Stuck in a rut trying to think of what downloadable offers you can create for your next inbound marketing campaign? It can be easy to revert back to the basics of ebooks, coupons or newsletter subscriptions, but the more types of content and offers you can create, the more likely you are to offer just what your perfect prospect is looking for.
And whether you call it the sales funnel, the buyer’s journey or a sales cycle, each stage has different needs.
Let’s look at some ideas for offers that go beyond the ebook.
Top of the funnel: Awareness
While blog posts are an essential part of your awareness content, they typically are not gated offers that require readers to provide some level of contact information in order to access them. What we’re focusing on today are the offers that are fronted by landing pages to capture leads and start them on a lead nurturing path.
Many top-of-the-funnel offers center around ebooks — informational, non-threatening, and introductory. (See our selection of introductory ebooks about inbound marketing here.)
But what about these offers?
1. Infographics or SlideShares
While infographics are great as blog and social media content (find ours every Friday on the Inbound Accelerator or the full collection on Pinterest, especially in-depth or original material can also be presented in visual format and gated behind a landing page.
Consider doing this with infographics of original research or SlideShare presentations that you may have used at an industry event.
2. Cheat sheets
Rather than an in-depth white paper, offer top-of-the-funnel visitors a quick, easy-to-use reference that highlights your area of expertise while solving a problem they may have.
Here are our favorite examples:
3. Blog subscription
Top-of-the-funnel offers should be low-commitment and non-intimidating, but are especially valuable if they also provide ways to keeping your brand top-of-mind. Social media is one way of making a low-commitment connection: Visitors can “like” or “follow” your brand without worrying that it will lead to an immediate call from sales, but it also sets the stage for them to continually learn more about you.
Blog subscriptions are similar. All you should ask a visitor to provide to subscribe to your blog is a valid email. No phone numbers. No names. Just an email. But the nature of a blog subscription helps to increase the lead’s awareness of your brand with a reminder in their inbox every time you publish a new blog post.
Middle of the funnel: Consideration
Middle of the funnel offers start to transition from awareness to consideration phase. While those first random visits to your website may have been from someone with just a passing interest in your industry or offerings, middle-of-the-funnel leads are looking to solve a problem. Give them what they need to address their problem, but without pushing specific products.
1. Worksheets and calculators
Calculators and worksheets are a great resource for leads trying to learn more about how they can solve a particular problem. How many hours will it take to implement a solution? What is the ROI of a prospective technology?
Think about the consumer calculators you have likely used: monthly payments for a mortgage when considering a house payment, calorie counting and BMI when trying to change personal habits, or the cost of gas for a road trip.
Can you offer a similar calculator as a download?
Or think about worksheets or spreadsheets leads can use to keep track of projects. The most downloaded resource from our Inbound Marketing Learning Library is our On-Page SEO Worksheet, which provides background information and a spreadsheet for recording page-by-page keyword opportunities and changes to improve search results.
Save your prospects and leads time by offering them templates that get them started on the right path.
We know that creating content—including blog posts—is one of the biggest challenges for inbound marketers. That’s why we give them a headstart on blog writing by offering a package of five blog templates (5 Ways to Write a Blog) that guide them through different formats such as lists, Q&A, newsjacking and how-to posts. It is a way to give novice writers a proven structure to follow.
Another is our Campaign Calendar Planning Template. We know that calendars can be simple text documents, but with our template a marketing team can simply fill in the blanks for each campaign and have an easy to read and easy to share document for the next year’s strategies and workflows.
(You’ll find all of our calculators, worksheets and templates under the “Do” category of our Inbound Marketing Learning Library.)
3. How-to videos
How-to videos are another middle-of-the-funnel offer that can be useful to help leads dig a little deeper into your expertise.
While you might use short videos with a broader topic in your open blog posts, more in-depth videos with specific step-by-step instructions on a complex topic are something your visitors may be willing to trade a little contact information for. Gate them behind a landing page in order to enter those contacts into a lead nurturing program.
Bottom of the funnel: Comparison and Decision
If your leads have already downloaded middle-of-the-funnel content and visited your website repeatedly, signs point toward finally highlighting the offers that are more specific to your business. When a lead accesses these offers, it is a signal they are closer to making a purchase decision.
1. Comparison or product guides
Product documentation and comparisons can and should answer many questions a prospect may have about specifics of your products and services. Many customers are hesitant to contact a company directly to ask small questions, but you can provide details behind a landing page in order to give them quick, direct access to answers (while also capturing their information for a follow-up contact).
Documentation could include guides to getting started, product specifications, comparisons or other formats to help prospects find what they need to know about your products.
2. Case studies
While product guides talk about your products or services, case studies offer a glimpse in the success of your customers. For B2B enterprises, case studies play a key role in providing a real-world picture of your solutions in action.
Highlight the success your customers have realized with your solutions, being as specific as possible.
3. Testimonials and endorsements
While we may tend to think of testimonials and endorsements as text-based, creating a video version as Cisco did in the series of testimonial video highlighted here that blend humor into a sometimes dry discussion of technology.
When you create a variety of content for every campaign, designed to reach prospects wherever they may be in the sales journey, you increase the chances of being able to gradually move them through the sales funnel with information that steadily brings them closer to the point of making a decision.
What other formats of offers have you used at each stage of the sales funnel?