By Patrick Whatman published May 24, 2018

How to Create Great Gated Content From Existing Content

how-to-create-gated-content-existing-content

If your business is committed to content, you’re probably sitting on a pile of e-books, white papers, and maybe even videos.

And chances are, you’re struggling to get people to download them.

Often, their promotion makes you anxious. You write more blog posts and social content to promote the original content and hope for small, incremental progress.

Wouldn’t it be better to find new ways to bring people to the high-value content you’ve already created?

In this post, I break down a process used at Mention that brought us 5,000 leads in a day and 8,000 leads in the first week, plus links in major publications and plenty of buzz online.

All results were from content that we (and others) had already written.

Repurpose plan in a nutshell

This strategy is open to interpretation, but the key steps include:

  1. Choose a core content topic.
  2. Identify your best gated content piece(s) on this topic.
  3. Find other brands or influencers with content about it.
  4. Choose the right format to package the content.
  5. Create a killer content product that looks new and exciting.
  6. Work together to promote it like crazy.

When you see the steps written down, it’s simple. But little tricks and traps happen along the way, so we’ll go through each point in detail. But first …

Before you dive in

You truly can create a quality product that generates leads based on the good work you’ve done. But consider these key questions before you get too far down the track.

  • How many partners do you need? By partnering, you increase the content’s potential audience. The more partners, the bigger the audience. But you also increase the number of people to split the eventual leads with. Find your sweet spot.
  • How will you distribute the leads? You probably want to give one new lead for every lead a partner brings. Remember, you’re doing the hard work, so you keep them all.
Figure out how you & your partners will share leads from collaborative content, advises @mrwhatman. Click To Tweet
  • What resources are available? How much design and development time can you spare? And, if you want to use video, can you pull it off?
  • Do you want more leads or qualified leads? I know, you really want both. Your lead goal is something to consider as you choose your partners and define the project because you want to cast a wide net but still attract the best leads you can.

Once you’ve thought about those finer points, it’s time to get started.

1. Identify a core topic

This plan revolves around a pillar piece of content built from content already created. Think of that one subject-matter area that really generates good leads for your business.

If your company has a narrow, singular focus, this step is easy. But if your brand addresses an array of topics, it’s best to find one that:

  • Interests users who need a product like yours – In other words, this subject should attract qualified leads for your business.
  • Is a subject on which you already have high-quality content – The point is to repurpose, not start from scratch.
  • Is a hot topic or does not have existing helpful content – If all goes well, you’re going to build the definitive resource on this subject.

The process is not too different from choosing your top priority SEO keywords. And if SEO is a big focus for you, you can take advantage of this opportunity to build a pillar piece of content with the help of other recognized brands in your industry.

We chose influencer marketing because much of our best content was on this topic, a lot of brands are interested in the subject, and we had a lot of content on it.

2. Choose your format

You want to find killer content from others and put it in a single content vehicle. It’s great for the audience because they don’t have to look for multiple sources. Plus, they can trust that these content pieces have been selected based on their quality .

Find killer #content from others & put it in a single content vehicle, says @mrwhatman. #curation Click To Tweet

To create this pillar content, you have plenty of format options. Here are a few:

Roundup blog post

It’s a classic for a reason. If time and technical know-how are limited, write a post and link to each of your partners’ content pieces. As long as the partners share the content, you’ll get a nice boost in traffic and some of those new visitors may download your content as well as your partners’.

But if you go the backlink route, you send a lot of traffic away from your property. That’s great for your partners, but you’ll lose leads.

While the roundup is always nice for a blog post, you can aim higher.

One-click download shared by all the partners

You could bundle all the content from each of the partners into one zip file and have all the partners share it like crazy.

As a lazy person, I love this idea. You just need a landing page to gather contact details. When the users submit their form, they get all the content in one place. It’s a win for them and your partners all pushing for downloads in the same place. That’s far more likely to generate leads than a single e-book on its own.

But it’s not going to do more in the long term. Download pages don’t tend to rank in Google, and once your first big push is done, that’s about it.

“Best of” e-book

Why not curate the best bits from each of your partners in one incredible guide? You can have a killer piece of content without having to write much more than an intro.

This is the sort of thing you can put on Product Hunt, a site that curates the best products every day. Throw a few advertising dollars behind it and let users walk away with a high-quality piece of content. And again, you also have a handful of brands or influencers helping you promote it.

The downside is that you at least need some design effort to put the book together. And, in the end, you have another e-book that probably won’t be a game-changer.

Live webinar series

A little more difficult logistically, a webinar series still lets you rely on the great work that you and others already produced. Find five to 10 brands or influencers with extraordinary content on your core topic and have them present it in a webinar. Give your webinar series a coherent theme and choose influencers who naturally fit together. The goal is to deliver the best content from each in a new, compelling way without repeating the planning, research, and writing.

Unbounce does this every year with Marketing Optimization Week, and it’s a great event. But again, they have to work really hard to find the partners, coordinate the sessions, and arrange as much promotion as possible.

What we did

Those are all good ideas, and we’ll likely use a few of them in the future. But at Mention we wanted leads, traffic, and links. And we wanted them to keep coming long after our first week of promotion.

We built a microsite, an area on our website devoted to influencer marketing. It doesn’t look or feel like the rest of our site, and we don’t sell Mention from it.

.@Mention created a microsite to serve as one-stop content shop for #influencermarketing, says @mrwhatman. Click To Tweet

influencer-marketing-stack

It’s 100% focused on influencer marketing (only a small feature of our product) and contains incredible content from our partners in a single-file download.

We view it as a living resource that represents all partner brands.

We had our format. Now we needed to find the best way to approach potential partners – other brands with something interesting to say about influencer marketing.

3. Build your pitch

The reason this strategy works is that it’s easy to get partners on board. And it’s easy because you’re going to do all the hard work for them.

You need to show potential partners how much value you’re going to give and how little effort it’s going to take for them.

Your pitch should highlight:

  • What you need from each partner (the less, the better)
  • What you do (the more, the better)
  • Why this opportunity is unique and exciting
  • What everyone stands to gain

This is where your chosen format matters. If you tell me you’re going to write a big roundup blog post featuring my content, I might be willing to share it on social media. I’m probably not going to email it to my list.

But if you tell me you’re going to link to my site and plan to send a ton of leads my way, and all I have to do is let you share some of my best e-books, I’m in.

Why our partners said yes

We offered to share their content, link to their products from our site, and tell everyone who would listen about these influencer marketing experts. And all they had to do was give us the best content they had already created and help us share our content for a week.

That’s a tempting offer for most brands.

4. Find great partners in your network

This is maybe the hardest part of the whole operation. You want partners who attract a large audience, whose names fit well alongside yours (and make you look good), and who have plenty of killer content ready to go.

Start with brands you know

Naturally, it’s easier if you have an established relationship. Who do you know who has great content on your topic of choice?

Because we do a lot of webinars with partners and have a great group of guest authors, we had a few relevant names in our address book. We first found fantastic content from those people.

Use those names to attract new partners

Once you’ve locked in a few friends, it’s easier to approach strangers and show them the plan. If you prove you’ve built a great plan, found some well-known partners, and are just looking for one or two more to sweeten the deal, they’re more likely to respond.

We wanted five to six partners. Too many more and we would have a hard time splitting leads. Too few and we might not get enough leads.

We didn’t lock in every partner we approached. But having a few good brands (our friends) made the rest of the outreach much easier.

Having a few good #content partners makes outreach to potential partners easier, says @mrwhatman. Click To Tweet

5. Create the product

Your job now is to execute everything you promised. Let’s hope you didn’t bite off more than you can chew.

We built the microsite. It required a lot of work from our design team and a lot of WordPress development. Luckily, we have excellent people in both roles.

microsite-example

You could split the work with your partners, but if you’re not all in one place, that can slow down the process.

TIP: Think through the lead-sharing plan before you launch. Our plan never would have worked if the six brands contacted the leads in the weeks after downloading. We shared a proportionate number of leads with each partner based on how many they brought in. You need to have good tracking in place.

6. Launch and promote

By launch day, all partners need to know what’s expected of them, and you need to follow up to make sure they execute.

Your promotion plan (for each partner) should include:

  • Email outreach to the partners’ lists
  • Social media posts
  • Comments and shares for any associated blog posts
  • Votes and comments on Product Hunt (if applicable)

Quick note on Product Hunt

We used Product Hunt to quickly get a huge amount of traffic. Having six brands promote and share it made the microsite race to the top of the day’s products. Each partner also shared it with their email audience and on social media. By the end of the first week we had 8,000 leads.

On our own, we’d never get this number for a site, so even though we had to do most of the work, it paid off.

We always intended Product Hunt to be the focus of our promotion and primed all our partners for this. When six brands combine to share and promote a launch, the chances of being a top product for the day are much higher.

In fact, we built the microsite with Product Hunt in mind. It was included in the daily newsletter, which is aimed for Product Hunt launches. But not every product is right for this.

Wrapping up

In the end, the plan you come up with depends on your time and resources and how ambitious you want to be. The most important thing is to have great partners to help maximize exposure.

To get them on board, you need a clear game plan, content that’s easily repurposed, a little enthusiasm, and a clever angle to make your new content stand out.

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Learn how to do more with the content you already have – and a lot more about best content marketing practices – at Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio. Register today using code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Patrick Whatman

Patrick Whatman is a freelance marketing consultant and content marketer at Mention. He lives in Paris, loves music, and writes his own brand of cultural criticism for fun. Tweet him @mrwhatman where he mainly talks digital marketing, American sports and New Zealand trivia.

Other posts by Patrick Whatman

  • Sandro Galindo

    Under GDPR you can’t gate content. If someone doesn’t want to give you info in exchange for a white paper or research paper, they don’t have to. I wish you’d mentioned/addressed that.

    • mutesa sithole

      You can gate content. What goes in the privacy statement related to the data capture form must be compliant with GDPR. So must the way in which you opt in people, including transparency about what an individual’s data will be used for, how it’s processed and what comms they’re opting in to receive.

    • Patrick Whatman

      Hi Sandro,
      It’s an interesting point. But I agree with Mutesa that it’s the privacy statement and the way you use that person’s information that are important. So while you can gate content, you need to be careful with how you’re using that data and communicating with the people who download it.

  • http://www.society-management-software.com/ Nikita

    Very informative article, really liked the start to end best strategy ,will surely implement in my business !!

    • Patrick Whatman

      Hi Nikita,
      Thanks for your comment. Good luck! It’s all about how you sell your offer to other businesses, in my view.

      • http://www.society-management-software.com/ Nikita

        Thank you sir !!

  • Erika

    Very useful and clever approach to generate leads. I’d be curious to know how the leads translated into interest in your products. Were they of the same quality as the leads you received from offering your own content without your partners? Thx again for the post.

    • Patrick Whatman

      Hi Erika,
      That’s a very good question. As a general rule, you’d want to work with other companies whose customer base is similar to your own. That way, you’re hoping to attract high quality leads based on what you know about their buyers. In our case (this specific campaign), I’d say that we had a good range of lead quality. Plenty of high quality leads who were interested in our enterprise offers, and also plenty who were more interested in a free trial or just more free content. Which was about what we expected. Hope that makes sense.
      Thanks again!

  • Alicia Tien

    Good piece of article! Regarding to your second point, choose your format, there is actually a free app/ website for you to collate all kinds of content across the web into just one link and it’s really easy to share. I have been using that since last year and it really helped. Check it out if you want: it’s called Wakelet.