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Why You Should Stop Giving Your Content Away for Free

Use Gated Content to Generate LeadsAs content creators, we’ve been ingrained to focus on web traffic. We write BuzzFeed-inspired titles in the hopes of getting more clicks and constantly bombard our social media following with messaging promoting our newest piece of content, all to get more visitors.

However, if you’re giving away all your content for free in exchange for a couple thousand website views, you’re missing out on a serious opportunity: gated content.

Gated content allows you to offer something of value (an e-book, white paper, or webinar) to a user only after he or she has filled out a form with some basic information (name, email address, etc). You get to leverage great content to attract potential customers and get their email addresses to begin nurturing them.

[bctt tweet “If you’re giving away all your #content for free, you’re missing out on a serious opportunity: gated content.”]

Here are the biggest benefits of gated content:

1. Attract Stronger Leads

You may only receive 100 downloads of your offer, but you can be sure that those 100 people have a real interest in your service or product. You can also analyze what kind of content the visitor downloaded, giving you a glimpse into the problem he or she wants to solve, ultimately helping you in the sales cycle.

2. Have More Control

Anyone can stumble upon free content from search engines or social media, and many of these visitors won’t even be close to your target audience. With gated content, you have the control to go after a very specific demographic, without wasting your time attracting weaker leads.

3. Build Brand Credibility

Gated content always implies value. Users know that when they give their email address, they will receive something in-depth, important, and/or original. So when you promote your gated content, you’re also promoting yourself as a thought leader and subtly attaching something of value to your brand. Gated content also allows you to build hype, playing up the “be the first to see our new, original study” angle.

Of course, gated content also has some downsides. First, search engines like Google can’t crawl a downloadable offer, so you won’t win any SEO points even though you’ve created a super valuable, long piece of original content. Secondly, free content is much more shareable in nature. Landing pages with gated content don’t usually receive inbound links or social media shares. And lastly, when people are so protective of their email addresses, gated content may never actually see the light of day. You have to put more effort in to get you content read (like building a landing page that converts).

How do you know when to use gated content versus free content? It all depends on your objectives. The best content marketing strategies include both types — gated content for leads and non-gated content for SEO. Your content should be both increasing website traffic and helping move prospects through the sales cycle, and you need to identify the goal before you start writing.

[bctt tweet “When deciding between gated-content and free-content; consider your business objectives.”]

Ask yourself:

  1. Why are you creating this piece of content?
  2. Who are you targeting and what stage of the buying process are they in?
  3. What is the value that people will get from this piece of content?
  4. How unique is this content?

If you have a specific audience in mind and are offering a unique, valuable piece of content, you should try gating it. You’ll collect a list of email addresses that you can then reach out to one-on-one or add to a nurture email campaign. And, if you’re not happy with the results, you can always give it away for free.

Want to learn more about gated content and how to get people to actually download your offer? Enroll in our 21-day course called Crowds to Customers, where we cover everything from starting with your online presence to capturing more leads through premium content like what I just described. Join today!

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