Content media

To wear or not to wear?

Vice President, Digital at Clearbridge Brand Agency, oversee clients’ digital and social media efforts.

There has been a lot of conversation, especially between marketers and sales teams, about protected content versus unprotected content. Should you protect your content and require users to enter their personal information to access it, or leave it unprotected, open for everyone to download and enjoy?

Gated content is a great way to grow your email list, gather new leads, and build audience lists for advertising. But users may be hesitant to enter all of their contact and company information to get this secure content. We’ve all been there: you come across a white paper, infographic, or e-book that sounds great, but a website form requires your details before you download it. You inserted it hesitantly, only to be inundated over the course of a week, month, or more with emails and phone calls from the company that provided the white paper.

This tactic is what makes unprotected content so appealing to end users, but not so much to a company’s sales team. However, unprotected content helps build organic awareness while leaving the door open for users to consume future content.

At Clearbridge Branding, we believe secure content should be used later in the buyer’s journey. The further along your customer or potential customer is in their journey, the more likely they are to engage with your brand. In this part of their journey, they may be more willing to provide their personal information and more likely to accept (and even wait for) a follow-up phone call or email. Using gated content in this way should help foster quality leads that will convert at a higher rate.

What makes secure content desirable?

Proprietary information, data, or other hard-to-find information, including original research or market research, makes great secure content. If you expect someone to give up their contact and business information, the potential customer on the other side of the computer also expects the content they gave up their data is worth it.

When analyzing whether or not to block content, consider: is asking someone to share their identity and personal information worth accessing that information? Also consider what media and marketing you have (or may not) have at hand. Gated content should be part of a larger overall marketing effort. If you are not yet there to support the next steps with your business, product, service or campaign, ungated should be considered.

However, let’s make a distinction. All of your content should be high quality and informative, whether closed or not. While gated content is designed to favor leads, remember that unclosed content provides a different kind of value. When you ask yourself what kind of content shouldn’t be protected, your brand goals should be at the forefront of that answer. Of course, you want insecure content to also provide leads, but without asking for contact information, what other purposes should this content consider? Appropriate goals could include brand awareness, brand exposure, and even testing potential interest in your product with unprotected content.

But what if your gated content isn’t performing well?

If your gated content isn’t attracting qualified, closable leads (or any other leads), you have a handful of options. First, take a fresh look at the content and review it to see if the information you provide is worth asking for. Next, dive into how you promote this gated content. Do you need to increase ad spend? Are you reaching the intended audience? Are the platforms you use to promote it the right ones? It might be time to open up the content and analyze its performance both behind and in front of that door.

Gate or no gate?

Your business goals should be considered a key factor in deciding the answer to this question while keeping in perspective what your audience wants to see and why.

Have you been recognized as a trusted source or are you still in the process of obtaining certification as a key trusted information holder? If so, gated content is a valuable way to strengthen your relationship with potential customers. In the latter case, unprotected content is an effective method of drawing attention to your business and what exactly you offer.

Once your organization is established as insightful and enlightening, gated content can be used to strategically capture high-quality leads. It’s about providing a valuable experience to users. Earn their trust and, using a combination of gated and non-gated content, nurture potential customers through the buyer’s journey to the finish line.


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