Building an email list can be a challenge.
Your audience already subscribes to tons of newsletters, most of which probably sit unread in their Promotions folder in Gmail.
So to convince them to subscribe, you have to offer something of value.
For years, the go-to strategy has been gated content. We’ve been using value-packed ebooks, white papers, and more as free giveaways in exchange for people’s email addresses.
And for years, it’s worked beautifully.
As long as you had something that offered genuine value, getting signups was a cinch.
But as with all marketing strategies, the gated content approach wouldn’t keep working forever.
Recently, consumer behavior has started to shift. People are starting to get tired of the best content always being locked up behind an opt-in form.
According to the Kissmetrics blog, it’s high time that inbound marketers started innovating again.
So what’s going to replace opt-in forms and gated content?
Chances are, it’s actually going to be live chat. As chatbots have become more sophisticated, this promising new channel is proving itself to be a surprisingly effective way to target middle-of-the-funnel consumers.
Live chat used to suck. Today it’s getting a little more sophisticated. And they use messaging (the online equivalent to texting) as a one-stop shop. This way people can get information, ask questions, or provide their info to follow up with someone.
Another side benefit? Speed.
A study in the Harvard Business Review proved that there’s no time like the present. (To follow up with leads.)
If you wait just five minutes to get back to a new lead, your chances of qualifying them drop 400%!
Now how do you respond to people within 5 minutes via email when you’ve got 300 unread messages a day?
[image source: hbr.org]
Now ‘content mapping’ can still apply. That’s where your content is segmented based not only by persona, but also where that individual is within their buyer’s journey.
So you can still have some content targeting the Consideration and Decision stages. People still need to be nurtured. They still need repetition. They still need multiple ‘touches’ in different channels.
But again, no ‘gates.’
On-site messaging like this also has some pretty impressive statistics. They get 15x more engagement than email, and 63% of the people who started a chat in one study ended up speaking with a sales rep.
[image source: Drift]
Advanced functionality like Bots can automatically route new chatters to the best person on your team. And it can even allow those to automatically schedule an appointment.
[image source: KissMetrics]
This is just one example of course. But it’s illustrative of the industry-wide de-emphasis of forms and gated content that will take place over the next few years.
You can learn more about how to use live chat for audience targeting – as well as how you can nuture prospects WITHOUT forms – over at Kissmetrics.