My engineering background taught me to always question data. As helpful as it is, it can also be manipulated and misunderstood. When repeated, facts frequently get skewed and distorted, and if companies aren't careful, they might make decisions based on misinformation.
Pieces of gated content like white papers or case studies can be antidotes to this problem. These documents not only provide valuable information, but they're also cost-effective marketing vehicles that attract new customers.
A 2014 Eccoclo Media survey of more than 100 technology-buying decision-makers or influencers found that white papers and case studies are the second and third best small-business lead generators at 33 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Each is a form of promotion—less overt than standard marketing and advertising techniques, but effective in cultivating new audiences.
Gated Content Can Help Open Doors for Your Business
Small businesses sometimes work on a shoestring budget, so white papers and case studies can be affordable client-outreach alternatives. For case studies, tools like SurveyMonkey present customers with a few tailored questions about a service and turn those into short, informative pieces highlighting your company's expertise.
Questions should address pros, cons and service applications users might like to see going forward. Afterward, thank your participants and continue to solicit testimonials.
White papers, meanwhile, usually come from an independent third-party organization. They present new solutions to old problems and highlight the specific benefits of a product or service, while helping a businessperson better understand an issue, solve a problem or make a decision.
For example, two large multinational data and software companies in the real-estate industry recently commissioned our company to research and write about their transaction-management platform and home-value tracking software. The first service targets B2B real estate brokers and agents, while the latter serves homeowners (B2C).
Both documents illustrated how a service improves and transforms the homebuying process. In industries where information is difficult to come by, gated pieces can be invaluable resources for professionals and consumers.
How to Use Gated Content to Help Generate New Leads
Whether a case study stems from a standard survey platform or a white paper is developed externally, all that matters is how a small business utilizes information to achieve marketing value. These four tips can help turn both into lead gold mines for your business:
1. Report the results. Quality information opens discussion by providing a solid foundation for blog and social media posts. Use the new information as a tool to inform and delight potential customers, not as a bullhorn to promote or broadcast the service.
In the case of the transaction-management platform, you could start a discussion on how executives handle current technological challenges. Be responsive to comments and open to discussion.
2. Share them with potential customers. Send copies of a white paper or case study to potential customers to display your company's knowledge about a topic. By regularly showing an aptitude for a subject matter, like-minded people may become interested in your company's products and services.
Constant contact creates opportunities to discuss shared mutual interest. Before you know it, a strong relationship may develop, turning engaged participants into potential buyers.
3. Re-educate your existing customer base. Email your entire database, host webinar discussions and mail copies of your documents to top clients. Maintain an ongoing connection with existing clients, especially when using information gathered from research.
White papers and case studies can serve as powerful evidence of your company's relevance. Case studies, in particular, help reposition companies featuring new products, new services or experiencing shifts in industry focus.
4. In turn, reward your team. Positive media coverage can boost employee morale and be helpful recruiting tools for potential hires. A white paper or case study gets the company name out in a positive way and may increase overall engagement levels.
Both new recruits and existing team members will appreciate the positioning. High-profile companies often rank at the top of ideal employers because they have high brand-name recognition and third-party coverage driving that perception.
Improving existing client relationships and nurturing the new ones center around building product and service awareness, increasing the size of the pipeline and refocusing clients to think about the company in a different light. Gated content, when properly used, can be a top driver for this type of momentum.