April 19th, 2017

Is Downloadable Content the Missing Link in Your Strategy?

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Why your business needs downloadable content.

As you put time and energy into building your content marketing strategy, you may be wondering how to convert all those interested visitors into sales leads. You can see the visitors growing on your website, the increased traffic on your social media, the views and shares and likes and listens, but how do you get all those people to contact you?

It would be nice if after reading a blog post or two your interested visitors went to your contact page and filled out your form. But many of us are a bit shy, or perhaps just wary of being bombarded by an over-eager sales representative. We want something more to help us make up our minds, something which can help or inform us, some extra piece of information that will give us an idea of what your brand is like. This is where downloadable content (DLC) comes into play.

How do you use downloadable content?

The main purpose of DLC (from the content marketer’s point of view) is to create leads and convert them into customers. It’s to help the interested client take the last step from window shopping to making a purchase. In the online world, one of the chief ways of accomplishing this feat is by offering an interested browser something of value in exchange for their email address.

This allows for two things. The first is that you have an opportunity to show off your brand. Make your DLC look good. A positive experience will do more to convince your prospect that you are someone they want to do business with than anything else. This is also something which they may share with others, and that will probably hang around on their hard drive for a while. If it’s a valuable enough reference, they may come back to it many times. The more they feel they’ve gained from your DLC, the more they will trust your brand.

The second is that, because you have their email address, you have a way of reaching out to them. They are no longer entirely anonymous. In fact, using a marketing tool like SharpSpring, you can follow their progress throughout your website and see exactly what steps they took before they decided to go for your DLC. What pages did they visit? When did they finally convert? Are there pages which are failing to convert and therefore losing you valuable marketing leads? If so, find a way to tailor a visitors site experience to better direct them to the downloadable content more relevant to their interests.

How do you create DLC for your business?

DLC can come in many forms: an ebook, an infographic, a template, a checklist, a worksheet. Take a look at your most valuable blog posts and see if you can repurpose them as an ebook. Take the same information and turn it into an infographic. I’ve seen businesses offer spreadsheet formats and PowerPoint templates.

The important point is that it is valuable enough for your visitors to be willing to give you their email address in exchange for it. Would you be interested in the DLC you’re offering? If not, think of something more attractive. This is an excellent place to invest resources to ensure the quality you need to impress visitors.

You may need to create multiple pieces of DLC depending on the persona you want to target. A CFO may be interested in a pricing guide, whereas a CEO may want something which demonstrates strategic value. In a B2C business, you may want to offer a buyer’s guide or something more entertaining.

Keep the barrier to entry low as well. Your download form can be as simple as a name and an email address. If you need more information in order to provide good service to your new lead, you can add some fields. But remember that every extra form field lowers the chances of an interested lead completing your form. No one enjoys long, complex forms, and very few of us are willing to give up a lot of information when we don’t know what kind of value we’ll be receiving for it. You don’t have a lead until you have an email address. Put your focus on gaining the lead, and worry about collecting more information as you establish a connection with your new prospect.

What do you do with an email address once you have it?

Treat it with care. Some people treat email addresses as the spoils of victory: now that they’ve won it, they can do whatever they want with it. But this is fundamentally a misinterpretation of the exchange that takes place when a lead gives you their email address in return for your downloadable content. You didn’t wheedle it out of them: they trusted you with it. That means you should only use it in ways you believe are reasonably in keeping with what they might want.

Here’s a few things you can’t do:

  1. Give that email address to someone else.
  2. Sign them up for mailings they didn’t ask for.
  3. Spam them with undesirable content.

On the other hand, you can:

  1. Follow up with them to see if they have questions or need help.
  2. Ask them if they would like to join your mailing list.
  3. Direct them to other, related content.

It’s reasonable to assume that if someone has given you their email address, they are open to hearing from you. But it is not reasonable to start contacting them every day with offers completely unrelated to the DLC they expressed interest in. Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to bombard them with everything under the sun, use the information you’ve learned about them to send them genuinely useful stuff, and you will cultivate a trust-based relationship and a positive user experience. And in the process, you’ll build credibility with your leads that will help establish the consumer loyalty that will carry your business to the next level.

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