Should Marketers Use Gated Content? The Pros And Cons Of Both


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By Bernie Borges and Bernie Borges - Host of the Modern Marketing Engine Podcast. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

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Whether or not marketers should use the approach of gated content is a hotly-debated question. Should content be entirely free, or are there valid cases for gating content to ensure lead capture for your sales funnel? Bernie’s guest on this episode is James Kessinger, CMO of Hushly. James has spent his career in corporate marketing, product marketing, services marketing, field marketing, and partner marketing - leading both large marketing organizations and smaller teams.

James has seen it all and in his role as CMO at Hushly, he is responsible for defining, building, and executing on all marketing, PR, go-to-market, and partnerships. On this episode, James shares his thoughts about whether or not there is a place for gated content in the modern marketing approach - and suggests there is a middle ground that marketers should be pursuing.

What Are Good Reasons For Gating Content?

When considering the choice to gate or ungate marketing content, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of doing so. James believes that providing content through a gated approach does make certain assertions to the website visitor - and that it provides certain things to the marketer:

  • Gated content implies there is greater value to the content behind the opt-in form
  • Asking for identifying information tends to generate higher quality leads
  • This enables the marketer to better target those leads
  • It also makes it easier to track marketing strategy and performance overall
What Are The Cons When Gating Content?

There is no doubt that everyone reading this has encountered an opt-in form when seeking to download content. But what is the typical effectiveness of that approach? James says that only 3% of people who begin to fill out a form convert to become a lead. He believes it’s because visitors to those opt-in forms are leery because they have filled out forms in the past and received content in return that wasn’t as valuable as they were led to believe. This leads to what James calls “form rage,” a resentful feeling that an opt-in form is required at all.

From a marketing perspective, opt-in forms can become more trouble than they are worth. Those who do complete forms often provide fake information, which adds costs to the sales process to weed out fake content. James points out that it creates unnecessary friction to the marketing process on both the visitor and the marketing sides of the relationship.

Listen to hear James elaborate on these points, as well as his comments about how mobile devices impact user experience and lead form completion.

If You’re Going To Use Gated Content - Is There A Better Way To Do It?

Do certain types of content do better in gated content scenarios than others? James says that video is a clear winner and communicates greater value. The opportunity to engage at a level that expresses personality and authenticity - which video provides - is always beneficial. He also explains that his practice is to ensure that anything beyond 3 pages in length is always behind an opt-in form of some kind. Those interested in such content prove to be more serious about the subject matter and thus, represent a closer match to his buyer avatar.

He also mentions that much of the decision about whether to gate content or not relates to the role and experience of your targeted leads. Those with technical or high-level roles - engineers, developers, high-level marketers, and C-suite execs - tend to appreciate longer-form content that is appropriate for gating and will often opt-in to receive it, whereas those with support or administrative roles tend not to have interest in lengthy content that works well in a gated approach.

Micro-Gated Content May Be The Answer

In James’ view, you can give away valuable content and still get a lead out of it. He recommends using one box opt-in forms to make it easy for users to complete the form. What should that one box ask for? A business email address. The Hushly platform James uses can require a business email instead of Gmail, Yahoo, etc. before it will allow a download of any kind.

The next step is to verify that the email address given is valid, which is part of the opt-in process. At that point, the email address record is enriched with the company’s minimum data requirements and human-verified against the person’s public LinkedIn profile. Once all of that is done, the data is added to the marketing automation platform via API to determine the appropriate next steps. Should the lead go into the nurture funnel? The sales enablement funnel? Or should it be sent directly to the sales team?

Listen to this episode to learn whether gated content is right for your organization - or whether James’ suggested micro-gating concept will generate the quality leads your organization needs.

Featured on This Episode Outline of This Episode
  • [1:02] James Kessinger, CMO of Hushly and his experience with gated content
  • [3:51] For what reasons SHOULD we gate content?
  • [7:27] What are the cons associated with gated content?
  • [10:29] Is there a better type of content to use in gated content situations?
  • [12:23] The right choice: Gated or Ungated? James does micro-gated content
  • [15:35] What to do after microgating your content
  • [17:22] Does microgating assume a “top of funnel” lead?
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