Marketers are furiously debating the merits of gating various types of content — but which type of content is associated with the best ROI? David Meerman Scott's statement about ungating increasing downloads 20 to 50 times spurred many content marketers to ungate content. Others continue to gate nearly everything. But what's the best rule of thumb for gating content? It's likely that the balance will have be struck by providing a variety of gated and ungated content based on where customers are in the sales funnel.
The Right Content at the Right Time
So what is the right type of content to put behind a registration form? It comes down to intent — both the intent of the content and the customer. - Long form blog posts and ebooks are great tools, but there is a risk of providing too little value for the privilege of gaining contact information. - Webinars are typically visited by more committed prospects, but providing fake contact info is still tempting for these users. - Traditional white papers also run the risk of gathering fake contact information, however, because of the perceived value of the content, those who download white papers are generally further along in the marketing funnel.
White Papers: Preferred by Marketers
So where do content marketers put their premium content money? Premium content costs more to create and higher costs means that CMOs need to justify these in terms of lead quality and ROI. As content marketing matures, CMOs are increasingly under pressure to tie their content to performance. There is not a lot of public data that points to long-form blog posts or ebooks providing better ROI than webinars or white papers. However, data shows brands are going a different direction. Judging from the buzz around the industry, the white paper wins as the best tool for driving quality leads without breaking the bank. There are two key reasons for this: 1. A white paper is intended for those already knowledgeable, yet who are seeking more detailed information before making a decision. This means that the reader is closer to purchasing. 2. Several studies, including a recent Business.com survey, suggest that leads generated by white paper content are "extremely valuable" or "valuable" to marketers. Over 50 percent of companies surveyed were interested in white paper leads with webinar leads coming in at 40 percent. In another survey, American Business Media asked marketers where they would be increasing their spending and found there would likely be a 41 percent increase in spending on white paper content.
Determining Your Mix
It all comes down to matching the content to the customer to move them along in the sales process. Any content offered on a company website needs to be carefully assessed to determine its objective and its place in the funnel. Careful analysis of outcomes, through marketing automation tools, helps to determine which type of gated content is generating the best ROI.Photo Credit: Don Hankins via Flickr.