Once you’ve completed writing and designing your centerpiece content on the topic of your choice, it’s time to put it to work for you — helping you build your business by generating leads and building your email marketing list.
One of the best ways to do this is to provide a “gateway” to your guide and require users to provide an email address to access and download it.
The easiest way to do this is to create a signup landing page that offers a preview of the content, previews what it contains and encourages users to download it.
You can then embed an email signup form from your favorite email marketing platform that users must complete to get access to the file.
Another option would be to link to the hosted email signup form provided by your email marketing system.
For example, MailChimp lets you create simple landing pages quickly and easily using these steps.
After completing this form, users will be added to a list or, depending on the system you’re using, are identified as having complete this specific form.
For example, in MailChimp, you can use a hidden form field in the signup box code to “tag” the user as having signed up via your guide request.
This allows you to have the subscriber be on both your “master” list but still track and send emails based on the customer requesting your guide. In MailChimp, the automation features let you filter recipients of an automation campaign based on the field values you embedded in your form.
If creating custom fields, filtering and segmenting is too complex for you, check with your email marketing service’s support team or, alternatively, simply create a standalone list that only includes people requesting your guide (note, however, that most email providers will count these subscribers separately for billing purposes, so you could end up needing a higher plan).
One final note: It's a good idea to make a note somewhere on your landing page that lets customers know that, by signing up to download your guide, they will subscribed to your mail list as well as any other privacy notes.
This can be key in preventing your emails from being marked as spam as well as reassuring them that you won't share their email address and that they can unsubscribe at any time.
Next, create an email marketing campaign with automation that is triggered immediately after an eligible subscriber is added to your list. Within the email, create a large and obvious call to action button that links to the file URL from your file manager.
You can then trigger your email marketing system to automatically send an email to those who sign up to the list and that provides a large, clear button that links directly to the file. Consider including some of the colors and/or graphics in the email that you developed for your guide and centerpiece content, so that the recipient recognizes the ‘branding’ in the email and recalls what it is that they signed up for.
The simplest way to store your PDF file is to use your Shopify account to host the file.
To do this, upload the PDF file to your file manager in Shopify and make note of the FULL URL to the file (it should look something like this: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1234/5678/files/file.pdf?12345678901234567890). Paste this URL as the destination address for the call to action button in your email.
One of the key advantages to distributing your guide via email is that it makes it more likely that potential customers will use a real, functional email address instead of entering something like firstname.lastname@example.org just to get access to your guide.
You also will obviously now have the requester’s email address and know that they have expressed interest and engagement in your site, which can then fuel additional email marketing efforts:
It is important to note that your PDF file will technically be accessible to anyone who has the link — there’s no way to verify they have signed up for the guide or otherwise protect it. It also could appear in search results.
While this may sound like a big issue, there’s a hidden advantage to it — users can easily share the guide with friends. Even though you won’t get the friends’ email addresses directly, if you’ve created good quality content that’s subtly marked with your store name, you could still benefit from the share.
If you’re opting to use pages on your website instead of a PDF to house your content, you’ll want to decide whether this content should be accessible only to users with accounts or simply make them purposefully harder to locate:
However, it’s important to consider whether blocking your guides from search engines or non-members is really worth it.
Not only does this add some code issues, in many cases, having these pages indexed and shown in search results will bring in additional traffic.
While visitors finding your content are not forced to sign up for your email list, in most cases getting that traffic may bring in someone who might be learning about your company for the first time — so why would you turn down those eyeballs?
Another good compromise for this approach is to include an email signup form on each content page. Users who are already registered will simply be ignored by most email providers, while it’s still a good way to try to “catch” the visitors that search engines bring in.
It’s worth noting that, in most cases, protecting your page-based centerpiece will likely be more work than it’s worth — especially given the potential SEO and sharing opportunities.
In addition, given the significant additional issues of using pages for your centerpiece content over a PDF download, as discussed in the previous installment of this series, the file download format is often a preferred method.
In the next in this series of posts, we’ll explore how your main content piece can fuel your blogging, SEO and social media efforts over time.
Be sure to explore this entire series: