1. Market to That Special Someone
Before you start creating gated content offers that generate leads, you should always know who is going to read it. In academic circles, your potential reader is called your “target audience,” but in a marketing context, we’re talking about someone more specific: a persona.
A persona is the living, breathing representation of your target customer. You should generate multiple personas, each based on individuals in the target markets you are trying to cater to.
The details of your marketing persona will inform every aspect of a particular piece of content. Details like the persona’s age, career path, and job title are all important to consider when writing. You should also pay close attention your persona’s pain points.
You want to understand this person and their daily struggles so you can offer them a helping hand. From a design perspective, you need to know your target persona so you don’t turn them away with the wrong icons, images, or graphics.
For example, if you are creating gated content about LinkedIn marketing that targets a mid-level executive persona, you’ll want to research their industry to decide how casual or formal your content should be. You’ll also want your research to inform your messaging and which topics you cover.
A mid-level executive may or may not be interested in the manual application of LinkedIn marketing. They may be more interested in its cost-effectiveness or an industry data analysis about LinkedIn lead generation.
2. Write Like a Human
Depending on your target persona, you may be tempted to alter your language so that you “sound like them.” This isn’t necessarily a bad inclination. You want to meet your persona at their own level. Creating gated content is a good way to present yourself as authoritative.
It is possible to stray into dangerous territory when attempting to do this, however. If you use too much corporate jargon, words like “cutting edge” and “next-generation,” or if you attempt to tell your audience something they already know, you run the risk of losing their trust and engagement.
According to Forrester, 87% of B2B marketers say they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers because their language tends to give way to industry talking points and product pitches.
Chances are, your personas are already aware of the latest trends in their industry. Instead of introducing them to trends, you could try to explain what those trends mean to them from a different perspective. By drawing on your own expertise, you might be able to give them some insights that they may not have considered.
Finally, a general rule when writing content is to make your language sound human. It’s possible to do this while also establishing credibility with authoritative statements. You want your message to be approachable enough that your persona continues to read it, and powerful enough for them to find real value in your work.
3. Solve a Problem
When your potential customers are willing to give you with their contact information, you should provide them something useful in exchange. According to Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey, almost half of all B2B buyers surveyed viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative at all.
Your readers aren’t downloading your gated content looking for a sales pitch. They are downloading your content because they are looking for answers.
Creating gated content offers shouldn’t involve a detailed list of the services your company provides or even a case study about one of your victorious business exploits. Aside from inserting your logo on each page or including an “about us” section, a good content offer shouldn’t mention your company or product at all.
It should address one of your persona’s pain points specifically and offer a solution to their problem.
In a perfect world, a visitor downloads your offer and finds it useful enough to refer to. Then, they become so enthusiastic about the help your gated content provided them with that they contact you and start their journey down the sales funnel. Obviously, this doesn’t always happen, but it’s a workable goal to reach for as you create your content.
At the very least, you can hope that what you have to offer is impressive enough to your viewer that they continue to explore.
4. Pick a Format That Works
The type of gated content you create should depend on the topic you are covering. Keep in mind the pain point you are attempting to address. An industry case study might not be appropriate if you are trying to help your visitor post their blog on a hosting site, but a step-by-step guide might work. If you are covering technical subject matter, you might be better off writing an eBook or a whitepaper.
Here are some different types of gated content offers:
A 2015 survey by the Content Marketing Institute indicated that eBooks are one of the most effective content tactics for B2B small business marketers.
eBooks are less technical than whitepapers or other types of research studies, as they allow you to cover topics at length without delving into too many statistics. If you’ve written a number of blog posts about specific subjects, it might be worth creating a piece of gated content in the form of an eBook about them. You can use graphs and data to support your statements in an eBook, but data shouldn’t be your focus.
These can take the form of templates, kits, or free apps, but depending on the services your business provides, you can come up with other ideas for free tools to offer your visitors.
Usually, posting a SlideShare as a piece of free, ungated content is an effective way to get more website traffic. If you’ve created a particularly useful SlideShare, you could also place it behind a contact form as a content offer.
People love step guides because they offer a no-frills explanation of how to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Depending on the topic the guide covers, it can vary in length and detail. Shorter guides could be posted to your blog. Longer, more detailed guides are usually good items to offer in exchange for contact information.
Whitepapers are authoritative industry research papers. They look similar to eBooks in length and formatting. However, whitepapers are usually technical, data-driven documents that are not casually written. This type of gated content is particularly useful if you work in an industry that depends heavily on metrics.
You can also use them if your company conducts its own surveys and research studies.
5. Align Gated Content Offers with Your Own Services
The most effective content offers will be married to the products and services your company provides. There may be some variation in the gated content you write, but everything should somehow tie back to what your company does. When you're creating content offers, your overall goal is to get more of the right people into your marketing funnel.
If you create gated content that helps those who can't benefit from your company, you won't generate qualified leads.
Remember these 5 tactics when you’re off creating amazing content offers. If you follow them consistently, you’ll have plenty of quality items to showcase over social media and your other marketing channels well into the future. Most importantly, you’ll have more quality leads to add to your growing list of contacts.
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