This seems to be the age-old question when it comes to content marketing. There are various schools of thought, with some folks on the side that premium content should never be gated* while others believe that all of it should be gated. The real answer is that a strong content strategy should include a mix of gated and ungated content.
*Gated content is content on a website that resides behind a form. This means that the website visitor must complete a form that collects contact information before they can access the content offer – thus creating a lead for your sales team. In many cases, the content is emailed, so the user must provide a valid email address to get access.
So what content should be gated and what should be ready for download without any strings attached? There is no absolute answer. Rather, it depends on a couple of different factors. In this blog post, we’ll explore a few questions you must ask to determine whether a piece of content will be gated or ungated.
Don’t Go for the Ask Too Early
The best way to explain this is in terms of dating and marriage. You wouldn’t ask a person to marry you as soon as you meet them. Instead, you get to know them. You talk on the phone or over text message or via online chat. Then you go on a few dates to determine if you are the right fit. If you like them, then you continue dating them. Only once you feel they are the right fit, you ask them to marry you.
Similar rules apply for B2B content marketing. When a prospect lands on your company’s website for the first time, you don’t want to ask for all their contact details. That would scare them away immediately. They may not be ready to provide that information. They need to get to know a little bit about your company, what products or services you offer, and what value you offer them. For example, your products and services pages should be easily accessible. Any descriptions of features or product brochures should be ungated so prospects not familiar with your business can decide if your company offers what they need.
Where Is the Prospect in the Funnel?
We’ve stated before that an effective B2B content marketing strategy includes content pieces to meet the needs of prospects and clients during all stages of the sales process (including the retention and upsell process!). Before you create a piece of premium content, determine where the prospect or client is in the sales funnel.
- Are they at the very top of the funnel and simply learning who offers what?
- Have they narrowed down the options to 2 – 3 potential partners and are looking to compare products or services?
- Have they already received a pricing list or proposal from your firm?
- Are they ready to commit but need to convince the C-suite of your value?
- Are they a long-term client that needs to be upgraded to more advanced services?
- Are they an unhappy customer who needs extra resources to understand how to better utilize your products and services?
It’s important to understand where the prospect or client is in the sales funnel to decide whether to gate a piece of content. If your content piece is primarily to show prospects what makes your product or service unique, you likely don’t want it to be gated. However, if you have a comprehensive case study that shares the “secret sauce” of why your products or services help clients, then you may need to gate that content.
Is the Content Considered Thought Leadership or Proprietary?
Content serves a variety of purposes.
- It can answer common questions
- It can demonstrate how a product or service works
- It can show the benefits of a method or approach
- It can provide experienced thought leadership on a hot topic
- It can discuss current trends
- It can take a side on an industry hot button
- It can provide real-life examples of how a product or service added value for a client
When determining whether a piece of content should be gated, it’s essential to consider the amount of effort it takes to put together that piece of content, how available that type of content is in the industry, and the perceived value to the prospect or client. For example, blog posts typically aren’t gated because that is not where a company posts proprietary content. Rather, it’s thought leadership content that builds up the brands credibility. As a company, you want as many prospects as possible to be able to read your blog. However, if you have patented a proprietary product or process, you definitely want to gate that content.
Give a Lot Away, But Not All
As stated before, there is no absolute for gating B2B content marketing pieces. Rather, it’s a decision that must be made on a case by case basis. The questions listed here should guide you in evaluating whether to gate a particular piece of content.
Questions about how to build an effective B2B content marketing strategy for your company? Contact us today to speak to our expert content marketers.