According to General Mills, what do a glass of milk, a bran muffin and a bowl of Cocoa Puffs all have in common?
They’re all part of a well-balanced breakfast!
Or maybe adjacent to a well-balanced breakfast.
But as delicious as Cocoa Puffs definitely are, they are not required for a breakfast to achieve balance, nor would it be appropriate to include them in every breakfast. So it goes with marketing, and with online content especially.
Gating your content is an excellent tactic for growing your contact list. But gating all of your content can work against you. So, when you’re deciding whether to gate a piece of content, it’s a good idea to take a step back and ask yourself two questions.
1. What type of content are you offering?
This question is more about which part of the buying cycle your content is geared toward instead of which format your content is in. Because even though gated content is a great lead generation tool, you’ll always have to deal with the simple fact that no one—not even marketers—likes forms.
The answer? Only gate content that targets the end of the sales cycle: informational content that answers a person’s questions about a problem they’re having or confirmational content that makes the case for why your solution is the solution. This is less about doing away with forms and more about being selective about who you give your forms to. People in the earliest stages of the buying cycle are more likely to ignore a form for content they’ve only shown a passing interest in. More mature prospects, however, will probably engage with your form if they believe the action will give them something they can use.
That’s why your content must also be both compelling and rewarding! If someone took the initiative to fill out your form and download your content only to be disappointed, underwhelmed or otherwise let down by the payoff they received for their investment, they would be more than just annoyed. They would be far less likely to want to hear more from you in the future—no matter how good your other content might be.
And, one quick note about the format your content takes—it does matter! According to HubSpot, avoid gating infographics, overly self-promotional content or blog posts and articles (unless you’re a news service with a strong focus on a digital distribution model). Lists, ebooks, webinars and videos are perfectly acceptable, provided they can help the user save time or money, or they tell the user something new.
2. What do you want to get out of your content?
If the objective of your campaign is to raise brand awareness or boost your SEO ranking, gating your content won’t be helpful to you. That’s because gated content is harder to get to—for real live humans as well as robots!
Where brand awareness is concerned, this is a non-starter—your content should be front and center, easy to find, read and share. And hiding content behind a form is fatal for robots. Specifically Google’s robots; gated content, which isn’t stored on a web page, can’t be crawled by Google and isn’t searchable.
But, as we noted before, gated content excels in situations where the goal is to acquire qualified leads—and why mapping your gated content to a part of the buy cycle is the best course of action. And it’s worth pointing out that you can always track engagement with your content, even if it isn’t gated. But just like breakfast and brunch are two entirely different entities, that’s another topic for another time.
Content: the most important meal of the day
Some people like cereal. Some people like pancakes. Some people even like grapefruit with cottage cheese. No, seriously.
There are all kinds of breakfast foods out there. The only right kind is the kind that gets you what you need to get going. And so it goes with gated—or ungated—content.
Looking for a little more help with your next content marketing adventure? There’s always a seat open at our table.