It can be surprisingly hard to figure out how much content to put on a website. If you’re trying to build general brand awareness, it can be a good idea to provide all of your site content upfront to visitors and let them explore. If you’re looking to generate leads, however, we recommend “gating” your content, which simply means requiring visitors to provide some of their information — most commonly an email — to access your content. You’ve probably seen this before. You visit a site, see a bulleted list of what you’ll get in a downloadable PDF or a six-minute video, and give your name and email in return for access. Telling site owners to gate their site’s content can be scary. After all, when you require action for a digital offer requests for the offer tend to go down. Isn’t the whole point of these offers to get as many reads as possible? Well, not quite. It’s a bit more complex than that. In this article we’ll explore who’s a good fit for gated content and some of the surprising benefits of walling off sections of your website.
Quality Over Quantity
If you find your website is getting a lot of low-quality clicks and calls, it might be time to put more of your content “behind the wall.” Gated content has a wonderful tendency to filter out low-quality leads. Low-quality, in this case, just means prospects that aren’t ready to buy your product or service. They may be more vaguely interested, or just starting to explore. Asking a visitor to take action automatically tests their willingness to continue down your sales funnel. Let’s say you have a landing page with a downloadable PDF that compares your product to some of your competitors’. It’s a good snapshot of how you stack up to the market, and you think it does a pretty good job of showing your competitive edge. There’s a phone number to call in the PDF, so if someone reads the chart and likes what they see, the hope is they’ll pick up the phone and call.
Historically, you may have left this page ungated. There’s a button to download, and that’s it. You’ve run the page for six months, and see you’re averaging 200 page views a day with 40 downloads. A 20% download rate’s pretty good, you think. That’s 40 people a day with your phone number. But nobody’s calling. Turns out those 40 downloads are from lower-quality leads. These are people who are surveying the market, looking at their options. For the next six months, you’re going to try something new. You switch over to requiring a form fill out with an email and phone number.
To your initial dismay, you watch your 40 daily downloads drop to 5. This isn’t necessarily bad, though. Those 5 people can be considered higher-quality because they took the time to provide their information in exchange for yours. What’s even better, you’ve got contact information for each one. In a world where clicks and impressions seem to matter the most, it’s important to remember that a 3 ready-to-convert leads is worth more than 100 low-quality leads that are not ready to buy. Which group would you rather focus your time and effort on?
Don’t overwhelm your visitors
Here’s another advantage of gated content: website simplification. A lot of clients, especially those in niche industries, get excited with their new website and pack it with page after page of content. This info-dumping can be a major turn off to site visitors.
If you’re running a non-profit informational website, then opening up your site for visitors to explore can be a great idea. But if you’re looking to convert prospects into leads, you need to envision your website as centralized path for visitors to walk on. Sure, there will be small trails leading off the path for different reasons… these represent internal links that might drive traffic to other areas of your website for specific needs.
But these offshoots shouldn’t demand too much time and attention from your visitors lest they get distracted, or worse, pulled off your site entirely. Here’s a rule of thumb that works for most of our clients: If you can’t get your key information across in about a dozen pages, you need to consider reorganizing your content behind some gates.
Segment your Market
We’ve already established the value of capturing higher quality leads. But there’s another distinct advantage to tying offers to gated actions. Simply put, by carefully crafting different offers to different segments of your market, you can begin building out distinct audiences to market to. Let’s say a company specializes in a residential service that serves both B2C and B2B customers. About 80% of their clients are B2C. Other companies might create two web properties to market to their different audiences. This is hassle, though. Two web properties cost more and is more time consuming to maintain.
Additionally, if a B2B user stumbles across the B2C site or vice versa, you may lose a potential lead. With marketing segmentation, our example company has created two sets of offers, one for B2B and one for B2C, and placed them on different areas on their website. The most common method would be to place a “fork in the road” button on the homepage, one for each group. Their website would then filter the audience to two different areas - and offers - each catering to their respective group.
Effectively, our two markets - B2B and B2C buyers - begin to self-select before they talk to anyone. What’s even better, they’re not wasting time scrolling through content that’s not relevant to them. And our company now has two growing lists of contacts to communicate with. Treat your website as a gateway to tailored content for your users, you’ll save time for yourself and the consumer.