Content offers are premium content offered in exchange for some basic information (ie., "fill out this form to receive our free ebook") This allows you to build a segmented email list (one that is broken down by subject interest) and to build on the initial interest - hopefully culminating in a new customer for you!
Writing your content is just the first of several steps you must take before you publish your new ebook or whitepaper. When you're excited about your newest ebook, it can be tempting to share it right away, but for best results, don't release it until your follow through is in place!
Choose a Topic for Your Content Offer
For this step, I take a topic that addresses one of my buyer personas' pain points (ie, "How can I get more leads from my website?"). From there, it can be either:
A subject I have mastered and care about.
A subject I care about, but don't feel completely comfortable or qualified to address.
A subject I need to master, but that doesn't particularly speak to me.
Writing about a subject is my favorite way to learn. If that works for you, by all means, use this as a learning AND writing experience. Especially for your first effort, I recommend choosing a subject about which you are passionate. It will show!
Your content could be in the form of a recorded webinar, video or ebook, but you could also start with something shorter, like a checklist or whitepaper.
Write Your Content
How-to, step-by-step, and checklist type content tends to be very successful. Make sure you include your website address and phone number in the footer, as some people will download the content for themselves and then share the content directly with others, bypassing your landing pages and lead generation plans! At least this way they know who wrote it and how to find more information.
Create a Supporting Blog Post
Announce your newest offer with a blog post that will briefly touch on a few of the highlights of the content offer (don't give it all away!). This makes your content easier to find in a site search and in search engine results. Make sure to spell out what they will receive and why they should download it. Link to the landing page in the blog post and share the post on all your social media channels.
Create Landing Pages
Your landing page will hold the form users will fill out to download your content. Try to keep everything "above the fold," eliminating the need for any scrolling. To increase your number of leads, ask for only the information you need to have, keeping required fields to a minimum.
Your landing page should have a catchy headline, an interesting image and it should provide three or four "what you'll learn" teasers.
You may wish to create more than one landing page for each offer so you can test which results in the greatest number of form submissions.
Create Email Follow-Ups
We use HubSpot, which easily allows you to add new leads to an email workflow. So, I can tell HubSpot:
Add the contact to a special list.
Right as the form is submitted, send a very brief email thanking them for their interest and providing the download link again.
Six days after my visitor downloads my new ebook, they should receive another email that provides the download link yet again and asks them if applying what they learned has been successful. It might also include a link to another piece of related content like another download offer or a blog post.
Five to six days after that email, send another, with related tips and links to information on a similar topic.
Five to six days later, send an email with an invitation to request a marketing review (or industry-appropriate offer, maybe a free consultation).
If you don't use marketing automation software, you can keep track of the people who download your content by gathering their information from emails generated at submission. Put those names and email addresses into a list made up exclusively of those who download one content offer. You'll need to manually send emails, which makes timing difficult. You will also need to create multiple versions of the list to avoid duplicating follow-up email sends.
Along the way, you can see which emails they have opened and how many links they click. HubSpot even allows you to use those triggers as a way to score leads, moving those that might be warmed up for a phone call to a "hot leads" list set up to your specifications. You can do this manually by creating a list based on certain criteria - "people who opened two emails and clicked at least once," for instance.
Release the Content!
Now that you have all the landing pages and emails set up, you can release your content and start to share it all over any of your online properties including social media, your website, your blog. You might put a "download now" button in the sidebar of your site, too.
Remember to email current contacts who previously downloaded related content. They may be thrilled to see you have more to offer on the subject!
After the Emails are Over - Keep In Touch
Just because a new subscriber hasn't picked up the phone or submitted another form for a free consultation doesn't mean they aren't still a good lead. Send out monthly emails to all your subscribers with a selection of your most popular blog posts for the month.
Create email lists specifically for those who download content pertaining to a specific topic. Any time you post something to the blog or add more downloadable content on that subject, make sure to send an email to let them know.
Are your subscribers on Twitter? HubSpot makes it very easy to track subscriber activity on Twitter, but even on your own you can often track them down on Twitter and add them to private lists. Then you can view a stream of, say, contacts who downloaded your lead generation content and see what they're talking about. Respond to, ReTweet or even Tweet to them directly to share your latest relevant content. Do this sparingly and with discretion - you want to be helpful - not creepy!
Use Social Media to Promote Your Content Offers
You shared your blog post announcing the new offer, but don't forget to share your landing pages, too! You can share them on Twitter on a regular basis. Any time you update that content, let your fans know that there is a new revision available for download. If you have an offer that is consistently bringing in the leads, share it again once a month or so on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.
Don't forget that asking for a "share" increases your chances that viewers will do just that. So, if sharing your lead generation ebook, you could say, "We just added two new tactics for guaranteed lead generation to our ebook. Please share with your business-owner friends!"
That's what works for us - but we welcome your comments, too! What other steps do you take to promote your content offers?
My work at Scalable Social Media is almost too much fun. Blog posts usually come from troubleshooting some issue that I've never encountered before. We've gone from being almost exclusively a social media company to a complete inbound marketing agency - and it's been great!