It’s Monday morning. You’re sitting at your desk sipping coffee, catching up on emails, then your colleague sends you a link to a white paper. You click, you’re intrigued, and before you know it you’re cruising through the third paragraph and … boom! A pop-up!
“Please sign in to keep reading.”
“Please share your name and email address to continue reading.”
If you’ve read anything on the web in the last few years—news, whitepapers, journal articles and so on—you’ve likely been on the receiving end of a similar pop-up.
Content gates, also known as paywalls, have become popular tools for capturing leads.
The basic premise is a trade: The customer shares their contact info (implicitly permitting a follow-up call or email), and in return they enjoy access to some kind of content (a whitepaper, infographic, eBook, video, etc.).
These content gates have proliferated across the web in recent years and many organizations have found them to be effective, but does that mean your company should incorporate them?
Proceed with caution when creating a paywall
Gated content is often an effective strategy but like everything in digital marketing, it takes careful planning to implement properly.
In some instances, you may not need to create gated content if you leverage the psychological principle of reciprocity, which is when people feel compelled to respond to one positive action with another positive action. If you give your customer something of value, they’re likely to give you something of equal value in return—in this case, their contact information. Naturally, the more value you offer the visitor, the more likely they are to reciprocate.
If you’re nervous about giving away too much for free, consider an A/B test, in which half your site visitors face a content gate and the other half are allowed to view the content before being asked for contact information. You might be surprised how many visitors will give you their contact information even without a content gate—and you might also learn which types of content net more information.
If you’re sure you need a content gate, follow the five tips below to make sure it’s as painless and productive as possible.
Five Tips for Creating an Effective Content Gate
- Choose the right content. A content gate represents a trade between a brand and a consumer, and, like any trade, it will only happen if there’s equal value on each side. Put yourself in your target’s shoes and ask yourself if you would trade your personal information for this piece of content. If the answer is no (be honest!) then neither will your site visitor.
- Provide a good preview, but don’t reveal everything. Unless your brand has a well-established reputation for always delivering compelling content, it’s wise to provide a short preview of the content before the gate appears. People are much more likely to commit to sharing their information if they have a better sense of the content’s full value.
- Get the timing right. In addition to providing enough of a preview to entice the reader, you need to allow sufficient time to read your content. Time-based content gates can be tricky because people read at different speeds and interruptions happen. One popular strategy to counteract that is to make the content gate appear after the user scrolls a certain distance down the page, rather than after a fixed time period—and that’s the approach we favor.
- Avoid pop-ups (if you can). Here’s some news that won’t surprise you: pop-ups are annoying. They are unexpected and jarring, especially when they interrupt someone tackling a focused task such as reading. Explore other ways to present your content gate, e.g., making the lead-gen form “slide” up from the bottom or side of the screen as the user scrolls.
- Only ask for what you really need. It’s been well documented that the number of form submissions decreases as the number of fields increases. Think carefully about how much information you really need to get that lead. If a field isn’t necessary for qualifying the lead, then why bother asking the user to fill it out? Pare down your lead-gen form as much as possible, limiting or removing any optional fields that might cause someone to bounce.
Following these principles, you can combine a gate system with high-quality, relevant content to transform your blog and website into a mighty lead-gen machine.
If you’d like to learn more or get help powering up your company’s approach to lead gen, contact Ted Jun, Hiebing’s director of business development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.