How to Ungate Your Content (by Segment)
It’s one of the great debates in B2B marketing.
On the one hand, gating your content can help you to generate, qualify, nurture, and personalise leads.
But on the other hand, ungating your content can rapidly help spread awareness about your brand and the product.
This was a topic on the first episode of Demandism Live, co-hosted by:
- Our CMO Alice de Courcy.
- Our Global Head of Demand Gen Liam Bartholomew.
- Our Head of Enterprise Marketing Fran Langham.
We’ll be sharing their key insights in this article.
Scroll 👇 or use the left-hand side menu to discover all you need to know about ungating content.
Gated to ungated content: the CMO perspective
When you first embark on your journey to ungating content, Alice said it’s important to split out your B2B marketing funnel; this makes it easier to measure the conversion rates at every stage of the funnel.
“You’ll be looking at MQLs versus direct intent demand such as direct demo requests. You just need to be measuring this and seeing the implications it might have on your budget split.”
And then the fun can begin - but don’t be hasty!
“When we first started out, we still had a sales team that relied on content leads. So you can’t just suddenly start switching things off.”
So, if you don’t just instantly make the jump, what exactly should you do?
Here’s what Alice recommends, based on her own experience:
“Switch off the campaigns with the highest cost per leads. We set a benchmark that campaigns had to be at $20 CPL or less.”
“That way, you can generate more for less, and then take the money saved into underperforming campaigns and related demand gen activity.”
And what’s the domino effect of doing this?
“You should start to see an increase in direct demos with increased spend. The correlation impact for us wasn’t long to see - we saw the difference only after a few months.”
It’s important to remember: the switch is GRADUAL. Don’t go in with the intention of switching things up overnight:
“We didn’t just stop all gated campaigns and then switch on all demand gen activity. We gradually moved the money into demand gen as we started to see the results.”
So, that’s an overview of the process. But we understand that the way it plays out might be slightly different, depending on the segment you’re operating in.
And that’s why Liam and Fran gave their unique perspectives on the topic. Read on to find out exactly how they made the switch from gated to ungated content 👇
Gated to ungated: the SMB perspective
For Liam, figuring out which content to ungate first was the biggest challenge.
But there are 2 key ideas that have guided him through the ungating process.
1. Gated content is gold dust for identifying your ICP
Why else shouldn’t you switch off gated content overnight?
Well, Liam said because there’s lots to learn:
“In your gated content, hopefully, you’ve done a lot of research into what your ICP wants to hear about. You’ve done the hard work, meaning you can actually use your findings from lead gen to influence your ungated model.”
And why is this the case?
“Because you’re going to have clear topics, white papers, and eBooks that did so much better than other topics. It’s the content your audience just couldn’t get enough of.”
2. Customers first, conversions later
When you’re moving to the ungated model, your pure focus should be to serve your ICP.
Liam said it’s all about engaging and delighting your audience:
“Beforehand, you would’ve been looking for conversions. But now, you’re entirely optimising content for in-feed consumption. You just want people to view and consume the content.”
Here are 2 examples that explain this process:
“Take your articles and eBooks and change them into nice-looking carousels.”
“There’s a sense of community around the content - the audience plays around with the carousel. And hopefully, they’ll be liking and commenting on it.”
And what about BOFU? Liam said:
“There’s product-focused messaging. There are ungated tours that give potential customers an insight into what Cognism is about.”
Gated to ungated: the MM-Ent perspective
Now, onto slightly different things.
Because Fran’s experience of ungating in mid-market and enterprise was a slightly different story.
And she explained why:
“It was different because we didn’t have any awareness in MM-Ent. If no one really knows who you are, inbounds can be quite slow. So it takes a lot of momentum.”
“And unfortunately, time wasn’t really on my side with how quickly we needed these results. And we had a sales team looking to us to generate leads.”
It’s fair to say there was weight on the MM-Ent team’s shoulders. So how did it all pan out?
“To begin with, I played it safe with a lead gen model. But as I soon discovered, the lead time was longer and converted at a much slower rate down the funnel compared to inbound.“
“But I also soon realised that there needed to be a fine balance because the sales team needed some quick pipeline. So to start with, it was a 60/40 split between lead gen and awareness.“
And what was one of Fran’s biggest learning curves?
Her advice is that whatever you do - do not gate BOFU content. Because at this stage customers have an intent to buy - they want to know about the product directly. It’s essentially advertising.
And now, 6 months on? What’s the state of things?
Fran gave an update:
“We’re taking budget from content to awareness, driving inbound demo requests. We’ve had to turn the tap off from gated content much slower compared to SMB, because awareness wasn’t in MM-Ent.”
Fran and Liam both followed the same ungating path, but the time it’s taken to ungate both segments has varied.
Listen to the podcast
There are plenty more demand gen insights for you - the full Demandism live covered a lot of ground!
Check it out below - press ▶️ to start listening.