Today’s business marketers and their prospects are engaged in a frustrating content “dating” game. To get the content they want – and avoid the inevitable follow-up sales call or nurturing emails – more and more buyers are populating your gating forms with false, incomplete, or non-business information. They get the whitepaper, but all you get is another useless “lead.”

To assess the current state of content gating and uncover innovative solutions to this problem, we reviewed 35 B2B websites and interviewed 15 B2B marketing practitioners across four industries, the results of which are available in my latest report, entitled Unlock Content Gates To Support Self-Educating Buyers. Here are a few of the high points:

  • Gating practices vary across industries, but the pendulum is clearly swinging back to more open access. The early adopters of content marketing have learned the hard way that too many forms too early in the buyer’s journey do more harm than good.
  • Business marketers have reached a consensus on what content to gate and not gate. The dividing line is determined by the buyer’s need and purpose, whether they are in education mode or seriously evaluating your offering.
  • To improve the buyer’s experience, innovative marketers are experimenting with progressive profiling, personalizing content based on form data, augmenting minimalist forms with third-party data, and even profiling anonymous site visitors before they fill out a form.
  • Retooling your approach to content gating to meet the expectations of today’s self-educating buyers will likely require resetting the expectations of your sales team. Why? Because you will generate fewer leads, but they will be more highly qualified and more of them will convert.

This was a fun topic to research because we all have first-hand experience with the problem as digital buyers and consumers – and have strong opinions about why the contact-for-content model is broken. Thanks again to all the companies that participated. Check out the report if you can; I think you’ll especially enjoy the quotes.

BTW, I’ll be speaking on this and other related topics at the upcoming B2B Marketing Forum in October. Hope to see you there!

This article was originally posted on Forrester.com.

By Steven Casey