In most cases, marketers want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to engage with their brand and learn more about the company, especially in fostering lead generation. However, gated content in a B2B marketing context functions as a way to separate high-quality leads from passively interested buyers. Most organizations will put up a wall around content, such as e-books, white papers and webinars, and ask viewers to supply some level of demographic and contact information for access (1). This approach serves multiple purposes:
- Building a more robust customer database: Web forms have become an indispensable tool for lead generation. Content marketing collateral is an ideal way for businesses to either gather new leads or flesh out existing customer contact information.
- Adding perceived value: Because a business has gated a piece of content, buyers receive a tacit message that case study or white paper is more valuable than other articles published on a blog, for instance.
- Re-engaging customers: When a lead has gone cold, an information-rich e-book can help bring him or her back into the marketing funnel. When the content is relevant and establishes the company as a thought leader on a particular issue facing the industry, the purchaser is more likely continue connecting with the organization
When the gated content delivers on the idea that the marketing materials purchasers access is more valuable than universally available blogs and case studies, businesses can build trust (2). The fact that a lead supplies identity data to download content helps isolate those who are more serious about establishing a relationship. At the same time, marketers can better analyze which pieces of content perform better and improve both their online marketing and lead generation strategies.
When gated content can backfire
Because gated content is primarily a lead generation tool, it should help companies recognize which leads are more valuable than others. However, social networks present a different environment and unique challenges. For instance, brands using their Facebook page to run contests or post exclusive content regularly asked visitors to like the page for entry.
Recently, the social media platform announced it would no longer support this practice, explaining using likes as a gating tool doesn't provide an accurate portrait of how much interest there is among customers (3). Especially in the case of giveaways, businesses can't accurately verify whether the leads generated using likes are interested in the business or just the incentive.