At a base level, inbound marketing starts with developing great content that draws prospects to your website. And a key portion of that content are offers that you can use to "trade" leads for their contact information—the essentials for starting a relationship that will make them more sales-ready.
But what makes a content offer a good one? Consider the following questions as you evaluate your existing offers and look to create new ones:
1. Is Your Content Relevant to Your Targets?
If you have offers that don’t speak to the needs, interests and problems of the personas you’re targeting, then they can’t be good. The same holds true for offers that aren’t specifically segmented and aligned with the different levels of your marketing funnel. So if your offer is for an Industrial Storage Tank Construction Planning checklist, but your target persona’s key issue is really tank maintenance, you’ve missed the mark. Or if your offer is for a free manufacturing control system assessment, but your target is only at the information/data collection stage your offer isn’t going to perform well because they’re in need of an educational content offer (e.g., 10 Signs You Need New Manufacturing Controls).
2. Is Appropriately Accessible?
A content offer is something of value to your target visitors want enough that they are willing to enter some contact information in exchange for it. As such it’s imperative that your form asks enough questions – but not too many – in relation to the inherent value of the offer and the funnel stage the visitor is at. So if your offer is for a hydraulic cylinder checklist, you shouldn’t be asking for the company’s annual revenue, SIC code, and number of employees. Asking for first name, last name, email address and company name should suffice. In the same vein, placing information behind a form that should be immediately and readily accessible doesn’t make for a good offer. For example, putting your contact us page information or general product information, project success stories behind a form is just going to tick people off and send them to competitive sites.
3. Are You Measuring It?
If you’re not measuring it, what’s the point? You’ll never know if it’s a good offer. Track your offer performance by creating a campaign code for each offer in your CRM system and add it your landing page form or by using a inbound marketing software like HubSpot. You can then analyze what offers are performing well, looking at the conversion rate of visitors to leads and leads to customers at a minimum, and then see how you can build upon or perhaps replicate them. You may discover that your visitors prefer to download tips sheets versus eBooks or that content centered on rebuilding equipment pulls in more leads than regular maintenance.
4. What’s the Mix?
Are your content offers evergreen or limited-time only? Evergreen offers (e.g., 5 Paper Converting Machine Maintenance Tips, The Value of Leasing vs. Buying) will generally have a good “shelf life” and will continue to draw in leads over an extended period — provided you do the work to make appropriate updates to keep the information relevant and fresh and that it meets the needs of your targets. Adding a limited-time offer to your mix, like a “Free maintenance check through March 30th” or “Free product trial through the end of CONEXPO,” can help create a sense of urgency and incite a response. Keep in mind that the mix needs to be appropriate both for what your business offer and for the visitor’s stage of the funnel.
5. Does it Speak Just to Your Awesomeness?
If your offers only talk about how great your product is, how long you’ve been in business, how excellent the quality is, etc., it’s not a good offer. No one wants to read all about how wonderful you are – let along provide their contact information so they can hear even more about it. Your offers need to be related to topics relevant to your business, address a target’s needs and discuss how you can help prospects address their challenges.
6. Does It Draw People Further Into the Funnel?
A good offer will draw visitors and leads deeper into the marketing funnel. If your initial offer provides relevant data and information that educates a lead according to their needs it help set your business up as a solid source of information, which will more than likely draw that individual back to your site to get additional details as they continue in their research. From there, if you have a mid-funnel offer on your site (e.g., a whitepaper), you can coax some additional contact detail from them and guide them further down the funnel to the point where they are ready to do business with you.
7. Are You Proud of It?
If you think your content offer stinks, your site visitors and leads probably do as well. If your gut is telling you that the text is too long, contains too many acronyms, is difficult to follow, lack important facts/data or is too generic to be of real use, go with that feeling. Further refinement may be needed to bring that offer up to snuff. Anytime your creating an offer it never hurts to set it aside for a day or two and then come back with a critical eye. Read it again, review the flow, the relevance of the information, the length and clarity and make the changes you need. You could also consider asking trusted customer or colleague to review it and get their thoughts as well.
Content offers are incredible crucial to your inbound marketing efforts. By answering these few simple, but important questions, you’ll be able to tell if your content offer is a good one or one that needs some additional time and effort for development.
Posted by Tim Holdsworth Tim has vast experience executing B2B marketing plans in a number of industries, including manufacturing, health products, and business technologies. He manages the mechanics of our clients' inbound marketing programs, including marketing automation setup, email marketing, and digital content creation.