10 Types Of Content Downloads That Work

Research DownloadB2B marketers were polled (eMarketer) about how they generate leads from their website and online activity.

The #1 way they generate leads, and good leads, was with content downloads.

About 66% of the marketers said that content downloads was #1 for them. And it won by a large margin over the next few results which were webinars (45%), demo requests (37%), free trials (22%) and a few others.

Content downloads work for a number of reasons.

They don’t require a huge commitment from potential clients. The person just needs to provide a little information including their email address.

A content download doesn’t push the person through the sales process too fast. It just eases them from being interested in some type of information to being on a list.

If you’re looking at using content downloads for your online marketing here are some of the best types to consider.

1. Research Reports

This was cited in the study above as the #1 type of content download that marketers were having success with. Why? B2B types like CEOs, founders, executives and other managers are always looking for trends, data, etc. If there is anyway your company can create its own research it can be a great way to create content download opportunities.

Survey your customers. Survey your peers. Survey your partners. Try different focus areas. Create a PDF with the research data and see what works.

2. Large Guides

A recurring theme for these content downloads will be that you have to go big. There is so much content available for free that in order to compete you have to go way beyond what anybody else is willing to do. And by “free” I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about giving up information such as an email address. If your guide is just so-so people are going to do a quick Google search and find something almost as good, as good or even better without having to give their email address and download it from you.

A trick to doing a guide is to find something that seems popular that people are paying for on another website. Then put in the time to create one as good or better and give it away for free. You almost always win when you undercut the competition and offer the price of free or just require an email.

3. Custom Grade, Report, Analysis

You could do this with some kind of software that does it for you or you could do it manually. Hubspot famously offered their Web Grader reports and it helped them get all kinds of attention. What kind of grade would your customers love? What input do people often ask you for that you can help them with by using your experience and expertise? Give it away for free for anyone that submits a simple form on your website.

4. Training, Course, Class

Some people charge for these types of things. Lots of people pay for it. I kind of think it’s a little bit of procrastination. Like taking a course in how to be a professional photographer or something. Instead of taking photographs you stall by paying for a course and feeling like you’re progressing.

Anyway, I do see value in this type of information and why not give it away for free if others are charging for it? It just has to be as good or better.

5. Photos, Graphics, Art

This one might be a bit underutilized, but people are looking for these types of things all the time. Unsplash jumped ahead of the game by just giving away these all for free. No email required or anything.

You could jump ahead of the game with images or especially with graphics and illustrations. People pay a lot for them on sites, but if you give away even a few great ones for free you can get a lot of attention for your brand.

6. Spreadsheet, Formula, Script

Got a script or formula that can help people do something really fast in Excel or on Google Spreadsheet? Share it with them for free and you might be seen as a hero. Or just create a spreadsheet that people can download or signup to use. If you can save people time in anyway they’ll often love you for it.

7. Software, Add-On, App

Similar to the last one. Maybe you can create a Chrome or Gmail add-on that saves people time or allows them to do something they couldn’t do before.

8. Book, eBook

A fairly popular one here, but people still love it. I think you could really stand out if you give away printed books. You get people’s email and mailing address in return and they get something concrete that will sit in their house or office possibly forever. Instead of spending $1,000 on ads just give away $2,000 (only $1,000 cost to you) worth of free books.

9. Coupon, Offer, Discount

More giveaways that people usually love. If you can give away your product or something you have or even offer a discount people will definitely download it.

10. Person-To-Person Interaction

We’ll end with one that might throw you for a loop, but you’re really offering value. Maybe this is a 15-minute call with you. A free consultation. this goes way beyond what most people are willing to offer, but that’s the point. Maybe even a coffee meeting with someone in person if they’re in your city. You’ll get some ones that don’t really work out great, but if you get a few great ones it can really pay off.


The whole game with content downloads is to really go above and beyond what others are doing. The ideas above have proven to work. If you’re willing to give away for free what others are charging for it can really bring your brand positive attention and help your business grow.

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