What would happen if you were to suddenly take down the all of the forms, the landing pages and the pop-ups that lead to content on your website? What if you just gave away your content without asking for an email address or contact information? Would you still get leads?

If the answer is no, then it’s time to take a hard look at the content you’re creating. Your content should be strong enough that it stands on its own and leaves the reader wanting more.

We are bombarded by email and unfortunately too much junk. As a result, people are much more resistant to give up an email address or their contact information than they were in the past. Now that inbound marketing has caught on, visitors to your website are trained to know that when they fill out a form, they are giving you permission to add them to your sales funnel and potentially add more junk to their inbox.

“Your content should be strong enough that it stands on its own.”

Put another way, when your site visitors hand over their contact information, they are essentially making a purchase – and it’s important to consider it as such. So if your customer isn’t happy with the “purchase” of your content offer, they are going to feel cheated, and you will lose their trust. Provide them with something valuable when they click “Download your copy now,” however, and your content is no longer seen as a purchase but a favor.

Do someone a favor, and they will feel obliged to return the favor. It’s human nature. If someone does something nice for us, it creates an inherent desire to do something nice for them.

Without value your content is junk. So the question becomes, how do we create value?

1. You Need to Solve their problems

First and foremost, you should create content that is designed to genuinely help your audience. Solve their problems without asking anything in return. When you solve your audience’s problem, you’ve not only done them a favor, but you’ve established trust and positioned yourself as an approachable expert who is informed, as well as willing to help.

2. Share Insights they can’t get elsewhere

Research studies can be a great way to provide value especially when it speaks specifically to your target audience. For example, HubSpot’s annual “State of Inbound” report and Social Media Examiner’s annual “Social Media Marketing Industry Report” provide great information on the latest trends in inbound and social media marketing.

The irony of it is, the data in those reports are directly pulled from the same target audience who will download the report.

3. Build a Library

If you have a strong collection of premium content, group it together into a single resource library. For example, we house all of our offers in a knowledge center you can sort by content type. Not only will this make it easy for website visitors to find what they need and potentially convert into leads, it can be a great way to collect inbound links.

4. Create content that does something good for the reader

Make every piece of content good enough that the reader will benefit from it just by opening it. When you do, you will not only generate leads but create evangelists who will share and spread your message to others. Because if they find something of value in your work, there’s a good chance someone else they know will too.

You’ve got value, now what?

So you’ve gone through your content and turned everything into a purchase-worthy piece. If the gates are still down, how will you generate leads?

If your content really is that good, the reader is going to want more. Give it to them. Tell them exactly what they should do next. And no, “click here” is not a call to action. Create a call to action that is directly related to the document they just read. Did you show them how to overcome an obstacle of some sort? Offer a strategy session to help them implement the steps of the process. Did you teach them something? Offer a free class or access to an on-demand webinar on a related topic.

The important thing is to continue building upon the trust you’ve created by helping, not selling. If your solution is a good fit, the sale will follow.

Bringing back the gates

Now that you’ve got content that stands on its own, share the value through the landing page. Tell your visitors exactly what they will get when they give up their valuable contact information. Bullet point key elements of the content in an easy to read format. And most importantly, hit their pain points so hard that they feel like they are missing something if they pass up the offer. (Because you’ve determined it really is that good, right?)

Inbound marketing lives and breathes on the content we create. So if your content isn’t amazing, it isn’t worth the price of your visitors’ contact information. You are just creating opt-in bait and nobody wants that.