2 February 2017
There has been a tremendous push to provide customers and prospects with as much content as possible. But what is the objective here?
For marketers, the push for ‘free information’ is as much about generating new leads as it is to provide essential product information that can push website visitors and browsers from potential buyers into making a direct sales decision.
This is why the debate around whether to ‘gate ‘or leave access to purpose created content such as whitepapers, PDF downloads, industry related articles, videos and other valuable research has amped up in recent years. There are a number of pros and cons in each camp. Ultimately, it is about finding a balance between attaining useful lead information as well as creating real value for your audiences – enough that they will consider your brand as memorable, expert and trustworthy enough to engage in business.
Why Gated Content Works…
‘Click here to obtain download your free e-book’ – an enticing offer? This is a common way that companies look to add value for their prospects or customers. How then will a potential customer respond when greeted with a screen prompting them to submit details before accessing the content? This is the gated experience. For the most part, it is a seemingly fair exchange. Details such as email address and name are shared and the customer is aware that they will begin receiving updates, newsletters, all traded in a click to receive the e-book or content.
There are 2 primary reasons why gating your content is a winning strategy:
You can collect lead information: Hooray! As a marketer this is cause for celebration. You now have valuable lead information. In a lot of cases (and depending on the details of your form or landing page) you can gain insights into these leads by industry, or perhaps the name of the organisation they are working for.
The conversion rate on target leads is increased: Prospects who have gone to the trouble to fill out a form have a stronger level of interest and engagement with your brand. It is this group with whom you have now developed the beginnings of a relationship, and who are more likely to convert into direct sales. They are also more likely to warm further with targeted communications and contact.
Where Public Content Excels…
Rather than talk about the reasons why gated content may not be ideal, lets talk about the features and benefits of providing content in a more public and freely accessible domain.
Increased reach and audience: Research indicates that up to 90% of visitors to your website are lost and deterred due to gating content. When content is freely accessible, this allows visitors to develop that all-important relationship with your brand. For some, if drawn in using an organic search, this could be the very first time they’ve met your brand. Without the barrier of a landing page, those that have enjoyed your content will be more likely to share across social media and email.
Higher website traffic and SEO value: Something that search engines value – the addition of new and quality content, especially that which can be downloaded and shared – with a high page engagement score (i.e. low bounce rate), will simultaneously bring in more web traffic and improve your SEO rankings. So pay attention to the keywords you decide to use when positing content!
The arguments for both are clear. More use of un-gated content in lead generation campaigns is a good idea. At the same time gated content in some instances will perform better. It’s important to recognise when it is worth making your content gated, and when the providing public content will provide a better outcome. We will flesh this out more in a follow-up post.
Where you do decide to design gated content, the best practice is to not scare or intimidate you prospect with a lengthy form. Painless, quick and easy is the key to keeping them engaged. Building a relationship is what is of the most important.
If you’ve been thinking about how you can engage customers and prospects with a creative content campaign, get in touch with the team at MIH.