It’s often assumed that the foundation of any good content marketing plan lies in the content itself. The quality, the alignment with audience interest, the development of brand narrative; all of these components certainly play their respective parts in driving visits. However, visits are not the end all, be all of your content play.
If your team is currently in a state of content shock on account of lackluster results, it may have nothing to do with the quality of what you’re creating, but it’s ability to be positioned in a way that helps generate revenue. And ultimately, your business wants sales. Even those initially seeking awareness, eventually want sales.
Consider then, the pros and cons of gating content.
Gated Content Pro #1: The Door to Lead Nurturing is Opened
Views and web traffic are great, but they’re not the KPIs you should be using to measure success. This is mostly because they tell you so little about the viewers. Additionally, views are just about impossible to follow up with.
With gated content, marketers are given a clear means of obtaining visitor contact information and re-engaging them accordingly. This feeds into your buyer’s journey map, allowing you to put more context around what drives your potential customers from one checkpoint to the next.
Gated Content Pro #2: Produce Higher Quality Leads
Certainly, 50,000 views may tell you that your content is popular. But 50,000 downloads tell you it’s potentially valuable, to your brand and your customers.
The passivity of un-gated content invites anyone and everyone to click, peruse, and leave. Form submissions indicate a level of consideration; a desire to further engage with your business and welcome email correspondence. This inevitably yields a higher quality type of lead, one that warrants promoting in a more serious way.
Gated Content Pro #3: Develop Internal Benchmarking for Future Lead Campaigns
A strategy that relies on un-gated content alone is difficult to measure against. Especially for interested stakeholders, always inquisitive and invested in the bottom line outcomes, view counts and ‘Likes’ means little to nothing.
If investing in content marketing is important for your team in the long term, using gated content to help establish internal benchmarks and strategic campaigns is crucial. It gives you the ability to point to a tangible subset of people and say, “This is the problem our potential customers have, this is the solution we can provide, and here is how we plan to do so through additional touchpoints.”
Gated Content Pro #4: Build More Personalized Audience Experiences
As previously mentioned, view counts are but a number. With form entries, the specifics around who your audience is — whether in the form of a name, job title, email — begins to take shape.
And from the information, your segmentation grows more intelligent. From studies done by email providers like MailChimp, it’s been found time and time again that segments matter. The more tailored your messaging becomes to each person’s individual interest and needs, the more personalized and meaningful their experience with your brand becomes.
Gated Content Con #1: Limits Potential for Organic Content Sharing
If you’re setting expectations for high social sharing with content that’s been gated, you’ve likely set the wrong success goals. This is because it’s unlikely that your followers are going to naturally distribute content to their own followers with a high barrier to entry.
However, for starters, you shouldn’t really be targeting gated content to those at the surface of your sales funnel. Gated content is meant to be thorough in subject matter and thus, more selective with regards to who it’s meant to get in front of. It’s not an awareness play, but one of lead generation and thus, campaign goals set should be reflective of that.
Gated Content Con #2: Has Little to No SEO Value
Through various studies and research, it’s been found that longer content typically correlates with higher search rankings. Quality certainly takes precedence as well to some degree, but it’s fair to say that any gated content you create shouldn’t be expected to positively influence your company’s SEO.
This isn’t to say it’ll necessarily impact it in a negative way, especially if a good deal of supplemental, non-gated content is also being produced and made accessible. Remember, there’s no one tactic that’s going to skyrocket your success rates. It’s about giving enough weight to each — gated and non-gated — and understanding the roles they play in conjunction with your digital marketing initiatives.
Gated Content Con #3: Limits Potential for Inbound Links
Similar to organic shares, gated content is less likely to result in inbound links from third parties. This, again, makes gated content a limited player in the realm of SEO strategy and awareness.
But that’s okay because it doesn’t have to be. Every piece of content, depending on its distribution methods and format, will serve a distinct purpose. And at the end of the day, it’s not about each piece of content feeding into the success of every channel. It’s about each piece of content feeding into the success of the customer experience.
Interested in exploring how gated content could be incorporated into your current content marketing efforts? Contact us today for your free content consultation.