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Any brand with a blog or writer has heard this before: “how to” and “list” posts are gold. The reason? Readers love them, so those types of posts generate tons of traffic.

Just one problem: They don’t generate leads.

At least, that’s the case Quick Sprout’s Neil Patel makes in his latest blog post, ironically titled “How to Write Blog Posts That Generate Leads.”

Sure, those posts will be read and shared all over the internet. But those reads don’t necessarily convert into leads, Patel says.

“For example, last month 17 people, who found me through Quick Sprout, emailed me, asking for consulting help,” Patel wrote. “Only one of those leads was a qualified lead, meaning that the lead had enough resources for me to consider taking that person on as a client.”

Patel goes on to say that, considering he receives more than half a million visitors a month, picking up only one qualified lead isn’t that impressive.

What Other Experts Have to Say

That probably seems counterintuitive for most brands and digital marketers. Consider what some of the industry’s other thought leaders have said about “list” and “how-to” blog posts:

  • Giraffe Social Media on “How to” blogs: These types of blog posts work well because they have high matches when typed into search engines. “No matter how bad, untrue, how good or legit the content is in step by step ‘how to’ blogs, they will always receive high traffic,” Giraffe Social Media says.
  • CopyBlogger on “list” articles: These types of blog posts work because they help position you as a thought leader while demonstrating your particular area of expertise, the site says. But the real reason these types of posts generate traffic is because they make specific promises of what to expect in the rest of the post. “A nice quantifiable return on attention invested goes a long way toward prompting action, and as long as you deliver with quality content, you’ll have a satisfied reader,” CopyBlogger says.

Consider some of the promises those particular blog posts make: “will always receive high traffic,” and, “you’ll have a satisfied reader.”

All true, Patel says.

“By no means am I saying that you shouldn’t write informational posts,” Patel wrote. “They will help increase your overall traffic, help brand you as an authority, and create goodwill within your industry.”

They just won’t generate many leads, he says.

Write Targeted Blog Posts

So, what types of posts generate qualified leads?

Target blog posts, Patel says.

For example, find a brand or company that could use your services, then write a post around what that company could be doing better. Your goal isn’t to tear them down; rather, you want the post to be educational, Patel says, so that others can learn from the mistakes you pointed out.

“As long as your post is detailed, you’ll get traction,” he wrote. “For every three such posts you write, you should generate at least one customer. The customer, of course, would be the company you had written about.”

Promote Your Posts

Now you have to promote the heck out of those posts. If you’re looking to get some traction out of your promotional efforts, then check out Nimble Media’s Viral Blogging Program at the end of this post. Otherwise, start by reaching out to the company you just wrote about. Share the post on all your social media platforms, mentioning the name of the company you just wrote about (make sure to use a hashtag). Then email the company, letting the executives know about the post (you should also insert a link in your email to the article).

Keep the message positive, and make sure the company knows that you’re a fan and that you simply wrote a post that you think could help them grow.

And be careful who you write about. Most of the time, Patel explains, you won’t get very far reaching out to big brands due in large part to the hoops large companies have to go through before making changes. These types of posts should be positive and free of opinions, too. “Executives prefer facts and data rather than opinions,” Patel says.

Readers of this blog have seen more than their fair share of “how-tos” and “lists” blog posts. But we’ll also start writing our own targeted posts and will report back how they worked out.


meniceJake Rigdon is the executive editor at Nimble Media, a content marketing firm based out of Toronto. You can reach him on FacebookLinkedInGoogle+Twitter or by email at