Moving Beyond Gated Content
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Moving Beyond Gated Content: Other Tech to Help Generate Leads

Since when has 3% success been good?

If you were scoring 3% in school, you’d be considered a flunky. If you were only successful on 3% of your work projects, you’d get fired.

And yet, we settle for 3% day in and day out with our marketing efforts. A 3% conversion rate on a landing page is considered slightly above average. In fact, research from Wordstream, an online advertising software company, shows that the average landing page converts at just 2.35%!

Think of all the time that you’ve spent creating good content, and now you’re going to waste 97% of your lead generation advertising budget on traditional gated content methods!?

Why consider options other than the standard landing page?

Despite these disappointing success rates, marketers continue to do the same thing: drive people to a landing page and request the consumer’s contact information in exchange for something (a guide, white paper, case study, webinar, etc).

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve also been using “gated content” as a lead generation tool, and sadly, often only see a 3% or 4% conversion rate. However, this tactic is becoming less effective with time, as a few things are happening:

  • Millenials are beginning to enter leadership positions and are starting to make more purchasing decisions. The graphic at right, compliments of SnapApp, shows that millennials generally turn to more relational channels (social media and personal referrals) instead of typical corporate websites (i.e., landing pages).
  • Ten years ago, a well-built landing page was a thing of art, something most companies hadn’t yet cracked the nut on. These days launching a well-optimized landing page is quick and easy. Tools that help with landing page creation are abundant and cheap. People are becoming more used to landing pages and have quickly learned that there is a super easy way to get through a landing page: Give away your junk mail email (in case you actually need to check it) and provide a made up phone number.
  • In our environment, where people can more quickly find answers and get needed products more quickly, they tend to be less patient with filling in a landing page form and waiting for the content to be emailed to them.

What are the non-traditional options for content-gated lead generation?

Try a soft gate

A new visitor comes to your site, and so you really want to capture their email address in order to market to them. However, if they are a new visitor they likely don’t have any trust in your brand yet.

We all know that one of the best ways to create trust in a brand is to have fantabulous content. I’m assuming that because you’re reading this ClearVoice blog you already know a thing or two about creating excellent content, and that you have that element covered.

Another way to created trust in a brand, however, is to give your site visitors the benefit of not having to fill in a form to get access to your content. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask, though. One of the newer techniques, that has worked well for a few of my clients, is to use a top of page interstitial frame with a “sign up for updates” type call to action. For this to be successful though, and to ensure people aren’t bouncing off your page before viewing your content, it is imperative that you make the call to action obviously dismissible. As you can see from the below image, the SnapApp blog has an excellent call-to-action that is short, gives a true reason for signing up, and is very clearly communicating that the user can scroll down to dismiss this call to action.

source: SnapApp Blog

Reduce the perceived risk for visitors

Giving away information online isn’t as scary as it used to be, but it is still the main reason why so many landing pages are experiencing a mere 3% conversion rate. Here are some ideas on how you can “reduce the risk” in the eyes of your site visitor to better get their info.

As the above image makes apparent, sometimes it is best to only ask for one point of data. I know, if you were to go and talk to your salespeople and ask them what data points they need they would give you a list of at least four or five different items. This is one time when you should push back on sales. Let them know that if someone provides just a single point of contact, such as an email, that you won’t qualify the lead yet, and won’t send it over to sales.

Getting only an email address may be enough to start some real lead nurturing and brand building with the consumer. If this data point alone isn’t enough (as I imagine is the case for most of you) then you can use progressive profiling. Profiling of any type sounds like a bad thing, but progressive profiling, in marketing speak, is not a bad thing. Instead, with progressive profiling, you are telling your lead capture form to show a different field each time they come back. The first time you may ask for just an email address. The second time they come back you ask for their name. The next time you request their phone number… et cetera.

If you are using a sophisticated marketing automation system like Marketo, Hubspot or Eloqua, you already have the ability to do progressive profiling. If you’re using a smaller CRM or email marketing system, then you may need to look at adding another martech tool to your stack to get progressive profiling functionality. Jumplead is one of the more affordable marketing tools that has progressive profiling as a primary function.

Give away some of the content upfront

Instead of scaring a potential content consumer away, with a lead form on a landing page, go ahead and give them the content upfront.

I know this may sound crazy, as you’ve likely spent a lot of time creating that content. However, gone are the days where content gating is an all or nothing. There are several content hosting engines and tools out there that allow you to share some of your content up front and then show the gate later on after they’ve already consumed some of the content. Most of these tools, such as SnapApp, allow you to choose if the gate is mandatory or not.

I recommend you take two different approaches to the gates and the content:

  • If the content is higher up the funnel – something that you think your potential buyers are coming across when they are just starting to investigate a purchase and aren’t ready to make any decisions yet – then you should give the content away for free and place the gate in the middle of the content. Also, make this gate optional, allowing the content consumer to close the gate and continue reading if they’d like.
  • If the content is lower funnel, then you should try giving away the first half of content and put a gate in that is mandatory. At this point, if the consumer likes the content you’ve provided and are seriously making purchase decisions, they’ll be more likely to give you their contact details in order to continue reading.

There are several content gating solutions that allow you to put a gate in the middle or near the end of the content. While there are a lot of content serving solutions out there, the only two (that I know of) that work well for sharing half the content before a gate, are SnapApp LeadREV, and Uberflip.

Try a social paywall

With 81% of Americans (not just adults) having a social media account, allowing your content consumers to “buy” your content by paying for it with a tweet, post, or other social engagement, is something you should evaluate.

The below video shows you how social paywalls work:

The ability to pay for content with a social post has been in existence for quite a while, but it has generally been limited in capacity. Most social paywall tools out there allowed you to only accept “payment” via tweet. Others only did Facebook posts. These days, however, there are several tools that allow you to set up the tool once on your site and then accept social posting “payment” from your content consumers for any of the popular social networks.

source: Pay With a Tweet

Social paywalls have been successfully used by huge and trusted brands such as Starbucks, Cisco, HubSpot, and the BBC. Several of the best solutions, that are also affordable, include: Pay With a Tweet, Girafi (lots of functionality) and, if you’re using WordPress, Social Locker is a great option.

Ben Beck

About Ben

Ben Beck loves working at the intersection of technology, security and marketing. From his early youth selling discount candy from his locker to building his own SMS marketing tool that he sold to the State of Utah, he has learned the value of entrepreneurial thinking and smarter marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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