January 10, 2020 3:31 pm
Spare a thought for the humble content marketer. He or she can
spend hours researching, creating and promoting content, only to be questioned
on its impact.
Even the teams at the Content Marketing Institute agree that
content is one of the most difficult marketing methods to measure. Moz founder Rand Fishkin says that, too often,
content marketers fail to define their goals.
Let’s assume we have a clear goal – to capture leads. Rather than
clouding our judgment with vanity metrics, gated content allows us to measure
What is gated
Quite simply, gated content asks viewers to submit their details
before they can view it. For example, viewers may have to enter their email
address before downloading a report. In some cases, they may even be asked for
job titles or company details.
As search engines don’t always crawl gated content, it’s harder to come across. On the plus
side, marketers have more chance of attracting genuine leads. Think of it as
stage four in the marketing funnel – intent. The customer is ready to buy and
wants to carry out research first.
The risks of
Smaller reach may be a concern for some marketers, but gating the
right content is also crucial. Gate too much and you run the risk of never
being seen. Gate too little and prospects could just use your data without
By looking at paywalls, we can learn more about what to consider
when gating content.
What will users
Online media is perhaps the best example of paywall content. Some
publishers offer paid subscriptions – the Wall Street Journal has 1.5 million subscribers – while others like The Guardian ask for donations.
It’s not just high-quality journalism that comes at a price. Customers
will give away their contact details and hard-earned cash only for truly unique
content. Jed Williams,
Chief Strategy Officer at the Local Media Association, says: “There’s growing
research and market evidence that suggests consumers will pay for high-quality
content and experiences. However, the product must be truly unique and
We all think our content is unique. But truly, it’s only when we
use our own data that we can make this claim. For that reason, we can’t expect
our readers to give away their details – let alone their cash – every time. So
how should we approach it?
Gate the right
Many marketers think white papers and
longform reports are the only way to generate leads. The truth is, your
prospects can probably find this information elsewhere. Try gating different
forms of content, like a comparison with competitors’ products.
Follow the media’s example on this one,
particularly if you’re putting up paywalls. The New York Times offers 10 free
articles per month – just enough to leave their readers wanting more.
Get in there first
Is your content worth paying for? It is
if it’s there
first. If there’s an important event coming up in your industry, write
about it before anybody else. People want access to fast facts. It worked
wonders for Politico’s Playbook on Obama’s
Last Stand, an ebook written by Glenn Thrush in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential
Try a mixed model
Again, the media is a shining example
here. The Telegraph offers a mixture of free and premium content. In the long term,
you can use data from paying customers to determine what kinds of content are
Offer an incentive
Great content is even greater when it
comes with an added bonus. Offer a free resource pack or even discounts on
events and products. Again, you can use these incentives to measure what is
most valuable to your leads.
takeaways for marketers
content goes beyond the vanity metrics. We can use contact form data to determine
who’s finding our content, who’s engaging with it and what works best.
content helps us to plan future campaigns. We might discover that webinars resonate
better than white papers, for example.
allow us to upsell to leads. If we offer our leads discounted tickets to an event, for
example, this could lead to further opportunities.
increase customer loyalty. Subscriptions
offer a consistent revenue stream, while mixed models give our readers freedom
content guarantees quality. When we’re choosing which content to gate, we can focus on
genuine quality and uniqueness.
Above all, when you’re creating your
content, ask yourself its intention and what value it brings. Are you generating
the right leads? Can your customers get it elsewhere?
When it comes to your readers, giving
away personal data is a transaction. Get it right, and your content will sell