Gated content has a problem. How many times have you seen a notification for a “Free Ebook” only to click the link and find yourself in front of a wall that demands your email address before granting you permission to access the content you were promised? Have you ever turned away from that page out of frustration? Well, you’re not alone.
In fact, the debate between whether or not companies should gate or un-gate their content is ongoing. On average, “...an ebook behind a gate will be downloaded 20 times, but up to 50 times more without a gate” says marketing strategist David Meerman Scott. Often, download rates see a surge of 7-10% if a gate is removed, but of course, you then miss out on acquiring solid leads.
The question becomes whether you would rather 1,000 potential leads that you can follow-up with by email, or 10,000 potential leads that you have no way of reaching out to, but who may become customers organically. It’s a tough question to answer because the results are so up in the air.
But why do there only have to be two options? Why does content have to be gated or un-gated? Why can’t it be “semi-gate”?
Everyone Wants A Taste First
To put the concept of “semi-gated” content into perspective, consider this example: you decide one day to go to a really nice restaurant for dinner, and the chef tells you that he has just created one of his best culinary masterpieces. You are given the option of paying him upfront for the meal and risk having to eat the entire thing whether it suits your tastes or not, or you have the option of trying a small bite of it first, and then you get to decide whether or not to purchase it. Chances are you will definitely want to taste it, and if the chef is true to his word and it is his finest meal, you will likely want to eat the whole thing. If you don’t it, the chef runs the risk that may never return to that restaurant again.
In a study on the psychology behind Costco’s free samples, it was found that in some cases, sales were boosted by almost 2000 percent. In addition to that, “... beer samples at many national retailers on average boosted sales by 71 percent, and its samples of frozen pizza increased sales by 600 percent.” Most of the time, if someone is reaching for the free sample to begin with, they are already showing interest in the product. The vast majority of the time, that sample functions as a confirmation to buy.
Good online content works the same. People will always read a summary before they commit to taking in the whole thing, but the fact is they will always appreciate a taste first and not risk being disappointed later. Amazon does this with it’s “Look Inside” feature, and it has been estimated to increase the conversion rate by almost 100 percent.
Include The Signup Form Directly Into An Infographic
So how can you effectively give potential readers a sample of your content? Infographics are a great form of visual content that you can create, which not only provides a summary of the document in an easy to interpret format, but it is also a shareable piece of content in itself. A little while ago we worked on a lead generation campaign at Venngage. We worked on an ebook entitled “How To Create Infographics For Your Marketing.”
Upon clicking the download button, users were brought to a page that asked a series of questions. The form was painfully long to fill out, and the description of what was included in the ebook was vague and too condensed. Rather than playing a game of 20 questions with your potential clients, all you really need is their name and email address, and it doesn’t need to be the first thing you ask for. Why not use an interactive infographic with a signup form embedded directly into it? This is an example of how you can implement semi-gated content to ensure the most valuable leads with the highest conversion rate.
At the end of this article is an example of an infographic template you can use. Give potential clients a summary of what is included behind the gate, and if they want more information, the call to action is directly available in the infographic. Then what you do is add the embed code underneath for that same infographic- so even if they choose not to download the ebook, there is still a chance they will share and embed your visual content.
If you provide them with the embed code, you’re also defining the anchor text and target page, and thus you can shape the link in whichever way you choose. That way, when people embed your infographic onto their own sites, your sign-up form is still embedded in the infographic, allowing you to continue growing your email database. Finally, with an interactive infographic, you don’t always need to market your ebook as an ebook. You can simply express that it is an infographic and the added benefit is that people will likely believe they have stumbled upon a gem, and organically choose to submit their emails.
There are a number of free infographic tools that allow you to create interactive emails which are very easy to use. The way they work is by embedding a Google Form directly onto your page. That way you can download all of the data that is input directly into a Google Spreadsheet. Lastly, the leads you do end up generating will be much more valuable, and will include individuals who are much more likely to advocate for you and share your content.