Forms – Can You Do Without Them?

A version of this post was first carried in DM Confidential

December will witness the end of an era, with Newsweek’s last issue, as it ends its 80-year print run. The news weekly will become an online-only publication to keep pace with the free and instantaneous news consumption of the Internet. Things aren’t that rosy in the online world either. For years, traditional publications have struggled to balance free and paid online content.

How different are things for B2B marketers? Should you offer all your content free on the Internet? Can you do without forms? While free content can’t make you bankrupt, you could lose out on potential customers.

In the world of inbound marketing, there is an endless debate on whether to gate or not gate your content.

Do you have a gate for your content? Does it fetch you leads?

For the uninitiated, a gate is a form. It asks the visitor’s name, email ID, company name and so on. The visitor has to fill out the form in order to view or download content.

It is ideal to have a mix of free and gated content so you have adequate amount of traffic and yet know something about some of your visitors. But what should you gate and what do you give free?

SiriusDecisions suggests four things to consider before you gate content:

  • Objective: What is the goal of your content asset? Traffic? Leads?
  • Audience: Demographics? Industry? Stage of buying? Is he a decision maker?
  • Value: Is it an in-depth research report or a blog post? Is it a real treat?
  • Uniqueness: Google your topic. Is similar content available without a form?

Let’s try and understand how these various considerations work.

Be Clear on Your Goal

Forms = contact information, better quality leads, lead nurturing and conversion.
If your goal is conversion, go for forms.
No form = more traffic, social media sharing and inbound links.
If your goal is traffic, avoid forms.

Who Is Your Visitor? Should You Know Him?

If your visitor wants to:

  • Casually scan an article/a blog post. Avoid the gate. A gate will drive him away.
  • Flip through product information/FAQs. Avoid the gate. Let him get to know you. Make it easy for him.
  • Read an in-depth, 20-page research report/white paper. He maybe a decision maker. Gate it so you can nurture him.
  • Take a free trial/demo/look at pricing. He is quite advanced in the buying cycle. Gate it so your sales team can reach out to him.

As a thumb rule, if you aim to get high-quality leads and educate them through your content asset –which is nothing short of excellent– go ahead and put a gate around your garden.

Don’t Forget Who You Are
Note that none of this is black and white; it varies based on the size of your company and your relative position in your industry, so please use your discretion.

 

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