Can I get your number?

We all know the game. You see this enticing ebook or whitepaper, but to access it… you’re going to have to trade off your contact information.

It might be days, it might be a matter of seconds, but you know sooner or later you’re getting the call.

“Hey, I saw you were checking out our [INSERT GUIDE] and was wondering if you’d be interested in setting up a demo of our product.”

That’s NOT what you wanted! You just wanted the guide, but because you traded your contact information you’re now bombarded with marketing email and solicitation calls.

Confession time: How many of you have given a fake email? How many of you have a second email account you save just for these gates?

If we as marketers feel this way and do this, why do we assume our prospects don’t?

I get it. We want it to validate CRM data and know how to continue the conversation, but is this the right information we should be collecting to actually speed prospects through our funnel?

What if we stopped asking for contact information and starting asking for context information?

We assume that because someone accessed the guide they (1) read it (2) liked it (3) are interested in a product that is somewhat related to it. That’s a lot of assumptions.

Wouldn’t it be more valuable to your sales team if you learned what problem the prospect is actually dealing with?

Wouldn’t it be more valuable to your marketing team if you knew what pieces of content your prospects were actively seeking?

Wouldn’t it be more valuable to your product team if you know what needs were driving your prospects to shop for tools?

Understanding your prospects needs will tell you if this person is a good fit. Understanding their need will tell your salespeople what conversation to have.

But what about continuing the conversation?

The comparison is so common that it has become a cliche to compare marketing to dating. Daters don’t start with all the information… they maybe start with a Facebook message. Once trust and interest are established, maybe they exchange emails. Then phone numbers. After some texting, maybe they have a call.

Contact information is earned step by step but only if the process is fueled by genuine interest.

If you’re relevant, all you need is that first piece of contact information. Provide value and your prospects will want that second date.

So, how do we ask better context questions?

I asked some of the most successful content marketers a question. What is the one question you would ask to get the most in-depth understanding of someone in your target audience? Here are their answers:

Andrew Davis: “What inspired you to take this journey?”

Carla Johnson: What’s your typical day like?

Ann Handley: “What inspired this journey?” And “what did you hope to learn here?”

Joel Klettke: “What sent you looking for a solution like ours?”

Andy Crestodina: “What was happening in your life that sent you looking for this webpage?”

Michael Brenner: “What do you personally struggle with at your job?”

Kristina Halvorson: “What keeps you up at night?”

Aaron Orendorff: “What is your greatest professional struggle?”

Notice any trends? All these questions are designed to hone in on what problem or situation motivated the immediate action. What would happen if you changed your landing page gates to ask two questions?

What’s your email? What problem do you want to fix with this guide?

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