How to create gated content that works for B2B
In this overview, we explore the key steps you need to take to create gated content which works. We also look at conversational gating, gated content ideas and formats for B2B plus the international considerations inherent in multi-market gated content. Read on to find out more.
B2B gated content: Step-by-step guide
Understand what content you require for each stage of the path to purchase
Be clear about the path to purchase for your product or service – how long it typically lasts, the number and types of decision-makers involved, and how they navigate the awareness, consideration and decision phases. Map your content so you are providing relevant assets at each stage and decide which assets should be gated and which should not.
Look at what your competitors are doing
Are they providing content types/formats which are freely accessible to all, which you were planning to gate? If so, you probably need to rethink – why should prospects submit their details to obtain your content when they could consume similar competitor content without doing so? Remember, your gated content needs to offer something of real value to justify gating it. Content and guides are everywhere, so to gain attention, brands need to offer things that can’t be found elsewhere.
Provide an incentive
To entice users to part with their details, you need to create relevant value offers and appealing calls to action that they can’t refuse. For example, you might show the value of your content to the audience with a brief synopsis, then gate the rest. You could provide part of the content for free – say, the first 1,000 words – then to read to the end, the user must submit their details.
Build a strong landing page
Don’t forget the Thank You page
Thank you pages, also known as confirmation pages, can be an overlooked aspect of gated content, yet this is another important touchpoint. This is an opportunity to thank the prospect, set their expectations about what happens next, and generally convey the right tone.
Understand which content types perform best behind a gate
Certain types of content perform better behind a gate. Generally, longer-form content is more suitable – anyone who is prepared to read multiple pages of content is likely to be interested in your product or service and therefore more willing to provide their information. Well-written whitepapers or reports with genuine insights created in collaboration with subject matter experts are good candidates for gating. What does your analytics tell you about which content types perform best? (See below for further gated content ideas.)
Segment the audience
Once your audience has downloaded your gated content and you receive their email address, you need to segment your email lists. This will enable you to develop effective email marketing campaigns, tailored to each audience segment at different stages of their path to purchase.
Measure the impact
Tracking conversions and reviewing your analytics data will help you to measure success. You can use the learnings you gather to refine your future content marketing. To record data effectively, you need a logical taxonomy for conversion and consumption tracking, along with lead source attribution.
Remember: the quality of your ungated content will heavily influence how prospects perceive your gated content. If your ungated content adds value and signals that you are a subject matter expert, then prospects are more likely to be interested in your gated offering. If your ungated content receives high engagement levels, that is a clear sign that there will be appetite for your gated content.
A form of content gating which is gaining traction is conversational gating. Instead of gating your content with a form that digitally separates prospects from your content, a “conversational gate” sits alongside the prospect as he or she consumes your content.
This typically looks like an intelligent chat feature that supports your content by asking timely, relevant questions based on the section the user is reading. Along the way, your CRM is collecting useful information about the prospect. Conversational gating takes your static marketing content and turns it into dynamic, lead-generating conversations.
Conversational gating allows prospects to read your content and have their questions answered by a chatbot. In turn, you can collect information in a natural, conversational manner. In essence, it removes the friction of a traditional form.
Gated content ideas for B2B
eBooks: Creating an eBook on a topic relevant to your audience is a great way to showcase your authority and expertise. Brands can be deterred by the perceived effort required to write an eBook, but these need not be exhaustively long. A cost-effective way to produce these is by collating a series of existing blog articles and then editing them into an eBook format.
Guides and whitepapers: Detailed ‘how to’ guides or whitepapers make excellent gated content, especially when they contain expert tips, advice from well-known professionals, or new and insightful industry research. They help to establish authority within your industry, yet need not be long documents – research shows most readers prefer whitepapers less than 10 pages in length.
Video content: Gated videos can be highly effective for lead generation. Non-registered users may see a small introductory part, but if they want to continue watching, they must submit their contact information in a pop-up form. The degree of gating may vary depending on your goals. You can apply a fully non-skippable gating model or a semi-gated model. If your business has the potential to make lots of video content, a good B2B lead generation approach could be to ask your audience to sign up to a video series. If you have a marketing automation solution, you could trigger a series of emails to be delivered to your audience over time to drive visits to your video series.
Research reports: Market sector or industry reports are often popular with B2B audiences. You can either use data or research from within your business to compile the report, or else commission a third party to produce it for you. To extract the most value from the research, you can repurpose aspects of it into ungated blog articles and infographics, to maximise SEO potential, including backlinks.
Webinars: These are useful for signalling trust and building a rapport with the audience. Webinars could either be livestreamed, where participants register in advance and are given the opportunity to ask questions at the end, or they could be pre-recorded.
Presentations: Most B2B business produce insightful presentations for a variety of purposes – internal company meetings or external speaking opportunities. Often, they are under-used – i.e. used once for their original purpose then cast aside. But the valuable information and insights they contain could be re-packaged and promoted to your audience as useful gated content.
Templates: Creating a template for others – for example, a measurement framework in Excel – is a way to create useful content for your audience at relatively low cost.
You can always repurpose your gated content as ungated assets later – for example, you can take a gated whitepaper and turn it into a series of ungated blog posts or infographics or other shareable, compelling pieces.
International considerations for gated content
If you are operating across markets, remember that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. This is because:
- Attitudes to data capture and privacy vary by culture. Prospects in some markets are more willing than others to hand over their personal details. For example, Germans famously dislike divulging their contact information unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
- User requirements will vary by country. For example, do visitors need to see the telephone number field in a different format? Should some fields only be visible in certain countries? How do GDPR or privacy requirements vary in different markets? How do you manage a user from one country landing on a form in a different country?
- Different content types perform differently across markets. For example, video tutorials tend to perform better in Latin America relative to other markets.
- How your product or service is understood and searched for varies by market – which affects audience intent, and therefore affects the content you need to produce.
- UX is affected by culture – so headlines, layouts, colourways, form fields and calls to action which are highly effective in Market X may be less effective in Market Y.
All these factors affect how you approach content marketing, whether or not you choose to gate. A Local In-Market Expert can advise you on the linguistic and cultural nuances in your chosen market.
So, is gated content worth it?
The content approach you take will depend on your brand, objective, audience and target markets. The key question to ask is how can you balance content creation, distribution and promotion for the different user journeys you are designing for your business? To find out how Oban can help answer that question, please get in touch.
You can see recent examples of Oban’s own gated content via the links below:
Suzie Oakford | Commercial Director
Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.