Content marketing is the process of creating targeted, valuable content for your website visitors in the hopes of converting them into leads. Content pieces for content marketing come in many different forms including ebooks, guides, checklists, whitepapers, webinars, etc.
Gated content refers to the content that requires an email address prior to receiving the offer. Not every piece of content marketing must be gated, but it is beneficial to have at least some even if you want to share your content with as many people as possible.
Most of you have the goal of generating more leads on your website in an effort to convert those leads into sales, right? For a business to continue to exist, it must be profitable at some point. To be profitable you need revenue...to get revenue, you need sales.
So lets talk about lead generation.
For a lead to be a lead, you should have some sort of contact information for said "lead". All leads aren't ready to buy when the first convert, so by having an email address you will have the ability to nurture those leads until the point they are ready to buy. Through lead nurturing you can continue to educate, stay in front of, and most importantly continue to build trust with your leads. That will make the final conversion to a sale simple.
So back to the gated content topic. You will not get contact information for every visitor to you. If you are creating high quality content for the purposes of content marketing you are creating content that people want. If it's geared directly to your target audience, it should provide enough value that they are willing to give you their email address to get it.
So what are the benefits of gating your content?
It's simple. You will actually get the email address of the person that wants to read what you had to write. You can communicate with them, educate them, nurture them to a sale. Yes, you may have less people read the content overall, but you will have more leads. If you owned a store front would you rather have more window shoppers or customers?
If you do a really great job with your content, your leads will be happy they signed up. They'll get continued value from you without even having to ask.
If you are truly uncomfortable gating your content, give the option. On your landing pages offer to send via email to read later and give them the ability to download as well. Even better, you can do some AB tests to see what works best for you.