What is gated content and how can you make it work for you?
If you’ve been consistent with an inbound marketing campaign, then you’ve put a lot of thought and time into creating content that is valuable to your potential customers. And you’ve distributed that content on your blog and social media pages for free, trusting it will payoff in the long run.
But what if your audience actually gave you something concrete in return for your content offerings?
This is where gated content comes in - the practice of asking website visitors to tell you a little bit about themselves in exchange for your valuable content.
Gated content can take many forms, including videos, spreadsheets, and ebooks. Since you’re asking for something in return, it’s a smart move to up the value of the content beyond what you’re distributing for free around the web.
Before venturing into the world of gated content for inbound marketing, ask yourself these four questions to help guide you toward a successful program.
1) What are you asking for?
The “gate” in gated content is typically a form on your website that visitors can fill out to access whatever the content offer is. A form can have a dozen fields requesting all sorts of demographic information, career information, twitter handle, etc. Or it can be as simple as asking for an email address.
An email address is the minimum. That’s what you need to establish a relationship with the contact, knowing you are communicating with someone who is interested in your products or services.
More extensive information is valuable, however, as a way to differentiate your leads. Creating sub-categories of your master contact list allows you to increase the relevancy of the content you provide to each segment.
Plus, if someone is willing to share with your company detailed personal information, you know you have a high-quality lead.
A request for too much information can cause people to navigate away from your site, so it is important to strike the right balance.
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Consider what you have to offer, and how much information someone would be willing to give in return. Is it a simple checklist or pdf? A simple contact form should suffice. If you’re giving away something with more information, such as an ebook or in-depth case study then it is appropriate to include a few more information fields.
2) What are you giving up?
Gating your content makes it more difficult to share. Most people won’t post a link to content that has a form in front of it, so distribution is far more limited than the inbound marketing blogs you are sharing.
The tradeoff is that, while fewer people will see your gated content, you know the people who do are, in fact, interested in your company and have a better chance of converting to customers down the line.
3) Are there pitfalls to gating content?
Avoid putting a gate in front of content that isn’t worthy of it. If you are creating a lot of ungated blogs, it’s unwise to simply pick one of those to use as gated content.
Gated content should take a different form and go a little deeper into what you have to offer as a company.
Asking visitors to exchange their contact information for a piece of content that is similar to what you have already distributed for free could create a negative reaction.
4) Is there a modified approach?
Marketers have been experimenting with semi-gated content approaches that retain social amplification opportunities while still enticing people to share their contact information.
One such technique is employing a short descriptive “tease” of your gated content. This snippet remains ungated and more versatile than the gated content it describes.
Not only can you optimize your teaser text with SEO-related keywords for your website, you can also use it to promote your gated content through social media posts and ads. This ungated tease may attract more people to download your gated content than a purely gated model.
Another hybrid approach is to freely distribute the meat of what would be your gated webinar, ebook or other gated content, but within it, entice your audience to share their contact information in exchange for supplementals to the original piece.
In this way, you are retaining the SEO and shareability of your content, while using it as a basis to offer little gated add-ons and supplements.
Whatever your approach, an inbound marketing campaign is not complete without gated content that can attract qualified leads. Understanding its nuances will set you up for success when gating content and seeking leads.
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