One approach companies have long struggled with since the dawn of social media marketing is the simple concept of giving content, information and data away–for free.
I see this in our own profession all the time.
You have some agencies, like Top Rank Marketing, for example, who clearly believe in the power of giving it away. For years, Lee Odden has been giving away his tips, tricks and best practices when it comes to digital marketing on the Top Rank blog. For years, I have been doing the same thing on this blog–and now, on the Talking Points Podcast and e-newsletter.
On the flip side, I see plenty of agencies here in the Twin Cities that focus their social content on no one but themselves. No free info. No free advice. The content is all about promoting the agency. And, in some cases, you’ll see the dreaded “gated content” pop up as well.
Gated content is simply any content you award to customers who complete a form–essentially giving you the opportunity to market to them incessantly via email marketing. That’s really what the gated content strategy is all about.
And, that’s exactly where it has always lost me.
Think about how the customers views those two approaches.
First, the “give it all away for free” approach. A customer might see your social post in their LinkedIn feed because a friend liked it. They then follow you. A couple weeks later, they click on a blog post you share they found interesting. A few weeks after that, they like one of your posts as it made them think of a project they were recently working on. After six months of passively interacting with you online, a business need comes up and the customer thinks of your company, since they’ve been seeing more of you in their LinkedIn feed lately. An initial email turns into a phone call which turns into actual business. The customer never gave you an email. They only saw a slow drip of content over many months on a couple of social platforms. And, here they are, buying your service.
Now, think about the gated content approach. A customer might see your social post in their LinkedIn feed because a friend liked it. They then follow you–same as before. But then, a week later, they read a blog post and at the end of the blog post, you ask for their contact information in exchange for an ebook on the topic they just read about. The customer agrees, because they’re interested in the topic. But, then the customer is inundated with emails from your company–to the tune of 2-3 per week. After two weeks of that, the customer unsubscribes, frustrated with the ongoing marketing when all they wanted was some helpful content via the initial ebook.
In one example, your company gave away a series of free content and wound up with a customer (hopefully, for life).
In the other example, your company gave away some free content but then used gated content and wound up pissing the customer off–most likely never to come back.
It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to see which approach is more effective.
Yet, I continue to see gated content used across so many industries.
I just wonder why this is still happening…