Choosing whether or not to gate your content has become a big topic of discussion among marketing professionals. There are definite pros and cons to the content gating decision, but once you decide to gate your content for your audience, there are some common mistakes that can be avoided with a little preparation and forethought to your gating process.
Here are five common mistakes B2B marketers tend to make when deciding to gate content:
1. Gating By Content Type vs. Audience Value
If you decide to gate your content because it is a white paper or case study, you may be asking the wrong question of what you want your content to accomplish. Yes, there may be opportunities where asking for audience information in exchange for a white paper or case study is appropriate, but only if you are sure it fits with the value your audience is expecting at that stage of the customer journey. You should be asking ‘what solution to a specific problem can our content provide’ and then decide how the solution will be presented. This could be as robust as a case study or as streamlined as a checklist or resource guide. When you approach your content as value to your audience vs. content type, you can then decide if it’s valuable enough for your audience to provide contact information in exchange for the content (or solution) you provide.
2. Not Aligning KPIs to Content Strategy
Too often marketing teams do not ask important questions of their content before development. Creating content for the sake of creating content is not a smart KPI approach. Aligning KPIs to content means having a solid understanding of your personas and their customer journey.
- What does your persona need to know at each stage of the journey to advance them to the next stage?
- What do you want your content to do at each stage?
- How will you track the performance of this piece of content?
- Do you want the persona to download the content and enter your database?
- Do you want your persona to watch or read this content and then make a decision that will move them to the next stage in their journey?
When you ask better questions of the content you are developing, you also answer the question of whether to gate or not to gate along the way.
3. Not Aligning Content to Your Buying Journey
This is a common mistake B2B marketers make with gated content. Too often the pressure for ‘qualified leads’ outweighs the natural journey your customer wants to take in purchasing your product or service. Taking the time to define all of the stages of your customer journey will show you how and where content makes sense to gate or where it makes sense to leave as ungated, ‘free’ resources for your audience. Some audience members need to be courted and providing ungated content at the awareness stages is critical to building rapport and trust with your audience. Once your audience has formed a relationship with you through your valuable content, then gating additional value that helps them along their customer journey will provide sales with those qualified contacts they are seeking. It allows for a true win-win for both the customer and the sales team.
4. Asking For Too Much Too Soon
Your audience’s information is not only valuable to you, it’s valuable to them as well. When you decide to gate a piece of content, where you do so in the customer journey will also influence the amount of information you request. Courting a prospect is similar to courting a possible love interest. You wouldn’t ask to marry someone on a first date, so why would you ask for twenty fields of information on the first download? Lead generation content that you’ve chosen to gate should only ask for initial contact information, such as name and email address. As your persona builds that trust relationship with your organization, and as additional gated content is presented along the customer journey, then further information can be requested. Marketing automation platforms that provide progressive profiling are perfect for gathering additional details such as Title, Department, Company Size, etc., as your persona continues to download the value you provide. Asking for too much too soon can turn off your audience, sometimes entirely.
5. Not Developing a Smart Landing Page
You’ve spent a lot of time and resources in developing your gated content. Don’t skimp on the landing page. Your landing page should provide a clear, concise message that tees up your content and gets your audience to want to download or engage. Clean, easy to digest copy is critical and your call to action should be direct. Implementing A/B testing for your landing page is a great way to try out different messages, CTAs and even the use of video as part of the landing page body. Follow the guidelines above on form fields and be sure to test out your landing page to ensure a positive customer experience. Your landing page should encourage and entice your audience to download or engage, not turn them away because you didn’t take the time to develop something smart.
Gating content is still a very viable and strategic tactic as part of your overall content strategy. Ensure you are gating at the right time with the right content by doing the important foundational work of developing strong buyer personas and detailed customer journeys. These foundation elements will guide you well on making smarter decisions with gated content and less mistakes along the way.
Pamela Muldoon is a Revenue Marketing Coach at The Pedowitz Group with over two decades of traditional and digital marketing experience.