White papers are used most frequently for lead generation and nurturing in industrial marketing. Many of these white papers are very technical and require engineers and other domain experts to spend quite a bit of their time in producing these content marketing assets. A freelance copywriter cannot create them with an hour or two of work.
It is natural for industrial companies to want to maximize their ROI after investing all that time and resources. However, should all industrial white papers be gated – require registration? There are two schools of thought on this.
On one hand, you have those who insist on registration because they believe it is an equitable value exchange. Free knowledge and valuable educational content in exchange for contact information.
Then there are those who advocate setting all your content free. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky concept. There are well-known content marketers in this camp.
David Meerman Scott (@dmscott), the author of the bestseller “New Rules of Marketing & PR” said, “Content from white papers and eBooks would be downloaded between 20 times to 50 times more if they were offered without a registration gate in front of the download.”
Jon Miller (@jonmiller), VP Marketing of Marketo wrote in a blog post, “By eliminating the need for registration in order to gain access to your white papers, eBooks, and other valuable content, you remove the initial barriers to building relationships with prospects. In doing so, you will strengthen your rapport, and these anonymous leads will likely surface as inbound leads once their interest level increases.”
There is a happy middle ground if you are not willing to set all your white papers free. I suggest that you use a mix of free and gated white papers in your industrial content marketing for lead generation and nurturing.
I am not implying that the free white papers have little educational value. On the contrary, I am saying that you will create a perception of real value because if your free content is that good, then your gated content must be even better. That is a strong motivator for someone to register for your gated white papers.
Grocery stores use this concept of sampling with excellent results. Think of the times when you grabbed those free tasty morsels and were enticed into buying something that was not on your shopping list.
Create landing pages with registration forms for every gated white paper. See my post, “How Landing Pages Can Make or Break Lead Generation Campaigns” for improving conversion and reducing friction. Read my post, “B2B Lead Generation without Lead Nurturing is Doomed to Fail” to learn about the importance of lead nurturing.
Do you use a mix of gated and free white papers in your industrial content marketing? Let me hear your thoughts.