13 tips to help you create irresistible gated content
Let's start with gated content. Some people question whether it works as well it used to, but our clients still get a lot of their leads from gated content.
That said, if you want your campaign to perform, you need an awesome gated content idea. Here’s how to create gated content your audience won’t be able to resist.
Solve a specific problem your audience has
This is B2B marketing 101… People are more likely to engage with something if it clearly solves a problem they know they have.
Reports, whitepapers and original research often get used as gated content. But they don’t always perform that well because they’re not solving a problem, they’re sharing information.
Ask yourself: what problems are your target audience really struggling with right now? And how can you make it easy as possible for your audience to solve those problems?
Focus on just one topic or challenge
When people are looking for solutions they’re usually trying to solve a specific problem, not a general one. If you have a flat tire you Google ‘how to fix a flat tire’ not ‘bicycle maintenance’.
Being specific reassures your audience that you’re definitely going to solve a problem they have.
Make your title clear and compelling
It’s all about the name.
If the title doesn’t sell it, no one will be interested.
If in doubt – especially if you’re not a copywriter – focus on clarity. If there’s genuine value there, a clear description of what your gated content is, who it’s for and how it’s going to help can’t go wrong.
Quantify your gated content's value
Which of these is more compelling?
- Increase your leads
- Quadruple your leads
Quantifying the value of something makes the outcome feel more tangible.
Refer back to your best-performing content
If you’re struggling to think of a topic, take a look at your analytics.
If an idea is performing that means it’s of value. Ask yourself how you can take that idea and turn it into something that will generate leads.
There are all sorts of ways to do this:
- Turn it into a checklist
- Turn it into an infographic
- Expand it upon it
- Bundle it up with other content
- Turn it into a webinar
- Turn it into an email course
Pick a goal with a clear ROI
Getting someone to submit their contact details isn’t easy. So pick a challenge or a goal which is important.
If in doubt, focus on things that make money or save money.
Make it sound short and easy-to-consume
Gated content doesn’t have to be long. The length is irrelevant. The important thing is the value that you add.
Offering a time constraint can make your content more appealing to a busy audience. According to OptinMonster, checklists are the highest converting format for this reason.
Deliver results within a timeframe
Everyone loves a quick win.
Use social proof
Humans are pack animals. We find it reassuring to know that others like us have done something.
This is why you often see CTAs like: ‘Join a community of 40,000 marketing experts’.
If you don’t have numbers, a testimonial on the cover or the landing page will also help. Or use your own success as social proof.
Create a sense of scarcity
This may seem crass but it works. The scarcer something seems, the more we want it.
Limit your lead generation campaign to a certain timeframe or number of downloads and the odds of conversion will be higher.
Offer a free trial
A free trial is a great way of driving conversions that doesn’t require you to create more content.
More and more SaaS companies are opting for a product-led growth strategy, driven by either free trials or a freemium subscription model.
Co-create with a respected partner
This is a good idea if you’re just starting out. People are going to be more likely to convert if they recognise the people involved.
Co-promotion can also help drive more traffic to your landing page.
6 alternative gated content formats
Gated content doesn't have to be PDFs! There are plenty of other formats you can explore. Here are some alternatives.
Take the legwork out of a boring job
A common gated content format you see on agency websites is a social media calendar, showing you all of the topical moments a brand can tap into over the course of the year.
This approach works because it takes a time-consuming job and makes it as easy as filling out a form
Create a repurposable template
Templates for infographics, slides, proposals or other types of content are a great way to give your target audience a helping hand.
You also have the option of branding up the template that you provide, which helps keep your brand front-of-mind each time they use it.
Round up valuable content
Staying on top of important trends and the latest news is hard work. Weekly or monthly roundups of the best stories and content in your niche can be a really useful service. Most of my favourite newsletters are round-ups.
Create an email course
Break your content up and turn it into an email course. Email is a proven way to build a relationship over time.
Build a simple tool, calculator or spreadsheet
These are handy if your audience do a lot of data analysis or calculations. Create a simple calculator tool or just a spreadsheet with the formulas filled out and ready for a user to punch their data into.
As a follow up, you can offer a free consultation to review the data that they’ve entered, moving the interaction from transactional to consultative.
Cover industry trends and predictions
There’s a reason why trends pieces are so common – because they work. If you’re a respected voice in your field, the rest of your industry will want to know what you see on the horizon.
This approach works less well for challengers.
22 ways to optimise your gated content landing pages
Landing pages are the most important pages on your website after your homepage. They’re where conversions happen.
But a landing page that isn’t optimised to convert is pointless. Here are 22 tips to make sure yours are doing what they’re supposed to.
One goal, one message, one action
Your landing page should have one CTA. Usually to fill out and submit the form.
The more CTAs you have – links to other pages or videos to watch – the less likely you are to achieve your core goal.
Make sure that you have one goal (what the user is trying to achieve), one message (how you will help) and one action (fill out the form).
Focus on the core landing page elements
A landing page doesn’t require much more than:
- A headline
- An optional subheading
- A paragraph or two of explanatory copy
- An image
- A form
You may choose to include other elements such as testimonials or partner logos. This is fine, so long as these elements support the core CTA and encourage downloads.
Make it clear what you want the user to do and why they want to do it
The heading and subheading are the first thing that users see.
Make it obvious what the landing page is for and why they should care about your offer, or the SaaS product or service you’re promoting. If the user has to figure it out for themselves, they will leave.
Have a clear visual hierarchy
Make the most important elements on your page stand out. This can be achieved by making them larger, more colourful or using call out boxes.
The key things to focus on here are the headline, the CTA and the form.
Lose the header navigation
Limiting the user’s options increases conversions. Removing the header navigation helps with this.
Ideally you want just two choices: fill out the form or go back.
Bring the form up the page
Don’t make your users scroll! Bring forms up the page and right-align them so they appear above the fold. Some brands even embed them into the header banner.
Only ask for essential info
The more information you ask for, the less likely potential customers are to convert.
Reassure the user
Include links to your privacy and data security policy. You can also include badges of any data security partners that you work with and always make sure that your forms are compliant with GDPR.
Don’t include a note underneath your form saying ‘your email address will not be used for spam’. This has been proven to reduce conversions by up to 18%.
Segment and target by vertical or sector
Segment your traffic and target your landing pages to specific audiences. The more relevant you can make your landing page to a specific group, the better.
Get your buttons right
Don’t be shy with your buttons and CTAs. Make them large and bright enough to catch the eye.
Also, avoid using the word ‘Submit’. Use the copy to remind the user what they stand to gain. For instance: ‘Optimise campaigns’.
Use visual cues to guide the eye towards the form
Design elements such as arrows or pathways that lead the eye toward the form or CTA will focus the user’s attention.
Optimise for mobile
This is important for UX but also for SEO. Google punishes site’s which aren’t optimised for mobile.
Optimise for search
Don’t optimise your page for the title of your gated content. Optimise it for the user’s goal.
Test your designs (pre-launch)
Before you take your landing page live test it on some guinea pigs. This can be done on-screen or printed off. Put it in front of them for five seconds then take it away. Ask them to tell you what the landing page was about and any key messages they can remember.
If they can’t remember the headline and CTA, revisit your messaging, banner and layout.
A/B test core features (post-launch)
Once your campaign is live, A/B test key features such as form position, banners and headlines.
Remember to only A/B test one feature at a time, otherwise it’s impossible to tell which element was responsible for the change.
Have a testimonial from a satisfied reader
If you got positive feedback from a previous reader, ask if you can feature it on the landing page.
Show a (smiling) face
Smiling faces have been proven to increase engagement rates across all types of CTAs. For some reason, women more so than men.
Address the user directly
Address the reader directly by using the words ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ in the copy. For example, instead of saying ‘guaranteed to improve conversion rates’, say ‘guaranteed to improve your conversion rates’.
Make it easy to share
This is good for usability but also good for SEO because Google prioritises pages which are shared on social.
In the previous section chapter I mentioned how it can be helpful to quantify your gated content’s value in the title. You can do the same on the landing page.
The statistic can refer to the number of downloads or the impact of the document, or both. For instance, to roll both into one line: “Over 2,000 people have increased their conversion rates by as much as 15% using this document.”
Create different pages for different segments
Create separate targeted landing pages for your key audiences.
They don’t need to be totally different from one another, but small changes in language used – specifically calling out the sector when possible – and imagery can have a massive impact.
Optimise load time
A slow landing page load time will annoy Google and your users. Reduce page loading times by reducing the file size of the imagery on the page.
5 ways to get more website visitors
Make sure that your website is channeling traffic to your landing pages and explore how you can encourage users to convert when they’re not on your landing pages.
Include banners on your homepage and relevant content
Create a handful of banners, sized for your homepage, blog feed and other prime real-estate. Use these to drive traffic from other sections of your site to your landing pages.
Include links in relevant blog posts and pages
Be sure to pick copy that aligns with the keywords you’ve picked for your landing page, as this will benefit the landing page’s SEO.
Consider pop-ups or slide-in CTAs
These can be very effective at driving traffic, but don’t overload your website with these features as they can hamper UX.
Consider pop-ups or slide-in forms
Platforms like OptinMonster can help you to create pop-up or slide-in forms which appear when certain thresholds or conditions are met, such as time on your site or number of pages viewed.
Use exit intent
Exit intent is a type of pop-up that triggers when someone moves their mouse the URL bar. It gives you one last ditch attempt to convert them before they leave your website.
It can be annoying but it definitely works.
9 ways to nail your launch campaign
Create a sales toolkit
Your sales team have loads of contacts and relationships. Make sure you use them.
Draft emails for your sales team, along with content for LinkedIn and any other social channels.
Hack your gated content up into blog posts
Hack your content up into sections, repurpose them and publish them as blog posts, one going out every week for the duration of the campaign and all of them linking back to the landing page.
Create imagery and gifs for social
Use imagery and gifs to drive traffic from social. You should also post links to the blog posts mentioned above.
Make sure that your CTAs match the landing page headline
If people think they’re getting one thing and arrive at a page that has nothing to do with that thing, they will bounce right away.
Send targeted emails to relevant contacts
Targeting your email sends is an absolute must. And remember to remove any contacts that sales will be reaching out to. You don’t want to double up.
Create a footer banner for email signatures
Your business sends a lot of emails. Ask client-facing staff to include a banner to the campaign landing page in their email signature.
Use LinkedIn and Facebook lead gen ads
Lead gen ads display the signup form in the newsfeed and allow users to submit their account data in just one click (the platforms already have the user’s data and fill out the form on their behalf).
Write guest posts
Pitch articles to blogs that explore the themes in your gated content. Ask if you can include links to your landing pages for people that want to learn more.
Backlinks from guest blogging are good for traffic and for SEO.
Share your results to encourage participation
The support of the business can make or break any campaign. Especially sales.
After your launch, feed the results back into the business to show the impact that their participation has had and encourage them to do more.
8 metrics to optimise performance
There are plenty of different lead generation strategies you can follow. But no matter what you do, there are a few key metrics you always need to measure.
Landing page conversion rate (visits / conversions)
Every campaign and sector is unique, but here are a few basic rules:
- Under 2.4% – something is very wrong. Refer to chapter two!
- Between 2.5% and 5.9% – this is alright but not great. Refer to chapter two!
- Between 6% and 11.9% – this is good, take a look at chapter two but don’t massively change what you have because it’s working
- Over 12% – woohoo, keep it up!
Make sure that you’re getting enough to traffic to meet your objectives.
If you have a conversion rate of 10% and you want 250 leads, you’re going to need 25,000 visits to that page to make that happen.
Look at all the traffic sources that make up your campaign. Which tactics are working and which are under-performing?
If you have limited resources, it’s best to ditch the weak elements of a campaign and double-down on what you know can deliver.
Return lead vs new lead
Lead nurturing is great, but you want to generate a reliable stream of new leads.
If most of your downloads are existing contacts, revisit your launch strategy (it’s probably too reliant on email).
Typically, we think a lower bounce rate is better. But a low landing page bounce rate can be a bad thing. If people are visiting your landing page then clicking a link and navigating away from the page, that’s a problem.
If you’ve followed the tips earlier in chapter two and limited the user’s options, a high bounce rate is a problem.
If you have other links on the page or the header navigation visible, the bounce rate won’t tell you much. Which is another reason for you to limit unnecessary links.
If you’re seeing a higher rate of form abandonment compared to your other campaigns, review the number of fields and lose any that aren’t essential.
To get this data you’ll need to chat to sales and review how many of your new leads are closing.
It’s tempting to see this as sales’ problem, but this is the wrong mentality. If the leads that you’re generating aren’t becoming customers, they’re probably not the right leads for your business.
You made it!
Top marks for making it to the end. Follow all of the tips in this guide and your SaaS company will have a reliable pipeline of high-quality leads in no time.
As I said, if you want to get maximum value out of this, bookmark it so you can jump into it whenever you want to improve the performance of your campaigns.
Thanks for reading.