Most content teams I know are performing miracles. Delivering vast quantities, teasing it all throughout the social channels, meeting deadlines and doing a darn good job at feeding what is an insatiable content-eating beast. Then the unthinkable happens…
Difficult, sometimes impossible, hurdles are intentionally placed between the content they have worked so hard to deliver and the person who is interested in it.
Why would anyone purposefully make it hard for their audience to consume their content?
We have all learned that a benefit of content marketing is a simple quid pro quo; they get the content, you get some of their contact information. Smart gating of your otherwise free content will get you valuable information in exchange.
Not only does the business get the contact details of the individual but they learn from the behaviors of the all of people who download or access that particular content. Or download that content along with other content or in conjunction with other behaviors like reading your blog or not attending any webinars. These details are the secret to the success of nurturing individuals from the stage of poking around your content to actually buying from you.
But, gating content needs to be executed in a smart way or what you’re really doing is just deterring people to read or view your valuable information. Here’s what not to do:
Don’t ask for too much contact info.
Yes, ask for some contact info before they get access to your valuable content but don’t ask for everything. You’ll have other opportunities to build out the contact record for this individual, you don’t need it all now.
Don’t ask for contact info that you already have.
If they have already provided you with their email address then you should never need to ask for it again. The right technology will track them, whether they are logged in or not. On subsequent forms that are placed between your reader and your content, ask them instead for information that you do not already have.
Don’t ask for sensitive information in exchange for content that is not popular.
You know that killer research report that you deliver for free and most of your audience jumps to download it? Consider asking for sensitive information in exchange for it. Perhaps salary or an opinion on a hot button issue. If you ask for their name and email at the same time, it may feel too personal and people may be less likely to provide it. But if the content is in demand and you only ask for their salary you are more likely to get it.
Don’t offer content for free then not deliver on that promise.
All they want is to do is download that white paper that you said is free. You created it to attract more people (that you can sell to at some point) and it worked — here they are. So they click on your CTA and they are expecting to fill out a short form and then gain access, but instead they face a choice. Fill in user name and password or if they don’t have an account their only choice is a long form that was really intended for people who are joining a membership. That’s a far cry from free.
That’s a deterrent. And with the right technologies you can measure the form abandonment that happens when the user is faced with that choice to prove that your process is blocking access to the content.
What should your landing page, call to action and form technology be able to do for you:
- Only ask for information that you do not already have
- Adjust the language in the call to action based on who is viewing it
- Build complete contact records by adding new information on a regular basis
- Design forms for the specific need at hand (getting free content is Very different from joining and therefore not the same form.)
Gated content protects the return on investment you made into your ‘free’ articles and information.’ But don’t blow it by going beyond gating it to end up actually deterring consumption.
By Monica Bussolati