Your content or your competitor’s?

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Gated content is not always the best approach to building relationships
Are you in the habit of locking in your high-quality content to force visitors to identify themselves with an email address or other contact details? Traditional marketing philosophy says that approach is critical to collecting highly desirable contact info.  While it might seem like a logical move, the reality is 9 out of 10 decision-makers and influencers do not reveal their identity to commercial players on the net. The mistake many marketers have made is to forget why that is. Those potential buyers want your information; they’re just not yet ready to talk to salespeople. So the question is, do you want to be the educator or do you prefer they go to your competitors for information?
According to a recent Gartner report, buyers spend an average of 7-8 months anonymously scouting the internet for relevant information before they get in touch with potential suppliers or partners. Why? Because they seek substantial, reasonably objective and comparable information. They want to be well prepared for discussions and negotiations without interruption by pushy sales reps. That argues for providing them with as much information as you can.
Experiments prove that it doesn’t work
Having provided ABM content solutions and management for many B2B companies, we have also experimented with locked in content, much like news media systematically do with paid content: An intriguing headline, particularly relevant for your prioritized target companies … the first half of a qualified and well-written story … and then an irritating request for your email address to get the rest of it. Or the enclosed white paper, or report. By monitoring our web visitors’ every move in real-time, we can clearly see that an overwhelming majority don’t do it. And don’t expect high level executives with their overflowing agendas to reveal their contact details that easily.
It pays to be generous
Wouldn’t it be better to open up your gates for selectively attractive content and continuously monitor the people who go there? See what they do? Monitor how much time they invest in each specific topic, and where they go from there? After all, what’s the use of knowing their name if they don’t want to talk to your sales reps yet?
With ABM, you can do exactly that– address the anonymous buyers and influencers while you  continue to feed them with relevant content. Even if they don’t identify themselves, you can still know which company they’re from. You can even understand their interests based on their behavior.  
Now, if you do want them to reveal themselves to you, there are techniques to do that. Try inviting them to an exclusive, relevant and qualified seminar, or sign up for a periodical newsletter. If what you are producing is informative and useful they would fully appreciate the content that you share with them, and understand why you’d like to know who they are before taking the next step. Ultimately, however, it’s not about knowing their names and titles. It’s about providing them relevant, engaging messaging so that when they are ready to talk to sales, they are already aware and bought into your view of the world.
Make sure you know whom to talk to
Rather than chasing everyone who happens to visit your website or landing page, make sure to open your gates for the relatively few companies that you really want to talk to. The ones that your sales reps, and your key account team in particular, have already identified and prioritized. With a well-planned and executed account-based marketing strategy your marketing and sales teams can join forces to learn everything worth knowing about these companies and their key people.  Customize your site as well as your content to these companies accordingly, and continuously monitor which accounts are more actively looking for what kind of information.
With a smart strategy like that, who needs gated content anyway?

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