched its SlideShare presence with five presentations. Within a week, it received dozens of leads — in fact, 77 percent of all its incoming social media leads were able to be attributed to those presentations.

Yes, SlideShare can take a lot of the work out of lead generation. But that doesn’t mean those leads will just fall into your lap. You will still want to spend some time optimizing your lead form strategy before you jump into using SlideShare for this purpose.

Here are four steps you can use to help you bring in leads like a champion salesperson:

1. Segment your content: Strong segmentation is crucial for lead gen success, and content marketers who are looking to segment their lead forms by audience type or the customer’s sales funnel stage have a dynamic friend in SlideShare.

SlideShare’s lead capture forms can simplify the process for delivering content. For example, brands with diverse audiences that are hoping to cull a strong SlideShare following may decide to create different “channels” based on audience segments. HP Software Solutions, for example, groups its presentations under categories like “Applications,” “Information Management,” and “Security.”

These segments will come in handy both for delivering relevant content and for creating and customizing your lead forms.

2. Add and customize your form: First, you’ll need to enable lead capture on your account. Here are the steps.

  • Sign up for a Pro account. (SlideShare encourages larger companies to sign up for a Platinum account, which includes an account manager.)
  • Upload your content.
  • Go to the top, right-hand side of your page and click on the “Pro Dashboard” link in the drop-down menu.
  • Click “Manage” under the “Capture Leads” feature.
  • Start a “New Campaign.”
  • Customize it, and assign it to your relevant SlideShare presentations.

This last step is where your segments come in particularly handy: Assigning specific categories to your content ensures it will appear in front of people who have declared an interest in those topics. In addition, global organizations can also choose to target their audience by country of residence. And for content that appeals to more than one segment, marketers can add custom questions to their lead forms to ensure leads go into the right bucket. For example, you can add a drop-down menu for a lead to indicate the specific role he plays in his organization.

Advanced segmentation may split content into buckets based on where leads are in the sales funnel. Lead form timing is important here.

3. Position your form: Where your lead form will appear in your presentations is an important lead-gen consideration. In SlideShare, marketers have the option to gate it on the front end, place it part-way through, or add it to the end.

For brand exposure, thought leadership, reach, and (of course) lead gen, remember that SlideShare is all about visibility — particularly when it comes to B2B marketing. Because most of its site views come through organic search traffic, your SlideShare audience will typically enter your presentations from a position that’s at the top of the sales funnel. Therefore, as Kevin explains, “You want a newly engaged audience to get through a piece of content, so you want your form at the end of the presentation.”

Gating content with a lead form at the beginning of or partway through the presentation can still work — but only if that content targets the right segment. In general, Kevin advises content marketers to follow the 80/20 rule: “Leave 80 percent of your content un-gated [and include] an incentivized call-to-action at the end — something like ‘Fill out this lead form and get a free trial of our product’ or ‘Fill out this form and we’ll send you that coveted eBook.’  The other 20 percent of the content can be gated or require a lead form partway through.”

(Note: Gated lead forms are only available with Platinum accounts. Alternately, clicking “compulsory to view further” requires visitors to fill out a form before viewing the rest of the presentation.)

4. Get the hook-up: Looking for something more sophisticated than an email to track and communicate with the leads you hook? SlideShare’s lead capture feature plugs into Marketo, Eloqua, and Salesforce, and the company leverages an open API that allows marketers to integrate presentations with additional marketing automation, CRM, and data-focused platforms. Because of this, SlideShare lets you manage all of your lead capture efforts from one centralized dashboard.

Weigh in

Are you using SlideShare for lead generation? Share your tips and success stories with us in the comments.

Looking to improve the performance of your SlideShare presentations? Check out CMI’s latest e-book, How to Get More From SlideShare: Super-Simple Tips for Content Marketing.

Cover image by Andrew Moir

Author: Mark Sherbin

Mark Sherbin is a freelance writer specializing in technology and content marketing. He shares occasionally insightful information at Copywriting Is Dead, where he promotes authentic communication between organizations and their audiences. Contact him at msherbin@gmail.com.

Other posts by Mark Sherbin

  • http://www.feldmancreative.com/ Barry Feldman

    I definitely am. In fact, it’s probably my number one source of new leads. I wrote a how to piece on using SlideShare, which I’ll share with the readers here: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-generate-leads-with-slideshare/

  • Kaila Prins

    I would love to hear other marketers’ thoughts on the lead gating issue. The company I work for has the lead form appear about 5 slides in (to whet the appetite, as it were), and it’s mandatory if you want to continue reading. It doesn’t appear to be working, but we gate all of our material with landing pages elsewhere. What have you done that’s worked, and why? Thanks to all in advance.

    • Mark Sherbin

      Hi Kaila — I think gating is only effective if the piece of content is so unique that the reader absolutely knows they can’t find it elsewhere. A report with lots of original data, for example, or a compelling case study or story about a major brand you worked with. Beyond that, I find my audiences are too used to free information to bother with filling out a lead form.

      Maybe that isn’t everyone’s experience. There must be some marketers out there using gating successfully. I’ll see if Kevin can weigh in here.

      • Kevin Fisher

        Hi Kaila, Mark,

        My two cents: if a strategy isn’t working, I would encourage you to re-visit your approach. To help you in your analysis, I would encourage you to see the three items below:

        1. The content. Is my content compelling? Is it optimized for SlideShare (e.g. beautiful cover slide, enticing title, visual language)? Am I sharing content that benefits the reader, or am I only pushing my message (speaker-centric vs. audience-centric)?

        2. The current CTA. Is there a rhyme or reason why slide 5? Is it the cliff-hanger on the content? Have I positioned the content in a way, so as to lead the reader to believe that the best is yet to come? I think that gating the content at slide 5, for instance, with the reward being that one can read further is just one of many ways of gaining lead generation… which leads me to my next point

        3. Experiment. One size doesn’t fit all. Consider other methods of lead gen on SS, especially if your current methodology isn’t working. Would you consider disabling downloads and having the CTA read “fill out this form and we’ll send you the hard copy”? Or, might you consider sharing the content that you keep behind the firewall for qualified prospects as a reward? There are options here and it doesn’t hurt to be creative.

        Hope this helps!

        Kevin

    • http://twitter.com/toddwheatland Todd Wheatland

      Kaila – My advice is drop the mandatory forms – SlideShare’s not a squeeze page, there’s too much to click away to. And don’t ask people if they want a sales person to hassle them either – the most effective thing by far if you’re looking for contact info is an optional form asking people if they want to stay updated with future content (ie join your email list).

  • http://www.shopletpromos.com/ Shoplet Promos

    This article made me want to go and upgrade to Slideshare Pro. I didn’t think it was this popular or useful. This looks really, really good. Thanks for the write up!

  • http://blog.zopim.com/ Abhiroop Basu

    SlideShare seems incredibly useful. I see a lot of slides shared through it, but I never realised how beneficial it could be for businesses!

  • Krish

    Will you please write a post on how to handle brand guidelines while using Slideshare. I see many large organizations’ unattractove ppt templates being converted in slideshare.