With over 91% of B2B companies utilizing content marketing, there has been much discussion as to how this tactic can be used to drive a successful lead generation campaign. The initial instinct for many companies is to gate their content behind long forms that require prospects to give up enough information to build a complete lead profile. However, people are becoming increasingly hesitant to give out their contact information, especially if they are unfamiliar with a company. Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott likens gating content to having someone come up to you at a singles bar and ask for your number without even introducing themselves.
Industry research has backed up this growing reluctance to give up personal information. Marketo conducted an experiment and found that forms with only five fields have a conversion rate nearly 30% higher than forms with nine fields. Additionally, in their experiment, shorter forms had a lower cost per conversion than longer forms.
Even though having short forms means that marketers can only capture a small amount of information, there is still enough to begin a lead profile. Marketo recommends utilizing ungated content during the early funnel stages and gated content during the later stages of a lead generation campaign. As the lead progresses through the sales funnel, it is possible to add in information gained through other gated content pieces or through the purchase of information from a third-party vendor. Ungated forms can not only increase download numbers by as much as 50 times more, they can also increase word-of-mouth as people are more likely to recommend content to a colleague that does not require filling out a form.
Loren Goldstein, VP of Strategy for Babcok & Jenkins, offers four criteria for determining whether or not to gate content:
1. The objective that you are trying to achieve with that piece of content
Are you focused on generating a large number of leads or are you more interested in the quality of leads generated?
2. Your target audience’s characteristics
What stage of the sales funnel are they in? How much do they currently know about your company?
3. The value of the content
How much does it meet your audience’s need for information?
4. The uniqueness of the content
Is this content available anywhere else?
Take a look at your own forms. Are you asking for information that isn’t necessary? Consider only asking for an email address, or even making some content available without requiring any contact information. While you may not have much data on that person, you will pique their interest in your company.
If your content serves its purpose and keeps them interested, they will continue to interact with your company. As Goldstein goes on to explain, gating content is akin to making people pay a cover charge. If you are required to pay for something, your expectations immediately increase. Therefore, make sure your prospects will not be disappointed when they finally get to see your content!