Kira Mondrus, the Chief Marketing Officer at QASymphony shares her views on the much debated topic of whether to gate or ungate your marketing content, and the right way to do both.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. Web forms should be aligned as per the stage of the buyer’s journey, driven by content that captures influencers’ of users’ buying decisions.
  2. Progressive profiling, the method of adding information to user profiles over time, is the best possible way to consolidate accurate, useful customer data.
  3. Gated content should be of utmost relevance for the subscribing user; it should be valuable, useful and trustworthy as the user had to expend energy filling the form.
  4. Forecast: Marketers under pressure will soon leverage bots in order to decide on gating content in the right stage of customer journeys.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Dave (00:39): Tell us a little bit about the problem that QAsymphony solves for their customers and the role that you play there.

Kira (00:48): We help our customers create high-quality software and get increased speed to market within their development. We have a platform for software testing and we help more than 500 customers around the globe to meet their goals. And I am the Chief Marketing Officer.

Dave (01:16): Tell us a little bit about your background over the last 15 years and some of the key successes you have had with content marketing.

Kira (01:25): I have really had a very interesting career with the opportunity to work across a vast variety of marketing disciplines as well as geographies, ranging from startups all the way through to multi billion-dollar companies. So, it’s been a great ride. I recently joined SecureWorks which spun out from Dell in 2016. Having implemented a very sophisticated content marketing strategy to fuel growth at SecureWorks, I’m currently in the process of doing the exact same thing at QASymphony.

Dave (02:08): What are the primary objectives for content marketing QASymphony?

Kira (02:14): Content marketing at QASymphony is all about targeting growth and demand generation. We are growing lightning fast with a notable 100 percent growth last year. Our CEO has recognized that marketing is absolutely the key to fueling growth. So, we are building out a perpetual demand gen program that’s built all around content and aligned to our various buyer personas. The demand gen program is aimed at a very close alignment to the buyer progression and buyer journey, with the content to engage, nurture, and help with pipeline acceleration for shortening the sales cycle.

Dave (03:08): What’s your approach to using registration lead forms as a gate to your content like ebooks, whitepapers, demos pricing and pages.

Kira (03:19): We actually get pretty sophisticated with this, so, we use web forms and we align them really closely to the stage of the buyer journey. So, each content piece is aligned to a specific stage and each stage has a different type of webform. For instance, for top of the funnel with thought-leadership content, we use a very short, uninvasive web form and we do progressive profiling. And the individual either progresses through the buyer’s journey by being nurtured with our content or they come in with content that is representative of the later stage,  corresponding to the web form that we use for that particular content becomes longer and more detailed so much so that by the very last stage we know a lot about them, getting pretty close to BANT criteria. What that does is, it really ensures that the audience is truly engaged and that their behavior indicates interest and ultimately leads to a very high quality lead. So, when those leads are coming over to our sales team, they are converting at more than 50 percent from MQL to opportunity.

Dave (04:58): What kind of content do you freely share and why do you do that?

Kira (05:02): We freely share our blogs, we really share our data sheets or anything that’s really product specific. And the reason we do that is obviously we want to give our audience access to the content that we have and we backlink to other things that are connected to demand generation content. But ultimately I think when you’re putting something behind a web form, there needs to be something of value behind that web form.

Dave (05:43): What distinguishes content for you, to be valuable?

Kira (05:59): Valuable is anything that provides education about a particular problem and how to solve it, or the variety of different new ways that they can solve something. That’s going to be a tool, a tip, a trick or something that’s going to help them do their jobs better or support their business better. So, from a content standpoint it could be whitepapers as they are very popular, including ebooks ,webinars whether those are live or recorded.

Dave (06:18): What do you do to minimize getting bogus information on your lead forms or otherwise cleaning up the data?

Kira (06:25):  We do progressive profiling and I would probably bet that a lot of what comes in those very-very early stages is highly inaccurate. But those are not leads that I pass over to the sales team. We have some questions we want to ask for every engagement. For example, we have them verify their email address with every engagement on the very first web form, and for high level content we don’t ask for their phone number but as they progress to the later stage of content we do ask for phone number and we ask for it several times. So, there are just these types of proven techniques that we use to give the opportunities for the buyer to be able to keep on updating their information. We ask them what time of day they would like to be contacted. We also use ReachForce to append the firmographic information once they write in their company name so they don’t need to input it manually.

Dave (07:31): What about account-based marketing? Have you seen any sort of change in the strategy that you have with content gating because  of account-based marketing?

Kira (07:43): Yes, and No! What I mean is, from a perspective of what the marketing team handles, we are still using web forms to drive engagement. But for places where we have our salespeople working to nurture them, we send links directly to the content to bypass the form.

Dave (08:09): A lot of the content that’s gated is a PDF or a tool where you kind of lose visibility once they’ve downloaded the asset or viewing the asset. And I wondered if you’ve developed any strategies to really understand whether the content is resonating with the people and what you might do to optimize the content?

Kira (08:34): We’re not quite there yet, and I think that’s an area we would love to go next. Right now most of the content that we have gated behind the web form is actually not in PDF format, and still lives on our website. We can track engagement and time spent on the page. And we just prefer this way of doing things, but we have not implemented any type of really more sophisticated technology to help us go deeper than that.

Dave (09:01): What other insights can you share about content gating that you haven’t shared so far that you think are really important.

Kira (09:08): I think as with anything you want to make sure that the gate fits the offer. Anything that you’re going to be asking a lot of information for really needs to be of higher value and provide something useful to the buyers. I think that just taking true to that principle is really important.

Dave (09:29): What do you see as the future if you look out over the next couple of years? Do you see any fundamental change in the way people are going to do content marketing as it relates to gating the content.

Kira(09:39): That’s a great question, I actually have not really sat around thinking about the future of content gating. I don’t have an answer. What are your thoughts on that?

Dave (09:48): I have a hunch that bots are going to become a real big part of the qualification process moving forward. I was interviewing somebody from HubSpot and of course they are big advocates of marketing. They give quite a bit of content away for free and then use bots that align with what you were saying about ‘when people are more motivated, they’re going to share more information’. And so, sometimes I think marketers have such a pressure to drive volume that they try to ask for information a little too quickly. And I think the bots might be a way to get at the progress of profiling that you’re referencing, which I think is a very smart approach. So, that would be my guess.

Dave (10:38): Any tools or technologies or services (you mentioned Reachforce); anything else in this area that you would recommend to the audience that you think is really worthwhile?

Kira (10:48): We partnered with a consultancy by the name of Annuitas. They specialize in Demand Gen and have really helped me with this transformation that we’ve seen both here and at SecureWorks. I think they’re really a great partner to work with. I think with regards to marketing automation, I’ve used pretty much most of the kind of common brands that you would think of. Progressive profiling, and to be able to really power the buyer progression and nurture users, is a fairly standard method once you define your process.

Kira Mondruus QA Symphony PodcastKira Mondrus is a multi-award-winning recognized industry thought leader.  She joined QASymphony as Chief Marketing Officer in the fall of 2017. As CMO, she leverages broad-based global marketing leadership experience and deep knowledge of operations and best practices to craft product marketing and brand awareness strategies that drive global demand, exceed revenue targets, and deliver an exceptional customer experience. Kira’s nearly 20-year B2B technology marketing track record of success includes companies ranging from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar enterprises. Originally from Canada, Kira holds a Double Honors degree in Public Administration and Russian from the University of Saskatchewan. She is multilingual: English, Russian and Hebrew.

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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