In January 2020, Google announced it would be following suit with Safari and Firefox to phase out third-party cookies by 2022. Since that announcement, marketers in every industry have seen the value of collecting first-party data. This type of data is the most difficult to collect but offers the most quality and most utility because you own it. In this article, we’ll dive into one of the best methods for collecting valuable first-party data: gated content.
What Is Gated Content?
First off, what does “gated content” really mean?
Gated content requires the end user to provide certain details (eg, email address, name, location) to see the information behind the gate.
Think of the gate as a toll booth—the visitor has to pay to cross the bridge.
When we apply this analogy to your gated content, the toll booth is a form and the currency is contact information (at minimum, this is typically a name and email address).
Once the visitor fills out the form and provides their contact information, they are able to read the full article, view the entire webinar, and so on. Meanwhile, you’ll have a new contact in your database for remarketing.
How to Create Gated Content
There are several common ways to create a gate. Let’s look at the 5 best methods we’ve found.
1. Newsletter Opt-In
If you have an email newsletter, an email opt-in form is a great way to collect first-party data. This call-to-action can appear as an on-page form submission or via a pop-up message.
In the form, make sure you highlight the value of your newsletter and give prospects a compelling reason to sign up.
Link the form submission directly to your CRM and marketing automation platform for a seamless transfer of new prospect contact information. Also, be sure to include opt-in language on the form submission.
2. Form-Protected Lead-Magnet Downloads
Lead magnets are another great way to collect first-party data. Do you have a high-value piece of content like an e-book or a series of tip guides? This is the perfect kind of content to place behind a form.
The visitor enters their information and instantly receives the piece of content upon successful submission.
Depending on the value of the content, you may be able to ask sales-qualifying questions in the download form.
3. Membership Portal
To use this method, your content will need to be extremely valuable (eg, continuing education, industry news). But if your content is really, really good, a membership portal is a great way to not only collect first-party data but also have advanced tracking on every activity that a visitor performs on your website. This the gold standard of gating for first-party data collection.
4. Education Sign-Up
You can also use things like webinar sign-ups, e-course enrollments, and seminar sign-ups to collect first-party data. Just like everything else, include opt-in information on these sign-up forms. For educational content, especially free educational content, you can usually collect more in-depth information about the participant.
5. Information and Demonstration Request Forms
Include forms on your website for information requests and demonstration requests. Feed these forms into your CRM and marketing automation system and voilà! First-party data!
With the end of third-party cookies on the horizon, there’s no better time to strengthen your first-party data collection strategy. Think about your lead magnets, your webinars, and the e-courses you’ve been hard at work creating this year: What details are your prospects willing to provide in exchange for the value you offer them? Whatever method you choose, remember to write compelling CTAs that focus on the benefit to your visitor. What will they get out of this exchange?