Content List Building: How to Use Great Cookie Content
One of the best ways to grow your email list is to create “cookie content” – also known as bait, incentives, and other names – to make your readers want to sign up to the email list.
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This is a great idea in theory, but often fails in practice. The reason is fairly simple. Most bloggers look around, see that everyone else is advertising cookie content, think “Gee, I’d better do that too,” and then put together a five or ten page document that doesn’t really address the reader’s wants or concerns.
If your free ebook looks like every other free ebook out there, or if it doesn’t address anything the reader actually wants to know, then why would they download it?
Despite this being a common trap that bloggers fall in to, it’s very easy to avoid. Here’s some tips for coming up with amazing cookie content that will actually grow your list.
- Find out what readers want to know. If you have to, create a survey (Google Docs and SurveyMonkey are both free) and ask your readers what they want to know more about. Keep it short to maximize reader responses – under five questions, four multiple choice and one where they can write whatever they want, is a good length.
- Fill a gap. Look at what other bloggers in your niche have covered over and over again with their free ebooks or reports, and see if there’s a gap in information that hasn’t been filled yet. You could write your ebook from a different angle, or cover questions that other bloggers have left out. This helps differentiate you in a sea of similarities.
- Have good design. Most bloggers treat design as an afterthought, especially with their free content. Because of this, if you take the time to make sure that your free content is easy on the eyes, you’ll stand out quite a bit. You can hire a designer if you want, but even that isn’t necessary – just spruce things up a bit. Nobody wants to read 10+ pages of 11 point font in a PDF. It’s boring. Another great thing about paying attention to the design is that you can make sure to brand the content so that the colors and design match your website, creating a unified experience for readers.
- Above all: make it great. Remember, part of the goal with cookie content is to show subscribers that you can create amazing content, content that’s worth paying for, so that they’ll be more likely to pay for actual products down the line. For some reason, many bloggers ignore this fact and make half-hearted attempts at cookie content. If a reader signs up to your email list and receives a free ebook that’s badly designed, full of typos, and doesn’t tell them anything new or anything they need to know, do you think that leaves a good impression? Definitely not. If anything, you probably just stole a potential customer from yourself.