Is All That Free Content Messing with Your Conversions?

Are you giving away too much valuable content without charging an admission fee? Gating your content with a form acknowledges that the great content you create is worth something! And not just because it takes knowledge, time, effort and resources to produce. Your content has the power to entice your prospective students to scroll, click, download, read, request information and even enroll.

If you’re trying to attract students, you already understand that content marketing is a valuable weapon to have in your digital arsenal. It can reach your target demographic wherever they are on their journey and persuade them to act. But at the very top of the student decision-making funnel, your job is to be a knowledgeable and trusted resource, a guide for your future students as they make one of the most important decisions of their lives. It’s not about a hard-sell. If you “gate” your content during those early interactions, you risk alienating the very people you hope to engage.

Top of the funnel content needs to be easily found and helpful. It needs to answer the earliest  questions your prospects might ask: What kinds of healthcare careers could I pursue? What responsibilities would I have as a medical assistant, a surgical technician, a nurse? Your future students may have no idea what they want to do for a career, never mind which school they’ll attend.

If you gate that early content with a form that forces prospects to give away personal information before they’re ready to act, they could opt for free content they find at other schools. Or they might pay for your content with phony information that causes you to waste resources pursing leads that don’t exist. Even worse, your follow-up once you have their contact information could be perceived as a nuisance, harming your overall brand. You’ll lose conversions –and students.

On the other hand, as those prospects begin to travel down the funnel, gated content helps you identify them as potential students. It also gives them access to more sophisticated information and to opt-in to even more of that good content.

So what kind of content deserves a gate?

Generally, blogs and infographics should not be gated. They’re your gift to prospects. In return for the free information you provide, your school gets rewards like increased website traffic, a boost to your school’s brand and the perception that you’re the authority on the topics you cover. Content like podcasts, webinars, white papers, videos and E-books may be gated. But before you put up those gates, ask yourself: is this high value content? Is it something that is truly useful to your future students, something that you’re uniquely qualified to provide? And are you providing it at the point in the funnel when your prospects are ready for it?

If it is and they are, then go ahead and build that gate, just make sure that whatever price you charge to gain access—a name, an email address, a phone number—isn’t too steep.

If you’d like to learn more about gated content and how to create a content marketing strategy that will work for your school, contact the HigherEd Geeks at Effective Student Marketing today.

~Linda Emma