Hands up if you’ve ever traded your email address for a free ebook, whitepaper or super-top-secret-tip. How often does it live up to the hype?
July 22 2017
Hands up if you’ve ever traded your email address for a free ebook, whitepaper or super-top-secret-tip.
Most of you, I suspect.
Now, leave your hand up if the thing you received gave you what you wanted without trying to sell you a $47 ‘upgrade’ to actually get to what you thought you were getting in the first place.
A lot of ‘helpful’ content online feels a bit slimy. Titles that are too good to be true, with content that gets your attention but never delivers until you register for some expensive ’thing’. Which also happens to hold back on the real content until you buy yet another ‘thing’.
Here are three things you must do to make sure your content doesn’t fall into this category.
1. Focus on creating value, not funnels
Funnels allow content creators to strategically track the stages our audiences travel through on their journey towards making a buying or converting decision. They help us to communicate what people need, when they need it, as though we were right there in the room with them, at scale.
You’ve probably subscribed to at least one author who misused the power of ongoing automatic communication.
Basically, he (perhaps unknowingly) became a spammer.
Considering that 73% of leads that enter your funnels aren’t ready to be sold to, he’s not alone.
Funnels are important when used correctly because they help you to serve your audience based on:
- where they are in their relationship with you,
- what their commitment level is to you, and
- whether they’re ready & motivated to buy.
But funnels are not “a sophisticated alternative to spam”. Funnels present an opportunity to create organized value, not automatic irritants.
What’s the right way to do it?
When you create content that communicates care and service to your audience, they’ll reward you with their engagement, money, commitment, whatever it is you’re looking for.
Here are some steps to take to make sure you’re creating value:
- Identify the stages in your funnels you can add real value. People don’t want to be beaten over the head with pitches about you. They want their problems solving. Solve their problems, without expecting reciprocity, and you may find it comes more readily.
- Honor their commitment level to you. You can’t rush relationships, so be mindful and respectful of the level of commitment people in your audience are prepared to give you.
- Offer what is advantageous to them, when it’s advantageous to them. Most sales funnels should be complex sales funnels, to allow for contingencies. If a value-add isn’t well received, don’t send it at them again – discover what would help them and provide that instead.
2. Let everything you create offer value on its own
Hands up if you’ve ever had to go looking for single-cell round batteries on Christmas Day because somebody got a present that didn’t have batteries included.
How annoying is it when you realize the manufacturer didn’t anticipate the recipient wanting to turn it on when they got it?
There’s a lot of content online that ships without batteries – although the authors will give you those batteries if you sign up for their more expensive offering.
Techniques like this can actually be pretty effective. But they dilute the value of your word in the process. Remember:
- Is it an ad disguised as a product? If your content doesn’t offer value right out of the box, then it’s an ad, not a product. Let your audience be clear on the difference.
- If you blur the lines, your audience may become wary of the things that you offer them, fearing they may not get the substance you say they will.
With that in mind, here are some practical steps to make sure your content offers value on its own:
- Ads drive sales, content drives relationships. What’s the goal of your content? If it’s to directly increase your sales, then it may not be content at all. Relationships are the foundation of becoming known, liked and trusted. Make sure your content focuses on relationships.
- Ads are about you, content isn’t. What do you talk about in your content? Yourself, or things your audience is interested in? If all the content you send is about you, then it’s likely a series of cleverly-disguised ads, not content.
- Ads are measured in dollars, content is measured in engagement. How do you measure the success or failure of your content? If your content has a dollar-value metric associated with it, instead of an engagement metric, your content isn’t content at all. It’s advertising again.
3. Start with them in mind
Think back to the last time you started working on a fresh new piece of content.
With that in mind, now think back to the last time you bought someone a birthday present.
Are there any differences?
Great content should feel like a gift-wrapped, thoughtful gift from you to your audience.
A huge factor in whether your content will be successful or not depends on how different your answers are to those questions. Start with your audience in mind:
- Is it really for them? Are your creations purely a reaction to what you think you should create in order to sell more of what you’re selling? If so, trash them and start with your audience in mind. What do they need? How can you help them with the things you create?
- If it’s not just for them, and you don’t start with your audience in mind, you’ll be offering things to people who won’t find anywhere near as much value in them.
Again, here’s some steps to make sure your content feels like a special gift and not a lump of coal:
- Make content that’s unique, and tailored specifically for them. Who likes being re-gifted? If your content strategy includes scraping, repurposing and repackaging content from elsewhere online, drop those practices and get creative on your own content.
- Put love, care, and effort into your content. You know when someone really thought about a gift. Let your audience know you took the time to make something just for them.
- Be sure your audience knows what to do with it. If your content has no action steps, they may not know what to do with what they’ve learned. Make it easy for your audience to incorporate what they’ve learned into their lives.
If you follow these steps, your site visitors won’t see your offers while doubting your integrity, the integrity of your product, or your purpose.
To make sure these steps find their way into your content, we’ve gone ahead and created a checklist for you to work your way through each time you prepare a new piece of content.
As a result of this extra attention to detail with your content, you should see an increase in trust, engagement, and commitment from your audience. Share this content with your network, so that you can help shape the future of their content as well as your own.