Rand Fishkin's Whiteboard Friday this week focuses on the pros and cons of gated content versus open access (freely available) content, and - as usual - he' covers some interesting points. Here's a few:
Before deciding on an approach, consider your objectives.
It's something we ask ourselves before starting any campaign; what are we trying to achieve?
Rand's simple formula is as follows: if audience size, reach, and future marketing benefits are more important to you than detailed leads then go for the open access route. If the opposite, then gate the content.
Assess the perceived value of your content.
It may be hard to view this objectively once you've produced the content, so it's best to do this early on.
When your objective has been decided and you've come up with a great idea for the content itself, put a value on it. For example, is it worth just a name and email address, or would the user go so far as to share the information on their LinkedIn account?
The complexity of the data capture form should reflect the value of the content behind the gate.
Gather just the data you need and don't feel like it's all-or-nothing.
Regardless of whether you perceive your content to be highly valuable or not, keep your form fields to the minimum required to reach your objectives. If your sales team typically call leads directly, go for just a name and phone number. Other information could be gathered using 3rd party services, such as FullContact's API.
If you need to build a detailed profile before they can be designated a qualified lead, weigh up whether you want to collect all of the information with this one piece of content or if it would be best to do some progressive profiling. This is where you'll ask for different bits of information about the same user with each piece - or multiple pieces - of content thereafter.
If you'd like the best of both worlds (i.e. traffic, links and leads), share some of the content as a teaser.
Consider going for a hybrid approach whereby you showcase some of the valuable information on the landing page or article while putting some additional content behind a gate.
If it's shareable, leverage social media for low-cost traffic.
Check your social share counts using a service like BuzzSumo's Chrome Extension and discover how well your content is performing. If it's doing well (the value is clear to your audience and it's being shared to a relevant network), amplify its reach by putting some budget towards paid promotion.
Overall, it's not an argument for one over another. You should strongly consider producing a mix of both. Un-gated can feed into gated, helping to increase your lead total and a happy sales team!
Have you ever considered gating your content to get leads? Whether you choose to have open-access content or gate it to gather information, there are benefits and drawbacks you should be aware of. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand weighs the pros and cons of each approach and shares some tips for improving your process, regardless of whichever route you go.