The Future Of Forms Part 3: Embracing Engagement-Based Forms
December 27, 2017
It’s hard to ignore the fact that, as marketers, we’ve all gotten a little gate-happy. It’s estimated that as much as 80% of B2B content is hiding behind a gate. Our success is often measured by the size of our email database. So we slap a form in front of an infographic, maybe a gate in front of a blog post – all in a desperate attempt to collect leads, not always taking into account the quality of those leads. Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series explores our relationship with forms and how it might hinder (or help) our overall success.
Well, it’s time to pause and re-assess: Is gating content really working for us? And could it possibly even *gasp* be hindering our success? When considering your gating strategy, perhaps the interest-level of your visitor is a better indication of when to ask them to share information.
Engagement-based offers serve forms based on a visitor’s engagement with your content. This strategy asks only the most highly engaged visitors to sign up for something or take an action. If a visitor is engaging with your content, it implies they have an interest in your solution.
Traditionally, it’s challenging to identify these interested visitors; however, we now have access to technologies that measure real engagement metrics and integrate seamlessly into our MAPs. They make it possible to gauge unknown visitors’ interest and present them with a form at just the right time to turn them into known prospects.
Difference between engagement-based offers and content gating
Both engagement-based offers and gated content help you identify visitors to add to your marketing database; however, the strategies used aren’t apples to apples.
An engagement-based form is served to visitors when they have reached a certain engagement threshold. For example, you may choose to trigger an offer to a visitor that has engaged with a specific number of content assets or the offer may be triggered after a specific amount of time has been spent with certain content assets. Once the visitor reaches the threshold, the offer encourages the interested visitor to take an action. Engagement-based offers are light. They usually require a minimal amount of information to move on. And the offer itself is normally an invitation for something like a newsletter or an event.
On the other hand, gated content forms are served when a visitor lands on a high-value content asset. These forms are often required, meaning the visitor must submit their information and they aren’t dismissible. As a result, this practice can feel like punishment for visitors that show positive engagement and can lead to a poor visitor experience, causing them to bounce.
Engagement-based offers are used to trigger light touch offers to engage visitors and should never block access to content. In other words, they should be dismissible, allowing visitors to be all “thanks, but no thanks!”. Content gating limits access to specific assets by design. They trade access to high-value content for a visitor’s information. Both types of forms may be used as part of your overall form strategy.
Ask yourself these questions when deciding on your strategy mix
- What is considered “good” engagement?
- What defines your “engagement threshold”? For example, X number of minutes with content and/or X pieces of content engaged with.
- Which content assets offer the most value?
- If a visitor is engaging with content, how can you make the offer most relevant to what they’ve shown interest in?
Once you have answers to some of these questions, you can start narrowing in on the exact types of engagement-based forms you want to deliver at specific points along the buyer’s journey.
Common types of engagement-based offers
- Communication sign-up
If a visitor appears to be showing interest in your solutions, you can offer an opportunity to receive email communications from your organization. Suggest they sign up to your newsletter, subscribe to your blog, or stay in-the-loop on specific topics they’re interested in. The communication sign-up offer can help identify unknown visitor contacts that can be added to your marketing database and campaigns. You can then nurture them through their buyer journeys in a more personalized way.
- Event sign-up
If you have an upcoming in-person or virtual event that relates to content a visitor is engaging with, use an event sign-up offer to invite them to join. This is another way to identify unknown visitors and build email lists.
- Request a sales call or take a demo
When they engage with bottom of the funnel content, your visitors may be telling you they’re ready to talk to a member of your sales team. This gives you a prime opportunity to serve up a sales call or demo offer on a silver platter. As marketers, we love these so-called ‘hand-raisers’ as they often qualify quickly and become attractive candidates for sales opportunities. Using a sales request call or take a demo engagement-based offer ensures these hand-raising prospects aren’t a missed opportunity.
When not to use engagement-based offers
There may be some assets that you never want an engagement-based form to serve on. The idea being that a free piece of content will hook your audience and encourage them to view more. In some situations, ungating makes a whole lot of sense:
- Single blog posts
- Infographics (and other highly shareable content)
- Short videos and tutorials
- Press releases and other news-related articles
Which gating strategy is right for you?
Your gating strategy will be directly related to your main end goal. Let this handy flowchart be your Great Gate Guide to determine the best form strategy to use in different situations.