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As marketers, we are always looking for ways to provide more and more value to our clients and prospects through the content we create. We create marketing assets filled with research, ideation, and insights to help the financial advisors we work with to become better marketers. It is also important to us that our content help move prospects down the sales funnel towards purchasing our products and engaging our services. One of the most powerful tools for providing valuable content and inducting prospects into your sales funnel is “gated content”.

Gating content means that you put some sort of hurdle between the content and the person who is interested in reading it. When online newspapers talk about gating their content they are referring to the practice of requiring a subscription to read their articles, but in the case of inbound marketing the goal is not to get money for the content, it’s to get information.

By gathering a user’s name, email address and other pertinent information you are not only getting the elements needed to add this person to your future marketing efforts, you are also getting their consent to be marketed to.

Gating content is growing in popularity, though in a recent survey only 3 in 10 B2B marketers were using the practice with another 13% planning on getting around to it in the next year.

The opportunity is clear. if you are able to harness the power of gated content you will put yourself in the upper echelons of financial advisor marketing.

Here are five ways to use gated content to grow your business and attract new clients.

#1 Provide prospects with real value

To get potential clients to trade their precious information for your content and then continue to engage with your company afterward, you need to offer content that brings actual value to their lives. It is no good tricking someone into downloading mediocre content. If the content ends up being a waste of time, the potential prospect will assume your financial services will be more of the same.

‘Valuable’ content solves a real problem, provides a quick win for the potential client and is hyper-specific. You want your readers to see the situation you are describing in a completely different light after they read your content piece. Present your arguments in a clear and concise manner that leads the reader from their current thoughts and opinions about a situation to a completely new outlook. Provide them with some steps they can do on their own and some elements they will want an expert financial advisor to help navigate the situation.

Communicate the value through a great title. Gated content can be a little more grandiose in its claims than your run of the mill blog post. Similar structures like using a numbered list (3 Ways to Have the Best Retirement Plan), ‘how to’ statements (How to Plan Your Best Retirement) that work for blog posts work for gated content but benefit from a more emphatic tone.

#2 Keep the barrier to entry low

Nobody likes to jump through hoops. When you offer a product meant to boost engagement, keep in mind the harder it is to access, the fewer people will access it. Make it simple for the prospect to download the product and engage with your company. Typically asking for a name and email address is enough, though you may want to get a phone number or other information as well. The less information you ask for, the higher your conversion rate will be.

Some prospects may want to see the quality of your content before they commit to a marketing relationship with you. This means that if you want to attract a casual prospect, you will need to provide some ungated information first. This can be in the form of blogs, product videos, podcasts, tip sheets, infographics and archived newsletters. The key is to make sure that the value of your free information leads a prospect to assume the value of your gated content is comparable.

#3 Highlight benefits of your service

Create top of the funnel content that defines the benefits of your expertise as a service professional. Your financial services might provide a laundry list of great features, but in reality, it is the benefits that are really interesting. Clients are less interested in what your service consists of, but rather what it can do for them.

By zeroing in on the benefits you provide, your potential clients get a clearer picture of how working with you will make their lives better. Once you’ve told them how they win by engaging with you, tell them why your service is the best option available. This will aid them in their client journey toward engaging your services.

#4 Find the right package for your content

It is important to find the right format for your gated content. While blogs and infographics are great open content that can attract prospects to your site, they don’t always work well for gated content. Important information is better offered to potential clients through whitepapers, newsletters, eBooks, tutorials, quizzes, calendars, videos and more. Decide on the best format for your subject. In some instances, a newsletter or eBook will garner the most engagement, while in other cases a course or a toolkit would be best.

Gated content should always be insightful, poignant and valuable. However, before anyone ever finds out how valuable your content is they will first need to perceive it as valuable. By paying special attention to how you package your gated content you will increase the number of engagements your content receives from your potential clients.

#5 Make a killer cover

Written in 1977, Apple’s Earliest Marketing Plan gives a great piece of advice for any advisor hoping to make his content appear valuable:

People DO judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.

Graphic design has become crucial to communicating value visually. Use a service like 99 Designs to commission a visually exciting cover for your gated content. Use graphics or pictures if it is appropriate. Do not let the cover become overcrowded. Keep it professional and serious looking.

One great tip is to make a digital piece of content look like a real book or pamphlet. There are several sites that will allow you to take a digital cover and place it on a picture of a physical book. Even if you are not offering a physical book, this connection to a tangible object increases the perceived value of the content you are offering.

Now you have all the tools to build your gated marketing machine. Start with valuable content, don’t ask for too much information, highlight your service benefits, find the right format for your content and put a great cover on it. Show your clients and prospects what your business stands for through insightful gated content.

Want to read this article as an illustrated whitepaper? Click here.