Slow is fast: results take time

Take those web enquiry forms where you hit ‘Submit’ … and your phone rings two seconds later. For some customers, that’s great service. For others, it’s too pushy.

The Sales Executive might be following the right sales process (following up a form submission with a phone call) without paying attention to the sales cycle (the average time between first contact and buying decision).

Customers only give up data, especially the big stuff like their budget and decision dates, when they’re ready.

If you push them too soon, or give them thin content in exchange for their private information, they’re likely to abandon the process altogether.

So what’s the Goldilocks approach to engagement – not too fast, not too slow, but just right? The answers may already be there in your existing marketing data. Here are some guidelines.

1. Give away more content to build trust

Take a look at your White Papers, Thinkpieces and Research Reports. Some may have cost thousands to create. Many of them are probably gated, locked away in Members’ Areas and intranets.

Here’s an idea: what if you made everything older than a year available without hassle?

A qualified lead may be considering downloading your latest report. If he sees that completing the web form will also give him access to a half-dozen other papers, he may hit ‘Submit’ with more enthusiasm.

In addition, your profusion of papers marks you out as a serious player, a company with something to say. You’re establishing trust early.

2. Plant questions that sell your findings

Instead of teasing with a few snippets of your content, look at your findings… and turn each into a question. Questions that become your landing page.

For example: 

  • Do you know how many companies do X at least once a year? (This article counts them).

  • Do you know the top 20 spenders on services like yours? (This paper lists them).

  • Can you think of 10 reasons customers buy X? (This report researched them).

The key: these questions are directly answered by your content.

Prospects consume that content with a definite goal and are rewarded with precise answers. Both of which are worth their effort. 

3. Define the timescale on your terms

As any author knows, staggered release dates create a sense of anticipation. Here’s a twist: combine staggered release with time-sensitive prompting – ask for action NOW that enables a result later.

Some examples:

  • Signup closes today for Early Bird access to our Winter Report.

  • Register today for next month’s White Paper.

  • This paper will be accessible for only 72 hours.

Restrictions like this are a different form of content gating: by time. And they can nudge customers into giving up useful data on your timescale rather than their own.

And last, the bravest one:

4. Limit your number of prospects!

It may sound strange,  limiting the audience for your best content.

But if your average campaign delivers 150 hot prospects, where’s the harm in allowing a maximum of 250 people to see your hot new research paper, or even numbering the PDFs to show how exclusive they are?

  • Only 32 slots left. Please have your company data handy.

  • You will be the 131st of 150 permitted registrants.

  • This report is exclusive to members of trade organisation XYZ.

  • Click here to see if you pre-qualify for one of 250 copies.

Everyone likes to look inside a door marked Private. Limiting access to content can increase demand for it. 

These are just four methods. Effective data management can show you which cold suspects are ready to become hot prospects and who’s stuck in the funnel, ready for a nudge towards their first order.


  • Customer acquisition is neither sprint nor marathon, but a walk with a friend.

  • You may do gated content, but there’s more than one kind of gating.

  • Limiting access can increase demand.