Many marketers rely on the idea of a “funnel” to describe their customer journeys and interactions, whether that be downloading gated content or scheduling a demo. However, let’s go out on a limb to say that the idea of the marketing funnel, in itself, is obsolete. Think about a demand generation funnel, or sales cycle, within the context of your personal buying habits.

  1. You have a need, or you discover something related to your interests
  2. You do research
  3. You see retargeted ads on multiple social media platforms
  4. You maybe visit a trade show

You’re clearly interested in further engaging with this company, and you’d be happy to sign up for a newsletter so you can continue to learn and engage passively for a while. You would be further delighted to receive free tools that will help make your life easier. Eventually, you’ll do business with this company.

Let’s flip the perspective back to typical “marketing-think.”

The Traditional B2B Marketing Funnel

Here’s how many teams plan their strategies:

Step 1: Look at what successful companies are doing
Step 2: Build an asset by what seems to be a good idea
Step 3: Gate the content and require what audiences partake in an action such as requesting a call or signing up for a newsletter
Step 4: Aim to generate as many marketing qualified leads as possible

If you compare the “ideal customer” against the “smart marketer,” you’ll notice that they don’t quite jive—even if you frame it within B2B buying groups over individual customers. Potential customers are often emotion- and needs-driven, while marketers are sales-driven. Aggressive sales tactics are known to drive customers away. So how can smart marketers create a gated content strategy that makes potential customers feel ecstatic about your company?

How to Create a Simplified—Successful—Content Strategy

Take the following steps:

    1. Interview people in your target market to figure out what their painpoints are
    2. Brainstorm what you can build to bridge these gaps
        1. Create a one-sheeter if your potential customer needs help with process/workflow
        2. Create an in-depth eBook if your target audiences are looking for information
    3. Build a tool if your target audiences need a resource to accomplish a goal
    4. Collect feedback on your idea
    5. Figure out how you can build something evergreen rather than temporal
    6. Build it like you would a product
    7. Gate the content and only ask for prospect contact information that is relevant—respect your audience’s space

These steps will help you create a more enticing “offering” and attract the audiences that are most likely to engage with your company and become prospects. It’s a win-win.

Need examples?

Here are a few diverse ones:

Final Thoughts

Gated content can be a powerful way to build connections with the exact people you want to reach. Make your strategy about your customers rather than your lead generation rates. Higher volumes of downloads don’t necessarily translate into more sales. The key is to reach the right audience.

Your play-by-play guide to B2B marketing strategy.

Ritika Puri

About Ritika Puri

Ritika Puri is an entrepreneur who founded Storyhackers, a company that helps business create impactful and inspiring content programs. She enjoys writing about data, teaching others things that she’s learning, and helping other business owners succeed. In past lives, she built enterprise analytics programs and created revenue streams for an ad tech company. She is also an advisor to a mobile app startup, Sortly.