Both we and a number of other marketing people advocate not putting a gate – such as requiring contact details – on content that’s intended to show off a firm’s expertise. (If you can legitimately sell your content, as Harvard Business Review does for instance, then that’s a different matter.)
The first reason not to gate your content is that the ratio of downloads for un-gated to gated is in the region of 10-30 times. I haven’t seen a definitive study yet, but that’s what the anecdotal evidence indicates. The second is that companies apparently can’t help but contact people who have downloaded their material about a day later to see if they want to buy whatever product or service was featured. A brief perusal of discussion forums on the topic will show you that people hate getting a sales call when they are in the early stages of investigating an issue – the point at which most of us access and digest thought leadership content materials.
If you want people to read your stuff therefore, make it easy to access without strings attached.
So does that mean you should make it easy to download a pdf? We don’t think so.
We used to provide pdfs for easy downloading of longer articles, but we have stopped doing it. Instead we make it easy to print or email an article (as at the top of this post.) If a reader is going to pass on an article, we’d much rather they send a link so that the colleague comes to the site too. Then if there is other material that interests them, we’ll get onto their radar as a resource worth revisiting. Otherwise, we are just the authors of a single article.
So sorry, no pdfs on our article pages. (Of course, if you really want one, you can print an article to a pdf generator such as PrimoPDF, which is free…)