Content marketing and lead generation have always gone hand in hand. Since the birth of the internet, marketers have enticed their web visitors to complete a form in exchange for the promise of some type of content.
If you’re responsible for generating online leads, chances are high that one of your primary tactics is to “gate your content”—asking visitors to complete a form in order to gain access to some type of content asset. Your online audience, particularly in the B2B space, is conditioned to complete these forms in order to receive things like white papers, eBooks, exclusive offers, codes or coupons, webinars, demo videos, etc. This is a digital behavioral norm that users have become accustomed to—reciprocity dictates that you give something of value in exchange for personal information.
Because of this norm, lead capture experiences are so ubiquitous throughout the web that they have become almost comically cookie-cutter and formulaic, no matter how much creativity marketers try to inject into them. How much can really be done with a form on a page? At the end of the day, it is a page, with an offer or promise of something, and a form—a prototypical ‘landing page.’
At some point, in the quest for more and better leads, many marketers run straight into the conversion rate brick wall and can’t smash through. Declining conversion rates often produce a constant scramble to cycle through one more conversion optimization test to try to get people to fill out a form.
Declining conversion rates aren’t the only problem with the standard gated content approach. A typical landing page offering a gated content asset is so formulaic, it is literally undifferentiated. Your beautifully designed, perfectly crafted landing page looks just like the last one your visitor landed on, and the one before that as well. A cookie cutter page offers you little opportunity to differentiate your brand and create a memorable user experience.
There is a way to overcome the inherent challenges and diminishing usefulness of traditional gated content while still achieving high conversion rates and it comes in an unexpected form: giving your content away in the form of useful, valuable content experiences.
Guess what? Quality 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 gladly complete your form to engage further with you or receive additional content from you.
Consider some of the most common content marketing tactics—articles, blogs, white papers, webinars, research papers, case studies, videos. Consumption of this content is entirely pass/fail. It is either read (or watched), or it isn’t. These types of content are ‘static’, because consumption is entirely passive.
By contrast, an interactive content experience is intended to be participatory, often including a feedback loop in which the outcome of the experience itself is directly impacted by the interaction of the visitor with the content./span>
Interactive content experiences are compelling and effective alternatives to traditional lead generation pages.
Static content provides limited opportunities for audience engagement. Visitors can read, watch, convert, and share. But not much more. An interactive experience is inherently participatory—solutions configured, calculations made, quizzes taken, chapters navigated. Visitors naturally interact with the content, becoming immersed in the experience instead of passively reading.
When content is interacted with, consumption can be tracked and analyzed. While static content is pass/fail (a visitor lands and then what? They can only leave, share or convert), interactive content provides deep insights into actual content consumption.
An exceptional, relevant content experience drives more leads and sales than static content.
Interactive content is a proven way to differentiate your brand and offer something more interesting and compelling to your audience. It’s a more conversational way of interacting as opposed to just pushing resources and hoping people respond.
Virtually everything within an online content experience can be tracked, measured and reported on. Beyond page views, bounce rates and conversion, interactive content provides opportunity to see the outcomes and patterns of content interactions.
Individual content interactions can be surfaced to the sales team with context, allowing them to meet their buyers at the point of interest. Unlike static content, which offers very little information about how a lead actually engaged with your content, interactive content can tell you what a lead is most interested in, how much of your content they consumed, what inputs they provided, and much more. From the CRM, salespeople can gain instant, contextual understanding of every piece of interactive content their lead has experienced.
If you are faced with flat or declining conversion rates, competitive differentiation challenges, a need to measure and demonstrate content consumption, or a desire to surface richer prospect profiles to your sales team, it’s time to throw out the standard, formulaic ‘gated content’ approach and try something new altogether—interactive content experiences.