Gating content causes friction with your audience, that’s a fact. Let’s explore how brands handle that friction and when they will take the risk to initiate it.
The payoff for gated content can often be huge, allowing a brand to both gather more data on leads, while also forcing the lead to choose the brand, helping reinforce their own confirmation bias.
On that same note, gated content can also push a lead away, which results in a negative feeling towards the brand and a lower chance of conversion. It’s all about how much friction the gating causes.
Gated content is characterized as any content that is behind a wall that only providing value (either information or money) will get you past.
In today’s post, we explore some of the top brands and look at where and how these brands choose to gate their content.
Gates: White papers, guides, and templates
Leaves Open: High-quality blog posts that contain almost as much detail as the gated content they are paired with.
Starting from the Hubspot blog, all you need to do is click on one of the featured blog posts before you inevitably come across a post with a call-to-action embedded within it.
Clicking that call-to-action leads to this page.
Because I spent a fair amount of time on HubSpot, I’m taken to a form that only asks for my email address. Hubspot already knows I’m me, they just want to confirm it.
But when I replicated the same actions in an Incognito tab, I am asked for:
Hubspot avoids triggering the same points of friction again and again. They already know that I want their content and have my information, they just do their homework by asking me to confirm my email address.
This lessens the amount of effort I must take to download multiple assets and they, in turn, learn more about what I am interested in.
Another feature that I really enjoy on Hubspot, is that I have opted out of receiving email messages from them. Each time I download an asset, they ask if I would like to start receiving emails again. When I say no, they still let me download the asset.
They know that my loyalty as a reader might pay off in the long run and are playing the long game.
B2B Marketing (UK)
Gates: Premium Content, Guides
Leaves Open: Case Studies, blog posts
I included this brand because it commands a powerful social media presence due to its highly searchable name and the fact that it’s based out of the UK.
When you hit the homepage of B2BMarketing.net, you are presented with a couple of different option on your search for content.
Explore B2B reveals this page list when expanded.
Premium content is listed again, encouraging users to click it. The blog, news, articles, and case studies are all ungated. Leaving case studies ungated is a good call, as these are typically used by late-stage leads to make a final purchase decision. Gating these would add too much friction far too late in the process for the information to be worth it.
Obviously, downloadable guides are gated, as are the How-To guides. They are slightly different in their approaches, which is interesting.
Above is the downloadable guide, compared to the How to guides, which is featured below.
Above this CTA, there is a tempting introduction, which makes you want to dive into the blog post before you hit this sign in/sign up portion. All content that is gated that isn’t a download is formatted this way.
When you go to sign up, you are asked for just a little bit of information at first.
This is a low friction way to ease someone into the signup process. But when you see continue, you know the brand wants more information. After hitting continue, you are faced with this.
Look at all those mandatory fields. Seems like a high price to get access to an article, but I suppose someone filling out this form would be interesting in more than just a singular article. You must fill out the same form to access the downloadable guides too, so I’d assume with an account you’d get free reign on anything and everything in the site.
This is a high-pressure technique, but it likely works with the sheer volume of information the user stands to gain from giving away their information.
Gates: Guides, Research, Free Trials
Leaves Open: Blog posts and videos
When you go to look at IBM’s content, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of blogs they run. It makes sense that such a massive company would put out a ton of content, but this is insane.
It just shows how wide of reach IBM’s offerings have. Each of these blogs is dedicated to a different type of potential customer, which is interesting.
I did some exploring in various blogs, and here, it was difficult to run across IBM’s gated content.
But if you go to the IBM Analytics Learn Center, you find examples of gated content.
When you hit “Read paper” you are taken here.
IBM doesn’t ask for a lot for its gated content, but it does leave options open for those who want to accelerate their buying process, using a check box that says the participant is willing to receive a phone call from a representative.
Gates: Templates, white papers, PDFs, guides
Leaves Open: Infographics, blog posts, case studies
Salesforce is interesting because, like IBM, it is hard to find gated content in its blog. You click around and through to each post, and you just find huge amounts of information for no value exchange. They even have a sedate, “subscribe to our blog” section that doesn’t intrude at all on the user experience.
Once there, this is what the landing page looks like. It’s a basic list, asking nothing too demanding, but helps fill in more information for Salesforce to understand you as a lead.
Gates: Guides, tools, and reports
Leaves Open: Blog posts, videos, infographics
Following the lead of other B2B giants, Marketo also doesn’t heavily push gated content in its blog. It does have a full resource center, jam-packed with guides, tools, and reports, which are all gated.
When you hit the landing page, you’ll see this.
Observe how little Marketo asks for in this. This means it will cause only a small amount of friction.
Now that we’ve explored each brand’s approach, let’s compile some data for side-by-side comparisons.
As you can see, the American B2B brands are consistent with what they gate and what they do not. The major difference is in templates, which seems to depend on what the business sells. Templates seem to always be behind some sort of gate, it just depends on whether the template is for a piece of paid software or not.
Then we looked at what was requested when a piece of content was “gated.” These varied a bit, but there were some consistencies through. Brands always ask for first name, last name, and business name. One, B2B Marketing, didn’t ask for email, which was strange, but maybe I didn’t pass through all the steps. Perhaps “finish” led you to the final form asking for your email.
Online Hubspot asked for the website URL, likely because the others know they can simply look up the brand if need be. It is likely the same reason that only two of the brands asked for industry and only three asked for number of employees. They know that the prime way to reduce friction is to ask for less.
These trends are interesting and are certainly a great way to decide how you want to start gating your content. But, as always, be sure to test and monitor your forms to determine if your forms are causing too much friction or if you need to ask for just a little more data. Tweak these forms and figure out what works for your brand and your leads.