The debate on whether or not to have gated content as part of an overall content strategy continues. There are definite pros and cons to asking your audience to provide their contact details in exchange for content. However, as a professional marketer, you cannot deny the great potential of using gated content to drive new leads into your database and begin moving them through the customer journey process.
Choosing to make gated content a part of your marketing strategy may be the easiest part of the decision for you and your team. Implementing gated content can come with some challenges.
Here are four to consider:
1- All Content Is Part of a Journey
Before making any choices on what content will be gated, take a step back and make sure you have done the work outlining your target audience’s customer journey. Gated content should fulfill the marketing and sales goal of bringing new leads into the database or gathering the necessary information to equal a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or Sale Qualified Lead (SQL). But before this can happen, understanding how your prospect buys from you will help in defining what content will work best for gating.
When you document the buying journey, you are also documenting the questions and answers that will drive your audience to move to each stage within that journey. Within this process lies your content ideas. Don’t guess what your audience will need for each stage of their buying process. Be thoughtful and intentional by documenting the customer journey and you will be more confident in your gated content choices.
2- Content Consumption Is Like a Relationship
Your audience knows what you are trying to accomplish when you gate content. The gated content tactic has been around for some time now, and your audience is on to you. This can be seen as a challenge or an opportunity. Content is one of the strongest elements we have as B2B companies to build a relationship with our target audience. When aligned with the customer journey and to the real problems that face our prospects, content can be the foundation upon which a trusted relationship can develop. This means that you should be creating valuable, ungated content for your audience to consume so they can begin to know, like and trust you as an organization.
Choosing to gate content may align with internal objectives and KPIs, but it should not be taken lightly as a decision. Your gated content needs to compliment the ungated content so that when your audience is ready, they feel compelled to provide their contact details in exchange for the content you have to offer.
3- Gated Content Is a Value Exchange
If you have started your content relationship with free, ungated assets and information, you have also begun the first step in the value exchange between your audience and you. Your audience gives you their time and attention in exchange for your ungated content. As they see you as a trusted resource within the industry, they are now more willing to provide some of their details in exchange for even more valuable information. Make this easy for your audience. Don’t ask for too much information as you build this relationship. Perhaps start with asking for their name and email address only. Then, as you provide more value, they will be more willing to provide more contact details.
Use progressive profiling as a means to gain the information you need for your MQLs and SQLs, but do so using valuebased content as the driving force. If your audience finds that what you have to offer is of value to them, they are more apt to provide more of their valuable information along the way.
4- Introducing Product Too Soon
Outlining your target buying personas and customer journey should be the impetus for outlining your content development. You will also see, especially in long B2B sales cycles, that there is more than likely quite a bit of information your audience is seeking before they want to address product specifics. Marketing and sales must work together on defining both the personas and customer journey and it is critical that marketing lead the charge when it comes to developing content that is educational, informative and allows for that trusted relationship to build.
Too often, product related content is introduced too early in the customer journey, which can turn off your audience and possibly even turn them away for good. Even worse, is when product related content is gated, forcing your audience to provide their valuable contact information in exchange for a sales pitch. Don’t let sales pressure marketing into offering up product details too soon in the content relationship. Work with sales to create content that really addresses tough challenges your prospect is facing. Use content as the means to build trust so that when the time comes for product introduction, your audience is not only ready, they are willing.
Don’t rush into choosing your gated content. Use the tools of your personas and customer journey to provide the answers when it comes to making gated content decisions. When you take the time to make choices based on solid foundational work, you can feel confident that your audience wants to provide their valuable information in exchange for the help and education your deliver.
Pamela Muldoon is a Revenue Marketing Coach at The Pedowitz Group with over two decades of traditional and digital marketing experience.