One of the long-running debates among B2B marketers is whether companies should require registration to get access to content resources, or whether they should make such resources freely available. Gating content enables companies to capture new sales leads and track the content consumption behaviors of existing leads.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen the views on this issue change. Six or seven years ago, I think most marketers believed that most content resources should be gated, although a few marketing experts like David Meerman Scott have been arguing for some time that most content should be freely available. Today, I think most marketing experts believe that companies should make a significant amount of content available without requiring registration.
In my view, competitive pressures will soon require companies to make most of their content available without registration. A growing number of companies are now making at least some of their content freely available, and as this practice becomes more prevalent, potential buyers will increasingly expect to get access to content without registration.
This expectation will make buyers more selective about the content they are willing to “pay for” with personal information. They will still be willing to register if they believe that a content resource is particularly valuable, but if the resource looks or sounds like others that are freely available, they will be more likely to ignore it.
I now firmly believe that companies should make most of their content freely available, and I am recommending that approach to my clients. This is particularly important for content that is primarily intended for potential buyers who are in the early stages of the buying process and those who are engaged in what I have called casual learning.
Many forward-thinking marketers are already using ungated content to drive highly successful marketing programs. One great example is Health Catalyst, and healthcare IT company that serves integrated health systems and hospitals. At this year’s MarketingSherpa Summit, Chris Keller, the Vice President of Marketing at Health Catalyst, gave a presentation that described how the company uses non-gated content to drive outstanding marketing performance.
In his presentation, Mr. Keller said that the leadership of Health Catalyst made a fundamental decision to build market leadership by providing valuable educational content and to make almost all of that content freely available. The only time that Health Catalyst requires registration to access content is if the consumption requires a second step that has value for the prospect. So for example, Health Catalyst requires registration for webinars because it wants to send the registrant e-mail reminders regarding the webinar.
The marketing team at Health Catalyst trusts prospects to step forward when they are ready to have a meaningful conversation about the company’s products and services. Mr. Keller said that he and his team operate on the guiding principle that “prospects worth follow-up will ask.”
The strategy has enabled Mr. Keller and his team to produce impressive results – a 300% increase in leads, a 550% increase in clients, and a 33% decrease in the length of the sales cycle.
Mr. Keller’s presentation provides several valuable insights. A video of his presentation is available here, and I encourage you to watch it. The video runs for about 30 minutes, but it is well worth your time.
Image courtesy of Vince via Flickr CC.