For the past week, we’ve been talking about developing compelling content that helps you get noticed by your target audience and helps position you as an expert that people want to do business with.
Today, we’re going to take that one step further and talk about ways you can (and should) be giving away premium content.
First, what is premium content?
Premium content goes beyond a typical blog post or other piece of content to provide more in-depth information to readers. Typically, this kind of rich content is made available for free, but often requires an email sign-up or some other kind of opt-in form to get access to the information.
Here are some of the most common types of premium content:
- White papers — These are often research-driven reports that offer statistics, study results or educational information about a given topic. They are often used to educate readers about complex topics or ideas and tend to be more academic in nature.
- EBooks — Although eBooks can be full-length publications, they tend to be much shorter when used for business marketing. EBooks tend to be more visual and interactive than whitepapers and can be distributed as a downloadable document, such as a PDF, or be made available through an eReader, such as a iPad or Kindle. Here are some additional ideas for creating successful eBooks.
- Tutorials / Guides
— While this type of content can be developed in various formats (video, text, podcasts, etc.), they have one thing in common — it is problem-solving content that offers how-to information to get something done.
- Video series — Exclusive videos — whether it is classes, tutorials, webinars, interviews or other information — can be another type of premium content. But, instead of making the videos publicly available, they would be downloadable or only accessible via private links. Here are some additional ideas for using exclusive videos.
— Online seminars, called webinars, can is a great way to get in front of your audience virtually. A more interactive type of content, webinars work great for Q&A sessions, interviews, workshops or tutorials. Here are some examples of businesses using webinars well.
If you want to see this type of content in action, here are some great examples of different types of premium content that businesses have developed.
Give it away, give it away now
All of this content sounds pretty good, right? So, why in the world would you want to give it away for free? Here are a few good reasons:
- Grow your email list.
It’s no secret that email is a powerful marketing tool. In fact, a recent study shows that email converts better than paid search, direct website traffic and social media. So, if you’re not already paying attention to email marketing, now is the time to start. And offering premium content is a fantastic way to entice people to sign up for your emails.
- Generate leads. Premium content is often used as a lead-generation tool. Even though the content is made available for free, it is commonly something that you have to fill out a form to receive. By offering something valuable for free, you can help generate leads who might be interested in buying from you down the line.
- Build awareness. Developing valuable content for free is a great way to get awareness and stand out in your market — especially if the content is truly remarkable. This approach can be a great way to grow your audience and encourage your current audience to spread the word about you.
- Establish thought leadership. Although other content marketing efforts can help position you as a thought leader, developing rich, long-form content can up the ante by showcasing deep thinking on a subject. This kind of content shows that you’re committed to the topic and know what you’re talking about.
- Reward your audience. If you already have an established audience in place, sharing valuable content can be a great way to thank your audience for sticking around. And, if your content is good enough, offering freebies like this is a great way to get your audience talking and spreading the word about you.
Best Practices for Developing Premium Content
Now that you understand what premium content is and why you should offer it up for free, here are a few things to consider as you develop this information:
- Make it valuable. It might be tempting to hold back or dilute the information so you’re not giving too much away. Don’t. Instead, make it something that’s valuable and worth your audience’s time. If you give someone valuable away for free, then that means your paid products and services will be that much better.
- Make it targeted. When developing your content, make sure it’s laser-targeted to the audience you’re trying to attract. Think about your audience’s pain points and what keeps them up at night. Or, if you’re not sure, ask them! If you develop content that helps solve their problems, you’ll be better positioned to capture their attention and, ultimately, turn them into buyers.
- Tie it to goals. The type of content you develop and how you distribute it will depend largely on your goals. Are you trying to expand your audience? Drive traffic? Generate leads? Whatever it is, make sure that the content you develop is tied to your goals and fits within your overall marketing strategy.
Are you creating premium content? If so, what has worked for you? If not, what’s holding you back?
P.S. This is the 5th post in the Compelling Content series. Here are the previous posts in case you missed them.
- Why Content Marketing is So Powerful for Business
- 5 Types of Content You Should be Writing for Your Blog
- 7 Ways to Integrate Video Into Your Content Marketing
- 7 Simple Ideas to Make Your Content More Visual
Image credit: Sharyn Morrow