January 14, 2014 Michael Bickerton
I came across a piece from Entrepreneur in the June 2011 edition, titled “Tear down that wall”. The article discussed whether you should gate your FREE download pdfs, video content or webinars or not.
Gating is described as asking for an email address prior to allowing the download. The question centered on activity and lead generation and was put forward by David Meerman Scott the author of Real-Time Marketing and PR.
Scott found that ungated content (we mean free, just download), gets between 20 to 50 times more downloads than content that required an email address prior to download. Based on Scott’s premise, that would mean that a typical download of 2,000 could possibility generate 100,000 downloads. Big increases. As well, it’s Scott’s premise that should you get a 5% lead return, you would see either 100 leads with gated content or 5,000 leads with ungated content. Based on our experience, these are heady returns.
On the opposing side, the article pointed to Debra Ellis of Wilson & Ellis Consulting who conducted multiple tests. Ellis noted that the number of downloads was 47 times higher, big numbers right? But, after evaluation it turned out that 100% of the actual leads were generated from the gated tests. As such, if you didn’t provide any information you weren’t prepared to engage at all. In some ways this makes sense, if there is NO charge, NO cost it would appear that people think that there is NO value.
Consider as well some of the old school sales techniques that indicate that 80% of sales are made after the 5th to 12th call. As well, it indicates that only 12% of sales people will make more than 3 calls on a prospect.
As such, it seems to me, that the key here is to ensure you get contact information, i.e. first name, last name, email address and you might even consider a phone number. After all, if your prospect doesn’t consider your download valuable then it would seem they aren’t really a prospect. You might consider 100,000 downloads is nice, but can they really be considered a prospect at all? I mean, if you don’t gate your FREE information, if you don’t gate your work and don’t have a contact name, email and phone number is there really any prospect at all?
We believe in Google, we believe in the concept build it and they will come, we know that the rules of engagement have changed, but let’s keep in mind you can’t control the timing. Given the amount of content, social posting, available information and in general the enormous amount of available information it can’t hurt to have some contact information now can it?
Old school techniques still work, especially on the older crew. Sales techniques are effective especially if you have a valid prospect (i.e. someone who is interested in your material). As such, we recommend you continue to gate your downloads, interact with your prospects and ensure you capture the basics, as it gives you and your brand some “value” and it also provides you the opportunity to follow up. You can setup a follow up program that includes social contact, email contact and telephone contact.
If you ask you may get a simple no thanks, an unlike, an unsubscribe, or even be asked not to call again, as such, a lead turned into a valid “not interested”. If you don’t ask, well it seems to me that you’ve got nothing, so tell me, I know the “branding” aspect, but really what do you think, ask or don’t ask?
Michael Bickerton, Raven5 Ltd, Oakville, Ontario January 2014