Gated content is a common lead capture strategy that you’ve definitely run into before. When a company offers a white paper, case study, infographic or other content, but you’ve got to hand over your email address to get it, that’s gated content.
And we all know that a top goal for marketers is generating leads. So why would you ever use ungated content?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of gated content and how to get as many pairs of eyes on it as possible.
Generating B2B Leads with Gated and Ungated Content
Gated content works by enticing people to trade their email address in exchange for a valuable offer. Ungated content, then, is content that anyone visiting your website can access, whether that’s a blog post, an infographic, or something else.
Gated content is meant to generate leads, while ungated content is good for improving SEO and branding.
Pros and Cons of Gated Content
When someone hands over their email address in exchange for your latest awesome white paper, you’ve got a new lead. Probably one that’s very top-of-funnel, but they have to start somewhere, right?
Usually, filling out the form triggers an automated email that contains the download link for the piece of content in question. If you’re really unlucky (or the contact is truly not interested in anything else from you), they’ll opt back out immediately.
In most cases, though, you’ll have the opportunity to try to nurture them. That’s the main benefit of gated content – you get a shot at a new customer. If you’ve got really great nurturing campaigns for each piece of content, gated content leads can become some of your best customers.
There are other benefits as well. You can tell a bit about a contact just by virtue of what piece of content they converted on. For example, you can infer that leads who convert on “How to Improve On-Page SEO” want to improve their SEO, and focus your nurturing campaigns around that topic.
This also means you can segment your contacts by topic. Whenever you create something awesome that would be of interest to them, send it their way.
There are downsides to gated content, though. For one thing, that awesome content you worked so hard on isn’t doing your SEO any good. It also doesn’t improve your brand’s presence or visibility.
Also, any time you require people to fill out a form, even just a simple email address one, you’ll scare people away. People sometimes guard their email address jealously, particularly when it’s a business asking, because they know they’ll get a flurry of nurturing emails if they hand it over.
Mitigating the Downsides of Gated Content
If you want people to fork over their precious email address, you need to convince them that it’s worth it. There needs to be an actionable benefit from your content.
Of course you should use a dedicated landing page that clearly explains what your content offer is and what benefits they’ll gain from downloading it. But you can take that further.
When you’re designing a piece, try this: craft it in a way that enables you to take the first chunk of it and give it away for free without giving everything away. That way you can hand people some value for free as an incentive to download the full piece.
That means your content needs to be strong from start to finish. In your free version, include the full version’s table of contents, but grey out everything that’s not in the public one. Add a “included in full version” disclaimer on that page, too, so people get a taste of what they’re missing.
Give them the introduction and the first point or two, or even the first half of the piece. If it’s relevant and valuable, they’ll at least seriously consider converting.
If you’re going to give away a large chunk of your gated content as a public incentive, ensure that the most compelling and interesting bits are only available by converting.
Gated Content Ideas
Need inspiration for what sort of content to create and gate? Here are some content types that are ideal for gating.
A white paper is possibly the most typical sort of gated content. A white paper is an in-depth report on a specific topic by an authoritative expert (that’s you). White papers make great gated content because they’re densely packed with valuable information.
eBooks are likewise popular choices for gating. They’re like white papers, but shorter. A good eBook provides an easily-accessible, quick-but-informative resource, whereas a white paper is generally longer and more detailed.
Another thing you can do is provide a useful tool or template. A pre-designed analytical spreadsheet that handles the bulk of the heavy lifting, for example, is a highly valuable resource, since it actively saves time. If all they have to do is plug their metrics or other data in to get a useful report, that’s going to net you some new leads for sure.
A particularly well-designed infographic or checklist might make for great gated content, too. However, these sorts of pieces are more suited to remaining ungated, as they’re prime targets for sharing – which gets your brand out there more effectively.
Building Your Audience
If you’ve got awesome gated content, you want as many people to see it (or at least its landing page) as possible. One easy way to do that is to add CTAs for it on your website’s home page, product page, or whatever is most relevant to the content itself.
However, if you really want to get eyeballs on your content, consider sending an email lead generation (ELG) campaign.
ELG is an excellent way to get the word out to a huge volume of targeted contacts. Think about it: a campaign to a hundred thousand targeted B2B contacts about your latest white paper is going to generate more clicks than just hoping people find it.
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