Learn about building a gated content email program

Gating some of your best content as a content marketing strategy will help you to generate leads and learn which of your visitors is serious. Learn about gated content, how it works, and steps for success.

When marketing your products or services, you’ll generate different types of content in order to attract potential customers. You might create blogs, white papers, webinars, eBooks and more. In our developing a content marketing strategy module, we discuss all the different types of content you can use. But here we’ll focus on what we call gated content.
What do we mean when we say gated content? Gating content means that you require visitors to give you some specific information in order to access your content. Usually, the visitor fills out a form and once they hit submit, the content is unlocked for them to consume. You’ve probably seen this yourself when you wanted to view a white paper or brochure, but were first prompted to fill out a form that requested your name, email address and company name. Companies gate content because it helps generate sales leads, adds value to the content they are gating, and helps filter out people who are just browsing with no intent to buy. Some types of content that you could consider gating are webinars, demos, white papers, and eBooks.
When done effectively, high value pieces of content incentivize people to share their information with you in order to unlock and consume your content.
Let’s take a look at a real world example of how gated content works. At Marketo, we use gated content as part of our list building strategy. First, we use paper click or online display advertising to attract users to our gated content. From these ads, users are directed to a landing page with more information about the content. In order to access the content, they fill out a form that requests their first name, last name, email address, company name, and job title. Once they submit the form, they see a thank you page and receive an email with a link to download the content. The information they provide is added to our database and the person is automatically added to ongoing campaigns to nurture their interest.
Gated content is an important element for your overall content marketing strategy, but in order for it to be effective, you need to know how to use it correctly. So let’s talk about how to map your content and determine which content should be gated.
Start by mapping out your customer’s ideal journey from awareness of your products and services to becoming a customer. You can use either a marketing funnel, which is very seller focused, or a buyer’s journey, which considers sales from the point of view of a buyer. Whichever method you use, once the path is defined, you can map the content that supports a buyer at each stage. Let’s look at an example of a marketing funnel that shows where content is gated and ungated. At the top, we see a lot of content, but only a few pieces are gated. In the middle of the funnel, all the content is gated. At the bottom of the funnel, only the demo and the webinar are gated while the remaining content is left ungated. Visitors will engage with different pieces of content at different points in their journey. So creating a rule that you will only gate content from say the middle of the funnel may not make sense. Companies often find that it is better to gate content as a buyer moves towards the middle to bottom of your funnel. At this point, they are engaged and are sending signals that they are interested in making a purchase. To determine what content to gate, ask yourself these four questions. Number one, is the content valuable enough for a visitor to provide their information? Your potential buyers will likely exchange their contact information to join a free webinar, but perhaps won’t feel the same to view a customer story. Number two, is the content available somewhere else ungated? If so, then gating your content might not be very effective. Number three, what information do you require to ungate the content? For early stage content, name and email may be sufficient, but you can always ask for more content later during your nurturing process. For mid-stage content, you may require a bit more, such as company, industry, and size of organization. For late-stage content, you may want to know a person’s job title to tell if they are a decision maker or they’re buying timeframe.
Number four, how do you plan on using the information you are gathering? Don’t ask for any information unless you have a plan for how to use it. Once you get their initial contact information, a best practice is to add them as a member of a buyer’s journey program so you can track where they are in their journey and determine how to engage with them next. Once you decided to include gated content in your marketing, here’s what you need to do in Marketo. First, you’ll need to create a default program choosing the web content channel. Then you’ll create your landing pages. One landing page houses the form people fill out to access the content and another landing page thanks them after the form is submitted. Next, you’ll create an email that you send to people with a link to the content they want to access. Finally, you’ll need two smart campaigns. One smart campaign automates sending out the email after someone submits the form and the other sets their program status to success when they access the content you’ve undated for them. Let’s go into Marketo now and see how to do that. -