How do I Create Downloadable Content? [Best Practices]

Create Downloadable Content

How do I Create Downloadable Content? [Best Practices]

Offering downloadable content is a cost-effective way for you to boost awareness, build an email list, and gain subscribers and/or customers. The right downloadable content, like a suite of templates for social media platforms, can drive engagement with your brand. But what kind of content will be exciting enough to get immediate downloads — and get people buzzing about your offers?

We have some ideas, but before we explore those, here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind when creating and offering downloadable content:

First, give a preview of the content using strong visuals and a to-the-point title or slogan

  • Here’s one of our downloadable templates — notice the clear CTA and compelling image.

Content Giveaway Template

Second, keep the requirements and form for accessing your downloadable content brief and easy to complete

  • Only ask for the minimum amount of information needed to access the content. Typing on a mobile device (which is how a growing number of people access the web) can be tough, so don’t ask for too much detail.
  • Mark all fields as ‘required’ to ensure you have all the information you want.

Third, get broad distribution and make sharing straightforward

  • Use email and social media platforms to make announcements and point people to your content.
  • Consider including a unique, shareable URL to help you track clicks and downloads so you can measure effectiveness.

Content Giveaway Template

Make Your Downloadable Content REALLY Effective

Best practices for creating downloadable content cover three fundamental areas: exclusivity, value, and quality.

Create Content for Your VIPs

Drawing people to your downloadable content starts by including an element of exclusivity in your offer. We may deny we’re compelled by FOMO, but truthfully, no one wants to be second (or last!) to get cool stuff.


Phrases such as ‘The latest news just for you’ or ‘First access’ can appeal to your audience’s desire to be chosen first and receive special consideration.

People are more likely to engage with you because you value them and they also might be more likely to share with friends to ‘show off’ their exclusive status.

Deliver Value

Downloadable content should always have value or purpose for your audience — whether it’s access to your latest song or to a guide that contains valuable information.

A template guide, for example — like ours shown below — saves your audience time by allowing them to incorporate their specific details into a ready-made format.

It also allows you gather to emails to use for future marketing efforts.

Plus, a short, useful ‘appetizer’ of your capabilities may generate additional hunger for more from you — building trust in your capabilities.

Downloadable Content Template

High Quality = High Engagement

You’ve generated excitement and promised something useful – now it’s time to deliver and meet those expectations.

This third best practice centers in the functionality of your downloadable content – you want to make sure it looks good and is easy to access.

Here’s a page from our Ultimate Facebook Template Guide. We’ve provided clear directions and illustrations of a Facebook layout, and included a link so users can easily download the template and get started.

Ultimate Facebook Template Guide

Use this checklist to ensure you deliver quality downloadable content:

  • Image: does it help clarify the content? Is it crisp and clear? Is it sized for easy viewing — on any device?
  • Text: is it readable? Does it have a concise CTA? Do links work quickly?
  • Documents: is download time short? Can documents be easily saved?
  • Video / Audio: is it clear?

Ideas for Compelling Downloadable Content

We’ve already showcased digital songs or templates as examples of effective downloadable content. Here are some other ideas to spark your creativity:

  • Coupons — we explored digital coupons that convert in this post – take a look for more details about how downloadable coupons can boost engagement.
  • Branded Wallpaper — an exclusive image linked to your brand can boost awareness and help your fans feel valued.
  • Lists — we love lists — top movies, best vacation spots, things not to do on a first date, things to do on a job interview, and the list goes on! If you have a list related to your brand, offer it as downloadable content to your audience to help them become one of your experts.
  • Checklists — building on the idea of lists, consider offering helpful guidelines (with a bit of humor thrown in) related to your brand or your business.  For example, an outdoor clothing company may offer a checklist for newbie campers to help with planning. A candy company may provide a children’s party — planning checklist. A marketing company could offer a checklist that outlines how to build a successful marketing campaign. 
  • Instructions — our template is one type of downloadable instruction. You can also provide ‘how-to’ content related to your business in text or video form—showing how to use your app, how to mix-and-match your brand’s clothing items, or how to use your food product in recipes.

Great downloadable content generates likes, comments, shares…and downloads! Talk with our team about ways you can build exciting digital downloads.

Try a ShortStack template to create your first contest quickly and  easily

No credit card required. Risk-free.

Jessica Ann
jessica@jessicaannmedia.com

Jessica Ann is the Founder and Creative Director of Jessica Ann Media, a content marketing agency that humanizes business for Fortune 500 companies and top-tier brands. She's a digital native with a writing background, specializing in creating content at the intersection of marketing, business, and technology for the media. She has pioneered new content initiatives at top brands like Sirius XM Radio, Adobe, and Getty Images. Her book, Humanize Your Brand, is available on Amazon and Audible. You can reach Jessica Ann on Twitter or Instagram: @itsjessicann or on her blog. Read more articles by Jessica Ann.