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To gate or not to gate, that is the question — content, that is. The dilemma over gated content is near the top of the pack when it comes to the choices facing marketers today. Gated content has emerged in the past 10 years as a major method of lead capture and nurturing, but recent backlash has prompted some marketers to question their content strategy.
But is it really necessary to totally rethink your strategy? Sometimes, an old-fashioned list of pros and cons is helpful when making decisions. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons associated with gated content, so you can make the best decision for your marketing strategy.
Think about a physical gate — in order to get inside the gate, you need a key (or perhaps a combination for a lock) to enter. The same theory applies to gated content, but rather than a key or a combination, information is what gives you access to what’s on the other side of the gate. In most cases, this will include your email address. Sometimes, it may also include your name, phone number, and other defining characteristics of you or your company.
Marketers use gated content in order to generate leads at the top of their funnel. For gated content to be successful, however, it needs to be valuable. In other words, it needs to be worth providing your information to get past the gate.
Generally, gated content is considered premium content. The value provided by your content should be so high, it’s worth it for the reader to give you access to their inbox. Common types of gated content can include:
Now that you have a high-level understanding of gated content, it’s time to break down those pros and cons.
The most obvious benefit of gated content is that, when well executed, it results in more leads. And what marketer doesn’t want more leads!
Companies like Hubspot, Marketo, and Eloqua have been using gated content for more than 10 years to build their brands and establish trust. Chances are you’ve even downloaded a piece (or 2, or 10) from these and other trusted sites over the years. Creating and leveraging your own gated content helps you become a trusted brand.
Gated content also allows you to:
With gated content, measuring the results of your marketing efforts is significantly easier than with other tactics.
Landing pages and forms protecting your gated content can be linked directly to your email marketing provider. When someone downloads your gated content, they can instantly be added to your email newsletter list, and/or be moved into an email workflow designed to nurture that lead.
Depending on the specific information you require for access to your gated content, you can paint a fairly thorough portrait of your leads. By asking for more than just contact info, you can enrich the data you collect with key identifying elements: Company name, first and last names, website domain, role, and more. This aids in segmentation, and allows you to deliver relevant follow-ups with pinpoint accuracy.
Gated content has been helping brands grow for over a decade, but marketing has also changed over the past decade. As we have evolved as marketers, some cons around gated content have emerged. When planning your next content marketing strategy, it’s critical to take the following concerns into account.
With the prevalence of gated content in recent years, backlash was inevitable. Many professionals today suffer from ‘inbox fatigue’ — they are becoming more discerning about what they allow in their inboxes, and are leery about sharing their email addresses (or other personal information) in order to download or access content.
Unfortunately, some content marketers use gated content to ‘trick’ prospects into providing their information. If your prospects don’t feel that the content delivered is worthy of the information they provided, it could harm your reputation and cost you that lead. It could also result in negative reviews for your brand. As with any type of content, but especially gated content, it’s critical to ensure your content is truly premium.
Learning more about — and ultimately accessing — gated content typically happens via a landing page. By design, landing pages are short, visually-rich pages that are designed specifically to convert. Unfortunately, these shorter pages tend to have less search engine value as a result. That means if you rely too heavily on gated content, your site may not rank for key terms.
Additionally, search engines are unable to crawl and index gated content. In essence, this renders your gated content fairly, well, useless from an SEO standpoint. Going a step further, your gated content will also fail to contribute to link equity on your site.
We’ve all seen content go viral on social media. Whether it’s professional content on LinkedIn or other types of content on Facebook or Instagram, sharing can have a tremendous impact on your brand. While your gated content is likely (and should be) amazing, it is less likely to go viral if someone needs to enter personal information in order to access it.
A theme throughout this piece merits additional mention: Focusing on quality first is the key to successful gated content. If your content is valuable enough, your prospects will happily share their information in order to access that content. However, today’s most successful marketers avoid focusing solely on gated content for their lead generation. Instead, they craft robust strategies that are centered around pillar content, topic clusters, and other high-quality un-gated content.
While you are likely crafting regular blog posts that offer value to your prospects at every stage of your marketing funnel, pillar content is different from a standard blog post. Rather than short (typically up to 2,000 words) content focusing on a highly specific subject, pillar content takes a ‘deep dive’ approach to a broad topic. We dive more into pillar content and topic clusters here. You can also see more specific examples of pillar content here, here and here.
Your traditional blog posts will explore specific subtopics of your pillar content. This approach is extremely SEO-friendly, offering value to and building trust with your prospects. When you take this approach to your content marketing, focusing first and foremost on value at every step of the buyer’s journey, your prospects will intuit that your gated content is really good. After all, if your un-gated content offers that much value to the reader, they can only imagine how much value your gated content will provide!
Additionally, technological advancements like Chatbots (which use AI to provide targeted, relevant answers to your prospects’ questions), and membership sites or members-only content (which puts a range of premium content in the hands and devices of your warmest prospects and most valued customer), can make a big difference in successfully executing your marketing strategy.
Implementing pillar content and other technologies alongside your gated content is more likely to result in better-quality leads who are more engaged with your brand. They are also more likely to be receptive to follow-up email workflows and calls to action.
This proven effectiveness of this strategy stems from the natural evolution of content marketing since those early days of gated content. With the right approach, you can take advantage of the traditional value inherent in gated content, leverage the best of today’s technology, and respect the needs and wants of today’s consumers to boot.
Sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential new customers and proactively reaching out to them with cold calls, emails, and social messaging in an effort to convert them into paying customers. For most businesses, this is typically done by representatives of the sales team.
Inbound marketing is a great way to drive sales-ready leads to contact your business, and then move through the sales funnel. Many of these leads reach out because they have a problem that your business can solve — whether that be through a product or service — but first, they must have a baseline level of awareness that you can help them.
Many potential customers are simply unaware of what you do, or are using a competitor that might not offer nearly as many benefits and solutions as your business. That said, if a customer is unaware that a better solutions exists, they won’t be driven to look for one. This is where outbound sales comes into play: Reaching out to perfect fit prospects who wouldn’t contact to you otherwise, and convincing on-the-fence leads to take the next step.
Prospects are potential buyers that likely have a problem that your business can solve. They’ve probably had little to no interaction with your website, and have not shown that they’re actively in need of your services.
Leads are potential buyers that have shown interest in your solution by visiting your website, following you on social media, responding to messaging, or giving general signs that they’re in need of the solution you’re selling.
Prospects and leads are both potential customers, and likely require proactive outreach to convert into customers. A mixed approach of inbound marketing to drive leads and outbound marketing by prospecting to find new opportunities can help you increase revenue, shorten your sales cycle, and grow your customer base without solely relying on inbound marketing.
Sales prospects can be found a myriad of ways, some more effective than others depending on the buyer personas you’re focused on and what industry they’re in.
Google search is a great way to find businesses that could benefit from what your business has to offer. Using Google is free and easy, but it can also be rather time-consuming, and some of your work might end up being redundant. One rule of thumb: The more specific your search, the better your results.
LinkedIn can help you pointedly search for businesses that fit your ideal customer profile. An added benefit of Linkedin is that in addition to finding the business, you can find the individual prospect that best fits your ideal buyer persona. LinkedIn Premium is a paid version that while expensive, gives unlimited searches and the ability to get more flexible with social media outreach.
You might not realize it, but social media platforms like Twitter can be a powerful tool for sales reps when searching for your ideal customer. Look at the followers of the accounts of companies or individuals that are of interest to your prospects. Then, you can cross-reference these followers with your research on the other platforms mentioned in this article to find new prospects.
Depending on the industry in which your ideal customer works, you can likely find a service that provides a list of sales prospects based on your customer profile. While often pricey, you’ll save time prospecting by partnering with a service that specializes in the industry you’re targeting.
If your customer base routinely pays for services that would indicate their scale and level of need, a credit reporting service can help you identify them to create a prospect list. For instance: If your ideal customers ship freight, you can find how much they pay transportation carriers monthly, and even search by spend in specific areas.
Your ideal customers are often using services or technologies related to what you offer. By making effective use of sales intelligence tools, you can find prospects who are a perfect fit for your services, like an unfinished puzzle just waiting for you to place the final piece.
Reading competitor reviews can help you find prospects not happy with their current solution. Find a competitor, look at the 1-and 2-star reviews, and reach out to those unhappy clients. By acting quickly and coming in with a sales pitch that includes referrals and case studies, this outreach will typically turn into a successful sale.