Demand Generation
Do Prospects Still Appreciate Downloadable Content?

Do Prospects Still Appreciate Downloadable Content?

March 21, 2017
3 min read

Without data, content marketing can feel a bit like a high-stakes game of roulette. However, even though engagement rates are generally down, content marketers can take heart that prospects still appreciate useful and targeted content, including downloadables such as whitepapers, ebooks, checklists, guides, toolkits, SlideShare presentations, and the like.

Because of the large scope of information required to put together a whitepaper, or any report/guide that tries to break down a complex issue, not every company feels compelled to include these downloadables in their content lineup.

But, for people looking for facts, trends, figures, or industry insights, downloadable content is a goldmine of information. Now that you’ve created excellent, unique content that generates interest, it’s time to put your lead generation mechanisms into action. You can do this by gating your content. Gated content simply requires that your prospect offers up a few key details like their name, email address, and location, to name a few in exchange for access to your content. Once you’ve exchanged contact information with your prospect, you’re ready to start nudging that lead along your sales funnel with a nurture campaign.

Downloadable Content is Relevant

Downloadable content comes in different forms and serves different purposes. You can find some of the most common examples below:

1. Whitepapers

As previously mentioned, whitepapers offer in-depth reports and expert insights that typically present a problem and provide a solution. You can use this type of content to promote your brand’s products or services, and even your position on a particular subject. That being said, you should never come off as aggressively salesy. The objective of a well-written whitepaper is to inform, educate, and persuade based on facts and evidence, not to broadcast how great your product is and why they need to buy it now.

Whitepapers can be grouped into three types:

  • Backgrounders (describe the technical features of a product offering)
  • Numbered lists (break down important points of a complex concept)
  • Problem/solution (introduce or recommend a fix for a business issue)

Because readers expect such a high degree of expertise backed by proper research, whitepapers help brands build trust and position themselves as an authority figure in the industry. What sets them apart from eBooks is that they’re far more serious in tone and less flashy.

2. EBooks

EBooks are probably the most commonly used content downloadable. For the most part, they’re used to educate customers and to create an open dialogue between your brand and your prospective customers.

You can use eBooks to attract prospects who are searching for specific content. If you’re in the recruitment business, for example, you could create a job search handbook that helps job seekers make the most of their time. By focusing on a topic that represents your brand and is beneficial to your leads, you are in effect enhancing the credibility of your company.

3. Checklists

One good thing about this content type is that it’s short and sweet. You can easily put together a spreadsheet with headings or subheadings along with brief copy to list important items or to-do tasks that can guide people in organizing a particular activity or process.

The idea here is to simplify a relatively complex activity and to provide step-by-step instructions to readers who might be relatively new to that particular field of knowledge. If you’re planning to create a checklist, make sure your steps are actionable and keep copy to a minimum.

4. Guides

You can be quite creative about how to craft your guide. Whether it’s in short or long form, be sure to include clear and easy-to-follow tutorials on your chosen subject. Since most guides are instructional in nature, users will expect to get practical value out of your content.

Unlike checklists, guides offer in-depth explanations as to why readers should follow a particular step, which requires far more copy than a simple bullet point in a checklist.

5. Toolkits

Kits offer related pieces of content in a cohesive package. If you’re trying to come up with a kit for your inbound marketing campaign, you may want to include an interactive presentation, a data and research report, and glossary of important terms—all of which are valuable information pieces for your marketing leads.

6. Research Reports

These content types are arguably the hardest to produce because they require original research, which can take a significant amount of time to collect and analyze. However, this also makes them all the more appealing to your audience because the same information simply cannot be found anywhere else.

If your team has the capacity to collect and analyze original data, developing a research report is a fantastic way to generate leads and build a name for your brand as an industry expert. A great example of a brand using research reports for content marketing is HubSpot with their State of Inbound Report.


There’s so much potential for value in downloadable content both for you and your prospects. It keeps information flowing, and if your content borders on the exceptional, your social media shares will shoot up too.

If you’ve been wondering whether or not to use downloadable content to help generate leads and build brand trust, you can put that question to rest now. The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.

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