The Key to Unlocking Content

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

It’s a hot topic these days: Giving away content to increase lead conversion. When it comes to offering content to prospects who are browsing around on your website, how much information should you collect before releasing locked-up specialty content (e.g., white papers, case studies, etc.)?

Content is extremely valuable, especially to leads who are in the early stages of their research process. You definitely want to lock up some of your content, because giving away all of it for anyone in the world to see helps brand recognition but not necessarily lead generation efforts (since you can’t collect even the most basic contact details–names and email addresses–of those viewing your content). But what should these locks look like, and how elaborate must their respective keys be?

Many company sites take this concept of value a step too far by requiring users to register and create an account before they’re allowed to see any of the locked-up content. Picture this scenario as a combination safe secured behind a padlocked iron door. Pretty daunting, right? Not only will your prospect have to jump through the registration hoop by providing all kinds of personal information in order to get the padlock key and the safe combination (user ID and password), but they’ll also have to remember the combination and bring the key on every single repeat visit. Unless they know for certain that the content inside that safe is mindblowing, most prospects won’t see much value in dealing with such an elaborate security setup.

Contrast this to the strategy of using a simple form to collect a few pieces of information before allowing the prospect to download the specified content for their own use. Here we have a clear lockbox with its contents clearly visible, and a hungry dog guards the key. All the prospect has to do is feed the dog a couple bits of meat (name and email address) and that key is theirs. Get exactly what you see in this box in exchange for two simple pieces of information. It’s a transparent value proposition, and it works.

Clearly specify how the email address address will be used (e.g., opt-in for your monthly newsletter) to build a targeted audience–people who enjoy reading case studies, for example. You can then easily tailor your targeted email campaign to their interests by sending them content you know they’ll find both relevant and interesting.

Amassing a loyal, opted-in audience around the content you provide is a superior strategy for value creation. Good content is valuable and should be treated as such. But be careful not to lock things up too tightly, or frustrated prospects will simply move on to the next website to try the locks there. Make sure the key’s easy to get, and that it works in the lock the first time.