In the early days of the Internet, publishers with paid-subscriber business models struggled with whether to offer free content at their websites, fearful that offering free content might devalue or undermine efforts to monetize valuable premium content.
Such fears quickly dissolved when online publishers realized that having some free and open content allows search engines to find and index the content—and if the content is engaging and properly formatted, Google will highly rank your content for keyword phrases that online searchers are using to find relevant search results.
Next for online publishers came the debate about how much free content to offer online—and how to present it so that the content is appealing to search engines and to site visitors. Well, our Mequoda Haven WordPress System solves all these issues and allows publishers to optimize content for attracting new site visitors and to capture email addresses for building your list—all without devaluing your valuable premium content.
And having a FREE Report Homepage is a key content strategy for publishers who want to attract new site visitors, engage existing customers, and capture email addresses to build your list.
Cabot Wealth Network’s (CWN) FREE Report Homepage promotes free reports that are derived from valuable content about personal investment strategies. With this In-Depth Tutorial, we’ll review CWN’s FREE Report Homepage to assess their success in presenting content to get indexed by search engines, capture the email addresses of new site visitors, and engage readers with compelling and helpful advice.
First, a little bit about Cabot Wealth Network: Founded in 1970, Cabot Wealth Network is one of the oldest and most respected independently owned financial advisory services in the U.S., with high-quality investment reports and advisory services that serve millions of individual investors and investing professionals in 141 countries. Established as a trusted independent source, Cabot Wealth Network helps anyone who wants to take control of their investments and learn about the best strategies that match their investing style.
Now, let’s look at Cabot Wealth Network’s FREE Report Homepage, and we’ll review it based on our checklist of core components to help you design a page that highlights your expertise, showcases your content, captures the email addresses of new site visitors, and engages all your readers.
FREE Report Homepage
First, you should know that a Mequoda-style FREE Report Homepage is an index page for housing your free reports or other free downloads—think brief, yet compelling; valuable, without giving away too much; and items that are topic-specific and solve burning issues for site visitors and customers.
The FREE Report Homepage is your library of available free items—for new site visitors to access when they hand over their email address and opt in to regular email communications from you. And, with the conditional site architecture of Mequoda’s Haven WordPress System, known logged-in users can access any of the free reports with a click of the mouse—a great engagement play!
Creating valuable and successful free downloads is dependent upon:
- Making your free report topic-specific and aligned with an identified primary keyword phrase (that you know your target audience searches for)
- Including the primary keyword phrase in your free report’s title
- Creating a free report title that is appealing and also conveys benefits
- Writing a free report that is lengthy enough to engage readers—3,000-10,000 words is a typical range, but some publishers successfully deploy simple one-page “checklists” that also resonate with prospect audiences
- Including an introduction, typically 250-300 words—even a simple one-page checklist download needs some explanation and introduction!
- Presenting your free report in a visually appealing way—create a “cover image” that is easy to read and not cluttered with distracting or unnecessary graphics
CWN’s FREE Report Homepage checks all the boxes when it comes to deploying a successful page! And persistent top-of-page main navigation allows page visitors to easily navigate to other sections of the CWN website at any moment.
CWN’s FREE Report Homepage begins with some introductory copy—first, some high-level instruction about sharing the page with family, friends, and colleagues (yet another way to help build the email list!). Then, with a collapsible “READ MORE” link, readers can open a lengthier description about the nature of the free reports that are accessible on this page. This copy is about 750 words in length and has been optimized for keyword phrases to attract organic traffic. And we know from source tracking that this page generates a healthy chunk of new email subscribers to CWN’s list!
Grid-Style Listing of FREE Reports
CWN’s FREE Report Homepage clearly displays the available free reports in a grid-style tiled format. Previous iterations of this page included displaying the reports in list-style format with short descriptions—after testing, this new grid-style tiled format is a winner, allowing page visitors to see more of the choices without having to scroll. And with report titles that clearly convey the topic of each report, page visitors can quickly find what they need.
Free reports on CWN’s FREE Report Homepage are listed in order of most popular to least popular. The 5 Best Stocks to Buy [current month] report is the most popular free report for Cabot Wealth Network and always snags the #1 top-left position in the grid on this page.
For new, unknown non-logged-in visitors, clicking on any report’s cover image will take users to a brief Rapid Conversion Landing Page (RCLP) that explains the content and purpose of the corresponding report—and where users can continue to an order flow to get access. Clicking on the “GET MY FREE REPORT” order button takes users to an order flow for capturing email address and eventually entitling users to report access. For known logged-in users, clicking on any of these elements will always take users to immediate access to the reports. And each report page is presented in HTML format, with the option to download the reports as a PDF.
Right Rail Elements: FREE Report of the Month, Media Mentions, FREE E-Letter Sign Up, Categories/Topics, FREE Reports, and Testimonial
At the top of the right rail (or the “sidebar” for you print-focused readers) of CWN’s FREE Report Homepage, page visitors will see CWN’s ever-popular 5 Best Stocks to Buy [current month] free report. While this free report is also featured in the grid to the left of the rail, because it’s the most popular free report, CWN tested featuring it at the top of the right rail with moving imagery of “NEW!” in a red starburst that catches readers’ eyes by moving back and forth across the rail’s column. The test was successful, and this deployment is a great way to overcome “right-rail blindness”—the occurrence of page visitors who might have information overload and train themselves to ignore site elements that seem unimportant or look like advertising.
Next in the right rail on CWN’s FREE Report Homepage, page visitors will see logos of media outlets that have featured Cabot Wealth Network. When displaying recognizable names and logos—and you can do this for relevant industry media outlets in your space—inspires confidence in page visitors, giving credibility to your brand and your content.
Next in the right rail on CWN’s FREE Report Homepage is a widget that promotes signing up for Cabot Wealth Network’s FREE Daily e-letter—just another way to get access to all the free reports and start receiving email communications from CWN.
Further down the right rail on CWN’s FREE Report Homepage is a full listing of the primary categories or topics that they cover, in alphabetical order. Clicking on any of the categories/topics will take visitors to a full index page of daily posts for the particular category/topic, with content displayed in reverse chronological order.
Next in the right rail on CWN’s FREE Report Homepage is a full listing, with clickable links, to all the free reports CWN offers—the same reports featured in the grid; this is just another way to navigate to each report. Page visitors can navigate to any or all of these reports and download them as PDFs—new visitors will have to hand over their email address to get the reports, and already-registered users will simply be able to read and download each and every report!
At the bottom of the right rail on CWN’s FREE Report Homepage is a testimonial from a customer about Cabot Wealth Network’s terrific content and one of their expert analysts. Having a customer testimonial—like the media mentions—is another way to convey authority, inspire confidence, and get page visitors to continue to engage with the content.
Circulation-Builder Emails to Promote FREE Reports
CWN’s FREE Report Homepage isn’t a “build-it-and-they-will-come” proposition—besides attracting organic traffic because the page is optimized for search, actively promoting the reports to CWN’s own email list is another key strategy of creating importance and awareness of their free reports. Driving existing customers back to free reports—and encouraging recipients to forward emails and share—is a great way to engage with existing customers promoting value and to build your email list’s circulation when current customers share.
Continuous improvement should be part of all business processes—including the design and function of your FREE Report Homepage. But this page is a stalwart at any Mequoda Haven WordPress site, and it’s value and importance means making any changes should be done judiciously and with proper testing.
For CWN’s FREE Report Homepage, here are some ideas for testing and improvement that might enhance the user experience and improve performance:
- Test varying report covers, to lessen graphics and enhance copy presentation
- Test including short descriptive “mouse-over” copy when users hover over a report cover
- Include more testimonials at the bottom of the right rail—or link to a library of all customer testimonials
CWN’s FREE Report Homepage is a shining example of how to highlight your expertise, showcase your content, and entice site visitors to engage with your brand and products.
Here’s a performance checklist you can use, to ensure your own FREE Report Homepage follows Mequoda’s current best practices!
Mequoda’s FREE Report Homepage Checklist
|FREE Report Homepage||Does your site have a FREE Report Homepage, featuring all your available free downloads?|
|Page Introduction||Does your FREE Report Homepage include introduction copy that has been SEO'd for your primary keyword phrases?|
|Grid-Style Tiled Format||Are your free reports featured in grid-style tiled format, sequenced from most popular to least popular?|
|FREE Report Homepage Right Rail||Does your right rail include a top-of-rail ad for your most popular free report?|
|Does your right rail include important media mentions?|
|Does your right rail include an option for signing up for your FREE e-letter (an alternative way to get access to free reports)?|
|Does your right rail include a full listing of all your primary categories/topics?|
|Does your right rail include a full listing of all your free reports or downloads?|
|Does your right rail include customer testimonials?|
|FREE Report Circulation-Builder Email||Do you regularly promote your free reports—singularly and in mega-style formats—by email?|
© 2021 Mequoda Systems, LLC
Bottom Line: If you want to create an engaging and effective FREE Report Homepage—just like CWN’s—follow this checklist, and you’ll have a great starting place for creating a compelling, practical, and usable page.