How to Make a Content Download Worth Downloading

When you’re offering a downloadable content offer in exchange for contact information, you’ve got a tightrope to walk. 

These offers and the landing pages they reside on exist for a simple reason: so businesses can obtain valuable information from prospective customers (usually name and email address, at the very least) and these prospects can in turn receive a piece of valuable content that helps them fulfill a specific need. The more in-depth or valuable the content is, the more information is requested from these prospects. You wouldn’t offer a white paper analyzing a year-long study and only ask for an email address, after all. It’s a give and get situation for both parties, and when broken down like this, sounds like a relatively easy win for everyone.

Of course, when you look a little bit closer, the question of what kind of content your audience will find worth giving over their contact information for becomes incredibly important. What makes sense as a downloadable piece? If you’re going to gate a piece of content, then there has to be a good reason.

Imagine you’re one of your prospects. If you see a form blocking your access to a piece of content, you know it’s because that particular organization wants your contact info so that they can contact you via email. Your audience can’t feel like they’re giving this information away just to be hassled later;  i.e. you can’t just bundle a few similarly themed blogs together and call it a day. Those already exist – ungated – on your website. There has to be some real value here.

So how do you do this? A few key factors go into making a content offer worth downloading. They are:


Your content download can’t just be a one-off. By that, I mean you don’t want your audience to submit their info, open the download, glance at it for a minute then close out, never to come back to it again. It has to have valuable information or fulfill a that has them coming back. You want your audience to feel like they can’t believe they got this for free. A good example of this would be design templates or a checklist that makes a complex task a little bit easier.


In a lot of cases, your content download should be something that encourages them to immediately perform some sort of action. Something like an editorial calendar, for example, is created for the purpose of helping your audience sketch out a long-term plan for their content. There are some exceptions here, but overall, an actionable piece of content is something your audience will feel is worth exchanging their basic contact information to receive.


It seems simple, but a content download better look good. Lacking design, to the point where it appears as though your organization took the easy way out – say just converting a word document to a PDF and calling it a day – is not going to leave downloaders feeling like handing out their information was exactly worth it.

Trusted Data

Pieces of content that are not explicitly actionable, like a white paper or research report, are usually presented as gated content. This is for a few reasons, the most notable being that this information can be tough to consume in a standard blog setting since it’s usually more technical in nature and, as simple as it sounds, your audience would probably like to print this all out and have it look official. Presenting information in a format like this adds credibility to your research.

Always Gated

If you notice that a content topic is particularly difficult to find ungated information on, then you know this information is shared at a premium. Your audience will already expect to have to give some contact information to receive this type of content.

A piece of content that meets one or more of these qualifications is likely a good candidate to be presented as a gated downloadable content offer. To further help you determine what makes a good downloadable offer, here are three examples that we think do a great job highlighting these factors.

CoSchedule’s Editorial Calendar

How to Make a Content Download Worth Downloading

What it is: An editorial calendar template that includes an annual calendar for bigger organization goals, a monthly calendar, a structured note sheet for brainstorming and a guide to help users set up their own editorial calendar

Why it works: This editorial calendar download checks a lot of boxes for what goes into making a content download successful. For one, it’s an actionable item. Visitors who download this will be able to immediately put it into use. It’s also extremely reusable. There’s no reason why a customer can’t go back to this calendar again and again. It even comes with its own white paper that thoroughly explains how to best use the calendar. To tie a ribbon on the whole offer, the content is delivered in a clean, very well designed package. It makes you actually want to use the calendar, which is saying something.

HubSpot’s Infographic Templates

How to Make a Content Download Worth Downloading

What it is: A collection of free, editable PowerPoint infographics from HubSpot which also includes slides walking users through how to edit each template.

Why it works: This solves a real need for businesses who may not have the internal capabilities or time to design their own infographics. The collection of infographics are well designed with bright colors and engaging layouts, and are also very flexible. You can easily see how most organizations should be able to make their information fit into the templates with some minor tweaks. The attached slide walking users through how to edit each has value outside of these infographics as well, as it indirectly teaches users how to use PowerPoint in a more sophisticated manner. This could obviously pay dividends down the road. As with the editorial calendar, this is a well-designed, actionable and reusable content download whose format is perfectly geared toward users who likely don’t possess high powered graphic designing programs.

Nielsen’s State of the Media: Audio Today 2017

How to Make a Content Download Worth Downloading

What it is: A whitepaper with tons of information on how American consumers prefer to consume audio content and how this affects the marketing efforts of businesses.

Why it works: This is a classic example of the research and information heavy white paper. When someone goes to download a white paper, they expect a lot of statistics, graphs and other information which can be used in a wide-ranging manner – whether it be as research for campaign proposals, a source for a blog post or quick infographics. This download is also very clean and well designed. It’s easy to see how users could screenshot various charts within this download, share the information and credit it all back to Nielsen.

When thinking about designing your next content offer, use these examples to guide your thinking. Remember, above all else you want your users to walk away feeling like the information you asked them to give up to receive the download was worth it. If you follow these steps, it should be.