The Essential Content Guide

The Basics of Gating

The world of modern marketing offers up countless tools and strategies to effectively nurture prospects. As they travel through their buyer journey, they make several stops along the way. Each of these provides an opportunity to progress the lead and take one step closer to the final destination, the sale!

On this route towards the sale, certain milestones need to be achieved in order to effectively progress the lead through the funnel. At some stage, their data needs to be collected, and this is where content gating comes into play. This tactic is typically used to turn an unknown contact into a known contact to enable more sophisticated nurturing and follow-up.

So what is content gating? Well content gating is the process of putting up a paywall between the prospect and a valuable piece of content, only instead of cash, they must offer up their personal data in exchange. This usually includes basic contact information; name, email, phone number etc.

With this data, organizations gain a better understanding of the prospects in their sales funnel and can work to customise their offerings to meet their prospect’s specific needs. This data driven approach optimises internal resource use and allows for much more focused and effective marketing activity.

Using marketing technologies such as a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) or web personalization services, the information provided through data capture forms can be used to further personalise the prospect’s buyer journey, sending more relevant content straight to their inbox. Gated content prioritises qualified leads over other unsubstantiated metrics.

What Makes a Good Gating Strategy?​

A good gating strategy incentivises prospects and naturally collects data throughout the buyer journey. Unfortunately, mistakes are often made in the design and implementation of such strategies and this undermines their effectiveness. Many creators are often too eager to gate their content. After putting significant time and effort into their resources, they regularly overvalue what they create, but how do you know when should you gate content? This is a dangerous error to make as gating too many pieces has the potential to drive prospects away to more ‘generous’ competitors. The best gating strategies effectively engage prospects at each stage in their buyer journey. This may be through the use of an executive summary, to offer a sneak-peek of the value behind the gate or through other alternative means.

4 Steps to Building and Testing Your Gating Strategy​

The very best gating strategies are user driven. They consider how prospects act throughout the buyer journey and adapt accordingly. There are 4 steps you should go through when developing a gating strategy.

Step 1: Develop Buyer Personas​

The first step of a gating strategy Involves recognising and understanding the target audience. What are their needs? What are their habits? What devices do they use? By asking these questions it’s possible to create buyer personas which identify the characteristics of an ideal prospect. This helps to tailor the gating strategy and deliver optimal value to the target audience.

Step 2: Map the Buyer Journey​

With the target audience identified, it’s important to map out the buyer journey in order to recognise how each persona will mature and develop. This will help to evaluate current content offerings and highlight any gaps that may need filling.

Step 3: Conduct a Content Audit​

Once the buyer journey has been mapped out, the next step involves identifying which pieces of content will sit behind a gate. A content audit is necessary in order to recognise what pieces meet the audience’s needs best and what level of value they deliver. This helps determine how much information will be required for access to each piece. The higher the value delivered, the more information requested for access. By conducting an content audit, gaps in the buyer journey can also be quickly recognized and filled.

Step 4: Map the Content​

After the target audience has been identified and the content evaluated, it is then time to map the content to the stages of the buyer journey.The positioning of this content is essential. There needs be a clear route for prospects to travel from the top of the funnel towards qualified lead status. Clear nurture flows need to be set up which logically support the prospect’s evolving needs as they consume each piece of content and progress.

It is typically considered best practice to start gating at the ‘Consider stage’ of the buyer journey. At this point, prospects have already made significant progress and are more likely to appreciate the value of the content placed behind the gate.

Content Gating for Enterprises​

The differences between content gating for Enterprise organisations, Small Businesses (SMBs) and Start-ups is huge. Many platforms that offer simplicity for SMBs around web forms and content gating solutions simply don’t have the functionality required to support global and large businesses. Some of the differences are summarised below. These differences fall into four main categories; users, multi-regional gating, technology complexity, content gating volume.

Small Business

  • Single web owner
  • Single developer and/or publisher
  • Single language
  • Native integrations with other platforms
  • Limited stakeholders
  • Quick launch and testing

Enterprise

  • Multiple web owners
  • Many web publishers
  • Multiple languages
  • Complex business technology integrations
  • Many stakeholders
  • Planned launch and testing

Users

Enterprise businesses having many more web users can act to increase errors, inconsistencies and complexity. This includes product and campaign marketing across the business, and marketers from different countries. When you have more people wanting to make changes to the website and forms you either have more people with less technical capabilities making changes – or a bandwidth challenge on technical resources to make these changes. Both are not ideal as challenge scalability of webforms or quality of form execution and data integrating.

Multi-Regional Gating​

A business operating in multiple countries greatly increases complexity around web forms. It isn’t a case of simply translating the form, but understanding the difference user requirements (internally and externally) from different countries. Do visitors need the phone number field in a different format? Should some fields only be visible in certain countries? Do we need GDPR and privacy rules to be different in different markets? And how do we manage a user from one country landing on a form from a different country, will it break lead routing?!

Technology Complexity​

When working with Enterprise marketing automation platforms such as Eloqua or Marketo, and within corporate CMSs like Adobe Experience Manager or Sitecore, the idea of plug-and-play connectivity rarely works. Integration rules, sync rules, custom fields and data routing into many platforms needs to be worked through. This massively increases the complexity which in turn puts bandwidth pressures on technical resource. Deployment of webforms is seen as hugely tactical and on an individual basis the effort to return ratio doesn’t often stake up. The end result is technical resource deprioritise it which causes non-technical resource to operate outside of standard systems and processes – or technical resource being used on lower value tasks reducing their effectiveness.

Content Gating Volume​

The final key aspect is supporting a larger business. If a business has 10 lines of business across 10 languages, that is a minimum of 100 stakeholders to support. If each launched a gated asset each quarter, you’re into deploying 400 webforms each year. If each needs briefing, field definition, technical development, and management of the actions that is a large amount of effort to sustain.

Challenges of Content Gating at Global Scale​

No matter the size of your organization, content gating must be available for every team, in every country and across all your websites. Meeting these needs while still keeping your data consistent, your costs low and your marketing agile enough to respond to rapid needs becomes a significant challenge the bigger you get.

Gating Everywhere

With your content offers spread out over several websites, regions and microsites, your content gates need to adapt to these demands. However, allowing local marketing teams to handle the creation of web forms results in inconsistencies in your marketing automation platform, lead data and in your user experience.

Region-specific Needs

Web forms must be able to adapt to multiple languages and different regulatory requirements. These adjustments can’t simply be site-specific either. A visitor in the UK needs a consistent gated content experience whether they are visiting a .com, .uk or .il.

Data Integrity

As you collect lead data across a number of websites and regions, you need to make sure this data is consistent and normalized so it can be used effectively for segmentation and marketing automation.

User Experience

With a decentralized content gating strategy, a website visitor moving across different microsites and departments could experience the same gated content restrictions multiple times. Instead of getting more information every time, you are decreasing engagement and slowing down content consumption.

Getting Practical in Content Gating Best Practices​

Achieving form standardization is essential to an effective gating strategy. Capturing the same data sets across regions and business units ensures consistency and maximises the value of the information collected.

Data Structure​

The way in which data is collected, correlated and stored will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of a gating strategy. Normalization is key for companies using marketing automation in their demand generation efforts. In the context of content gating, normalization is the process of reducing input availability in order to streamline data collection and reduce variable answers.

Analytics and Reporting​

An effective content gating strategy is built on a solid foundation of data collection and analysis. But, in order to effectively record the data, it’s essential certain requirements are met. This includes aspects such as taxonomy for conversion and consumption tracking, along with lead source attribution.

Web Integration​

When deploying forms for online web conversion, where they live is a very important consideration. The conversion itself (making a contact known to your tech stack) is a critical action that connects parts of your stack together to enable reporting and attribution measurement.

Map Integration & Requirements​

Once a prospect has filled out and submitted a form, it needs to go into the marketing automation platform. At this stage, a cookie is dropped onto the user’s device, allowing their digital behaviour to be recorded and allocated against their contact profile.

Progressive Profiling​

Progressive profiling collects prospect data over time using dynamic forms. Following this approach, user profile data is gradually built-up over successive form completions. Designed to reduce the initial barrier to entry, this step-by-step approach encourages engagement by improving the user experience and ultimately, yields higher conversion rates.

Legal Issues & Compliance​

When collecting and handling prospect data, there are multiple legal regulations and restrictions to consider. These often vary from country to country, however, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now covers all regions within the EU. One complexity of managing this with content gating is users from one location landing on a different website page version (eg. A user from the UK landing on a US.com website version, or a user from Spain landing on a Argentinian version). In these instances, if the content is gated any web form would need to reflect the subjects location to be GDPR compliant, not be a standard US or Argentinian form.

The Essential Enterprise Content Gating Tool​

Given all of these challenges and considerations for Enterprise organisations looking to effectively gate content and drive web conversions, GatedContent.com fits their market need. GatedContent.com gives central marketing and web teams control of web form standards retaining data integrity. It empowers marketers focus on marketing, driving engagement and conversion through simplified form deployment for gated content. If you’d like to know more about Content Gating best practices for enterprises, then get the Ultimate Guide On Content Gating or Request A Demo.