There you were, zooming along on the information super-highway, rocking out to your tunes and enjoying your content journey until…
You hit the proverbial tollbooth. The toll collector looks smug, and unemotionally demands your email address before admitting you through, just as he has done for the last thousand cars and will do with the ones behind you in line.
As you pull out your phone and hiss in frustration that nobody bothered to mention this tollbooth, you notice on the map that two miles back, there was a turnoff onto an alternate route that rejoins this highway just post-tollbooth.
With a screech of your tires, you turn back in the other direction, leaving the offending gate and tollbooth collector behind. Good riddance; you’ve identified and will take an alternate route.
Is your gated content sending visitors in the wrong direction?
Gating content with a toll fee of “fill out the form before you can read it” has been the standard playbook lead generation method for the past 10 years.
It works – to a degree. On the average B2B website, 4-5.8% of visitors turn into leads.
We have to ask, however:
How many of those visitors might have eventually become leads – but your gated content made them hiss in frustration, click the back button and search for an alternate route to find the information they want?
82% of Gen Xers, 80% of older Millennials, and 78% of younger Millennials are turned off by gated content, choosing either to leave or to enter false information.
(Above statistics and chart from LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions blog)
Stop Gating; Start Dating
Instead of your visitors seeing you as a toll collector, you want them to see you as a potential (and attractive) date.
To be seen as an attractive date, you need to act like one.
Possible people-to-date who ask you out ten minutes into your first casual conversation quickly become definite people-to-not-date.
Likewise, if you get hit with a pop-up form thirty seconds into your first visit to a particular website, that feels pushy.
If you came to a website for the first time to check out an ebook, and get hit with a form like the one below, that feels like a casual conversation partner demanding your phone number before they’ll answer your question about what their favorite bar is or what type of music they like.
That can definitely leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth.
(Yeah, Hubspot can be pushy or play hard-to-get and still get plenty of dates. You’re not Hubspot.)
If you manage a high success rate of getting a “yes” to your date proposals, you either just have a natural gift for reading people OR you have a lot of experience. You’ve been around. You’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. You can tell when someone is interested and when someone is not. You know what to say and when to say it. You can feel when to wait, when to nudge and when to push.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could take that approach with every visitor on your website? You’d make people feel a whole lot more comfortable, and you’d get a whole lot more “yes”es when asking visitors on dates… er, to convert to leads.
If that sounds like you’d need either ESP or a ridiculous amount of marketers working overtime, you’d be right… if this was a few years ago.
But today the game has changed – and the marketing playbook needs to change with it.
Today, artificial intelligence can rack up the experience for you and then put it straight to work. Through watching and analyzing content consumption and conversion patterns on your site, AI can learn the signs when a visitor is interested and when she is not. Through asking well-timed, non-intrusive questions, AI deduces what to present and when to present it.
You don’t have to be pushy. You have AI doing the legwork for you, leading each visitor on a personalized journey directly addressing her current needs, questions and thoughts. You can wait to approach your visitor until you know exactly what she wants and where she’s holding in the journey.
One size fits all doesn’t fit anyone very well. A static experience (“everyone must fill out this form with these fields at this point to get this piece of content”) is not going to be ideal for any visitor.
AI raises your consumer emotional intelligence to the nth degree. You can see each visitor for the individual he is and relate to him accordingly.
(And fortunately, AI isn’t impatient and doesn’t have any hormones to speak of.)
You don’t want to be viewed as a toll collector. You don’t want to be perceived as pushy and emotionally clueless.
Drop the gates and drop the demands. Don’t send your visitors hitting the back button to run in the other direction.
Treat all your visitor interactions like emotionally intelligent dating. Use AI to boost your understanding, sensitivity, patience and ability to say the right thing at the right time.
Wow – you sound like an amazing catch. What visitor wouldn’t want to say “yes” to you?
Talk to us about your gating experiences, both as a user and as a marketer. Have you found success in gating? Are you worried about the leads that are turning the other direction, based on your gate, or are you convinced that even with those losses, it’s still worthwhile? Are you re-considering that strategy for 2018?