Gating content causes friction. It’s often one of the first asks marketers make from someone in their audience.
Sometimes it’s small, just a name and an email address. Other times, a brand wants you to jump straight into a form, complete with company name and number of siblings (just kidding)
The more fields in your form, the more data you collect and the more friction you must overcome from your audience.
You have to maintain a reasonable value exchange (what your audience receives in exchange for their data). You need to offer something that justifies the amount of data you need to collect to properly nurture your audience.
In this post, we delve into the gating practices of some of B2B marketing’s top brands. We enter from the top of the funnel and work our way to our first piece of gated content. We’ll determine who gates what and when, and what fields they collect when they get there.
We’ll then compare the answers from this year’s examination with the results from 2018.
From there, we’ll note any trends that the data from those years might reveal.
Gates: Ebooks, Webinars, Templates, and Guides
Leaves Open: Tools (most collect data in the tool), blog posts
We enter Hubspot via a blog post about writing professional bios. At the end of a comprehensive blog post was this CTA :
This is a low friction way to get a lead to start filling out data. The blue box then envelopes the screen, and you’re asked:
You notice the progress wheel now?
They keep asking one question at a time as you approach completion. By now, they’ve asked for a reasonably large amount of data but they’ve done it in such a way where it doesn’t seem like too much.
The final pane of the signup popup:
From there, you are taken to a download page, which apparently gives you lifetime access to the asset we downloaded here.
The gating here is a lot different, almost bite-sized compared to. Hubspot used to use a more form-like style of gating.
B2B Marketing (UK)
Gates: Premium Content, Guides
Leaves Open: Blog posts and case studies
We enter B2B Marketing via their blog. Not much has changed since 2018. There is still a free content section alongside a premium content section.
We found our way to this gated piece of content:
B2B Marketing starts slow after you hit download, asking for just a first name and an email. Nothing.
Continuing here brings you to this page.
Whoa. That’s a lot of fields. I think this is a bit much, especially as companies scale back what they ask on forms.
Gates: Free Trials, code patterns, and the newsletter
Leaves Open: Blog posts, videos, research, and guides
IBM has a massive amount of content.
That much content. At the top of the funnel here in the blog posts, it’s tricky to find gated content.
In 2018, I was able to go to IBM Analytics Learn Center, a place that now redirects to the products and free trials page.
Instead of gating all their content, IBM has removed many of those barriers for things like research and guides.
I’m sure there is middle and bottom-of-funnel content that is gated, but there’s been a real shift in IBM’s tactics since 2018. They’ve likely realized that a customer that wants to buy is a well-educated one, so they wait until the person has done a lot of research on their own before introducing them to content that is gated.
One of the places I was able to uncover some examples of what IBM gates is its developer newsletter. It’s shown below:
There is a decent amount of information gathered here, but nothing too intrusive.
Most of the developer tools are where IBM gates its content. For its code patterns, IBM sends the user to GitHub to access the code.
Gates: Templates, white papers, PDFs, guides
Leaves Open: Infographics, blog posts, case studies
Salesforce follows a classic model of gating. They leave most content with higher value gated, except for case studies, which is a good choice.
Here, we look at Salesforce’s latest research, which is gated:
There’s quite a bit here. But Salesforce is a marketing powerhouse, so the value exchange is likely worth it.
Gates: Guides, tools, and reports
Leaves Open: Blog posts, videos, infographics, cheat sheets, and webinars
Salesforce has gone the same direction as IBM in making gating very limited at the top of the funnel. I started digging around in the Salesforce blog, eventually finding my way to the Introduction to Demand Generation webinar. I thought that it would surely be gated, but no.
All you had to do was scroll below the fold and the webinar was waiting for you.
Cheat sheets were also ungated:
I finally found a guide that was gated from here.
Marketo asks for a modest amount of information. Nothing that asks too much, not even a phone number. Their form asks for very little compared to many of the other brands.
We’ve reviewed the way that 5 major B2B companies handle gating their content
We tracked what they gate and what they ask for when they gated content. Here’s what we found.
Who gates what?
How does that compare to 2018?
Here is 2018’s chart:
There are some small changes from year-to-year. We added the webinars and free trials sections to 2019, but also notice that IBM has started to ease off gating their whitepapers, PDFs, and ebooks.
I think that will be a shift over time. As more and more content floods the marketing ecosystem, marketers will be forced to give out more valuable content for less.
What do marketers ask for?
Hubspot and B2B Marketing both ask for the same number of fields, but they do it in very different ways. Hubspot asks one or two questions at a time and B2B Marketing asks for all of it in one list.
IBM asks for the least amount of detail, but they also likely have more data in their databases.
How does that compare with 2018?
Here is what these brands asked for in their forms in 2018:
Notice how much higher almost all the totals are in 2018 compared to 2019. Marketers must have realized that too many fields cause insurmountable friction.
IBM is the biggest loser here, dropping from 7 to 4 fields. That matches its drop in what it gates. But Salesforce and B2B Marketing each dropped two fields, and Hubspot dropped one. Marketo already had the lightest form, so there wasn’t a large amount of change there.
We’ve looked at the 5 top B2B brands and who has gated what. There is a small trend moving away from gating as much content and when content is gated, less information is asked up front. Marketers are realizing they don’t need to rush to get complete records and that they will retain more qualified leads if they are conservative with the number of fields in a form.
Let us know what you think:
- How does your brand gate content?
- Have you increased or decreased fields on your forms?
- Have you cut back on your usage of forms altogether?