I was at the register, internally celebrating my decision to treat myself to some new shoes, when the clerk asked, “Can I get your email?” The question came out of nowhere with no explanation as to why she wanted it. My gut reaction was to snap back with, “No freakin’ way!” Though I did say no, my actual reply was a bit more polite.
Where did my knee-jerk reaction come from? Like many of us, I don’t like giving out my information to just anyone who asks for it.
As a marketer, I understand the challenges of trying to collect data in this privacy crazed world. Using gated content – in other words, offering content in exchange for an email address or other personal info – is a much better method for lead collection than a cold ask. In this article, we’ll go over the reasons why as well as explore different strategies for using gated content that will help you generate quality leads.
How does gated content help you generate leads?
We’ve all seen gated content in action – we want some quick tips, an eHow guide, or a recipe. But before the content is revealed, we’re asked to enter our email address. Perhaps you handed it over, or perhaps you bounced. Either way, the gated content was doing its job. Here’s how:
By qualifying the prospect
Let’s say a new CrossFit gym produces an eHow guide called “8 CrossFit Exercises You Can Do at Home.” This would seem counterintuitive to drumming up paying members. However, by asking for an email address in exchange for the free guide, this gym will have laid the framework for acquiring a new member.
Those who input their email address are interested in CrossFit and by allowing them to get their feet wet with a few at-home exercises, they’ll be better positioned to know if CrossFit is right for them, as well as whether or not they’d like to invest in a membership. Meanwhile, if the gym uses that email address along with good email best practices to further market to this prospect, they will likely acquire themselves a real paying customer.
To summarize, whatever the gated content may be, if you decide it’s worth forking over your email address for, then you’re qualified as a lead.
By allowing the prospect to opt-in
Collecting a first or even second opt-in goes hand in hand with qualifying a lead. If the prospect has to make the conscious decision to join a mailing list, it’s because they want to receive marketing materials and keep in touch with your business.
Unlike the register scenario where I was ambushed by an unexpected ask for my email address, collecting contact information in exchange for gated content lets the user know exactly why they are divulging their personal data. Then, if you follow best practices and offer a double opt-in, they have the opportunity to give consent to receive further communications. This will go a long way in ensuring you build a quality list of contacts who are interested and engaged with your brand.
By offering a fair exchange
Digital content is something that you, as a business, have to invest time and money in to produce. It’s fair to offer it to your prospective customers in exchange for something valuable in return – like an email address.
Now that I’ve established why gated content is important for “priming the pump” so to speak, let’s take a look at a few use cases for putting gated content into action.
Ways to use gated content
Offer an ebook or guide
As a business owner, you’re an expert in your industry. Position yourself as such by producing quality content that will attract those looking for quick answers, solutions, tips, recipes, or simply to learn something new. You can offer the content in the form of a downloadable PDF gated behind a simple entry form.
Host a voting contest
A typical voting contest asks participants to upload a photo, video, story, recipe, or another piece of content to be voted on, but gating this type of content wouldn’t be great for qualifying leads. Instead, you can use the ever-popular voting contest to crowdsource info from your audience, such as which new flavor of ice cream to release, which monthly burger special should be permanently added to the menu, which new slogan to use, or where to open a second location of your business.
Since an email is required to vote, it’s fair to say that those participants that voted to open a second location near their home, or for the new flavor your ice cream shop will create are indeed interested in your business.
Offer a discount or coupon
No hate, but there are some clothing retailers I wouldn’t shop at if they were offering a 95% discount. Their style just doesn’t fit mine, so if someone’s looking to get a discount on your business or online store, odds are they like what you’re offering and will redeem a discount or coupon code. Gate this discount with an email capture and watch the leads come pouring in.
Gate a giveaway with a game
Giveaways are tried and true in helping marketers grow their list of leads. They’re also extremely versatile in how you set them up. For example, a puzzle component is included in the user flow of this giveaway. For this reason, the gate would work in reverse because the puzzle would display first and gate the entry form. Visitors are asked to solve a puzzle in a set amount of time. If they’re able to, the screen will refresh and reveal the giveaway’s entry form.
Gate quiz results
Along the same vein of gating a giveaway with a puzzle or game, you can do the same thing with quiz results. Offer a trivia quiz in which participants have to answer each question and display correct or incorrect answer text along the way. When they get to the end of the quiz, gate the quiz’s results with an entry form.
When collecting data from customers or potential customers, it’s oh-so-important to treat that data with extreme care. Never spam subscribers or sell information. Follow privacy policies and best practices. If you’re like me and raise an eyebrow at anyone asking for your info, treat the info you collect as you would like yours to be treated – with respect!