Gated Content Marketing: How to Increase Conversions with Smarter Content Decisions

April 11, 2018 Tina Bahadur

Gated content is one of the most powerful lead generation tools in your digital marketing toolbox. By requiring your site visitors to fill out a form before gaining access to informative content, your business is able to get valuable contact information for the people who are most likely to become customers. However, not every piece of content is worth gating. Read on to find out how you can create your own gated content marketing strategy to boost conversions.

How to Determine Which Content Should Be Gated

The fact of the matter is that you just cannot gate every piece of content that you create. For one, it’s not worth the effort of creating individual landing pages and sifting through lead contact information for leads that may not be a good fit for your business. However, gating every piece of content can also end up driving away otherwise qualified leads.

So how do you know whether or not you should gate a piece of content? Here are just a few of the factors that you should consider when choosing assets for your gated content marketing strategy:

Value of the Content

The first thing that you need to consider before deciding whether or not to gate a piece of content is how much value the content asset provides for your target audience. Though all of the content that your business creates should add some type of value for leads, not every piece of content will be worth the extra steps that visitors have to go through to access a piece of gated content.

When you gate a piece of content, you are asking your site visitors to type in their contact information in order to gain access to the content. This requires a little more work than just reading the content that’s readily available on your site. If you are going to require your visitors to take this extra step, you need to make sure that it’s worth it to them. Each piece of gated content needs to provide exceptional value if you want your leads to hand over their contact information.

For example, a general blog post on a broad topic may offer some value to your audience. However, it is not as valuable as a longer piece of content like an e-book or white paper that dives much deeper into the topic. Though your leads might take the time to read the blog, the chances of them taking an extra step to gain access to this very generalized information is slim. Whereas, they will most likely be willing to give their contact information in exchange for a much more detailed asset like an e-book.

Content Purpose

Before gating any piece of content, consider its purpose. If the purpose of your content is to increase brand awareness or reach new audiences, then you should not gate this content. Individuals are more likely to share (and their friends, family, and colleagues are more likely to read) content that is free to access. When you add the extra step, you are not able to get the same reach as a piece of content that can simply be accessed from a link.

Visitor’s Intent

Another factor that you will need to consider when deciding whether or not to gate your content is what the intent of your site visitor might be. Consumers need different types of information during each stage of their buyer’s journey. While someone in the awareness stage is just looking for general information, those in the consideration and decision stages are more interested in content that will introduce potential solutions and help them make the right purchasing decision.

For instance, while someone at the top of the marketing funnel may be interested in general blog content, they are not necessarily at the stage where they are interested in your brand specifically. However, a visitor that is farther along on their buyer’s journey may be more willing to give their contact information in exchange for a gated content asset. That’s because visitors in the middle or bottom of the marketing funnel are past the awareness phase and now looking for more information to help them make a purchasing decision.

Competitors’ Strategy

Yet another factor that you’ll need to consider before gating a piece of content is your competitors’ use of gated content. If your business gates certain pieces of content that your competitors are offering directly without the hassle of filling out a form, then there’s a good chance that your target consumers will get this content from the other guys.

Before deciding whether to gate your content or not, do a little research on your competitors. What types of content are they gating? What type of information do they ask for on the lead form? Using a similar strategy for your own gated content marketing as that of your competitors can help ensure that your own brand is not turning away qualified leads by adding an extra step to the process.

How to Get Started with Gated Content Marketing

Once you have decided which types of content you plan to include in your gated content marketing strategy, it’s time to kick off your gated content strategy. Use the following tips to get started:

Gated Content Marketing Step 1 - Create the content.

Before you do anything else, you’ll need to create the content assets that you plan to gate. Remember, the content that you create needs to provide enough value for your visitors that its worth going through the extra step to access it. This content should not only be relevant to your audience and provide plenty of value, but it also needs to be aimed at consumers who are in the middle and bottom of the marketing funnel, and therefore closer to making a purchase.

Here’s an example of a gated content asset from IES Group:

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The best types of gated content provide actionable tips that buyers can use to help address their greatest challenges. Assets like detailed guides, checklists, or how-to content pieces provide the visitor with the information they need to get started addressing their biggest pain points. Content that includes original research or detailed statistics can also provide immense value and work well as a gated content piece.

Gated Content Marketing Step 2 - Build a landing page.

Once the content has been created, it’s time to build a landing page for the gated content. This is where visitors will opt in to your gated content and provide their contact information in exchange for the asset. Like any effective landing page, you need to make sure that you open with a compelling headline and end with an effective call to action that inspires the visitor to give their contact information.

In addition to the headline and CTA, you’ll also need to develop copy that highlights the value of the content and entices visitors to fill out the form in order to access the content. Though you should make it clear what the content asset is about, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t give too much away in the description.

Here’s an example of a landing page for gated content marketing from Imperva:

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Notice here that the content opens up with some of the things that the visitor will gain from the content. Then, it dives into exactly what the white paper will cover, outlining each of its main ideas in bullet points. This makes it clear and easy for the visitor to see what they will get out of reading the content.

Gated Content Marketing Step 3 - Develop your opt-in form.

On your landing page, there will also be an opt-in form where leads fill out their information in exchange for the content. Though this may seem simple, it’s important that you put some thought into what form fields you ask your visitors to fill out on the opt-in form. If you ask them to fill out too many fields, they may abandon the form without giving their contact information. However, if you don’t ask for the right information, you may not getting what you need to know.

People are more likely to fill out shorter forms, so as a general rule, don’t ask for more information than you need. For instance, a B2B business might ask the visitor for their job role or company name. However, a B2C business does not typically need this information when finding out more about their leads. Asking for just an email address may provide more success than asking for an email address and a phone number or even just a phone number.

Here’s an example of an opt-in form from Qualaroo:

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You also have the option to make some of the form fields voluntary. This means that visitors don’t have to fill them out to get the content, but they do have the option to provide this information. This can be a great way to get more information from your visitors without driving away those who don’t have the time or desire to provide more information about themselves.

Gated Content Marketing Step 4 - Determine how visitors will access the content.

When developing your gated content marketing, you will also need to consider how leads will access the content after they have filled out the lead form. There are a few different ways that you can go about delivering the content assets:

  • You can send the user an email with the content attached or the link to access.
  • Provide an immediate download link once the user has filled out the form.
  • Redirect those who have opted-in to a page where they can access the content.

The right option for you will depend on your target audience’s preferences. We generally recommend sending the content in an email. There are a few reasons for this. Providing the content in an email opens a line of communication between you and the lead. You can then follow up with the lead to see if they have any questions or may want additional content after they have opened the email. Also, delivering the content in an email makes it easier for the lead to access the content later.

Gated Content Marketing Step 5 - Track your metrics.

Implementing your gated content marketing strategy doesn’t stop after you have launched the landing page with opt-in form. You need to monitor how many visitors are opting in to your gated content, which links they are clicking on, and how they interact with your brand after downloading the gated content asset.

This information helps you better understand which pieces of gated content marketing are working best to influence conversions. Once you have an idea of what types of content are helping drive more conversions, you can then revise your content marketing strategy to include more of the same types of content and topics for best results.

Need help getting started with your gated content marketing strategy? The content marketing experts at SevenAtoms know just what it takes to develop a gated content strategy that drives conversions. From creating the content assets to developing landing pages and opt-in forms, we can help with it all. Contact us now to get started.

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