For the Business-to-Business (B2B) marketer, content and inbound marketing presents one of the quickest ways to capture a target audience at all stages of the buying cycle. Unlike outbound marketing strategies, inbound marketing gives prospects the information needed to help pull them along the buying cycle.
What is Gated Content?
A big aspect of content marketing involves gated content. Gated content is the idea of giving away free information to help a buyer in the exchange for contact information. Examples of gated content that users may need to provide contact information to receive include; ebooks or whitepapers, infographics, instant video demos, among others. Gating content allows inbound marketers to capture target audiences as they move along the buyers cycle through education. However, filling in forms on a website can be a frustrating experience for the end user.
Is There a Thing Such as Over Gating Content?
While it’s important to gate your content, it’s also essential that you make some content pieces in your overall content and inbound marketing strategy available without having to fill out a form. For instance, I’ve been on websites where you needed to fill out a form just to see a brochure of the company’s services. In my opinion, that’s content that I felt should be readily available to me to help me with my decision making.
When gating your content, you always have to ask the question, does this piece of content help educate my audience so much that they would “pay” (with their contact info) to get it? If the answer is no, then it’s probably best to leave that piece of content un-gated. In order to prevent not capturing your audience, you may have to think of other content pieces that users might find more valuable. Going back to my brochure example, the company could have made the brochure available but also have a whitepaper or eBook that dives further into a problem that the company solves. After reading the brochure to understand what the company does, I could have decided to educate myself further by filling out let’s say, a whitepaper form to get more information.
Gating Your Content: How Much Information Should You Ask For?
The trick to properly gating your content involves asking for the right amount of information at the right time. The amount of information that you ask for should be in correlation to where the buyer is in the buying cycle. At awareness stage, you can choose to ask for something as simple as a name, and an email address. As the user moves to the comparison stage you can include a title and company name, then finally when at the decision stage, you can also ask for a phone number and additional comments.
See the chart below for an illustration of how this works:
Using form creation applications that are able to pre-populate your forms with known values as your user moves along the buying cycle can be very helpful, as each time, the user would only have to fill out the additional information needed only.
Wrapping It Up
Content gating is a very essential component for effective content marketing. Deciding if a content piece should be gated or not is dependent on the perceived value for the end user. As a rule of thumb, if the content piece is all about your business and what you do, then, it’s probably not an objective informational piece that users would to fill out a form for. On the other hand, the amount of information you ask for with your in-depth informational content pieces should be determined by the stage of your buyer’s journey. If you ask for more information than necessary especially early on in the process, you run the risk of not capturing any information at all. And finally, the success of any inbound marketing activity including gating your content usually correlates with your ability to measure, review results and make improvements accordingly.