Everyone is creating content these days. From SaaS companies to insurance companies to obscure widget manufacturers, B2B marketers have fully embraced content as an essential lead generation tool. In fact, a full 88 percent of marketers say their organization uses some form of content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

But with all of this content being created, how do you make sure it’s effective? It’s one thing to write an amazing 3-part guide and post it to your blog. It’s another thing altogether to use that guide to generate leads.

Here are some steps you can take to optimize your B2B content strategy to generate more leads.

1. Drive more (quality) traffic to your content

If the right audience is not seeing your content, that content is not doing its job. So the first step in creating a content strategy that is oriented towards lead gen is to increase the size of your audience.

To do this, you’ll first need a buyer persona. This is a description of your ideal customer, including demographics, psychographics, and pain points at work. Your content should be positioned to address their needs.

Next, you need to get the word out about your content. And this means using the right channels. Is your audience on Twitter? Are they active on LinkedIn Groups? Do they use Quora, Instagram, Facebook? Find your audience where they hang out online and share your content there.

2. Capture that traffic

Now that you have the right audience checking out your content, it’s time to capture their attention and increase their engagement with your business.

Often, content is described as “gated” content when a visitor must fill out a form in order to download it – and this is an extremely effective way for you to capture leads. Gated content means that you get an email address in exchange for an ebook or white paper that you share with your audience, which (as long as your content is high quality) is a win-win. These are quality leads that have expressed a direct interest in your content, so by gating your content, you will be able to develop a list of targeted, interested leads that your sales team can act on.

Other methods that B2B businesses use to capture inbound traffic include pop-ups that appear on various content landing pages asking for an email address or subscription, and content upgrades (an offer for related content embedded within a piece of content, which requires an email address to download).

3. The long-tail of B2B content marketing

While B2C marketing might have a relatively short sales pipeline, B2B is considerably longer. Landing a new customer can take months, in many cases. So why not use your content to nurture prospects that are partway through their decision-making process?

Content can be used to show new customers how your product or service helped similar businesses to their own (case studies), display your expertise and knowledge (white papers), or give them ideas for improving their business (ebooks). By continually providing leads with valuable content, your business will stay top-of-mind, and they will be more likely to turn to you when they are ready to make a purchase.

If you’re stuck for ideas on types of content to create to capture more leads, take a look at the basic and advanced content types that other B2B businesses are creating.