As a graphic designer at Quintain, I design much of the premium content that we create for our clients and ourselves. What is premium content you ask? It is anything that you “gate” – meaning that to get it, a visitor to your website needs to fill out a form and provide some information about themselves. This is different than a blog. Whereas blogs are accessible to anyone and used primarily to drive traffic to your website, premium content is aimed at turning those visitors into leads.

As an inbound marketing agency, we understand the important role that premium content plays in any marketing strategy.

A successful inbound marketing strategy should be focused heavily on guiding your website visitors and your inbound leads to become customers – a pathway we refer to as the sales funnel. There is a top, middle and bottom in this funnel, and each level represents where a lead is in their buyer’s journey and how we can best address their information needs and pain points at that stage in order to move them to the next level – and closer to sales.

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Put simple, premium content is used as a tool to convert visitors into leads and to guide leads through the various stages of the sales funnel. Premium content can take many forms, but some of the more common ones include:

  • eBooks
  • eNewsletters
  • Case Studies
  • Whitepapers
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Webinars
  • Original Content, Reports, Etc.
  • Trials, Demos, Assessments, Consultations, Etc.

The nature of the content – including the level of detail and the type of information it contains – will determine whether it is a top, middle or bottom of the funnel offer. An eBook may help your leads become aware of their problem, but your bottom-of-the-funnel free trial or assessment will help push them towards a resolution with sales.

Lets discuss these key functions that your premium content has through the buyer’s journey.

1. Convert Visitors into Leads

To get to a sale, you first need to get some leads.

Any visitor to your website or your social media outlets is a potential lead. You just have to know how to pull them in. If they are already reading your content or engaging with you online, the odds are in your favor. Just be ready to reel them in further.

Premium content helps initiate a B2B or B2C relationship by showing that you have knowledge and expertise to offer.

Offers posted on your social media streams will often be for your top-of-the-funnel content, already perfect and primed to pique the interest and answer the questions of a buyer at the beginning of the sales cycle.

Once visitors follow through to your landing page and fill out your offer’s form, you’ve got your lead!

2. Inform Your Leads

Now that they have filled out the form, they get to download and enjoy your content, whatever it might be.

eBooks and whitepapers are a great way to share knowledge on a specific topic, but in much more depth than a blog might be able to convey. Infographics are effective at educating visual learners and simplifying complex concepts. The key is to get to know your audience (and create detailed audience personas!) and use what you know about them to create content that addresses their pain points and fulfills a need.

Great content has the power to solve your customers’ problems and answer their questions. They’ve come to you looking for answers, and this is where you deliver.

3. Gain the Trust of Your Leads

In addition to helping convert visitors into leads, premium content will help you establish and build trust with your leads as you continue to share your wealth of expertise and advice.

Templates and checklists are practical and show that you aren’t just another company offering vague ideas and solutions. Your company really wants to help people find the right solution to their problem, and you are willing to give them your tools of the trade so they can get it done themselves.

By using these tools and templates, leads will see that you know what you’re talking about and that you have experience in the areas they are seeking help.

Trust is a two-way street; you’ve got to give a little to get a little.

4. Show Off Your Brand

Regardless of the form it takes, premium content is a perfect way to showcase your brand. Every piece of premium content that you offer to your leads must be branded to fit the colors, fonts and graphic styles that you use across the board in your marketing.

The last thing you want is to have your most popular eBook look like it came from a different company. Don’t lose credibility by not taking the time to design your own content. This is also a great opportunity to stay top of mind and even get new referrals by including links for social sharing or to your website.

Why wear jeans to a client meeting when you’ve got a nice suit? You’ve worked hard on your content, so make sure the design also shows how proud you are of it.

5. Guide Your Leads Toward Sales

When they reach the middle of the funnel, your leads are aware of their problem and what they need to solve it. Now, you need your content to tell them that your company is their perfect solution.

Case studies are great middle of the funnel offers because they emphasize how your company is able to address the specific needs of a customer. What’s better than a real-life success story to showcase your capabilities?

Free trials or consultations, meanwhile, provide your leads with first-hand experience on what your company does and how you can personally address their problems making them well suited for leads at the bottom of the funnel.

Once a lead clearly understands the value of your services, all that’s left is for them to make the decision to contact your sales team.

The Bottom Line

When you get right down to it, the reason why premium content is necessary to your marketing all comes down to your ability to nurture your leads through the sales funnel. Each piece of content should be built for a specific purpose and targeted to a specific audience persona at a specific stage of the buying process. Combined with a robust email lead nurturing campaign, your premium content has the overarching goal of leading a visitor down the pathway to become a customer.