If you’re even mildly interested in content marketing, you probably already have a blog set up for your organization. Blogs are useful, providing a regular stream of easy-to-digest information to your readers and followers and complementing strategies like SEO and social media marketing. However, there are bigger and more powerful types of content you should also be leveraging as part of your campaign.
Downloadable assets, which may include whitepapers, ebooks or manuals, come in a variety of forms but share a handful of traits in common. They tend to be dense, packed with far more information than a blog post, and they’re delivered in PDF format, rather than existing purely as a webpage. Sometimes, these pieces are referred to as long-form content, but that can also refer to a blog post that’s longer than usual, so I believe “downloadable asset” is more appropriate.
So how can a downloadable asset help your campaign? It all depends on how you use it, but these are just some of the potential ways:
1. Email addresses
For starters, downloadable assets are an easy way to generate a list of new email addresses – so long as you’re offering something truly valuable to your target audience. A common way to do this is to set up a landing page that teases the content available in the asset, such as by including a handful of screenshots of interior pages, or by describing the problem your asset aims to resolve. However, to download the full version of the content, you’ll require that a user enter their name, email address and any other information fields of your choice. Once you have those emails, you can use them for a host of marketing opportunities in the future.
2. Vested interest
Downloadable assets also give you a chance to build a vested interest in a given population, which you can then use to attract more people to your brand. For example, let’s say you run an accounting firm that helps small businesses. You recognize that most new business owners aren’t good with financial planning or accounting, so you write an in-depth guide on how to do it. Already, you know the people reading this guide are A) in need of business accounting and B) are non-experts in the field. This makes them a prime audience for a call-to-action at the end of the piece advertising your services. You can even include a section on why outsourcing your accounting is beneficial.
3. Higher authority
One of the most important goals of your content marketing campaign is building your brand authority in the market. You want to be recognized as a thought leader, a brand capable of introducing new ideas to the industry and with the expertise and experience to express those ideas fully. You don’t get that opportunity with short, surface-level blog posts, but downloadable assets give you a bigger platform to show your stuff. A handful of industry reports or eBooks can instantly boost your credibility.
4. Added value
You could also use downloadable assets as a way to add value for your existing customers, especially if you treat them as “bonus material.” For example, if you charge a monthly subscription fee to access your app, you may include a monthly downloadable asset to further incentivize that subscription (or to thank your followers). You could also offer periodic downloadable assets to your existing email subscribers, or to customers who have purchased from you in the past.
5. Brand differentiation
Almost every business with a website also has a blog, and if your blog isn’t much different than your competitor’s, you probably won’t see valuable results. To be successful in the content marketing game, you need to be able to differentiate yourself and offer something that no other competitors are offering. Downloadable assets are expensive and time-consuming to produce, so they scare off the majority of average content producers. That means they’re your opportunity to one-up your competition.
If your content is valuable enough, offering in-demand information that your readers can’t get anywhere else, you may be able to charge for each download of your content. This is especially true of ebooks, which can span hundreds of pages and thoroughly explore in-depth topics. If your content is evergreen, with no expiration date for its relevance, your revenue stream may become indefinite and recurring. Even a few dollars per download can at least make up for what you invested in the piece – and a solid push to generate more visibility could put you in profitable territory.
7. Future material
Finally, if you’re using your downloadable asset as a value-add for your subscribers or a way to get new email addresses, you can split it apart and recycle it as regular blog posts in the future. For example, you may turn each chapter of your ebook into a new blog post of a multi-part series, giving you even more value for the content you’ve already created. You’ll want to make edits for clarity and to prevent verbatim duplication, but there are a number of advantages to doing this. Just make sure you aren’t using this tactic with content that people paid to access.
The only real downside to downloadable assets is the time it takes to create them. You need a high-quality piece if you want to achieve these benefits, which means you’re going to have to pay – you’ll either need to spend many hours working on the piece yourself, or you’ll pay hundreds of dollars for someone else to do it. Ultimately, though, most downloadable assets pay for themselves eventually – as long as you know how to harness their full potential.