Best Practices for Gated Content

Written by Lucy Jones

Mar 17 2016

gated content best practices 

Content forms the currency of Inbound Marketing campaigns throughout every purchase funnel stage. But what are best practices for gated content?

Lead generation success depends on successful value exchange. Whether it be eBooks or infographics, helpful content provided at the right stage will attract quality prospects and help you generate good leads.

But gating B2B content (placing it behind a lead capture form on a landing page) isn’t always the best option.

HubSpot’s Gated Content [Flowchart]

when to gate b2b content flowchart

To understand what content you should gate and what should be given away free, it’s important to understand the buyer’s journey. For example, if you gate Awareness stage content (that first touch-point content which is designed to attract relevant leads to your site) you may sabotage your lead generation potential. However, by the Consideration stage of the Buyer’s journey, you will have, typically, built more trust, so prospects will be more comfortable sharing information in return for helpful content.

How Content Maps To Buying Stages

purchase stage content mapping workflow

What Not To Gate At The Awareness Stage

As a general rule, Awareness stage content such as blogs or infographics shouldn’t be gated. This type of content is there to build trust and engagement with the right prospects - if it’s hidden behind lead capture forms, prospects attracted to your site may leave without any reason to trust you, and you won’t benefit.

This rings true with any easily consumed, helpful content. By all means add a CTA (Call to Action) to related gated landing pages from your Awareness stage content, but at this point, keep it accessible.

What Not To Gate At The Consideration and Decision Stage

Content that provides more in-depth information about how to solve a persona challenge, is classed as Consideration stage content. Typically this might be in the form of an eBook or case study, but it’s important to remember that content of all formats can be mapped to any buyer’s stage.

Content providing more detailed product information in order to help readers make a final purchase choice is classed as Decision stage content. Often this takes the form of webinars, vendor comparisons or demos.

Usually, Consideration and Decision stage content is gated. But this isn’t alway the best option. Again it’s all about value exchange. For your content to be worth gating and be something prospects will be comfortable ‘paying’ for, it should provide new value, something to take away, and be content that readers will want to share. If your eBook, guide or webinar reiterates a message easily found for free elsewhere, it may be best to keep it accessible.

What Information Should Gated Content Ask For?

If you’ve decided to gate a piece content, the next step is deciding what information to ask for.

The detail you request through a lead capture form will vary depending on the persona you’re targeting, the nature of the content, and the topic addressed.

At a first contact level, on a top-to-middle funnel offer, it’s best to start by asking for just an email address and contact name. Some forms will also ask for phone numbers and job titles to qualify leads, but in order to keep the download process seamless and easy for the prospect, a name and email address should be sufficient at this stage.

Smart Content

One option to keep the process helpful to both the lead and your database is to use smart content forms. These allow you to personalise the form fields. For example, if you know the person downloading has read other content on your site and you already have some of their details, smart forms will recognise that, autocomplete the information you already have, and ask for alternative relevant information.

The last thing you want to do is deter a prospect with endless questions before they can access the content. You need to recognise the value of their personal data and strike a balance between asking for as little detail as you need in exchange for the value of your content.

You have plenty of time to nurture leads and build trust once they make first contact. So don’t rush things, keep creating and sending content with additional value, and in return you’ll get a little more detail each time to build the relationship.

B2B Marketing Zone