Believe it or not, this is a bit of a controversial subject in the content marketing world. Should you gate your premium or lead-generation content? (By premium or lead-generation content, we’re talking whitepapers, case studies and well-researched articles that offer real value to people in a specific industry)

If you’re not familiar with the term “gating” or “lead-gating,” it just means you’re requiring people to give you their personal information before you grant them access to your super awesome premium content. This typically happens through a web form that asks for personal information, such as names, email addresses, phone numbers and sometimes even mailing addresses.

The idea is that the marketing department can then collect this personal information and use it to market to this audience in the future. If the sales and marketing departments are really good and coordinate well with each other, the marketing department will also pass this contact information on to the sales department as “warm leads” that the sales team can then sell the company’s products and services to. It’s a very direct way of turning premium content into lead-generating content, and it certainly can build up your email list.

But does it actually result in sales?

Does Gated Content Generate Leads?

There are most certainly marketers out there who swear by lead-gating. If it’s working for you, that’s really great. But for the rest of you out there, before you start gating your content, consider the fact that more than 90 percent of people interested in a piece of premium content actually abandon the sign-up process because they don’t trust what you’re going to do with their personal information.

Are you going to spam them with tons of emails? Are you going to call them incessantly trying to sell them crap? Are you going to sell their info to a bunch of other companies?

Consider your own behavior when you’re confronted with a sign-up form standing between you and a cool whitepaper. Did you willingly give up your email address, or did you hesitate because you were worried about how many emails they’d send you if you gave it up? Did you try to skip the phone number field because you absolutely did not want a phone call from their sales team? Did you decide you didn’t actually need that whitepaper after all because they asked for too much personal information?

If you’re being honest with yourself, you were probably among the 90 percent who abandoned that sign-up form because you didn’t want to be hassled by yet another company trying to sell you stuff.

The lesson here? Don’t be another one of those companies hassling your potential customers.

So What Does Work?

Let’s face it; we’re all tired of being sold stuff. Advertising messages are in our faces 24/7. That’s why techniques like lead-gating need to be used very sparingly and very strategically. To reach the customer of today, you need to use content to build relationships so they trust and like you. At the end of the day, customers are going to buy from the brands they know, they like, and they trust.

So how do you do that? Like with any relationship, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Be willing to take the first step. Translation? Instead of gating your content, offer that valuable content to your prospective customers without asking them for a thing. Create value for them first. Show them they can trust you. Show them you’re worth getting to know.

Once you’ve established that relationship with them, only then can you ask them for something in return.

Not convinced? A/B test. After all, we should all be A/B testing our content whenever possible.

Have an experience with lead-gating content that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments. If you’re interested in working with me on an upcoming content project, visit my contact page and tell me about it.

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