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Does Gated Content Still Work?

Is gated content still successful? Find out why more people are resistant to fill out forms than ever before and what tactics marketers can use instead.

3 mins read time
Jessica Schwebel
Jessica Schwebel

Aug 09, 2023

B2B marketers are focused on generating qualified leads for their sales team. And the strategy usually goes something like this: create content such as an eBook, guide, or report; gate it with a form; promote it to your target audience; and watch the leads roll in. 

Now, many marketing teams aren’t seeing the same success they once did, reporting lower conversion rates and fewer leads from their gated content. Research backs up this trend: According to LinkedIn, only 25% of B2B buyers say they’re willing to share personal details to access interesting content.

What gives?

Why People Don’t Want to Fork Over Their Name and Email

They Can Get the Same Information for Free Somewhere Else

There is so much content out there that it’s easy to find what you’re looking for without submitting a form. And in a competitive content landscape, quality content is key. The cream will rise to the top and fluff will suffer. More content also means more lead distribution, resulting in lower lead volume for each piece of content. 

They’ve Been Burned by Bad Lead Nurturing in the Past 

Have you ever submitted a form and then been bombarded with emails you didn’t ask for and didn’t solve your problem? I think we all have. That experience probably made you hesitate the next time a company asked for your email.

Sometimes leads are also handed over to sales way before they’re ready. So, they get a call from an eager sales rep wanting to discuss a product they don’t know much about and aren’t ready to buy.   

They Don’t Trust the Company Yet 

Brand building is important for B2B companies because buyers already have companies in mind before they start the purchasing process. They rely heavily on personal recommendations and tend to engage with marketing from brands they recognize over those they don’t. 

The notion also applies here. If a prospect doesn’t know a brand, they might think twice about sharing their personal details because they don’t know how it will be used (or abused).  

The Age of Anonymous Leads 

Traditionally, B2B marketing teams drive leads, nurture them until they’re qualified, and then hand them off to sales to reach out. But as individuals become more protective of their information and privacy laws become stricter, marketers will need to adapt to nurturing anonymous leads. 

You want your brand to be top of mind when someone needs a product or solution like yours so they come to you when they’re sales ready. How do you do that?  

Create Unique, Valuable Content

As long as Google is around, SEO will be important. But investing in well-researched, trustworthy content from experts in your industry will give you an edge over companies that churn out AI-generated or low-quality content. 

It’s not all about search, though. Thought leadership and success stories that highlight your expertise, your differentiators, and the value you provide will make your brand stand out.  

Dial-In Retargeting Campaigns

Many companies are already doing some sort of retargeting, but these campaigns will need to become even more sophisticated and tailored to where prospects are in the buyer’s journey. Gone are the days of retargeting all website visitors with the same conversion-focused ads.    

Prioritize Organic Social Engagement

Social-first content (content created specifically for social that doesn’t drive away from the platform) will become an even more prominent way for people to find — and continue engaging with — your company. That unique, valuable content mentioned above doesn’t have to be a blog post or a guide. It can be a LinkedIn post or a TikTok video. (Who has time to read a big, long whitepaper anyway?)    

Build Your Brand

Often, B2B brands don’t invest in pure brand awareness tactics because it can be difficult to demonstrate ROI in terms of lead generation. But earning coverage from industry publications and trusted sources like Gartner, getting positive reviews on sites like G2, winning awards, and attending events will give your company recognition and help build trust with your prospects.  

So … Does Gated Content Still Work?

Gated content likely still has a place in the B2B marketer’s toolkit. But using a form should be reserved for the highest value, proprietary content. Think: the detailed report with research and data only your company collects and analyzes. 

The move away from gated content and toward anonymous leads will force marketers to get creative with how they engage and build trust with prospects. This will likely lead to a better experience for potential customers and more qualified people knocking on the door eager to buy. And who doesn’t want that? 

 

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Jessica Schwebel

Jessica is a demand generation expert and has spent the last decade helping companies create and convert leads. When she's not working, she loves cooking, reading and getting outside. Coffee and Bravo shows are her addictions.

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