On your website, do you use gated content as a way to collect email addresses and other information from visitors?
At Signal, our practice is to freely offer content downloads and access – although it hasn’t always been that way. In the past, we gated our white papers and infographics to help generate leads. Although we had some success, we decided to try open access to help us cast a wider net.
Open access has offered more exposure through Google’s indexing of content, helping more people find us faster. It’s also been better for amplification – those steps we take to make sure content gets read, posting links and teasers on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Offering readers clear, valuable content has also helped us build engagement with both current and potential customers.
So, the question is – to gate or not to gate your content? There are pros and cons to both approaches.
Gated content gives specifics about who accessed the content and more effective sales outreach and targeting but it reaches a smaller audience and could possible create a negative perception about your brand.
With open access, you have a greater ability to drive traffic, a larger future audience for retargeting/remarketing and SEO benefits, like links, engagement metrics and ranking. On the negative side, however, it can be difficult or even impossible to convert visits into leads and provides no information about valuable or important visitors. And since you are giving all the content away upfront, open access can lead to decreased engagement.
Whether or not you gate your content depends on many factors, including your business, audience and strategy. The goal is to get consumers through the sales funnel by building up trust, engagement and loyalty.
Some customers want to be convinced and will consider your content valuable enough to offer their information in return. Other customers will bolt if you make the process difficult.
The Signal team liked the idea of balancing gated and ungated content, an approach known as the content pillar approach, an informative bit of content related to a specific topic or theme that can be broken into multiple sections, pieces and materials (think eBooks, reports and guides).
Still not sure what direction to go? Read more in Signal’s latest post, “Gated Content Unleashed,” which includes a set of questions designed to help you determine the right approach for your business or organization.
Jim Ellis has over 20 years of experience in marketing strategy and implementation throughout a variety of industry sectors. Since 1999 he has been with Signal, a digital agency based in Wilmington and Raleigh, North Carolina. Signal has proven strengths serving as the “local agency” for global companies, generating solid results in web design, brand identity, mobile app development, digital strategy and more. Jim provides counsel to many of the agency’s largest clients with an eye toward integrated communications and a vast knowledge of both traditional and modern practices. As a songwriter and musician with a business degree, he believes his artistic/corporate “dual personality” gives him added perspective to be an effective liaison between clients and Signal’s talented creative team. Originally from Ohio, Jim graduated from the University of Richmond with a B.S. in Business Administration.
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