Quality content is the backbone in any inbound digital marketing strategy.
But "content" has come to refer to so much, that it pretty much just means "stuff." Stuff you put on your webpages, stuff that makes up blog posts, and stuff you post on social media.
It's a broad term that can apply to almost anything (website copy, downloadable whitepapers, ad copy, etc.), yet each type of content has its own unique set of features and best practices that necessitate its own creative process.
While creating a full content library covering various topics is still important to generate search traffic, today we're going to focus on creating a gated piece of content, sometimes referred to as premium content.
The idea behind premium content is that you have to give something up to be able to access it. In most cases, this means providing the company offering the premium content (whether it's a whitepaper, webinar, guidebook, or something else) with information about yourself through an online form.
I'm sure you've given some of your information in the past to access something. These days most people are of the understanding that personal contact information can be a form of currency and willingly give it up if the offer is compelling enough and fits their needs. The trick is creating something that your ideal customers find valuable enough to give you their information in exchange for the offer.
To ensure this something is enticing enough to spur them to action, we've put together a list of six best practices to follow when creating your premium content.
1. Identify a need
People are turning to your business for information, products or services. They're arriving on your website with a specific need or question. If you can think through their buying process and identify the questions they consider before making a purchase decision, you can provide the information to them in a premium content offer.
This benefits your business because you can generate qualified leads easily as visitors come to your site with common challenges and needs. And your premium content benefits your site visitor because it provides them with information they need to help make a decision. The secondary benefit to your business happens when your lead is more educated and an easier sell because they've already established trust with your brand through interacting with your premium content.
2. Select a format
Premium content can exist in many formats. From whitepapers to webinars, it may take some testing to determine the format that will interest your ideal customer. Take what you know about your audience into consideration when you're generating your offer--do they have an hour of time to devote to watching a webinar or will something shorter like a checklist resonate better?
Keep in mind that you can always repurpose your offer and nurture your leads while you're at it! As an example, if you create a short checklist, you could then create a follow-up offer using an in depth video walk through of each checklist item.
3. Establish a tone
When determining the tone in which to write your piece (formal, educational, casual), again, consider your audience. Write in the same manner that you would if you were having a face-to-face conversation. Depending on your ideal customer, your tone may be more formal, or it could be friendly.
Your tone should also be influenced by where the piece fits in the buyer's journey. If it's a lead's first interaction with your company outside of finding you through a blog post, you'll want to step back and make sure all industry terms are fully explained while balancing the depth of information that's provided on a topic.
4. Create a design
One of the great things about premium content is it allows for more than just text. Because you're not limited to your existing blog or website template, you can incorporate additional visual elements into the piece, no matter what format it is in. As with anything to do with design, there are a few key considerations:
- Is your design (either overall or an individual element) in line with your company's brand standards? Creating something that looks wildly different from everything else does not help in building a relationship with your lead. While premium content offers a chance to try out different or new styles, you should try to keep everything under the same umbrella.
- When deciding what additional design elements to include, ask yourself what the element does to further the lead’s understanding. Charts and graphs can be extremely helpful in quickly displaying information, but a random picture of a dolphin (unless your business is related to dolphins in some way) likely does nothing to further the lead's understanding of the topic.
5. Optimize your landing page for search engines and leads
The landing page is the gate that your visitors must enter through to access your premium content. A standard landing page includes information about the offer along with a form for your lead to pass their information to you.
When you're creating your landing page, there are some best practices you will want to follow to maximize its lead generating potential.
- Write clear and concise copy describing your offer and what people can expect. This helps visitors make a decision on whether to move forward. By including keywords in your landing page, search engines are also able to find it and offer it in related search result pages.
- Design for decision-making. One key to landing pages is to make sure your visitor understands the next step. Removing your standard website navigation reduces the chance that a visitor will wander away from the page. Shorter copy that gets right to the point and plenty of white space helps a visitor focus and quickly make a decision. And, finally, a clear and simple form makes it easy to access the premium content.
- Keep your form in line with your offer. If your premium content fits earlier in the buyer's journey, stick with a few easy-to-answer questions on your form. If the offer fits a later stage in the buyer's journey, it's OK to ask for additional information.
- Link to your landing page from relevant blog posts and website pages. Make sure your premium content is a logical next step for someone who has read a particular page on your site. Clicking on a call to action (CTA) so they can continue to learn more about the topic they are already interested in is a natural flow and a proven way to nurture leads.
6. End with a CTA
Another great place to put a CTA is within your premium content. Following the same example of a blog post leading into your premium content offer, you want your premium content offer to lead into something that will continue to nurture your lead. Depending on your product or service, this could be a case study showcasing an example of how you helped a real customer, or even a product demo.
Remember, premium content is just one part of an effective inbound marketing program. Integrate your efforts here with your call to action, e-mail template, landing page, and lead nurturing copy creation.
To learn more about building a successful inbound marketing program using premium content, check out our free SEO guide.