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Is your content worth the download?

A high-quality content-marketing strategy has a lot of moving parts, and each one is essential to the success of your efforts.

Considering that only 30 percent of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, it’s definitely time to evaluate these moving parts. And that reevaluation should start with what is arguably the most important part: the bottom of the funnel.

First, some background: Your content marketing will have top-of-the-funnel content, such as articles you contribute to external publications. You’ll have middle-of-the-funnel content, too, such as what’s on your company blog. And, certainly, each of those categories in the funnel attracts and nurtures visitors.

But it’s the content at the bottom that will ultimately capture your most qualified leads and bring you closer to a sale. This type of content is often restricted to audience members willing to provide their personal information to gain access — that’s why it’s called gated content. Gated content can range from white papers and ebooks to templates and checklists. But, be effective, it’s got to be worth the download. The question is how to achieve that value.

The three qualities of valuable gated content

Consider that before they can access this gated content, readers are being asked to submit their private information, from details about their industries and positions, to their email addresses and company names. It’s your responsibility, then, to make sure that your content is worthy of what you’re asking for in return: the right to contact that prospect directly with more information.

Rather than compile a handful of old articles into one big piece of content and put it up behind the gate, your most valuable gated content should share the following three qualities:

1. Exclusive information

The key here is to provide information or resources that only your company has. Information isn’t worth gating if your readers can find it somewhere else without sharing their personal details. So, if you’ve performed original research or developed a special formula to calculate a specific metric you’re instructing readers to use, include this information in a piece of gated content.

For example, our team conducted a survey of more than 150 editors at the publications in our network to learn more about editorial guidelines, preferences and keys to successful contribution. Because the results were exclusive to us and important to our readers, we included the findings in a report called “The State of Contributed Content” and gated it on our site.

2. A deep dive into the topic

Standard pieces of guest-contributed and blog content ranging from 600 to 1,000 words in length usually won’t give you the opportunity to thoroughly address every one of your points. So, simply copying and pasting that content into a white paper or ebook won’t be enough.

Instead, use these pieces as a jumping-off point into a much deeper dive. Take the time to gather more quotes from your team leaders and experts, more research to back up your claims and more examples to illustrate your points. Your gated content should leave readers feeling “full,” by giving them all the information they need to fully understand your ideas.

3. Easy to use

Before you gate your exclusive content and data, make sure it’s easy for readers to understand and use right away. If you’ve performed a study, share the key findings and takeaways — not raw data. If you’ve created a spreadsheet to help users organize information, include a guide on how to use it effectively. For example, when readers download our knowledge management template, they receive the actual template our team developed and a step-by-step guide so we aren’t making users fend for themselves.

Gated content is arguably the most important part of your content marketing strategy, your closing technique; and it needs to be valuable enough that readers feel it’s worthwhile giving you their personal information.

Giving your audience the tools they need to quickly and easily use your gated content shows them that you put careful time and consideration into preparing this material and that you want them to get the most out of it. In return, you may win your readers’ loyalty, as well as their prized, personal data.