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To Gate or Not To Gate? That Is The Question
How to think about using gated content for lead generation in climate tech marketing
Clients often ask us whether they should ‘gate’ a piece of content for lead generation, i.e., make it available to read or download on their website in exchange for the user’s contact information.
As always, the answer is a confident… ‘It depends.’
On one hand, gating content allows you to collect valuable information about your audience, build an email list, and generate leads for your business. On the other hand, it can be off-putting to users looking for information and may deter them from engaging with your content further.
In this article, we will share how we advise climate tech companies when deciding when to gate their marketing content for lead generation.
1. Is it worth gating?
This may seem like an obvious question, but I often see companies gate case studies, sales brochures or even blog posts.
If you’re gating a piece of content, you’re effectively entering into a trade with the user: they will ‘sell’ their contact information in return for ‘buying’ a piece of content. So you need to ask yourself: will this piece of content be perceived by your prospective customer (not by you or your sales team) as valuable that it’s worth trading their contact details for?
This is typically only true for so-called ‘high-value content.’ For example, in-depth guides or e-books tackling a complex problem that your prospective customer faces provide tremendous value. They are not readily available elsewhere because they’re based on your company’s unique insights. This type of content also typically requires a significant investment of time and resources to create, so gating it in return for contact information seems justified.
2. What role does the content play in your buyer journey?
The buyer’s journey is characterized by typical ‘persona questions’ (see row 3 in the table below). These are the questions your persona asks themselves through the sales cycle. And they will seek out your website to find answers to those questions.
Ideally, if you’re using gated content for lead generation, try to cover each stage of the journey with at least one piece of gate-able content. That way, if a user converts into a lead by accessing gated content, you’ll know what stage they’re in on their journey.
Don’t gate content that will help convince the lead to buy your products or services, like case studies. You want them to see that content because it shows them that their peers trust you and have achieved great outcomes by working with you. Don’t hide it!
3. Don’t think about your content in isolation
Similarly, when deciding whether to gate a piece of content, consider how you will drive traffic there. There’s no point gating a white paper hidden on the 17th level of your website because people won’t be able to find it, thus leaving your investment in this high-value content useless.
Gated content should be the central building block of a broader marketing campaign to drive traffic to this content for lead generation. How will you promote your content on social media? Do you have a budget for paid advertising on LinkedIn, Google or industry newsletters to drive traffic? Does it feature prominently in your next newsletter? Map out your campaign architecture before you start investing in creating gated content.
4. Keep it simple
Finally, consider the overall user experience when gating your content. How often have you faced a download form with 17 fields asking you for your name, title, role, company, phone number, email address, company size, your sister’s birthday and your pet’s favorite snack? Don’t go there.
Keep the form simple and only ask for essential information relevant to your business.
Pro Tip: Only ask for first name and email address as a first step. That’s all you need to nurture your lead with an email campaign or for your sales team to reach out. You can always add more details later as you get to know your lead.
5. Always provide an alternative, ‘low-threshold’ way to convert a lead
So you’ve done your homework, invested time and budget into creating an awesome piece of high-value content, spent advertising dollars to drive your audience to a landing page where they can download that content and… they get cold feet and don’t fill in the download form.
Completing a download form is what we marketers call a ‘high-threshold’ conversion. As discussed under 1. above, handing over contact information is perceived as a big commitment by your user.
Because it typically means they’ll receive a sales call from you. Or they know they’ll be entered into some kind of email campaign, and they don’t want to be ‘spammed’.
But they’re still curious about your company and your product; they’re just not ready to talk to you - yet.
So give them an easy way out. On the same page, have a secondary call-to-action to sign up for your email list. Or to follow you on social media. It feels less like a commitment. I.e., it’s a ‘low-threshold’ conversion that still gives you insights into potential leads.
Deciding when to gate your content for lead generation in climate tech requires careful consideration of factors such as the nature of the content, the stage of the buyer's journey, and the overall user experience. Gating content can be an effective strategy for capturing leads and collecting valuable information about your audience. Still, it should be used strategically and sparingly in a broader marketing campaign.
How do you decide when to gate content? Let us know in the comments below.
Further reading: Gibbons (2020) ‘When to Gate (or Not to Gate) a Content Asset?’ Modern Marketing Blog