The 5 Content Types Your B2B Brand Should ‘Gate’

The 5 Content Types Your B2B Brand Should ‘Gate’

I can always tell whether or not a B2B brand is thinking strategically about content when I visit that brand’s site. Case in point:

Are they offering up the keys to the kingdom, all content and information, without asking me to fill out a contact form?

That brand is likely not thinking strategically about content.

Or are they creating valuable content to draw me in, but then using lead-generation and conversion forms to “gate” their most valuable content?

There is high probability that brand is using content strategically to develop a thriving sales pipeline.

See, it’s not enough to just generate content and hope that the right prospects find it and consider it valuable.

A strong content marketing plan must tie-in to marketing and overall business objectives, and it should always include different kinds of content that serve different purposes.

Before you get started, it’s important to understand these different types of content, as well as to know their respective quality levels and which lend themselves to higher conversion rates.

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is this: To gate or not?

The term “gated content” simply means that you require some sort of registration, login or purchase before visitors can access a blog post, video, report or other form of content.

And, as you might imagine, there are pros and cons to both gated and non-gated content.

What are the pros and cons to gating and not gating content?
This is one of the most challenging questions B2B companies must answer, and your brand’s answer must be clearly defined. How you choose to approach gated content should closely align to the needs and goals of your unique business.

Personally, I highly recommend that B2B companies effectively incorporate both gated and non-gated content into their marketing strategies. It’s not one or the other. It should be both.

Let’s say you want to highlight work recently completed on behalf of a well-known client. You could go the simple route: create a testimonial and post it to your site alongside an image or logo.

But guess what? That’s exactly what millions of other companies are doing, too. When was the last time you saw a company post a negative testimonial on their site? I’ve never seen it, and I’m guessing you haven’t either. We likely never will. That’s why the value and benefit of a simple testimonial is so limited.

In other cases, a brand will share a customer success story in addition to a testimonial — one that serves as a standalone, non-gated piece of content. But the problem here is that success stories of this nature tend to feel overwhelmingly salesy.

What if you took a different approach? What if you created a series of content that shares a customer success story in increments while walking prospects through the buying stages — from awareness to consideration and into decision.

It’s completely possible when you choose the right blend of gated and non-gated content types. For example, say you want to create a white paper on an important topic. Rather than just writing and publishing a white paper, consider a multi-content strategy. It might look like this:

Awareness Blog Post:

In this post, help your prospects become acutely aware of their problem. Maybe you’re working with tech companies to improve their marketing ROI. Do they know how much they’re spending on marketing? Do they know the return they’re getting on that investment? Be sure to ask pointed questions that your prospects may not know the answers to — or that they may not like the answers to. Make this post non-gated.

Consideration Blog Post:

In this second post, start to reveal possible strategies for answering the question posed in your Awareness post, or at least strategies for helping create an answer your prospective customers will prefer. Be sure to link back to your Awareness post, and make this one non-gated as well.

Decision Blog Post:

This is the post in which you recommend a sure-fire solution — the solution that you can provide. But, first, you must gate this content. You can choose to make visitors register or sign up for an email list to view this blog post, or you can socially gate it — making visitors share something via social media before gaining access.

Still wondering about your white paper?

This is the comprehensive document that captures each of the three stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. In your posts you share strategies and possible solutions; in your white paper you share about the execution. You should link it at the bottom of your Decision post. Or, send this white paper via email.

At the end of your Decision post, create a sign-up form that allows visitors to request the white paper in exchange for their email address — a gated approach.

Building a strong list of qualified customers is essential to growing your business, and this approach is sure to help accomplish that goal — if the visitor has stayed with you through three blog posts and also wants the white paper, he or she almost assuredly represents a qualified lead.

Yes, following a multi-content strategy is more work than a single-content strategy — but it’s also more effective. We’re not creating content for content’s sake — we’re creating it to drive more qualified customers into the sales pipeline.

That’s not to say the single-content strategy shouldn’t have a place in your communications plan. Here’s a look at the benefits of both multi-content and single-content strategies:

 

Content Strategy Pros and Cons

Multi-Content Strategy

PROS CONS
  • Buying funnel is well-defined and segmenting visitors is easy
  • Conversions come with contact information for future communication
  • Each buying stage is addressed with tailored content
  • Multiple non-gated pieces enhance SEO exposure
  • Smaller audience reach
  • Possibility of frustration and negative brand impact due to incremental and gated information
  • Gated pieces struggle to gain SEO exposure

Single Content Strategy

PROS CONS
  • Reach the largest possible audience
  • Generate traffic from multiple content channels
  • Enjoy greater SEO juice due to ease of linking and sharing
  • Visitors remain anonymous and you receive no contact information
  • SEO exposure limited to a single piece of content
  • Tracking and visitor segmentation opportunities are limited

 

As you create an in-depth content plan, you’ll find that some topics lend themselves better to multi-content strategies and gated approaches, while others do better as part of non-gated, single-content strategies.

I’ve had the chance to work at a number of startups, small businesses and enterprise companies. At each of my career stops, I’ve found that certain types of content achieve higher conversion rates when gated.

Here are the 5 types of content that perform best when moving qualified prospects through the buying process:

1. Checklists

This represents the lowest barrier to entry. Checklists are easy to create, and they are fast reads for your visitors, too. Your checklist could be a simple 3-step one-pager or a more in-depth process that requires a multi-page outline.

You can publish as a Word or Pages document, or you can create a more impressive PDF document using desktop or web-based design software.

2. Whitepapers

Use white papers to present facts, cite research or to state a position or opinion with supporting evidence.

A white paper offers the second-lowest barrier of entry. Use your unique knowledge in writing, and take advantage of tools like InDesign and Canva to create an attraction design for publishing.

3. Ebooks

Do you tend to get a bit long winded when talking or writing about something you know well?

Join the club. Ebooks are ideal for hitting on every aspect of an idea or concept in order to educate your customers or prospects.

4. How-To Videos

Thank goodness: Technology has made creating tutorial videos a breeze. Use non-gated videos to share simple solutions to everyday problems, and use gated videos to take deep dives into more complex challenges.

You can use several tools to create attractive videos quickly: SnagIt, Camtasia, QuickTime Player, iMovie, etc. A how-to video is a little more complicated than a white paper or ebook, but the barrier is lower now that it’s ever been before — and it’s sure to get lower in the future as new technologies come online.

5. Webinars

This is the highest barrier of entry and highest degree of difficulty in execution — by far.

There’s a bit of a learning curve when conducting a webinar, but services like Google Hangouts, GoToWebinar, and Webex (when used appropriately) can help garner profitable results desired.

Commit to strategic content marketing

To ensure success, each content type requires varying levels of human capital, expertise and other resources. This should go without saying, but you can’t go halfway with content creation.

If you want to create quality content that moves prospects to action, you must fully staff each project, you must commit the appropriate expertise, and you must follow a process. Anything less is just creating content for content’s sake, which is a waste of everyone’s time and your organization’s money.

Ultimate success relies on your strategy and tactics. Maximize your return on investment by building your B2B content marketing strategy around specific business objectives — and by making gated and non-gated decisions that drive toward those objectives.

Are you committed to quality content that gets results? That’s the real question.

Choose to commit to quality content, and you’ll find that you’re using both gated and non-gated approaches to increase conversion rates and move more qualified prospects into the buying process.

Questions about content and gating decisions? We’re always here to help. Get in touch any time using our Contact page.