I wrote a post last year that detailed the surprising results of some tests ion ran. Essentially, we found that removing the gating lead-gen form from some of our interactive content actually increased conversion rates. That result was counter-intuitive, and by no means consistent. In fact, keeping the gating lead-gen form is still sometimes the best recipe for conversion.
Now the question is where and how to gate?
Unlike pass/fail landing pages, interactive content is deep. It’s likely multiple pages or steps filled with rich and varied, highly valuable content.
In the landing page lead generation world, you essentially have to put the gating form before the content. In fact, it’s highly likely that the content itself is only supplied after the gate via email or download. The visitor either converts or not (the 'pass/fail’ part) and most marketers care very little about what happens after that.
Interactive content gives you several lead generation options.
Because the content in ‘interactive content’ is actually online and part of the user experience, you’ve got options. Lots of options.
Interstitial note on testing lead generation alternatives:
This isn’t a testing focused blog post, but I will say right now that the only way to make these gating choices is to test alternatives by source of traffic. ion has front-gated, tease-gated and back-gated alternatives of the same creative that perform differently based on where the traffic is coming from. For example, social-sourced visitors balk at any front gate, while email-sourced visitors are generally most comfortable with front gates. I only know this thanks to testing, so please, test, test, test.
Three kinds of interactive content marketing lead generation gates: front, tease and back
I think of lead generation gates in terms of three categories: front gates, tease gates and back gates. Front gates are the traditional pre-content variety. Tease gates give some portion of the content ungated, prove the value and then gate the balance. Back gates give it all away and rely on some form of content upsell to earn the conversion.
Lead Generation Front Gates
Pre-content front gates are the tried and true landing pages of the world. They rely on two things: credibility and compelling promises. You may still convert well without those things, but your lead quality will likely suffer as a result. I wrote another post on diminishing lead quality from traditional landing pages and how we’ve seen the smartest and most valuable leads moving away from converting this way.
- Use front gates when your promise and credibility are high
- Use front gates if your content is weak (as it hides it)
- Use front gates in traditional lead-gen contexts: email and pay-per-click marketing
- Avoid front gates in less resilient use case contexts: social marketing and native advertising
- Expect lower lead quality from front gates
Lead Generation Tease Gates
I like to call mid-content gates ‘tease’ gates because that’s what they do. You give up a portion of your content before asking for anything — like a movie trailer. This gets people involved and engaged — taking the onus off the promise of great content and simply putting it on the content itself. If your content is weak, this won’t help you (and in this competitive world, you have much bigger problems).
Tease gates provide a wide array of opportunities and options. Take just a few alternative ways of tease gating an interactive eBook… You could give away just the table of contents. Or you could give away only chapter one. Or perhaps you think chapter two is most compelling and valuable to your visitor. Does that mean you give it away to prove your value or hold it as bait? Maybe you want to learn what’s most interesting and compelling, so you want to give away any single chapter before asking for anything in return. Could it be that a progressive conversion asks for one field of data at the end of each chapter until the lead record is complete?
The only way to know which of these options will yield the highest number of quality leads is to test. And yes, it’s worth the effort (presuming you have the capability to make that effort reasonable).
- Use tease gates when you have strong content
- Use tease gates when you have a strong testing infrastructure
- Expect higher lead quality from tease gates
Lead Generation Back Gates
Back gates give away all of the primary content but then provide something in addition to compel conversion. It’s basically a content or functional upsell. Content upsells might offer a PDF version of the interactive infographic or white paper the visitor just used. Functional upsells may enable the visitor to email the results of their self assessment or calculations from their solution builder. Or, maybe they get to save a configuration they built or an ROI scenario they ran.
- Use back gates when you have upsellable content or functionality
- Use back gates when your primary content is strong (because if people don’t love it, they won’t convert on the backside)
- Avoid back gates when your content is weak or one dimensional
- Expect higher lead quality from back gates
Content marketing lead generation results are here for the taking.
Experimentation around where, when and how to ask visitors for lead data in exchange for your content will yield high conversion rate returns.
- Gate in the right place within your content
- Match the use-case/context/source of traffic to the gate
- Focus on useful, quality content
- Test, test, test
So go ahead, get out there and deliver real business value from your content marketing.