The final answer to a big B2B marketing content question.

In business, I have grown up in a direct marketing world, where a response to an offer is the goal of every B2B marketing campaign. So the concept of giving any offer away free was a big leap for me to accept.

This new concept of giving some content away free vs. requiring contact info has become a big subject of discussion — and rightly so. How does one decide which educational content you’ve spent time and money creating should be given away with no strings attached?

Well, I personally judge that discussion closed thanks to Ardath Albee’s authoritative insight on the subject in her recent blog “The Art of The Ask in Content Marketing.”

On her Marketing Interactions blog, she takes B2B marketers through a very sound review of the prospect’s thinking and their actions based on the type of content. Here’s what she presents is going through their minds when faced with any registration form:

“How important is this going to be to me?

What are the chances that they’ll call me?

Is it worth the risk?

I always wanted to be Mickey Mouse…

Maybe I can just alter one digit in my phone number…

And I can use my throw-away email that I ignore…just in case they send a link to the PDF instead of letting me download it right away.”

These are so accurate. I know because it’s exactly what I think when I am faced with registration for content (only I want to be Minnie Mouse).

My response to clients asking whether they should “gate” their content or not is always, “Just ask for the very minimum of information,” that being a name and email address. Unfortunately, the marketing director I work with must then fight sales, which wants to get titles, phone numbers, decision-making authority and so many other pieces of information.

Now, however, thanks to Ardath, I am fully educated on the rules. They are loosely summarized here but I advise my readers to please read all she has to say on this subject because it’s valuable knowledge:

1. Don’t gate the old stuff. If it’s over two years old ungate it.
2. Judge what to put behind a form on its importance and substance. If it’s a quick, early buy-cycle offer, give it away free, then gate the more detailed and substantive white papers, etc.
3. If there is a form, let the prospect check a box if they want to be called by sales. This is a great way to make sure you don’t miss those who may already be in a product evaluation stage. You can also assure others that they won’t be called.
4. Limit any questions on the form to the least information you need — that is, no more than one or two questions.

Material that is not gated definitely positions your company as a resource of information on its area of expertise. It may delay your first contact a bit, but, as Ardath says, “The point is, the sooner prospects start using your ideas to think about solving problems, the better off you’ll be.”

2 replies
  1. Nick Stamoulis
    Nick Stamoulis says:

    This is a common issue with B2B marketing. You don’t want to have all of your content gated because a smaller audience will see it and it won’t improve your SEO. Impress visitors with free content and encourage them to sign up for more with a basic sign up. Don’t ask them too many questions. It’s a turn off.

    Reply

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