Most B2B businesses have some form of downloadable content on their websites in the form of e-books, whitepapers, case studies, and even webinars. It is important that the material be accessible in a way that satisfies the needs of both customers and the business itself. Is your business allowing access to these downloads in the best possible way?
Let’s have a look at the options:
There are two primary ways customers gain access to B2B downloadable content: gated downloads and non-gated downloads. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and they are tracked in slightly different ways.
“Gated content” requires the user to perform a specific action before gaining access. This typically requires the completion of a registration form, but could also involve site membership or some other sort of special access.
While it is often done on a per-content basis – where the user has to complete the same action for every download – many sites only require the user to register once, and thereafter they can download whatever they like.
- Advantages: The biggest advantage that gated content offers is that marketers can get a more accurate picture of every individual that downloads content (provided the user is being truthful when completing the form). It usually includes some type of contact information for Sales to use for follow-up. At this point, the individual might be labeled a “suspect” who could potentially be moved into a “prospect” state once Sales has better qualified him/her. This helps sales reps target the hottest and most promising leads, and allows for more accurate behavioral tracking.
- Disadvantages: Putting your content behind a registration wall reduces the number of downloads because some people will not want to fill out the registration form. (However, you can mitigate the decrease in downloads by creating short forms that are easy to complete. One test found that reducing a form with 11 fields down to 4 fields increased conversion by 120%.)
Non-gated downloadable content is just that: downloadable content that doesn’t require any action beyond the actual download.
- Advantages: Accessible content is conducive to a higher numbers of downloads. It helps foster trust between you and your site visitor because you are giving away valuable information for free. Using this approach, more people will learn about you and your area of expertise.
- Disadvantage: Non-gated content gives your marketing and sales teams less information to work with. While you can still use Google Analytics or other web tracking tools to accurately track the number of downloads, there is no contact information provided, and therefore Sales cannot follow up. Anything else you learn about the customer will have to happen through other means (behavioral data, unique visitor history, etc.).
Making a Choice – Gated Content or Non-Gated Content?
In today’s content marketing driven world, the ideal solution is to provide both gated and non-gated content. Site visitors who want to learn more about a particular topic will initially access the non-gated content anonymously. As they access more content from you, and if that content is valuable, you will gain their trust, and they will be willing to exchange their personal information for the gated content.
By the time they have moved from free content to gated content, they will have begun to establish some type of relationship with you and your organization. This makes it easier for a sales rep to contact them to begin a dialog.
Take a look at your website and ensure that you have a mix of gated and non-gated content. Measure the traction and learn which pieces of content are accessed more regularly. Ensure that all of your content provides value to your site visitors – it will keep them coming back for more.