Gated Content: A Paradise Not a Prison

By Adam Koebel November 19, 2013 Articles and Editorials

Content is only as strong as the methods used to target it. A website is only as valuable as its user experience. When a visitor hits your site, they want to see only the most relevant content possible, in the most immediate and obviously engaging way you can provide. Marketers can run into trouble when they’re faced with the challenge of mixing free, open content with secured or limited-access content.

If your website is acting as your primary lead generation tool, it’s often necessary to gate that content; to create a level of secured access - either because some content is more sensitive than others or because the viewing of marketing resources should be a transactional process. If you’re struggling with a content management system that focuses on security over marketing value or vice versa, it can lead to wasted time and abandoned projects, ultimately reducing your day-to-day marketing plans to a conflict between multiple platforms. Don’t let your CMS drag you down - choose a platform that can easily create and managed gated content that works for you.

When we talk about “gated content” we might be addressing a number of topics. Here are a few ways that gated content can improve the user experience of your website:

Staff Intranet

A website acting as the digital hub for your company can often do more than simply generate leads. It can act as a database for staff documents, feedback tools and sensitive information. Your website, by way of a simple login form, should be able to provide your fellow staff members with a secure area where they can collaborate, discuss and download resources. There’s no need to use a separate tool for this - your CMS should be able to integrate secure and public information together without the additional loss of productivity that comes from managing separate technologies.

Document Library

A broader application than an intranet, a document library may be used by prospects who want to download case studies, investors looking to view reports, current customers looking for  the latest software release information or looking to access support documentation. This kind of information exists in a sort of grey area: not necessarily requiring the level of security that a staff intranet might require but certainly not public information, either. It can also require some administration from your users; as data continues to grow and change, you want to be able to provide the most up-to-date information to your privileged visitors. Your CMS should allow you the ability to create granular user-groups with easily-altered access to various aspects of your asset library.

Customer Portal

For any service-oriented business, a customer portal can be an invaluable asset. Allowing customer access to help documentation, ongoing project reports or up-to-date licensing information will save your customer support team hours in direct communication time. Let your customers serve themselves by accessing a gated section of your website where this data is available. Any CMS platform you choose to use should have the flexibility to both create and manage these kinds of customer portals. More importantly, it should enable personalization of the data, available links and user experience that your customers have once they’ve logged in. This kind of personalization can be simple (content based on customer-grouping) or complex (altered by behavioural data, generated live as users perform various actions on the site).

Marketing Resources

After spending your limited hours and budget creating marketing content for your website, you’ll want to get the most possible return on that investment. Webinar videos, whitepapers and presentations are some of the most valuable resources available to a potential customer visiting your website. While it’s admirably charitable to simply upload these documents and let your visitors read at their leisure, it’s often wiser to restrict access with a gated content tool. Give your leads a chance to qualify themselves with a simple permission form - they give you their email address, you give them the resources they want. With a cookie placed in their browser, you can then track subsequent downloads. Want to know what topics John Doe is interested in?  Want to see what product spec sheets he’s been viewing? A gated content tool can allow you to track that data simply and easily - once you’ve got that, lead scoring, triggered email and drip marketing are a breeze. The CMS you choose should allow you to make this process painless for both you and your visitors. Everyone deserves a positive user experience!

Marqui: Content and Subscribers

Combining functionality from two disciplines, Marqui enables marketers to create content that can be easily gated from within the CMS and create dynamic segments with access to that content. Users are empowered to act as gatekeeper in whatever capacity makes the most sense. Want to hand-pick the people who have access to your gated section? A static group enables granular control. Want to allow the system to automatically grant (or deny!) access based on location, company, or other attribute data? A dynamic group can save you time, handling group membership in a hands-off capacity.  Here’s how we do it.

Gated content is created just like any other - there’s no separate tool to manage gated vs. un-gated content. Once it’s ready for launch, a user can set a flag to protect that content. From there on, anyone attempting to visit a secured folder will be redirected to a log-in page. This is where the subscriber module takes over.

Whether they’ve been added manually, by filling out a form, being imported from a spreadsheet or a direct sync from your CRM, users will be sorted into various groups dynamically. It’s as easy as matching up the groups with their appropriate folders. Want your Board Members to have access to /files/PDF/reports?  It’s just a single check-box. Since users can belong to a number of groups, you can easily add your prospects to a new customers group and give them access to all the documentation they need to get started. Marqui’s smart login form will prioritize and redirect appropriately, making sure that your visitors never have to fill out another login request. Built-in password management tools allow users all the conveniences they’d expect from a dedicated gated content tool, safely and securely.

Once a visitor is logged in, Marqui’s multi-channel tracking module allows you to assign click-through and conversion behaviours to those visitors. Did John download the new Web Design Trends whitepaper?  How many times has he watched the SEO and CMS webinar? As documents are downloaded and content is viewed, Marqui builds a profile of your visitors that you can leverage for all kinds of future marketing campaigns. Personalization tools allow you to tailor the user experience, ensuring click-throughs that become conversions and conversions that become sales. (Of course, once John becomes a client, his status is updated and he gain’s access to the protected client content.)

It’s an outmoded concept to think of gated content as merely the purview of the IT department. Every click, especially ones attributed to those visitors who have qualified themselves with that initial request for a log in, counts towards your ROI. Don’t struggle with a tool that doesn’t let you leverage your content in the right way. Gated content should be a paradise for you and for your visitors, not a prison.

Learn more about Marqui today.

Adam Koebel

Adam Koebel Author

Adam Koebel is the Manager of Digital Services at Marqui and contributed this article to CMS Critic.

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