In two weeks from now, I am going to be the proud owner of a brand spanking new pair of varifocal glasses. I'm actually pretty excited about my new acquisition, which is kind of ironic as I was acutely short-sighted as a kid and absolutely hated wearing specs back then.
In my twenties, I had laser surgery treatment to correct my sight - with brilliant results. And yet, I've now reached that 'certain stage in life' where close-up stuff is getting harder and harder to see (don't get me started on the horrors of trying to thread a needle these days...)
So there I was, in a certain unnamed nationwide opticians over the weekend, keen to check out their extensive range of frames.
The only thing was, every single pair appeared to have been super-glued to the display stand and was impossible to pick up.
Was I missing something, I thought? No, as it turned out, it was simply store-policy to lock up all the individual frames for security purposes.
"But I can send someone over to unlock the pair you'd like to try..." an assistant helpfully assured me.
To be honest, the prospect of having to rely on someone to give me access to every possible pair of frames I might want to try on just seemed way too much of a hassle.
Whatever happened to trusting the customer to explore at their leisure, I wondered?
And was the decision to effectively 'gate' their product maybe just a little short-sighted?
The concept of gated content within inbound marketing is, of course, a tried and trusted method - a reciprocal relationship in which you garner good quality leads in return for providing your prospects with something that's genuinely helpful.
Increasingly though there's an appreciation among marketers that building real trust can also be achieved by choosing to allow access to at least some of your valuable content, without any strings attached.
You can read more about the gate-debate in the article below from the analysis and feedback platform Hotjar.
And for me, the points they raise really do ring true.
I decided to opt for another store where, lo and behold, you could actually pick things up and try them on for yourself.
And I left that business twenty minutes later, having placed an order and having had a genuinely positive customer experience.
The decision to gate content or make it open access says a lot about who you are as a business, and what you believe in: are you prioritizing short-term leads, or long-term audience growth? To us, this is a no-brainer. We view open-access content as a long-term investment in trust-building: the more people experience value through our content and trust us, the more likely they are to recommend us to others—and help us reach even more potential customers.