Generating leads from content marketing is a key cornerstone for business success. Content marketers spend lots of time and resources in putting together their content strategy- the content types and topics they’ll cover including its projected reach, the promotions etc.
One ongoing raging debate about content is whether to have gated content or not; and if yes, to what extent.
Here is a look at how gated content can add value to marketing endeavors by helping boost B2B conversions.
But first, what is Gated Content?
Gated content is content which is “locked” behind a gate. Users can access the content only after they provide their contact information. When a user clicks on the content link, he or she is typically directed to a “lead capture form”, which has to be filled in to proceed further and actually access the content. The content in itself is free to access for viewers, yet due to this intermediary step, they may perceive gated content as a “nuisance” to free information.
Content gating may steer away potential leads. However, from a business perspective, gated content can prove to be an asset if used wisely.
That is the bottomline- “if used wisely”, and how you go about gating your content is closely related to the marketing and sales funnel.
So how can content marketers build an optimum gated content strategy to align with overall business goals? And when should they use gated content?
There always seems to be a tug of war between securing more “likes and follows” versus real lead generation, when it comes to content creation and marketing. It is clear that leaving your useful content freely accessible to all will create more views and followers, but this may hamper lead conversions.
If you aren't tracking your traffic using tools, there is no other way to capture the lead details of those who come to your website and follow up for possible future conversions.
While it is good to build brand awareness and increase views through ungated content, at some point it is essential for B2B marketers to filter out the mere “browsers” and generate quality leads through content gating.
Here is a look at the marketing funnel and where and how gating your content can foster effective lead generation:
- Awareness Stage: In this initial phase the potential client is not aware of your business, and is simply browsing around for potential solutions to a problem. To make yourself visible, ungated content is essential at this stage.
- Consideration Stage: The potential client has sifted through potential solution providers and is in the process of conducting deeper research and assessing each of their expertise, core offerings etc. This is when the shift to content gating plays its part- it helps convince the prospect of your leadership position, expertise, commitment and continuous engagement on the subject of his/her interest.
- Decision Stage: How the gated content and engagement “influences” the decision shall add on to the final decision of the potential client.
While the marketing funnel is just one stage-wise consideration for gated content, how you as a business choose to use gated content will also vary depending on the nature of business, stage of business, marketing budgets, content expertise etc. It is important to assess the pros and cons of gated content before deciding to what extent one wishes to engage with it.
A few Pros and Cons of Gated Content
- Gated content can be the stepping stone to prospect relationships because it provides the opportunity to engage with them and understand them better. The landing page can be built to capture information which helps in segmenting the audience, thereby allowing you to deliver targeted marketing content and collaterals at a later stage. This opportunity to better customize your offerings can open up newer avenues.
- Gated content immediately filters out less interested users who are just browsing, thereby increasing the probability for lead conversions.
- Gated content shows that you are a genuine expert and leader in your space, and hence you are providing truly valuable insights for potential customers to apply and solve their real-world problems. It can thus help create more respect and patronage for your business.
- Gated content can be annoying for those who do not wish to part with information and thereby restrict the reach of your valuable content.
- Gated content restricts inbound links, social shares and page ads, and can be a deterrent to gaining visibility due to limited SEO friendliness.
- Gated content is sometimes believed to be a “roadblock” to free information flow, an antithesis in today’s digital age.
How to build Gated Content Landing Page?
The most common method of gating your content is to use email forms and subscription gates for building gated content. There are a number of agencies that help you build this. However, another contemporary way of content gating is to enable social logins, rather than online form-fills. This is not only less annoying for the user, but provides you a much deeper insight into the potential customer through access to his or her social accounts.
However, having the right privacy policies in place is necessary in this case.
Gated Content Best Practices
While both gated and ungated content have their pros and cons, the answer lies in unleashing the pros, while minimizing the cons. This calls for a dual-strategy i.e. a mix of gated and ungated content. This means building brand awareness and reach using freely available ungated content, and fortifying this position of expertise by making available authoritative, highly valuable gated content.
Some best practices in making gated content deliver the ultimate objective i.e. lead conversions are:
- Start with the niche: Certain hardcore knowledge resources which have been built from accumulated niche expertise such as eBooks, reports, whitepapers and guides are a good starting point to introduce gated content to your B2B website. The chances of drawing new leads and conversions are high for such niche expertise-led content. Another approach is to create checklists, cheat sheets, and “instantly usable” quick-reads related to your core business, which are sure to attract interested prospects.
- Offer as an “upgrade”: Place gated content on top of ungated content, as a valuable knowledge “upgrade”. This can help accelerate the movement of users from the “Awareness” to “Consideration” to “Decision” phase.
- Partner with influencers: Building a pitch outlining the mutual win-win, and associate it with allied social media influencers in the same space.
- Stick to your core content: When it comes to curating gated content, it must provide incremental value compared to ungated content. Make sure gated content focuses on your core business offerings with the best of insights and expertise through highly engaging formats. Gated content must help establish you as an industry leader.
- Choose the right formats: Whether it is e-books, live webinars, comprehensive blogs, reports, whitepapers, or free online courses, choose the right content type which adds value to the users and is engaging.
- Market gated content separately: Use email outreach, social media, comments and likes on related content etc. to promote your niche gated content.
An Ongoing Commitment to Gated Content
Gated content needs to be treated differently, not only from a content curation perspective, but also from a content marketing perspective. Any gated content strategy requires focused attention and analysis from time to time, to ensure that it delivers on its much touted objectives. This means periodically measuring and analyzing its outcomes.
- Continuously test the effectiveness of your gated-ungated content mix by carrying out A/B tests.
- Measure for lead generation, lead conversions, likes and follows, downloads, subscriptions, etc. for both gated and ungated content types and take a decision on the optimum mix based on your content strategy and objectives.
Eventually any B2B content marketing initiative, whether gated or ungated, must tie into the overall business strategy and help achieve the business goals, whether it is new lead generation, more visibility or anything else.