Risks of Aggressively Gating Content

Turquoise door with a padlock. Photo by unsplash.com/@kaffeebart.

Content on a B2B site is about informing your audience, encouraging engagement, and building relationships that can lead to sales. So how does gating content affect those efforts? Gate too soon or too much, and you risk driving people away.

It helps if you consider contact information as a type of payment. Although your product may interest me, it doesn’t mean I’m ready to barter my email address and phone number for a look at a marketing asset, especially on my first visit to your site. Because I know as soon as I do, you’re coming for me — or at least my inbox.

If I want to learn about how a new technology might address a business problem and you’re gating the overviews that explain it, I’ll do my research elsewhere; thankyouverymuch. What’s the risk? Now I’m getting your competitors’ perspectives and looking to them for my research, not you.

How to Find the Balance for Gating Content

Gating content plays an essential role in lead generation and conversion. It’s a strong marketing strategy in the right place and time. However, there’s a balance between building trust with content and using it to feed the sales funnels.

I’m not suggesting you open all the enclosures to the content zoo. Instead, stock the petting zoo with free-range content focused on awareness. Save the fences for the deeper-dive content tied to consideration and purchase.

Consider the assets you have available and evaluate their potential for registration success. Two easy places to start:

More here: Content Gating: This, Not That — Sometimes These

Watch the trends. Just because an asset has strong registration early on, you don’t want to keep it fenced forever. When registration starts to wane, remove the registration. There’s no trust built promoting the “latest research” when a prospect discovers it’s over a year old.

How Emphasizing Leads Can Backfire

Some organizations consider collecting marketing qualified leads (MQLs) as a primary measure of digital success. If that’s your target, you can absolutely focus your efforts on conversion and gate the daylights out of everything to get those numbers up. But it’s a big turn-off for a lot of prospects. And leads have less potential to convert to sales if gathered too soon.

Great example: I was doing basic research on a company where I was interested in applying for a job. I had to provide contact information to get a corporate overview PDF. Within an hour of doing so, I had a text message and an email from a sales dev rep (SDR) hoping to get more information and talk me into a conversation with sales. A day later, I had a phone call from the same person, even though I’d responded to the text, making it clear that I wasn’t a sales prospect.

It might have made sense if I’d visited the site several times and downloaded a data sheet or pricing information. But the corporate overview? Nothing about that file even says, “Call me, maybe.”

How Gating Affects Time, Money, and Morale

Gartner research shows that of the time B2B buyers spend considering a purchase, only 17% involves meeting with potential suppliers. So, sending your SDRs to chase people who aren’t ready to talk wastes time and effort. And that translates to money.

Add another dimension: I’m not in pre-sales, but having so many names on your call list tied to people who aren’t ready to engage must be discouraging. It’s just short of a cold call. I’d be happier if more people I called were warmer leads. And I’d be more likely to stay out of the 26% annual attrition rate for SDRs. Addressing that attrition? More time and money for hiring and onboarding.

How to Do More with the Experience

When someone does register for a gated asset, consider the timing and the actual content itself. For instance, follow up with a thank-you email with similar assets and an invitation to a newsletter or a webinar. Use the opportunity to build the relationship in stages. If it’s their first download and it’s not highly technical or deep into the marketing funnel, consider a less aggressive approach than contacting them for a sales interaction.

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