Content marketing has always been a very effective form of online marketing, acquiring traffic, creating brand awareness, and generating new leads.
Online marketers have been using the idea of gated content for quite some time now — and with effective results, too.
The idea is to put your best content behind an opt-in form and ask visitors to give their name, phone number, or email address to be able to access that content. This would give you the opportunity to acquire lead that you could later qualify.
The technique of gated content worked really well for online marketers. People even used it on Facebook (in the early days, of course) by putting some content or information behind a like gate to amplify their lead-generation process.
There isn’t anything wrong with this technique; so many online marketers still use it.
However, the point is that its effectiveness has been decreasing rapidly.
It’s a marketing automation technique that is getting obsolete day by day. According to a survey, approximately 85% of B2B marketers aren’t totally happy and satisfied with the results they are seeing. It says a lot that there is either something wrong with the proven techniques they have been using or there is a trend shift in process.
What is that shifting trend?
Online readers and consumers nowadays favour other tactics that have less friction than, say, opt-ins. With speed becoming one of the most important aspects of online marketing (with search engine rankings, penalties, and conversion optimisation results based on a website’s speed), more and more consumers want to get stuff as soon as possible.
One HBR (Harvard Business Review) report reveals that if it takes more than 5 minutes to follow up with new leads, the chances of qualifying those leads drop by as much as 400 percent.
Also, the shrinking attention span is another factor that is contributing to this phenomenon.
The average attention span of an online reader is now just 8 seconds. That’s 1 second less than the attention span of a goldfish.
Customer journeys are becoming more and more fluid. With the rise of mobile devices — more searches happen now on mobile devices than they happen on desktop devices — people expect quick results. They don’t want to wait more than they should — not even by 2 seconds. Furthermore, they don’t want to entertain any friction or extra step in the form of an opt-in form.
The Dwindling Fortunes of Email Marketing
Email marketing has been the #1 weapon of online marketers for decades now. Yes, social media has always important, but the ROI of email marketing was never truly challenged.
However, with the recent shifting trends we just discussed, even email marketing isn’t the same beast anymore.
When you are sending a promotional email to “warm” your lead, don’t forget that thousands of other marketers are also doing the same. They are all seeking the attention of your ideal customer — and you have everything to lose while competing with all the other businessmen; some of them might not be from your industry.
Now, here comes another important point.
Only the best content marketers can now compete in this email marketing race. Unless you have great credibility and reputation among your target audience, you will find it very difficult to compete and survive.
And how can you build your reputation and provide the best possible content to them if you are withholding some of it to put behind gated opt-in forms?
Use Multiple Marketing Channels
Different strategies now influence different phases of your customer’s buying cycle. That’s why it is important not to rely too much on gated content for lead generation and instead try out multiple marketing channels simultaneously.
For instance, when email marketing is combined with display advertising, the results can be significantly improved.
For instance, Facebook and SalesForce split-test their 565,000 subscribers by dividing them into three categories:
- The first group only received the emails
- The second group only received the ads
- The third group received both — ads and emails
The third group — which saw the ads as well as received the emails — were 22% more likely to purchase.
This proves the power of multi-channel marketing and influencing the buyer’s sales cycle with different marketing tactics and mediums.
While content marketing is still a very effective online marketing, it requires more smart thinking, planning, and executing in today’s shifting digital landscape.
Just putting your best content behind gated content might not be the best technique moving forward.
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