Idea: Soft-gate at least some of your best content – Allow anyone who is interested to access your ideas, and then decide for themselves if it’s a match that contributes positively to their research needs.
Your Content Needs to Get Read
The self-help buyer is not a new revelation. It’s become a fact. Buyers are doing more research before contacting vendors. This is a big change. But has your content marketing strategy changed too? According to The Demand Gen 2019 B2B Buyers Survey 75% of buyers said they are spending more time researching purchases, which is up from 72% in 2018. And buying committees are trying to be more agile. 42% of respondents say they are contacting vendors within a month of starting research, compared to 33% a year ago.
Additional data from the survey backs the trend towards more agile vendor research:
- 33% accepted outreach from vendors for calls and demos in the first month,
compared to 23% in 2018; and
- 25% sought RFP, competitive bids and/or pricing information from vendors in
the first month, compared to 20% in 2018.
This means that your content must sell for you upfront and quickly. It can’t sit in a virtual drive or inbox waiting to get read. To get onto the B2B buying fast track shortlist, you need immediate engagement. What is referred to as ‘Engagement’ is just getting your ideas read and not swept into the dust bin of the virtual drive. The traditional gating and download system of the past 20 years creates too much friction and repels potential buyers.
The gating system today works like this:
An offer is syndicated
Responders are presented with a registration landing page
They can decide to fill out the form or bailout
Those that complete the form are presented with a PDF which they scan-read and save to their drive
Hard gates like registration landing pages have one advantage and two problems:
- You are capturing potentially accurate information about someone who may some interest in your value proposition. This is usually sufficient for longer-term (3-12) nurturing systems. It can be used in parallel with soft gates.
- You are also turning away someone who has some interest in your value proposition because they don’t want to give up their contact information before they know the quality of what they are about to read
- For those that do register, there are going to be many ‘false positives’ in the lead batch for people who registered and then discover the ideas don’t apply to them
If you believe the trend towards more agile buyers, then the goal of your content should be to try and match as many potential buyers with your content as possible, quickly. Then convert the ones who are truly interested or engaged.
In the Demand Gen report, 97% of B2B buyers said it was important to offer content options with minimal gates, 56% said it was very important.
You can’t put your head in the sand anymore when it comes to facing what actually happens to your content after a buyer registers. It needs to get read. At least most of it so they buyer gets the ideas. That is engagement.