Content offers are the bridge between a website visitor and an engaged lead. In order to effectively orchestrate an inbound campaign, you need to create killer content which people are willing to exchange their (basic) personal information to gain access to.

Let's review what separates blah content downloads from exceptional, and discuss how offers of this nature will fast track you to lead nurturing success.

One initial aside: a beautiful, informative, useful content download can only be put to work in your lead generation department if you've placed it appropriately in a clear path to conversion.

This path involves a call-to-action which prompts the website visitor to get the free download, a landing page informing the user on the nature of the download, and a thank you page inviting additional engagement. Make sure you’re clear and comfortable executing these steps before attempting to promote a download through guess work.

Alright, have you done your homework? If you’re clear on conversion paths, you’re ready to create killer content to drive those conversions. Here’s what every lovable and informative content download encompasses:

Appropriate Medium

Let's start with the first decision you'll make in creating content: what type of download will this be? An eBook? A webinar? A whitepaper? There's no one size fits all answer, and the appropriate format is dependent on what type of information you'd like to convey and who you're educating. 

Go back to your personas to determine which medium will resonate with them, and plan accordingly. Also consider how you can best inform on your chosen subject matter: an email marketing tutorial might be best suited for a webinar, where a case study would be easier to digest in a brief eBook format.

Pardot actually breaks out their resources by format, rather than subject, on their homepage menu. This could be helpful in allowing users to browse the type of content most interesting to them:

pardot resources

Enticing Title

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and your download’s title is absolutely the first impression you make on a visitor.

Titles need to satisfy two criteria to successfully drive downloads: a good title is simultaneously straight-forward about the content while managing to make it sound interesting beyond the basic facts it provides. 

Check out this great example from HubSpot. They could have simply titled their eBook “How to Create Visual Content”, but instead positioned reading the content as an actual process (crash course). 

hubspot download

Visually Appealing Cover Page

The quality of the content in your download is pivotal to building trust and authority, but you can't get to that stage if a reader never goes past the cover page. Don't glaze over this step or just slap some size 70 font on a Word Document cover page - take the time to design a cover which informs and engages.

Kuno Creative has done an exceptional job of creating unexpected and intriguing cover pages which solicit curiosity and downloads. Here's one of my favorites:

marketing storytelling resourceTable of Contents and Author Bio

I won't spend too much time explaining what either of these are, because you already know. What I will say: a table of contents is essential to the user-friendliness of your download, and an author page is an invaluable place to build credibility and trust. Skipping either one is a bad way to save five minutes.

Include both of them. Your readers will be glad you did.

Eye-Grabbing Formatting

The internal structure of your content downloads may not have anything to do with inviting that initial download, but it will absolutely dictate whether a reader will return to your site for additional interactions.

Think about it: if you downloaded a content piece which was ridden with typos and difficult to understand, would you be prone to seek more information from the same source? Of course not, because you wouldn't find the author to be trustworthy, informative, or engaging.

Alternatively, content with an eye-popping layout and meticulously researched information presented in enjoyable formats will inherently interest readers in downloading more.

Simplification is the hardest and most important skill you’ll ever master in the art of content creation. When I wrote my first eBook, I struggled hopelessly with this. When you come from a traditional writing background, your brain is hardwired to compose complete paragraphs and pay little attention to visual concepts. 

But the best eBooks abandon traditional principles and harness illustrations and simple statements to hold on to our audience’s ever shortening attention spans. 

The image below is from the first draft of the first eBook I created when beginning my transition to the Inbound realm. Notice the giant blocks of text and complete absence of visual aides – there’s pretty much nothing eye-grabbing about this page. 

ebook page

If I were writing the same download today, I’d add several images, break apart the sentences, bump up the font size, and bring in the margins.

Here’s an example page from an eBook I created recently, abiding my these simplification and visualization principles:

cos ebook

These concepts are obvious to me in 20/20 hindsight but were not so intuitive when I was starting out. 

Learn from my mistakes and format every page of your eBook (or slide of your webinar, etc) to grab and hold the reader’s attention with simplicity. 

Calls-to-action Throughout the Content

Let’s go back to the beginning: why did you create this download in the first place? If you’re following Inbound best practices, it was to gather leads and nurture them through your funnel while learning more about them in the process.

Since you’re likely reading this how-to to gain insights on creating your first download, here’s an important fact to consider: all content should go beyond informing a reader and prompt them to engage further with your business.

HubSpot frequently publishes how-to guides on basic marketing topics like turning Facebook fans into customers. Throughout those downloads, they strategically tie their software solution to the process and explain (tastefully and concisely) how people can better market on Facebook by using their product.

Whatever it is that you offer, find ways to strategically mention it in your content and invite readers to learn more. In a TOFU offer, this should simply be a call-to-action to download a related MOFU offer (I.e. “Learn more about Inbound marketing! Check out our guide to choosing an agency.”).

On a MOFU download, it should prompt the BOFU download. In a BOFU offer, it should be an invitation that drives a sales interaction. 

Strategically utilizing CTAs stems from a thorough understanding of lead motivations and interests as they progress through the funnel - every download should be carefully crafted around a specific TOFU, MOFU, or BOFU need.

With these critical components, your downloads will effectively (and irresistibly) drive initial and repeat conversions. In exchange for your hard work, you'll be rewarded with a healthy pool of leads to nurture all the way through the decision making process.

If you create the kind of content they're looking for, and strategically provide them with the information they want, they'll be primed for and enthusiastic about a sale by the time they reach the bottom of your funnel.

Image credit: 

Notebook Rings (for June 1, 2010) [75/365]