Downloadable content: the missing link between web traffic and sales.
You’ve built up a sizable flow of web traffic, and you’re seeing good metrics for the time they’re spending on your page and their bounce rate. What now?
The best strategic use of your website if you want to grow sales is to give it a purpose. When people come to your website, what do you want them to do?
The answer to this question is not the same for every business—or for every visitor of that business. You may want some visitors to donate, others to fill out a volunteer form, and still others to download a PDF. The way you structure your website should be based on the desired end action. Once you know what you want your visitors to do, building your website to accomplish that purpose brings your strategy into focus.
So, how do you determine what you want your visitors to do? Look to their personas.
Personas help guide visitors down the right sales path.
Some businesses have a fairly simple business model with only one buyer path. Others have more complicated audiences, which lead to more complex visitor paths. Common differentiators for buyer paths include demographic factors such as age and gender, the size of a business, the role of a person within an organization, the services they may be interested in purchasing, or the industry they’re a part of.
For instance, if you sell clothes, you probably want to make it easy for visitors to quickly navigate to the men’s or women’s section of your store. If you have a software with different levels of service, you’ll want to quickly direct individual consumers to one part of the site and enterprise corporations to another.
Your home page is not the only entry point to your site.
Of course, this direction assumes that the entry point for your visitors is the home page of your site—which It often isn’t. A good AdWords campaign, for instance, directs visitors toward a landing page that’s crafted for their persona. Similarly, a blogging strategy will focus each post on a different persona, hoping to attract that kind of visitor organically.
It may seem like all these different entry points make it more difficult to direct visitors along the correct path, but it actually makes your website’s job easier. When visitors come to your website along a path that directly targets their persona, it saves you (and them) the task of guiding them down the right buyer path. That makes it easier for you to direct them toward the action you want them to take on your website.
As we said before, this isn’t the same for every persona. Some visitors are ready to buy, while others need more persuasion. The problem with many websites is that they try to do all the persuading on the site itself. This means that visitors may leave before they’ve made a final decision, and once they’re gone, your options for marketing to them diminish. That’s where downloadable content comes into play.
Why downloadable content (DLC) is your missing link.
Many websites offer free pieces of downloadable content to visitors in exchange for a name and email address. (We offer one at the bottom of this page, in case you’re wondering.) These downloadables go by different names: white papers, DLCs, buyer’s guides, etc. But the purpose is the same: a visitor downloads the guide, and you get their email address.
Email addresses are valuable pieces of contact information, and you can’t just do with them whatever you want. However, you can use an email address to follow up with the visitor who downloaded your content and see if there’s anything more that might interest them.
This is called lead nurturing, and it works—so long as you don’t abuse the privilege of having your lead’s email address by pestering the with too many emails.
You’re not limited to just one piece of DLC on your site, either. You can create a downloadable for each persona, or even multiple downloadables that you deliver in order over the course of several emails.
What does downloadable content look like in action?
Let’s say you run a company that designs gear for travelers, and your blog is a traveler’s guide for various kinds of trips. You have a line of camping gear, and another line of gear for kayakers. Someone comes to your website looking for quality camping gear. They download your camping guide to the best national camping spots and the necessary gear they’ll need to make the most of their trip.
When they first download your guide, you send them a thank-you email along with a blog post you wrote reviewing a national park and your experience camping there. A week goes by, and you send them another email with a 5-day backpacking itinerary. If you notice your lead keeps opening your emails and clicking on links, you may try sending an offer for another piece of downloadable content—maybe one you wrote about kayaking gear.
The point isn’t to overwhelm your leads with information, it’s to remind them of their interest and to usher them along the path toward a potential purchase.
Does downloadable content work for every business?
DLC isn’t commonly used for low-risk purchases. Take your typical online clothing outlet, for instance. When the action you want visitors to take on your website is to make a purchase, it collapses your sales cycle. Someone could visit your site and make an impulse purchase within minutes. And if each purchase only brings in a few dollars in value, then your sales team can’t devote a lot of time to individual customers. (That’s where automated marketing comes in.)
For this reason, many websites offer a marketing mailing list for visitors. Subscribers get updates on special offers, on new product announcements, and recent blog posts. If you have some favorite brands, then you may have subscribed to one of these mailing lists yourself.
However, for larger purchases, particularly high-risk ones, visitors usually need some more convincing before they decide. Downloadable content plays a longer game, but it pays off better than an overly pushing on-site strategy.