If You Love Your Content, Set It Free
October 1, 2014
This post was contributed by Vivek Venugopal, Marketing Automation Specialist at LinkedIn.
“If you love something, set it free…”
In the last five years or so content marketing has been a key focus of digital marketers, especially in the B2B world. Marketers have spent countless hours, resources and time putting together compelling content – white papers, case studies, blog posts, videos -- all in an effort to establish their brands as thought leaders in their respective industries. The problem, though, has been that a huge amount of this content remains locked up in a vault.
The effect of gating content behind a form fill has been that a lot of content remains unseen by B2B buyers who are not yet willing to make themselves known to the company they are researching. What that means, is that prospects are getting to landing pages, seeing a forms with four or five or six -- or god forbid -- 10 fields to fill out. Prospects faced with that many fields simply leave your website to find content some place else.
In defense of marketers, there are good reasons for gating content. Content is valuable and one way to measure the value has been to analyze how many people are downloading the assets. There has never been a way to use content to truly nurture an anonymous prospect – to have the content be a milestone on the buying journey and not a tollbooth.
But the landscape is changing. As marketers think about interesting and innovative ways to nurture anonymous audiences on their sites, there is a very compelling case to be made to start un-gating more and more content. Give away some white papers to first time visitors to your site; to those who have not engaged very deeply in your product offerings; to prospects much farther up in the marketing funnel. As soon as they consume that first piece of content, serve up the next piece of un-gated goodness. If they come back for more and on the third piece of content they encounter a (short) gate with a few fields – they are much more likely to actually fill out the form to get to the asset they need. At that point you, as a marketer, have proven your value and are already established as a thought leader. Your prospect trusts you and is willing to share their information to keep learning. That is true nurturing-to-conversion.
So, marketers, we know you love your content. We know you spent a ton of time on it. We know you don’t want to give it away. But as the (not so) old saying goes: “If you love something, set it free. If it is truly valuable, it will generate MQL’s down the road.”