Ever since the growth of Inbound Marketing, the function of your website has completely changed. Now, the ultimate goal is to provide enough “free” information to intrigue your prospects, while still keeping them hungry for more. But at some point you do need to take the next step and begin collecting your visitor’s contact information. But when is the right time? What content should you use?
This is where gating content comes into play.
To clarify, gated content refers to the pieces of content (whether it be e-books, whitepapers, webinars etc.) that require a prospect to fill out a form with their contact information in exchange for access. This is why trusting your content is so important. Rather than giving away all of your marketing knowledge to anybody who simply visits your site, you should be strategically blending giving, with gating. So before you let your love for leads turn your site into a gated community, it’s important that you take into consideration when to gate content, what content to gate, why you should gate it – and what to ask for, as some companies always appear a little greedy in what their asking for:
Arguably the most difficult aspect in gating your content is timing. You don’t want to ask someone for their contact information before they are comfortable enough with you and far enough along the buyer journey. Fortunately for marketers, collecting real-time analytics make it much easier to gage the interest level of your prospect and determine where they are in the buyer journey (if only we had the same tools for dating). According to Aberdeen, 84% of marketing executives plan on developing a process to map content assets to buyer journey stage.
Keep your site saturated with useful blog posts that will draw in a large audience from your target market, but be sure to only offer gated content when a prospect has already engaged with some form of content on your site, and are ready to begin a conversation. Using content recommendations, you can recommend your gated offers to visitors that are reading similar, un-gated content.
Not every piece of content is worthy of being gated content. Content that brushes the surface of important marketing conversation topics are essential to any website, but they are much more valuable in the form of blog posts.
Visitors that are ready to provide their contact information are more likely to be further along the evaluation stage of the buyer journey and be looking for a deeper dive into the specific topic or problem they are researching. Your gated content should offer more value than the ungated information that draws them in.
Another easy way to decipher what content warrants the request of a prospect’s personal information, is to take into consideration the time and effort you put in to create it. E-Books and whitepapers generally require much more work than your average blog post, and it’s important that you’re getting a fair ROI with these types of projects. Additionally, these types of assets provide much more value in the form of solutions to many of the problems your product or service has been designed to address.
Leads. This is why every marketer ultimately creates any piece of content. Every blog post, every tweet, and every E-Book is a piece of the puzzle that makes up the content marketing sales funnel. Every company’s funnel looks different, making every piece of content a unique and valuable venture that has the potential to trigger a conversation. By analyzing where your prospect is in the sales funnel and how they got there, you can present them with not only the content they want, but the content they need. And in the end, you walk away with a fresh lead in your pocket.
How (when, and why) will you implement gated content into your inbound marketing strategy? Let us know by writing in the comments section!