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Why You Shouldn't Wall Off Your Web Content Content gates hold you back from connecting with customers, says marketing strategist David Meerman Scott.

By Ericka Chickowski

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Think you shouldn't offer something for nothing? Think again. Marketers who force prospects to turn over contact information in exchange for otherwise free content are doing their business harm, says marketing strategist David Meerman Scott.

The author of Real-Time Marketing and PR, Scott believes content gating doesn't make for a good getting-to-know-you phase between marketers and potential customers. "I liken it to a singles bar where some guy comes up to you and says, "What's your phone number?' without even introducing himself. It sets up an adversarial relationship," Scott says. Instead, consider collecting information after prospects get a taste of your expertise--and realize how much they can learn from you.

Scott has found that ungated content gets between 20 and 50 times more downloads. He says a gated piece of content that would be downloaded 2,000 times could skyrocket up to 100,000 downloads if you open the lock. So, when do you get to ask for their information? List a secondary offer at the end of the freebie. But before prospects can view that webinar or download the next PDF, they'll need to pony up their e-mail address. Even if just 5 percent of the 100,000 go for the offer, you'll end up with 5,000 leads.

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