Countless online businesses are built on driving traffic and making sales. Consumers are often reluctant to buy on a first visit, though, so it requires collecting leads and moving them through a sales funnel. One important feature of a good sales funnel is a free report. These reports can be fairly short and delivered in PDF format, offering some insight, trick, tip, or hack for a particular topic. While the process is fairly simple, the results have proven to work over the years, even as more visitors turn to mobile devices. To really get the most from the method, though, it is important to know when to use a free report, how to structure it, and the tools that can simplify the process.
When to Use a Report
The ease of creating a report can lead to some marketers overdoing it. Audiences can become weary of this style of communication, so it is important to think carefully about when to use a report in your sales funnel.
Email Lead Magnet
Possibly the most common occurrence of a report is as an enticement for subscribing to an email list. An active email list is a lucrative commodity, but you often have to work to earn a subscription. Audiences are overwhelmed by a daily influx of emails, so it takes a quality lead magnet for large numbers of readers to be tempted to join a list.
You may already be selling a product, but are looking for ways to increase conversions. When used carefully, free bonuses help to add value to the main product, encouraging those who are on the fence about buying. As long as the report is of sufficient value, promoting it as a bonus can improve the perception of the overall package.
Lead Magnet for Affiliates
Affiliate marketing is a competitive field, so you need something to make you stand out. There could be countless sites directing traffic to an offer, but no additional value is being added. A report could be used by an affiliate to build a list, allowing them to spend more time marketing the product. A vendor could consider offering a report to affiliates in order to simplify the marketing process.
Most email lists gradually grow stale, so you need to consistently maintain interest. Offering a free report to existing subscribers can encourage them to pay more attention to your emails, leading to a higher open rate. In most cases, these reports only need to be an occasional addition, reducing the chances subscribers will see them as less valuable.
Locked Content for a Blog Post
Finally, you could add a report to your blog, but use a content locker to limit access. Locked content will automatically appear more valuable, particularly if your regular blog posts are good quality. Readers can unlock the content if they share your post on social media, leading to more visitors and extra promotion.
Creating a Report
There is no exact formula for creating the perfect report, but certain elements tend to work. Typically, avoid making your report too long, with a focus on clarity and directness. There may be an occasion where you choose a broad topic, but more commonly it is good to keep the topic focused, giving people something useful they will remember. Also, it is good to close with a call to action, so you could direct readers to an offer, some further reading on your blog, or your social media accounts.
Tools and Software
Designing and formatting your PDF is the final step, with your design and technical skills determining how you approach it. Tools like Microsoft Word allow you to export documents to PDF format, while PDFCreator is a free alternative. Freelance websites will have established designers offering their services. Alternatively, you could record yourself speaking and get the audio transcribed.
While the overall process is simple, free reports can often be used as lead magnets for a long period of time. If the information included is still relevant, your report can stay evergreen. Segments of your audience might not like reading PDF reports, preferring to watch videos or listen to audio instead, so it is wise to include various outlets for your content. However, as one of your go-to lead magnets, a report is one of the best ways to develop interest, trust, and rapport with your audience, helping to secure long-term clients that continue to buy from you.