Moz co-founder and legendary SEO master Rand Fishkin recently articulated some of the finer points of an ongoing debate about what the main priority of content marketing should be. In an edition of the Moz blog’s Whiteboard Friday, Fishkin took on the question of when you should gate your content—and when you shouldn’t.
It’s a topic I’ve been grappling with for some time, so I talked my Tech Club co-host James Swihart into letting me discuss it on an episode of the podcast. For this week’s episode, James interviewed yours truly, Aptera’s Content Strategist, about the pros and cons of content gating. The underlying issue you’re getting at when you discuss gating is whether your first priority in content marketing is getting leads, or if it’s building up a following.
James and I discuss:
What it means to gate content and why it’s such a common practice among digital marketers
Where the element of sleaze comes from in most lead-gen strategies
What the average non-marketer thinks of lead nurturing or “lovable content”
Why the profusion of content—so-called content shock—can render straightforward lead-gen tactics ineffective
How to get around the challenge of content shock using tactics like long-tail keywords—whether your main goal is audience-building or lead-generation
Why having a large audience, whether or not you’re getting contacts, is so important for a content marketing strategy
Why people give fake contact information to get past gates (and some of the things you can do about it)
How traditional inbound marketing emerged as a way of taking back control from consumers who were being empowered by online shopping and research tools
Why marketing content is so difficult to get eyes on in the attention economy
What services like unroll.me are for (and why James likes them so much)
Why it’s so important to avoid the appearance of trying to market or advertise—especially when you’re marketing or advertising
What prioritizing audience-building looks like and why marketers are starting to do something more like journalism
Why so many business leaders are still enamored with the promise of lead-gen tactics
Why thinking about the types of sites you bookmark will help you understand the type of content you should be publishing
How being critical of your own business and your own products can actually benefit your marketing efforts
It’s important to keep in mind that lead-gen and audience-building are by no means mutually exclusive. In most instances, you’re looking for the most effective balance of the two. We’re pretty big inbound enthusiasts here at Aptera, so we’re by no means totally opposed to lead-gen practices (as you may have noticed). Still, we recognize it’s not the best strategy in every situation. And I personally like to push our team toward more of an audience-building focus whenever I see an opportunity.
What do you think about gated content? We’d like to hear your opinion. We’d also love to address any questions you may have on the topic that we didn’t cover in the episode.
I'm Aptera's Content Strategist. I've been writing about tech and marketing for 5 years and have certifications from HubSpot and The Content Marketing Institute. A big science and literature geek, I taught college rhetoric and composition while I was still busy going to school for way too long, earning bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology, along with a master's in British and American literature. Look me up on LinkedIn.