Taming Gated Content: 4 Best Practices for Achieving Balanced Content


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Gated content is a double-edged sword. It allows marketers to put names and interests to anonymous people on the Internet and pick up on leads that have already shown curiosity in the general field of their company. On the other hand, it does a fantastic job of driving away people who would otherwise have stayed and read the content because of the added intrusion and hassle of asking for contact information.

In fact, as mentioned in “Social Media Lead Generation: Opening the Gate for Gated Content,” asking for a name, company, and email before allowing access to content drives downloads down to 2-5% of what they would have been.

How does one balance the reduced convenience to the reader and the need for lead generation? Here are some problems and their best-practice fixes:

Problem #1: Many users do not mind compromising their privacy by giving out their name or email, because it’s a one-time hassle with immediate rewards in the form of quality content. What they do mind is that they expect the company to hound them afterwards to request a demo for their product, which is a hassle that could go on for months.

Fix: In order to mitigate this, make clear what exactly will be done with the information, so the reader feels no blindness going into this situation. Will you be signing them up for your mailing list? Will you be offering them a demo within 24 hours? Let them know!

Problem #2: Placing content behind gates raises expectations. If a reader fills out your form, they expect to be compensated with valuable information. If the content fails to provide, the damage on that relationship is permanent. Conversely, if the content wasn’t gated, there were never any expectations to fulfill, and so the damage is minimized.

Fix: There’s really no shortcut to creating amazing content! In general, gated content should contribute and add in some way to current knowledge about a topic, similar to a research paper or study. If the work is a rehash of previous knowledge, the content should be un-gated. One exception, however, is if the content’s main attraction point is its convenience, i.e. it collects otherwise widely dispersed information into one resource.

Problem #3: The gate form is a burden to readers, but just how much of a burden is it? A study done by HubSpot’s Dan Zarella showed that a form with 6 fields has a 15% conversion rate. Halving that to 3 fields increases the conversion rate to 25%! It seems clear that asking for just one more response lowers the convenience-of-use to the user by a huge margin.

Fix: If you have more than 4 fields on your form for a typical whitepaper, you’re asking for too much. The typical fields are a name, company, and email (and even the company might be too much – if you ask for a work email, it’s easy to glean the name of the company from it). Consider the type of person you’ll be catching through these forms: likely someone whose interest was piqued, but probably not even close to wanting to make a purchase. These leads should be primarily for awareness at first (again, this depends on the type of content), and so all you would need is an email to contact them a couple times. Consider asking for a social media handle to engage them more informally, but asking for a home address drives people away!

It’s difficult to keep a balance between being greedy for leads and maintaining a steady stream of downloads. What are your best tricks for taming gated content?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Anqi Cong
Anqi Cong is a student at Carnegie Mellon University studying Business Administration with a minor in Computer Science. She is a content marketer at Insightpool, a company that allows brands to deliver "sincerity at scale" using its social engagement automation software. Anqi enjoys social media, coding up video games, writing, and dry humor.


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