In today’s marketplace, as much as 80% of B2B content is gated. What does that mean? To gate means that specific contact information is required to access content such as a white paper, article, video, ebook or case study. This information usually consists of a name, email address, company, title and possibly a phone number. We’ve all seen it, and most likely, we’ve given up some personal information in exchange for a bit of content. But how does gating affect the success and outreach of the specific content marketing asset, let alone the total marketing strategy? Here are the pros and cons of gating content on your website to help determine your decision.
A Gate to Lead Generation
The most obvious reason to gate content is to capture information from visitors and use it to develop leads. For example, an individual from the XYZ Company downloads your white paper on email marketing strategy. Now you have vital information on who that prospect is and what he or she is interested in. It makes it easier for salespeople to have conversations when they know an interest and need already exist. In other words, gated content is extremely effective for populating your database with unique buyer personas.
Open For Brand Awareness
But gated information can turn some visitors away. As soon as an article or whitepaper is locked behind a form, the read rate automatically goes down. This is in direct contrast with the goal of using content as a marketing tool for developing brand awareness. Putting all of your content behind a closed door means there is no organic search or SEO to guide readers to your thought leadership. In this context, an ungated blog also is more likely to be shared on social media and go viral than a link to a gated article.
The goal of ungated content is to cast a wide net that will build website traffic. The traffic may or may not consist of qualified leads. The good news though is at least your brand is reaching people, even if they’re anonymous. Gated content narrows the field. While many of us have our information plastered all over the internet, it’s not easy to convince prospects to hand out private contact info. Some readers will simply turn away. That said, those individuals who decide to offer up their info in exchange for your expertise truly are interested in the knowledge your company has to share.
Not Everything Should Be “Free”
Blogs, infographics, videos and other forms of free content are great for putting your company’s name on the map. They consist of meaningful and relevant material that your target audience can use. But what about in-depth content that is particularly important? An eight-page white paper on how to create an effective SEO strategy is more valuable than a 500-word blog on SEO tips. Something so curated shouldn’t necessarily be handed out for “free.” While there is no monetary exchange for such significant thought leadership, the tradeoff is information about the reader. This provides your organization with vital data to nurture leads. Additionally, it informs the reader that this material is essential enough not to hand out for free. It gives them a taste for what expertise and diligence they can expect from your firm should they choose you as a business partner.
Different Keys For Different Gates
Most gated content consists of a form that requires contact information. Once the form is completed, an email with a download link is sent automatically to the visitor. Keep the data form short and sweet to help ease prospects into your content without friction. If more information is desired, break the form up into multiple parts. The form should be accompanied by a descriptive summary of the content they’re about to download. This should include both the features and the expected outcomes they can hope to achieve. Additionally, the gate doesn’t always have to come at the beginning. The alternative is to put it on the back end. While it may seem counterintuitive, giving the reader an option to provide their information after consuming the all or a portion of the content they came for is a great way to understand which prospects are truly interested. Whether you’re giving them the option to learn more, receive updates about similar content or access the remaining content, prospects who are genuinely intrigued will be willing to share.
Gated Content: It’s A Balancing Act
The key to utilizing gated content is finding the right balance. Ungated content is necessary to increase brand awareness, encourage sharing and website traffic and improve SEO. Gated content is a vital tool for lead generation and populating your prospect database with new and interested parties. Finding the right balance between which content should be easily sharable and which should be reserved for the most interested prospects can be challenging. But, if done right, it will undoubtedly aid your overall marketing strategy.