Received wisdom should be met with caution, but you can believe that in email marketing, anything that generates leads is good. After all, how are we supposed to build an email marketing list without them?
Leads are not visitors. Whilst any new business will want to increase the number of unique visitors to their shiny new site, the statistics should not be viewed as an end in themselves. Visitors might only be interested in your free to air blog, or the series of articles loosely connected to your product.
If it increases your Google rankings it is to be encouraged, but if the visitors leave without completing then all that effort is wasted. That’s why many websites have content available only to those who ‘sign in’. This is known as gated content.
We’ll take a classic example of this. You are selling high end movie cameras and peripherals. Your stock is displayed on your website. In order to attract visitors and increase your Google ranking you have a blog which covers the latest developments in the business and takes at stab at future trends.
Visitors come and visitors leave and all you have is data regarding page visits. This of itself is useful, but unproductive. You need more.
You produce an ebook on ways of panning, showing the benefits of pedestals against those of dollies which, you realise, will be of interest to anyone who might buy, or produce a business case for, one of your products.
This is where gating comes in. You still give the ebook for free but require the recipient to complete a form, giving certain details. This is a lead, something your sales staff can follow up on.
The major benefit is that they do not go in blind. You have certain information and, with the data on your email marketing lists, you are able to extrapolate who they are and what might interest them.
In addition, and especially if the ebook is technical and therefore of interest only to those who have some experience in the matter, it is likely that these are interested in your products and not casual visitors. They are worth concentrating on.
You can also see what interests those with specific roles. Gated content can be targeted at those you are most interested in. All this is valuable stuff, but as with so much of life, it is not all positive.
The rather obvious downside is that many people will baulk at giving their information. They might move on or, more inconveniently to you, lie about who they are. Further, you are limiting your audience and the method of choosing them is rather crude.
You have to ensure that the content of the ebook is worth sharing their personal information in the eyes of the person. This is a variable so difficult to judge.
One point that is significant is the effect on SEO. You have this quality content which only a limited portion of your visitors will visit, which might reduce your ranking. You will get fewer links on social media as well.