You're definitely going to need this for your content marketing strategy, so let’s cut to the chase and get straight to the answer.
What is Premium Content?
I often make the distinction between information and knowledge when explaining premium content. What we have today on blogs and sites, open to the general visitors with no strings attached, is information (i.e. content). Information is processed data, informative and perhaps eye opening, but with no real instruction or trade secret. But the content that websites provide with some sort of value exchange occurring is what we can call knowledge (i.e. premium content). Knowledge includes insights and exclusive, critical information drawn from one’s experience or intellectual property. Premium content is the happy medium between content you know your prospects are dying to have and content you are willing to share with them.
Premium content can be exchanged for monetary value or for personal information (and that's what your lead generation plan should be all about).
Forms of Premium Content:
- Case Studies
- Research papers
- Product guides
Premium content can be distinguished from “regular” content in its purpose and power.
Why would you be willing to share premium content with your prospects? Well, it all comes down to sales funnels, and the power of premium content to nurture and guide leads through the funnel. In other words, use content as a mean to drive traffic to your website, and premium content to turn visitors into leads. This means that your premium content strategy needs to be designed with a specific purpose for a specific persona at a specific stage of their Buyer’s Journey.
This one is obvious. Premium content has the power to convert leads into customers—a stage everyone struggles with. In your sales funnel, premium content is the reciprocity that builds a relationship, enhances trust and strengthens rapport.
Different forms of premium content can be used at different stages of the sales funnel to nurture leads. Remember, through your premium content you are answering the burning questions of your buyer persona; you are giving them an enticing part of what they need.
Now, since this is such a crucial bit in inbound marketing, this is what your content strategy should look like at every stage of the sales funnel.
The Sales Funnel
Top of the Funnel:
The premium content at this stage is merely an introductory offer. It provides enough information for the prospect to realize you are worth pursuing. White papers, how-to guides, checklists, and tip sheets, for example, are essential premium content tools at this stage.
Templates and checklists in particular illustrate your expertise, confirm your knowledge in an area your prospects need help with, as well as show your willingness to help in a practical and efficient manner. They prove that you are not another company that talks the talk without walking the walk.
Middle of the Funnel:
Due to the Zero Moment of Truth, your prospects know exactly what they are lacking and they want you to prove that you can provide the best answers and solutions. They have had a sneak peek at your offer and want to learn more. You have to up your game and provide niche or in-depth knowledge that screams that you are the perfect solution for their needs. Ebooks, case studies, samples, and webinars are your premium content champions for this stage.
- Ebook or physical books create credibility and establish you as an expert.
- Online trainings, courses and webinars are also a great way to not only obtain personal information but to deliver that unique message that will drive your point home and turn your leads into customers.
- Infographics are also great tools to target a specific audience or customer personas while delivering the answer to their specific needs.
- Case studies likewise show your experience in meeting the specific needs of a customer.
Bottom of the Funnel:
The customers are one step away from purchasing your products and are looking for that incentive that will nudge them forward.
- Samples and consultations provide that personal experience and personal touch customers seek and truly display how you will personally address their problems.
- Free trials, consultations, demos, price estimates can provide this nudge, placing your product or service ahead of your competitors, closing the deal.
If you are still having difficulty distinguishing your content from premium content, think of how your audience will respond to each:
Content - “this was nice!”
Premium Content - “this is what I want and need!”
Why do you need premium content?
To put it simply, premium content is a powerful tool in inbound marketing when used correctly. Now, whether you’re doing it correctly or not is a whole another story.
Want to learn about content marketing strategies that attract traffic that converts? Download our free Ebook about Google's Zero Moment of Truth phenomenon below to discover how you can use search engines to attract customers before they are ready to buy.