For a while now, the trend in enterprise B2B marketing has favored not gating content. In general, it is best to not gate content used for demand generation. However, there are situations where it is necessary to do BOTH in parallel. Let me explain this method and the reasoning behind it.
To set the stage, let us review the basic enterprise demand generation process so that we are all speaking the same language. The standard structure of a marketing funnel is:
MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead)
Once handoff occurs, the lead enters the sales pipeline and that journey typically goes through a standard path which looks like the following:
SAL (Sales Accepted Lead)
More Qualification (this is where a Lead tag turns into Opportunity upon BANT or some other way the sales head chooses)
Proof-of-Concept or Trial
Gating can serve two purposes. It enables you to gather contact information or further qualify a known prospect/lead. Since enterprise sales cycles often require more qualification post-lead contact (or meeting), gating any content too early on in marketing process will accomplish very little.
Of course, the problem with wholesale ungating, even at the early stages of marketing is that something very precious gets lost - timeliness. Put differently, the “strike while the iron is hot” advantage is lost if everything is ungated. And, timeliness is pretty darn important. So, here is an approach any marketer can implement with very little additional effort.
Ungate and Gate at the Same Time
Prepare a short e-book, blog, or set of slides containing content. It does not always need to be about your products, customers, or technology. Simply curating publicly available information and packaging it up well alongside your viewpoint can be valuable to your prospects.
Take the highlights from the content you developed and have a graphic designer to turn it into an infographic. If you do not know anyone that can do this, try a service like Upwork or any content marketplace and pay someone to do it. It is very inexpensive and you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of work when the parameters of the assignment are so clearly defined.
Offer the infographic ungated but include a CTA (call-to-action) that leads a prospect to a PDF of the more in-depth piece of content that the infographic summarizes. Gate the PDF.
The difference in conversion rate for ungated vs. gated content in B2B enterprise marketing is very small - I would say roughly 20% vs. 15%. However, over time, this 1%-5% difference can grow to be quite significant.
The techniques described above yield 5% more downloads (which translates to more awareness generated) AND an improvement in the quality of the leads you can now tackle, which will translate to more MQLs.
Since most people run for the hills the moment they see a sign-up for on a landing page or offer page, it makes sense to give them content without any friction or hurdles. However, for those who are truly interested, provide them with an easy way to get more. Placing a form BEHIND the content is one way to get your content in the hands of many while attracting the more serious or interested folks (i.e., the timely leads).