The demand for high-quality leads continues to be a priority for many marketers. Based on a CEB study, 57 percent of research is done online before contact is ever made with a company.

Marketers are increasingly using content to attract prospects, position their company and align their products and services with solutions to industry problems that lead to a sales contact. If 57 percent of the research process is completed before contact is made, it is not a question of question of, “To gate or not to gate?” Rather, the questions we should be asking are:

  1. How much content should be public (ungated)?
  2. What type of content should be ungated?
  3. What kind of content should be gated?

In our experience the most important factor in the decision to gate content is based on the value of the content offered. A well-executed strategy includes mapping the customer journey and providing appropriate content along the way. In the earliest stages of the journey, content should be made available for anyone to access. The ideal scenario is to provide open access to quality content to establish credibility and value with your prospect and then lead them to the next chapter, or the next content level, where they have access to higher value content in exchange for contact information.

Keep in mind that public content gets more views and allows a company to reach as many prospects as possible with its message while also encouraging sharing via social networks, email and instant messengers. Ungated content also supports indexing by search engines which also amplifies your voice across the Web.

On the other side, gated content is viewed by fewer prospects as many may be in the early stages of research and are not yet willing to reveal their identity. Because of this circumstance, it should contain information that is not easily obtained from other sources through a Web search in order to be a fair exchange for information currency.

Successful lead marketing programs include multiple pieces of content for download, often on the same page or section. Some content is available for anyone to download while higher value content downloads are gated. This allows you to segment content, providing open access to general information and offering the most valuable research, tools, etc., in exchange for contact information.

Align available content with a stage in the customer journey. Define the content that should have open access and the high-value content that is best suited for gating. Develop and implement a plan that promotes the content. Measure and optimize the program.

If you want to explore the world of content marketing for lead generation, just remember to keep it balanced and always provide valuable content, whether it is gated or not.

This post was previously published on The M/C/C Blog.