The short answer is yes.
In the world of B2B marketing, the once-revered strategy of gated content has met its demise.
For years, marketing teams relied on this tactic, using forms to guard valuable eBooks, guides, checklists, and reports. And as a token, leads flowed as a disguise for customer details.
However, a change in the winds is evident. Business leaders, once eager participants, now cloak themselves in invisibility to avoid the watchful eyes of forms.
According to a LinkedIn survey from 2022, only 25% of B2B buyers are willing to share their details to access content, down from 35% in 2021.
The other 75% of B2B buyers don’t want gated content and skip it.
As a result, many marketing teams are experiencing a significant drop in form submissions and leads. The decline has left marketers pondering the reasons behind this abrupt shift and questioning the implications for content marketing strategies from now on.
What has caused this dramatic decline, and what does it mean for content marketing strategies?
What exactly happened to gated content?
Anonymity and Buyer Autonomy: B2B buyers now seek anonymity and desire to navigate the buyer journey on their terms. Gated content, with its requirement for personal information, contradicts this preference.
Perceived Lesser Value and Promotion: Gated content, such as eBooks, is often perceived as less valuable and more promotional in nature, discouraging buyers from engaging with it.
Competition from Free Quality Content: The proliferation of free, high-quality content fueled by AI makes gated content less appealing when compared to easily accessible alternatives.
Avoiding Marketing Overload: Buyers wish to avoid being inundated with marketing emails, and sales development representative (SDR) calls, prompting them to bypass gated content.
Misalignment with Buyer Treatment: Companies treating “downloads” as in-market buyers (MQLs) might be inaccurate, leading to missed opportunities and wasted resources.
Lack of Customer-Centricity: Gating content needs to align with customer-centric approaches, potentially alienating potential buyers.
So what’s next?
Can gated content still be effective?
Conversion rates tend to be under 3%, and there are multiple ways to avoid the dreaded sales follow-up.
But don’t get me wrong.
You can make gate content work when you actually need it.
Quality Triumphs: For a high-quality gated content campaign, marketers must invest time in understanding their audience’s needs and craft content that addresses those needs effectively. Rushed campaigns are a thing of the past, at least for most of us.
Solve Specific Problems: Spending time understanding your audience’s pain points and crafting tailored solutions is vital. Generic content will likely struggle to generate conversions as people crave relevance and personalized solutions.
Embrace Experimentation: Marketers must continuously test, learn, and adapt throughout the campaign’s lifecycle, fine-tuning messages, landing pages, and promotional channels.
The era of gated content as a one-size-fits-all solution may have passed, but its effectiveness can still be harnessed with the right strategy, context, and understanding of the audience’s needs.