Your B2B marketing department needs to deliver results, typically measured in sales-qualified leads that result in closed won deals. To reach that goal, you need to attract your target audience to your website, and then ask yourself these five questions on when to gate content.
As Phil Bosley, Act-On’s Customer Success Enablement Manager, wrote back in 2015 blog post on how to use web forms strategically:
“Behind each mysterious website visitor is a real person with a pressing business need. The key to successful digital marketing is being able to identify who these people are, so you can speak to them with personalized messaging.
If you can convert website traffic to known visitors as early in the cycle as possible, you’ll have a larger window in which to figure out what they’re interested in, and how urgent their need is. This helps you engage with content and messaging appropriate to their funnel stage. You’ll be able to create targeted segments, nurture campaigns, and much more to add personalization wherever possible.”
Seems simple, doesn’t it? So why does the question of whether you should be using gated forms keep popping up? Quick answer: You should. But you should do so strategically, and not for any old action a visitor may take on your site.
I circled back with Phil to ask if there was anything new to report on how and when to use web forms. Phil has consulted more than 1,000 companies on their marketing automation strategies, and has seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t. “With regards to forms, people make three common mistakes,” he said.
Those mistakes are:
- They don’t integrate their forms with marketing automation. Marketers often don’t understand there is critical value in the direct connection between forms and Act-On, and it’s bigger than just pushing contact info in.
- The gate content they shouldn’t. As a general rule, if it’s about you, your product, or your service don’t gate it.
- They get greedy. Contact info for knowledge is a financial transaction. Form fields are your currency. Don’t overcharge.
About a year ago, I wrote a post about when, why and how to gate content along the customer’s journey. Lauren McMenemy from Skyword recently referenced the post in her own article about using gated forms in your content strategy.
In the post, she cites a quick Twitter poll that asked marketers when to gate content. It wasn’t scientific, but the results are what you might expect: 55% said you should only gate any high-value content.
In his post, Phil defines the differences between sign-up forms, access forms, and contact forms; as well as, the differences between display forms and gated URL forms. He also states that the information you request in a web form be appropriate to the funnel stage (see his mistake #3 above).