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5 Ways to Boost Conversions on Your Gated Content

By Lara BerendtAug 31, 2016

It’s a crucial content marketing moment of truth. All of the hard work you put into creating a substantial content asset culminates with one person’s choice: whether or not to fill out that form.

There are plenty of reasons people reach this point and choose not to continue. To boost conversions, first step back and clarify whether you’re gating the right assets to begin with.

To Gate Or Not to Gate

Before you protect content behind a form, or gate, consider whether your readers will find it valuable enough to merit handing over their contact information. Not every resource warrants this information exchange.

Your readers are no dummies. They realize businesses wouldn’t be asking for their name, email address, and sometimes job title, company and more, if they didn’t hold value. Requesting this information before you’ve earned it is a big turn-off.

Some of your content should be available “for free,” without a download form or a price tag. This concept is at the very heart of inbound marketing: When you share information that helps people solve their problems, you earn brand recognition and trust, and they’re more likely to turn to your brand when they’re ready to buy.

“It’s especially important to keep your top-of-funnel content open and discoverable,” Mike Weir of LinkedIn told the Content Marketing Institute. “It’s like dating: You want people to find you interesting and say, ‘I like your point of view. Let’s schedule a time to talk.’”

Only gate content that offers substantial depth, breadth and value to your audience. With this in mind, let’s look at five tips for increasing content conversions on gated content.

1. Make It Hyper-Relevant

A hard truth about creating content that converts is that it requires time, resources and an intimate knowledge of your audience to stand out from the pack. To win more conversions, offer your audience truly differentiated content that they can't find elsewhere and that speaks directly to their needs—what Joe Pulizzi describes as finding your “content tilt.”

“The content tilt is that area of little to no competition on the web that actually gives you a fighter’s chance of breaking through and becoming relevant,” Pulizzi writes. “It’s not only what makes you different, it’s so different that you get noticed by your audience. That audience rewards you with their attention.”

Tips for Boosting Content Relevance

  • Update your buyer personas to better understand your audience’s top concerns throughout the buyer’s journey.
  • Uncover promising niche content topics from user research and customer interviews.
  • Mine your website analytics to learn what people are searching for, what’s bringing them to your site, and what existing content is performing best.
  • Research keywords to identify the best long-tail keyword phrases for your business and audience, and create content that helps you claim some of this search traffic.

2. Make It Meatier

Many companies are creating gated content, eager to dip a toe into the new lead generation game, but a lot of them are producing generic eBooks, webinars or white papers and getting lackluster results. If people suspect they won’t learn anything new from your gated content, they're less likely to hand over their contact information to get it.

Identify a meaty topic (preferably one your competitors haven’t yet tackled), research it thoroughly, choose the best format and medium and craft a comprehensive or long-form asset. If your topic is technical, involve subject matter experts in the ideation and writing processes to ensure sufficient depth in the end product.

“Long-form content as opposed to ‘snackable’ content is what fuels a successful content marketing approach,” writes Neil Patel. “In the marketing funnel itself, long-form content—usually the deep stuff—is what helps users circle closer toward a purchase, encourages loyalty and improves user experience.”

Examples of Meaty Lead Generating Content Types

  • EBooks and white papers: Provide a thorough exploration of a niche topic, organized into sections or chapters. Make them easy to navigate and revisit for reference.
  • Courses and tutorials: Demonstrate authority through interactive courses and video tutorials that educate your audience.
  • Webinars: Require advance registration for a series of in-depth or technical webinars that offer a deep dive into a subject.
  • Resource kits: Package a variety of related resources together to save readers time and offer a comprehensive solution to their task. Kits can include brochures, checklists, cheat sheets, worksheets and templates.

3. Optimize Your Landing Page Design

“Landing pages are the heart and soul of an inbound marketer's lead generation efforts,” writes Pamela Vaughan for HubSpot. And sometimes you can increase conversions by addressing simple landing page design or usability issues.

First, make sure your design choices are carried over from your demand generation touch points to your landing page. When users arrive on a landing page that doesn’t echo the fonts, images and colors of the ad, email or social media post that drove them there, they wonder whether they landed in the right place and might abandon the page.

Next, use A/B or multivariate tests to experiment with different landing page designs and determine what resonates best with your audience.

Components to Test and Tweak

  • Layouts: Tinker with the size and placement of your headline, body copy, imagery, CTA and form fields. Try shorter layouts that keep all content above the scroll.
  • Colors: Test different combinations to find the right mix of energizing hues and attention-grabbing contrast.
  • Images: Nielsen research shows people tend to ignore images that are used as “filler” or are purely decorative but that they pay attention to information-carrying images, such as those of real people and those that convey helpful product details.

4. Spice Up Your Copywriting

Copywriting has the power to charm or repel your prospects. Bland, generic or overtly salesy language can deter people. When creating emails, landing pages and social media posts to promote your gated content—as well as in your downloadable assets themselves—amp up your writing to inspire more readers to convert.

Use landing page copy to clearly lay out the key skills or knowledge readers will get from the content you’re asking them to download. Frame these as concrete benefits and describe them in colorful, engaging language.

Tips for Creating Copy That Converts

  • Appeal to positive emotions like desire, nostalgia, hope, wonder and sense of belonging.
  • Create a sense of urgency with short-term offers or timely, on-trend messaging.
  • Use social proof, showcasing the words of real people who benefited from your content.
  • Focus relentlessly on readers by writing with “you” and “your” instead of “we” and “our.”
  • Scrub any dry, corporate-sounding language, replacing it with human, conversational copy.
  • Use action-oriented CTAs like “Get my free eBook” or “Send me the resource” rather than the passive-sounding “Submit.”

5. Get Your Channel and Timing Right

Make sure you're promoting gated assets in the right places and at the right times for optimal conversions. Map your content to the buyer’s journey to determine when to target people with a particular resource. Identify the topics and formats your audience craves at each stage of the buying cycle, from awareness, consideration and decision through to post-purchase support.

With a strong understanding of your target customers, you can meet them on the channels they like best and cater to their content consumption habits. Choose channels that suit your content type and subject matter. For instance, social media might be a great place to promote a webinar series, but a long-form technical white paper might perform better through a targeted email campaign or promotion through a niche industry publication.

Questions to Help Determine the Right Channel

  • Where does the audience for this asset spend their time online?
  • What is the tone and format of the content?
  • Do I want to encourage sharing, commenting on or otherwise engaging with this content?
  • What’s my distribution budget?

To learn more about how to get the most out of your gated content, download our eBook, “The ROI of Content Marketing.”

Check Out Essential Content Marketing KPI - Interactive Checklist

Additional Topics: Content and Design
Lara Berendt
The Author

Lara Berendt

Lara Berendt is an editor and content strategy consultant with a background in journalism and B2B marketing. For ten years she's helped craft content for publications and businesses across a range of industries—from staffing and financial services to tech manufacturing and traditional print media—forever striving to optimize people's communications and the strategies that inform them. Learn more at laraberendt.com.
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