Thin Slicing and generating leads from FREE content

March 12, 2015 Asaf Rothem

locked content pic


Common practice for businesses that rely on lead generation calls for gating content behind forms in order to generate the leads. Its a simple exchange of quality content developed by the business in return for contact details. It is possible – though not very common – to generate leads systematically from open, unlocked content as well. Here we will describe the technique to do so.



Open Contnet Benefits

You probably came across some of those posts about this debate, such as this one from back in 2011, in which marketers describe their a/b experiments, two similar content items were presented to the same audience – one was subjected to the common practice of the fill-to-download form. The other was left open with a “voluntary” form or social sharing, filled only by those who chose to do so. Some of these experiments are more famous because the open content “won” – more people left eventually their contact information voluntarily. I personally like this thought quite a bit. But I do think that this is the exception, not the rule. There might be a third way: Dynamic Locking.

Introducing Dynamic Locking

In this method, this content is left open, without any form – neither before it nor voluntary. This means that visitors can find it easily through search engines an read it, as well as navigate to it on the site. The magic here is a dynamic form that appears only when a visitor wants to read this item from another page, through a call to action. The visitor is then redirected to said content, but just before reading it, a form pops up, requesting some information. There are different views as to what converts better – open or gated content. And adding quality of leads would probably further this debate. But key benefits of open content are not to be overlooked: SEO, shareability and getting inbound links to your site from content syndication.

Why you want to turn your prospects into leads (And Thin Slicing)

Indeed, gated content is invisible to Google and other search engines (there are, I swear :) ). So the incredible amount of effort that is being used to produce premium content serves only one cause: generating quality leads. A single serving content item usually leads to lower ROI. So in order to optimize ROI marketers take said content, slice it and dice it into blog posts, infographics and other open content items. While there are several advantages to keeping content open when practicing content marketing – there is a special value to content marketers for generating leads from content. The buyer journey is changing: prospects are better educated and connected than ever, and are delaying their decision while they perform their search anonymously. Getting to prospects early is key – because that search is much shorter than you think. A decision, in other words, is likely taken well before these prospects turn into leads and before you even know that they exist. This psychological effect is known as the “thin slicing effect”.

From Wikipedia: “Thin-slicing is a term used in psychology and philosophy to describe the ability to find patterns in events based only on “thin slices” or narrow windows, of experience.” For the very least, prospects frame their decision based on the first few vendors they can trust. A benchmark, in other words, is quickly created. Open content can help you appear at the very first stage of the search – the search bar – where gated content is unlikely to appear. However, if you don’t find the ways to know these prospects and turn them into known leads quickly, you may not be a finalist when they decide to purchase and you wouldn’t even know about it. Another key benefit of gating content is Intelligence. Its only when you know which audience downloads and engages which of your content items that you can start planning ahead.

Read more about open and gated content considerations in our white paper:

When to lock content behind forms?

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