How free is a free download?

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Don’t always believe the word “free”.

I often see interesting-looking content offered as “free”, but fronted with a registration form to download. Forgive me, but my contact data has value; and insisting on an exchange of value means the content is NOT free.

A principle of content marketing (as an element of an Inbound Marketing strategy) is that you “put content out there” so that you nurture relationships with potential customers, and they will get to know you, leading them to trust you with their business.

Yet, and somewhat ironically, some organisations think it’s a good strategy to offer their “Free Top Tips for Content Marketing” for the exchange of the reader’s contact data, when similar content is available – genuinely for free – from numerous other blogs or websites.

Asking for contact data, for such non-premium content, indicates that they probably don’t understand Content Marketing themselves, and are perhaps being cheeky to pitch themselves as experts.

Critically, it can devalue their brand.

There are exceptions. For example, if an industry analyst has devoted significant time and costly effort to produce a research paper of true commercial value, then that document, and extracts from it, can justify an exchange of value (even real money) for its download. It’s premium content, and a purchasable product in its own right. In fact, any content that offers real knowledge or insight, uniqueness, or opportunities for me or my business, has value.

So for those “expert Content Marketing folk” who insist on registration for non-premium or trivial content, how about showing how it’s really supposed to be done?

Also, be up-font and say “register now to download”, rather than “get you FREE download”.

For sure, organisations don’t get my contact data for non-premium content and I won’t be rushing to using any of their services. But I will exchange my contact data for content that is unique or special – and whose value is equivalent or greater than the value I place in my contact data.