Just kidding. At the time, Shakespeare didn’t believe in gating his content. He wanted it to be shared far and wide, kinda like the tea. And so he allowed no forms to hinder it.
A more modern marketer, David Meerman Scott, would have supported this approach. Scott believes that ungated content gets 20 to 50 times more downloads than gated content. In his free book, “World Wide Rave,” he writes:
Make your Web content totally free for people to access, with absolutely no virtual strings attached: no electronic gates, no registration requirements, and no email-address checking necessary.
But what about lead generation? He addresses this a few paragraphs later:
You’ve got to think in terms of spreading ideas, not generating leads. A World Wide Rave gets the word out to thousands or even millions of potential customers. But only if you make your content easy to find and consume.
All of you with marketing and sales quotas just thought: “Lovely. Let David spread all the ideas he wants. I need the leads, thank you very much. I will continue to gate my content.”
But here’s the radical idea: What if not gating your content actually resulted in more leads – and better leads, too?
We know from a recent survey by Ascend2 that marketers are now more focused on lead quality than lead quantity. What if the solution for those better leads was not just to add even more fields to your lead gen forms, but to make the gated forms entirely optional?
Pretty freaky, huh? Stay with me. There’s a case study to prove it.
The agency Ion Interactive tested their own beliefs about gated and ungated content a few years back. They did it with two interactive white papers. In one version, the “ungated” white paper did not require people to fill out a form to see and read the white paper – but if they wanted to get a PDF version of the content, they had to fill out a lead gen form. You can see the call to action for this in the upper right-hand corner of the “ungated” – version. It’s the little blue button that says “Get the PDF”.
The other version Ion tested was a standard gated content set up. You can see it on the right side of the graphic below. The lead gen form had to be filled out before users saw any of the content.
So what was the result? The “ungated” or optional gate approach won. And won by a lot, too. It got more than three times as many readers (that’s what the “engagement rate” refers to). And it got 20.4% of the people who saw the page to hand over their contact information.