If you generate online leads, you probably often rely on “gating your content” with a landing page –enticing visitors to complete a form in order to gain access to a white paper, a webinar, or some other type of content asset. It’s an effective approach to capture lead data and it’s pretty much the workhorse of paid media campaigns.
Web visitors, particularly in the B2B space, are conditioned to click an ad, arrive at a typical landing page, and complete a form to receive a (hopefully) relevant piece of content. These pages are almost comically cookie-cutter and formulaic, no matter how much creativity we marketers try to inject into them.
But over the last several years, there have been increasing murmurs that the basic “landing page form in exchange for content” approach is diminishing in its effectiveness, making it increasingly challenging to capture that illusive quality lead.
The problem with landing pages
Declining leads aren’t the only problem with traditional landing pages. A typical landing page offering a gated content asset is so formulaic, it is entirely undifferentiated. A beautifully designed, perfectly executed landing page looks just like the last one your visitor landed on, and the one before that as well. A cookie cutter landing page offers you little opportunity to differentiate your brand and create a memorable user experience.
Add in the need for content marketing measurement and ROI and the usefulness of the landing page diminishes even further. Gated static content is literally “pass/fail” – visitors either land and leave or land and convert. Beyond that, we know little about if they consumed the content. They may have loved your white paper, but more than likely, it is still sitting on their desktop, unopened and unread. This is a true obstacle to content measurement and improvement.
Luckily, there is a way to overcome the diminishing usefulness of landing pages while still achieving high conversion rates and finding the holy grail of content measurement too.
Brace yourself—this is going to sound counter-intuitive…
Go ahead and un-gate your content. Make the form an optional, user-driven action, based on their desire to convert. Give your visitors a useful, valuable content experience so great that they want to fill out your form.
We recently conducted an A/B test of a gated white paper landing page against an interactive white paper experience that visitors could freely navigate. A call-to-action in the upper right hand corner of the experience offered the option to complete a form in order to receive a PDF version of the white paper.
Guess what? Bounce rates dropped and conversions increased. The results didn’t surprise us; we see this all the time in content testing we conduct for our customers.
Visitors don’t want to fill out your form to get to your content. They want to experience your content first. Make it great and they will happily complete your form to engage with you further or receive more of your content.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. As a web visitor yourself, do you want to fill out a form to get to some content? Are you delighted when you land on yet another page that looks just like the last one you landed on?
People want to engage with brands that provide value
They want to engage with brands that are useful. Brands that help them solve their challenges and find new solutions or offer a new perspective. It’s hard to achieve that if your visitors can't see and touch and experience your content freely.
If you are faced with flat or declining conversion rates, competitive differentiation challenges, a need for content measurement, and a desire to delight your search visitors, it’s time to throw out the standard, formulaic landing page and try something new altogether.
Create unique, memorable content experiences that visitors can interact with and use freely, making your form an optional step to take. There are so many types to experiment with. Here are just a few to consider:
An interactive white paper or eBook that enables visitors to engage with the content most interesting to them, including little quizzes or optional interaction points throughout.
An assessment that helps visitors determine areas for improvement or how they stack up against their peers.
A quick quiz that provides fun, edu-tainment on a topic about your industry, product, or service.
A product or solution configurator that gives visitors the opportunity to see different options and outcomes based upon their selections.
You probably already have static content that can easily be converted into an interactive version, and the results may just surprise you!
Let me know how it goes in the comments below. I would love to hear about your own experiences with ungated content for lead generation.