Pamela Muldoon of The Pedowitz Group returns to our podcast series titled Sunny Side Up to discuss the future of gated content and what leading brands do to gain leads with this strategy.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. A lot of folks in B2B sales are finding it very tough to break through the noise to connect with their target accounts. Having your own podcast gives your team the unique ability and often times the ability for sales too to break in to new accounts starting with the aim of interviewing your ideal clients on your podcast.
  2. The big reason we see audio content  gaining attention is because of the nature of the way that we live and do work these days. 
  3. The timing for podcasting is really really good as we touched upon. But the thing I would encourage folks to think about is this idea of content based networking where you collaborate with your ideal clients and potential referral partners to create content.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Paroma (00:13): Hi, Pamela, Welcome back to the DemandMatrix podcast series. We are  really happy to have you here for the second time. How do you feel?

Pamela(00:21): Hello. Hello. It is so good to be back. Thank you so much for having me. 

Paroma(00:31): You’re most welcome. And this time we basically wanted to try and touch base on creative ways to make content gating an interesting venture. So that’s the main aim of this episode and the last time I think we touched base on a lot of content marketing strategies and we touched a lot about content gating as well and this time we hope to share a lot more creative ideas with our audience.

Pamela (00:56): Perfect. It’s a hot topic right.It’s one that I think every marketing team continues to have internally and kind of monitor externally what other companies are doing and what works and what doesn’t work. So I don’t know if this is ever going to become an old topic anytime soon. Right. It’s just it’s something we’re all dealing with every single week.

Paroma(1:17): Yeah let’s just discuss some of the most common and basic factors here.What are some of the hits and misses when it comes to promoting gated content assets according to you.

Pamela (1:27): I think there’s a couple of things. The whole intent here is to get your content  in front of the right person at the right time. Right. And so the challenge with that is we have a lot of platforms you know between our social media platforms and our own website and email right. Different platforms so we can get things in front of our folks. I think one of the misses we have is not taking into consideration how these different platforms play into the audience journey. I’m sure anyone listening to this feels that way. And so sometimes you know trying to find the generality is what gets us into trouble. And so really understanding if I’m putting a piece of gated content out on say Facebook or Twitter, how  I’m positioning that, how am I teeing that up in terms of the messaging, in terms of the headline, just really being cognizant and then aware that even though I might be the same buyer that comes in and touches your information through various platforms how I receive it needs to work with that platform. So I think that’s one area we could all use some improvement on. And I think one of the reasons we are challenged with that is because of resource constraint, it does take time to do that. And then I think another mess for us especially in B2B (and I hate to say it), the B2B tech space but especially in the B2B space we still see forms that are just super long, just way too much information especially when it’s from an awareness lead generation capacity.  And asking for the e-mail address, the name, the phone number, what part of the country or perhaps world, all of those questions actually tend to turn folks off initially and that’s part of the “building the trust process” to ask me those questions…. So I think there’s still some room for improvement with how we reach out and do this promotion, but at the same time one of the wonderful things we have is so many different ways to do it now versus even say five years ago.

Paroma(03:44): Absolutely that’s true. So what have you been seeing in terms of the ills when it comes to gating too many content assets? Everybody has a whole bunch of e-books and whitepapers through which they like to indirectly reach out to their target audience but oftentimes we see a lot of small and medium sized brands geared to have many assets. And you know when you’re a smaller company what we also observe is that not many of the audience base would want to share their details to see what you’ve written because there’s a lot of information that’s already free and they probably want to rely on big brands or established brands to read the information. So what are your thoughts on this aspect, the ills of gating too many of your content assets.

Pamela(04:27): You know it’s such a catch 22 scenario isn’t it when you have a small team. For example if your resources are constrained. One of the beautiful things about marketing automation and the ability to ask for gated information is really that automation process can really be almost an outsourced extra marketing team member right. And I think that’s where the danger also lies, is when we have such a reliance on the expectation that if we can get them to download this and then download the next piece and the next piece they can do this progressive profiling faster. Right. But the danger in that is that we’re doing it from a very selfish place. We were kind of being I guess controlled by our own lead management process right. If my audience is one that’s really hesitant to provide the information then you have to come back to the trust factor and this is where I do think it’s really making sure your social media presence and your content marketing presence are aligned very strongly that you know it’s kind of interesting with smaller organizations. I think they do that well or do it better because you’re just more agile. But these larger organizations, the irony is that in our ability to break down silos we actually created more silos in the marketing department. So we now have a social media person and often I’ve worked with organizations from an enterprise level where they’re not even involved in the content ideation process. They’re not involved. These areas that you would assume a social media presence would automatically be involved. You know the messaging and how it’s going to be teed up for getting them to follow through on the gated content. So I think when you’re feeling that you’re actually getting in the way it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself- How can I better build trust with the audience that I’m looking to build trust with. And what are ways we can do that. Again you have these amazing platforms. Maybe it’s an opportunity to adjust how you’re sharing your information and where you’re sharing it. So that when I am coming into something gated I feel like I do know and trust you which is so critical in today’s world.

Paroma(06:44): Right, Okay, so at this point what have you seen some of the leading brands do?

Pamela(06:50): Yeah. Since I knew we were going to be talking about this I was doing a little bit of research and it’s funny because a lot of the larger brands and you and I, we work in the marketing of a lot of technology in the B2B space right. So the challenge with that is we kinda know the brands well from our own personal selfish needs. So I say that from like some brands like say Salesforce or Oracle or these larger technology marketing brands there are so many things they do well with in terms of gating or providing valuable information and they also do a nice job. They also do a nice job of providing even something as robust as an e-book or a whitepaper like you mentioned free at certain stages so that we’re not feeling like we have to give our information for everything. However on the flip side to this sometimes the larger companies also are challenged. They might be great at getting you to come in but I think they jump on the sales conversation still too quickly right. It’s very challenging to find a large brand that is doing all aspects of this well there’s pieces they do well. They think that you know what I just downloaded a whitepaper to get information that you sent me in an email. Now you’re already calling me on a telephone. Right. I think of digital marketers and sometimes they do a really nice job of balancing the free information along with the gated information. And here’s the key to this-> when I do take in something that’s gated all the other information you share with me especially when you’re sending me additional emails, will it continue to fulfill that same level of quality? This is where I think some of the larger brands kind of fall flat. They start off really strong but then they kind of fall into their old routines. Right. And so then of course the challenges are in unsubscribing – are you going to continue to give me the quality that I expected from the first touch. And eventually if it feels like you’re gating too much that isn’t good  so we unsubscribe. So this is a never ending process right. For all of us in terms of putting out quality information not just at the initial gate but even afterwards and moving forward.

Paroma(09:45): Right. So here’s a slightly more tricky question. As a content marketer we as content marketers rather would focus on a blog primarily to get relevant traffic to the website. What do you think is better as a strategy to just have one type of content format for example like video, audio or text and continuously use that to increase volumes as well as traffic to the site. Or should they still be focused on different forms. Gated content or philosophy is something you often say will never go away.

Pamela(10:30) : It’s really a great question. I think there are certain formats that just lend itself naturally to being better unjaded. And what I’m automatically thinking of is say awareness level content for podcasting, for audio for example when you think it’s a very challenging medium to get right so it can be a wonderful medium if you’re building a nice solid audience and listenership to drive that loyalty and trust right into your website and into other information into the score in a lead score process. And part of the reason of this is because when you think about YouTube or the different podcast subscribe apps like Apple you know their Apple podcast app. There’s such a high expectation that it’s just available with one or two clicks. Right now it’s really challenging to gate it. You have to be very very cognizant that what you’re getting is truly valuable and that you can truly only find it here. So that’s where to kind of answer your question. I think we’re seeing generally some really good success with lead gen video and audio because it’s such a great trust building platform right. You see me you hear me. This is the real deal here. At the same time when you do start to drive more of a gating conversation it really comes back to what is it that I can do to provide value. And I don’t have specific statistics around like mediums like whitepaper versus e-book but I do believe that when you’re giving me something that I can truly take action on easily that becomes more valuable. So I think our checklists are resources those types of things are great lead gen gates because you’re fulfilling on an immediate promise. And then of course you need to fulfill it along the line. So it’s a really interesting question I think I would lean toward some of these more trustworthy mediums, audio-video to be great generators and necessarily not gate them until you feel that you’ve already developed some kind of rapport with them.  If we were to transcribe this and then type it all out it’s just not the same .(Some of the value would get lost ) as it does the emotion, the wow she seems to sound like a nice person. Right. Right. They all come into play and then you throw a video on top. And now I get to actually look at you and see you and know your smile and and all those little nuances on a very subconscious level. Build this trust in rapport so that when you do get something of value that might be a little more text based. I feel a sense of loyalty, I feel a sense of trust. So it’s a great question. I think it’s one of the reasons we see those mediums not gated as much especially in the awareness stages.

Paroma(13:40): Right, when it comes back to smaller and smaller companies and maybe even mid-sized companies they may not necessarily have an entire content marketing or a content team either. So when it comes to posting content regularly on their pages on their websites and when it comes to content gating, how would you divide the efforts so that is a priority for both. Or should they be dividing the effort if at all.

Pamela(14:01): It’s a really great question. I think there has to be some dividing up of efforts because as we mentioned earlier it’s still such a prevalent part to their lead management process right. I don’t know that you will ever see gating totally go away because it’s so vital to B2B, to be able to segment people right or to be able to allow your internal sales team or your sales staff to start gaining insights. And what a great way for marketing and sales. I mean we struggled for so many years for marketing and sales to align and work together. Now we’re seeing that much more today and partly in play because we’re developing content that’s gated based on what sales is telling us is important to the audience right. So it’s really kind of a delicate relationship. So if you’re on a small team I think you do need to take into consideration maybe even a 50/50 or possibly a 60/40. And what I mean by 60/40 is 60 percent free-40 percent gated. Or maybe even 70-30. I think the majority of your valuable content for free is still extremely powerful and important because it is the best awareness tool you have and that is the best differentiator you have in terms of your brand and companies value proposition and your ability to put your voice out there so you do want to make sure that you have solid content that’s in front of them whether it’s a consistent blog, a consistent podcast, a combination of these things but you still will need to consider some type of gating methodology. I believe just simply because it makes it efficient right. It makes the efficiency of our small teams to be able to provide data and information to our executive teams or to our leadership that keeps this motor running and all of those moving parts become part of a bigger whole. But I do think perhaps a little more on the free but making sure that you have something in parallel that’s working with your campaigns so you can track your data there as well for sure.

Paroma(16:06): Right. So let’s go to another another point. There’s always access to free information and if teams get their content and readers not really  interested in sharing their contact information in exchange for that content, they’ll still find a way to find what they’re looking for. You know even if it’s like reports or an old statistic or any kind of information, it’s not for certain that they’re going to share that idea because they will find what they want online. The online space is really vast. So what content marketers started doing is focusing on adding value to the content that they get in exchange for this contact information that they wanted. This is my question here. Is this enough of a strategy to draw people to exchange this valuable information, you know, like their email ids. Brett Yeah yeah yeah. Is there another way for them to maybe lock an offer behind this gated content, this gated form, or another way to create or portray this kind of content. Because it seems to be getting a little more competitive and stagnant now that we look at.

Pamela(17:14): It kind of goes to that idea too. It’s not always about more right. It’s about the quality. Kind of equates to this value right. What is the value. What is it that we really want to provide our audience that is valuable to them. And then on top of this Paroma we can put our customer journey down on paper right and we can put it in a circle we can put it in a line. It doesn’t matter. I still am going to come at my own pace based on who and what I am and what I know right. So it’s just a mess out there. And you’re absolutely right. So I think a couple things that we have to take into consideration in today’s world is this- the strength and opportunity for these content hubs. And when I say content hubs obviously there are some platforms I think of, there’s UberFlip that has a content hub methodology, these content hubs I think are going to be more of the future of where content needs to go to kind of answer your question as to how do we keep our audience engaged when they are free but can go anywhere. But also we still need to drive them to some downloads so that we can track them. I think even taking a step back and saying how do we keep them engaged for as long as possible on our site. Right. And so this requires two things. It requires 1) a platform where all of our content is very easily within one click. I can go through my own journey one click at a time through the information you provide and that’s what content hubs tend to be able to do well. So there’s that platform and then the flip side to this is in resources and this is where we always get a little hung up especially if we’re a small team. How do I develop an entire juries worth of content for the what if scenario. Right. And this is not easy but it really is doing the foundational work well on your buying journey stages as well as your personas so that you’re developing all of this great trust value content and it’s going to happen or going to  feed your audience when they want it. Keeping them there, keeping them on your space because you’re absolutely right. There is no such thing, we are all a commodity today right. Services are products that are so special and unique. They’re the only one who does it. So it’s very easy for us as searchers on the Web to find it from multiple sources. I think the other piece to this is building trust and building relationship. And we hear those words quite a bit but when you think about it once I feel like I’m very aligned to a brand or person within a brand, it changes the conversation. It changes my search and the other piece to this is as we move in to more voice controlled search right with your Alexa’s and your Siris right. We need to really understand how search is being done moving forward and creating our content so it aligns with that because unlike Google, our search and voice is the most popular, it is going to rise to the top. So it’s going to be a very interesting mix here in the coming. You know shortly in problem what two three four years to see how that plays out. But I think content hubs and keeping them on for as long as possible is where we want to start focusing to be able to handle some of these other challenges better.  

Paroma(20:37): So I just have another question, tell me when it  comes to  smaller and medium size of companies, would you even advice them to avoid creating gated content assets, is that a better way for smaller teams to drive traffic, using free content?

Pamela(21:01): I’m probably a little on the fence here. When I think through that question because here’s the challenge when we talk about small teams we talked about lack of resources.Right or the inability to create more, we’d have to be really focused for our efficiency. And this is where I think content gating, marketing automation technology platforms are super helpful for small teams. The challenge of course is that we don’t want to feel like there isn’t the emotion behind the content. So I would still encourage. I think what it is is about streamlining really, looking at your buying, turning your personas in your content ideation as kind of a Venn diagram right and deciding where based on your business objectives, where my gaps what’s going to drive the best results for our business and start to decide there are developing perhaps a campaign or two that includes some gated content that’s very specific to those objectives so that it’s working somewhat in an automated sense that you’re still tracking and tweaking if you have to. But there’s an automated element to it so that when you have those up and running you can spend more time developing these free resources for consistency purposes and to keep some fresh content out there so I really think it still has to be a balance. But when you’re using the automation on a small team use it as smart as you possibly can and be very cognizant that you’re using it as almost an additional team member right. Not just to make your life easier but let’s have this team member actually work with you on the  business.

Paroma(22:35): I think this was an interesting take on content gating and how people can do it a little more effectively or optimally. And you as a content  marketer don’t see it going away anytime soon. Me as a content marketer, I do hope it does because you always have this. I have this opinion that there’s a lot of content out there and you know gating things is not necessarily the best way to get people out or filter leads if I can find another way to do it and find another way to engage with my audience of course by using content in creative ways. I’d rather go for something like that because what I see is people struggle to promote that gated asset as well. Yeah. Yes. And you know there’s a lag there it’s not as simple as OK I’m going to create a 10 page, 23 page e-book and I’m going to publish it here and I’m going to hope people know. No, you have to promote it and re-promote it and redistribute it. And I think what’s required in this space is creativity so so yes it’s interesting to see how fellow content marketers like you and many others do believe in how gated content will stay. What might change is the way we do it but hiding things behind a lead form is not going to go away anytime soon. Yes so I guess this conversation was interesting and I hope you return for something else.

Pamela(23:53): I’m right there with you Paroma. I hope that we can move away from this. You know I think one of the challenges we have is that it took us a long time to get our sales and marketing teams aligned and we used gating and marketing automation and tracked how content is engaged through these platforms as a way to make that alignment happen. And just as it took that long to get to this point, to your point, I would love to also see gating eventually move to the wayside because I believe there is enough quality content. We have to. It’s promotion is critical critical critical but it will take some time I think to now kind of re-educate all of those people because this moves so fast right. And then I kind of equate it to be over if you’ve ever worked inside of a really large enterprise and you have new software that’s going to be implemented throughout the entire organization. It can take like two to three years from the first computer that gets the software to the last computer right around the company. I kind of equate that with some of our marketing challenges. It changes quicker or more quickly than we can actually implement. But I’m with you. I have hope that we’ll move to less gating. I just think it will take some time. Yeah.

Paroma(25:08): I’ll see you soon and maybe next time we’ll have a video interview because I remember you mentioned the audience would probably have a better connect when they see video content so yeah.

Pamela(25:18): Yeah that would be great. That would be fantastic. Yeah I’d love that.

Paroma(25:21): So thank you so much again for participating, have an awesome day ahead.Thank you.

Pamela(25:26): You too.

Pamela Muldoon Sunny Side Up Podcast episodePamela Muldoon is a Revenue Marketing Coach with The Pedowitz Group and comes to TPG with over two decades of traditional and digital marketing experience. She specializes in campaign and content strategy with a passion for helping clients develop a content marketing culture across the organization. 

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.














 

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