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The lead generation struggle is real.
Purchasing leads can be a total crap-shoot, while paid advertising can be just as costly and insufficient.
Even after accumulating a large pool of leads, closing them can be a nightmare too.
If your current methods of attracting and converting quality leads aren’t getting you the results you want, you may want to consider crafting informative content offers.
What is a Content Offer?
A content offer is a piece of content that you give away to online visitors, usually in exchange for that user’s personal information.
This content is typically more in-depth than a traditional blog post or short webpage— and because of its added value, users are usually willing to give you at least their name and email address to receive it.
Because users exchange their information for this content and become a lead, content offers are often referred to as "lead magnets."
The form of the content may vary, but typically, it’s an ebook, guide, slideshow, template or other downloadable offer. Sometimes content offers can be interactive web pages (like this awesome one from Make Your Money Matter), instructional videos or even handy tools like calculators.
Essentially, there’s no rules for what makes something a content offer. Simply, it should entice your audience and provide value.
Wait, How Does this Whole Content Exchange Work?
Basically, the user gets a valuable piece of information and the company gets a new online lead in return.
It’s a win/win.
Content offers are typically accessed through a “landing page,” which is a short webpage that previews the content offer and hosts a form for your contact information.
It’ll say something like “You want this offer? Fill out this form to get it!”
Here’s a sample of a landing page on for an Inbound Marketing Beginner’s Guide, as depicted below:
Users answer a few questions on the form (usually the more juicy the offer, the more personal information required to get it) and are then sent to a “thank you” page:
Some marketers call this a “gated” content offer, because the link to the content is kept locked behind a landing page. The form on the landing page serves as the key to access to the offer on its thank you page.
What is the Point of Giving Away Free, Super Insightful Content?
Sure, you understand the purpose of blogging, but why invest all this time and money into creating a long, detailed offer if you just give it away for free?
We’ve already shared the most common reason why businesses create content offers: to get more leads.
It’s an inbound marketing strategy in which users find your offer while searching for answers to their problems. Your content attracts leads to you, without having to pine after prospects or pay for online advertising.
But there’s a greater, long-term lead generation strategy you need to keep in mind: nurturing leads into sales.
Content offers often come in three varieties: top, middle and bottom of the funnel (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU) offers, each based on different stages of the sales funnel and buyer’s journey.
Within each stage, buyers are categorized as follows:
Awareness stage users are searching for answers are in the top of the sales funnel, while those considering or deciding on purchases fall into the MOFU and BOFU.
Unique content offers are typically developed for every stage, beginning with broad content for those still learning (TOFU), guiding a lead toward more comprehensive offers that are lower down the funnel.
The logic is: as you create content for each stage of their purchasing journey, this user will eventually come to think of your company as a trusted knowledge source with the right solutions.
Then— ta-da! They become a customer.
What Are Some Examples of Good Content Offers?
Okay, so you’re starting to see the end game.
Let’s explore some examples of good gated content offers:
TOFU Content Offer Ideas
Those in the Awareness stage are looking for educational content that offers them broad ideas or inspiration. This content can address simple solutions to their problems, but since these users are still considering a lot of options, keep the scope wide.
Some other content examples include:
Ebooks or Guides
Electronic books are a really popular option. The users can download a PDF and print it out, highlight important parts or send it around to their team.
Think of your ebook as three to five blog posts jam-packed into one. Beginner’s guides, light tutorials and other informative offers are appealing to TOFU visitors. We have a whole set of ebooks (MOFU offers included too!) in our Impulse Creative Resource Center for quick reference.
White Papers or Data-Driven Reports
White papers are basically educational pieces meant to present facts and evidence about a topic. Typically, trusted and academic sources present data this way, backed by authoritative studies and containing important knowledge for industry professionals.
HubSpot creates their annual marketing report by sending out surveys and compiling the results. White papers are a great place for a powerful infographic too!
Checklists or Templates
People love it when you give them specific tasks that they can tick off a list to see quick progress.
Maybe it’s an SEO checklist to ensure a user optimized a webpage properly or a templated spreadsheet for tracking their website traffic. These types of content offers can really help users looking for organization or tracking tools.
MOFU Content Offer Ideas
Consideration stage searchers are really trying to grind down on their problem and are committed to fixing it. They want information that’s solution-based and specifically tailored to their needs.
Here’s where you have to be careful. Focus on how your company found an innovative, successful way of doing something and show the results, don’t just promote your brand.
There’s a fine line between giving someone something to learn from your work and talking your company up in a way that becomes too salesy.
Videos or Podcasts
Maybe it’s a demonstration from an expert in the field or online classes to learn how to do something, like these Drift video tutorials.
Whatever the case, with so many sources giving away content like this for free, you really have to sell the value of your video offer upfront.
Workbooks are exactly what they sound like, they encourage a person to do work on their own. Workbooks can look like a traditional ebook, but they typically include lessons with “assignments” to take action.
Here’s an ungated one from HubSpot to give you an idea.
BOFU Content Offer Ideas
Decision stage users are getting ready to buy, so they’re probably actively looking at your product or service. You may have been their source for sweet TOFU and MOFU insights and already earned some of their trust. Now is the time to sell your company’s unique solution!
Audits or Assessments
Marketers will often offer screenings of your website through free tools. Moz’s Open Site Explorer is a great example of a platform which works as a teaser for their other paid services.
Trials or Demos
For software companies, demos are pivotal in the closing process. Demos and short-term trials allow the customer to test the products before purchasing, putting control in their fingertips and helping them build confidence in their final decision.
These kind of offers get you up-close and personal with your prospect, allowing you the opportunity to make a connection while meeting one-on-one to discuss their problems.
Implementing Gated Content into Your Lead Generation Strategy
Content offers are a great way to accumulate and satisfy new online leads. But you can’t just make a few offers, without a thought-out marketing strategy, and expect to nurture and qualify the right prospects.
Have you nailed down your buyer personas and mapped out content for each stage of their sales journey?
That’s a good place to start!
If you know your audience and have already been creating content to help them through blogs and more, maybe it’s time you expand your lead generation tactics.
Our Online Marketing Strategies for Lead Generation & Conversions ebook outlines ten quick ways to generate and close higher quality leads, including full chapters devoted to inbound marketing, SEO and more.