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How to Generate Leads Without Gating Content

04 September 2020

Chances are, if you had a dime for every time gating content was suggested during a marketing meeting, you’d never be stealthy again — not with all that change jangling in your pockets.

Many marketers believe gating content behind a form is necessary to get leads from their website. 

Herein lies the problem with groupthink and labeling something a “best practice”.

It’s hard to gamble on alternative tactics when you’ve already been handed the best.  This is especially true in the world of content marketing.

When a team spends substantial time creating a valuable piece of content, they want to provide tangible results. Tying form submissions to new leads seems like an easy way to add to the sales pipeline.

Is gating content the only way to generate leads from your website? No. It’s also not always the easiest or best way.

The following involves insights around gated vs. ungated content — plus a better way to collect website-based leads.

Note: If you’re looking for even more ways to increase lead generation, sign up for free Leadfeeder's 14-day trial and give it a try.

Advantages of using web forms to gate content

Lead capture

Lead generation is the obvious reason to gate content. You can do a lot with just an email address. 

That data can paint a pretty picture of the lead and their organization. Lead capture is a significant step toward building lists and segments for future marketing.

Cliffhanger: You can still generate leads without lead capture forms…stay tuned!

Generate higher quality leads 

In gating content, you force visitors to weigh their level of interest. Is what you’re offering worth their time and contact information?

100,000 page views aren’t as meaningful as 1,000 names and email addresses. These are the people to invest in — those eager to give your business something for your efforts. 

Quantify content marketing initiatives

Maybe you want to prove content marketing is contributing leads to the sales pipeline and adding new revenue to the business. 

This is a worthy goal since many marketing teams are under pressure to produce measurable results. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are a common key performance indicator (KPI) on executive-level dashboards.

Advantages of NOT using web forms to gate content

Prospects determine what’s valuable

It’s easy to get caught up in creating an arsenal of eBooks, guides, and cheat sheets.  Once you start adding forms to downloadable resources, it’s difficult to change course. 

This habit spread throughout the organization until no one knows what they should or shouldn’t gate anymore.

By removing the gate, you let the user decide what’s valuable. 

Unpack an eBook, put it into a blog post, and see how many views it gets. Then, the user drives the value pendulum, not the organization.

The future is now

The Web has become saturated with new content over the last 10+ years. 

We’ve gone from 1 website in 1991 to 1.74 billion in 2020

Users are inundated with information and increasingly disenchanted with contact forms which act as barriers to it.  

“Educating prospects” is no longer a value proposition for a company. Organizations need to prove their value upfront.

When to use web forms to gate content

Your amazing asset is a lead magnet 

If you work hard to produce a strong, unique lead magnet that no other company could possibly replicate it…

...It would be absolutely reasonable to ask for some of the user’s information before they get it. 

Here are a few examples of lead magnets that we think are justified as being gated behind a form:

ungated content leads klienboost

KlientBoost is a top pay-per-click (PPC) & conversion rate optimization (CRO) agency in California. They packaged their internal training resources as an advanced lead magnet. 

I don’t know about you, but if I need an operation, I want the best surgeon. If you want the best marketing information, you want it from the marketing experts. 

Anyone should be willing to give up a little bit of information to get the best.

ungated content leads pipedrive

This Pipedrive sales email course is particularly valuable because:

  1. It’s executive-level content taught by Timo Rein, co-founder of Pipedrive, and

  2. There’s social proof:

ungated content leads pipedrive reviews

Your product or service is highly competitive 

Sometimes, capturing email addresses is a competitive advantage. Companies that compete in fragmented markets or have hundreds of competitors view a large database as a leg up.

However, companies in niche markets can easily put all their prospective customers into an Excel spreadsheet. 

For these businesses, reaching their potential consumers is a timing issue, rather than a marketing problem. 

Furthermore, the cost-benefit of producing marketing assets is null when the market is small and finite.

When NOT to use web forms to gate content

Your content is broad and superficial

The quality of the content on your website says a lot about your company. If your blog content is mediocre, a visitor won’t see the value in downloading your resources.

On the contrary, if you add a ton of value to your ungated blog posts and then offer up a gated resource as collateral, visitors are more incentivized to convert. 

Before gating a resource, ask yourself: how much value are you providing otherwise? 

If you aren’t doing a good job on your web content, don’t even think about creating downloadable resources… yet.

You don’t have a process for lead nurturing

Many software-as-a-service (SaaS) organizations like Leadfeeder don’t put much stock in building a list of marketing qualified leads (MQLs), or adding to our email database. 

Our tool is so easy to test-drive we’re better off inviting users to trial the product.

MQLs may have a place in our future, but it’s not a priority at the moment.

Buffer has a similar strategy.  A while back, they announced it was better for them to get free trial signups than add to their email list.

This is their current VP of Marketing Kevan Lee’s view:

“This has been our chosen path for the past several years. We built an email list (currently at 44,000 subscribers), we share articles with the list, and we don’t do anything else. What this essentially amounts to is a long-term, customer-driven sales cycle: essentially a soft sell or, in some ways, a zero sell.”

Define a clear marketing strategy and align all your initiatives with your business model and sales organization. 

An in-depth article by Grow & Convert nicely sums up the benefits of lead nurturing versus direct conversion.

How does marketing collect leads without gating content?

Use Your blog

Take the obstacles out of the way and start adding your most valuable content to your blog. 

This will positively benefit search engine optimization (SEO) just by adding more pages to your website. 

Relevant content will lead more visitors to your site, and an easily navigable website with quality information will be a testament to your company’s expertise.

As you increase traffic to your blog posts you can layer in additional calls to action or lead magnets.

Build a microsite

A microsite is basically a long webpage or multiple web pages separate from your main site. 

Users can navigate formerly gated content there, similar to putting all your best content on your blog. 

Text Magic offers a microsite of free tools visitors can take advantage of to verify phone numbers, emails, detect Unicode characters, and more.

ungated content leads textmagic

After the traffic starts flowing to these rich resource web pages, use a tool like Leadfeeder to identify leads who visit your microsite.

Final thoughts: how to generate leads without gating content

If you thought that gating content was the only way to generate leads on your website, hopefully you now understand that there are other, better ways.

Proving your value upfront is a timeless tactic that demonstrates your commitment to your audience even before they become customers. 

Experiment with the possibilities to find the best tactic for your brand.

Note: If you’re looking for even more ways to increase lead generation, sign up for free Leadfeeder's 14-day trial and give it a try.

More leads, no forms.

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