When I first started using Marketo as a client, the ability to easily create forms that could capture prospect and customer data and get it directly to my sales team via our CRM was heady stuff. We were suddenly going from a situation where users bounced around our website gathering all of our information while we gathered none from them, to one where we could gate EVERYTHING and ask EVERYTHING.
So, naturally, we did.
You can guess how that went! At Marketo, we recommend that you be strategic about your content and when you gate it. Top of Funnel (TOFU) content that builds general awareness of your brand and demonstrates your thought leadership/expertise in an area should be open to all potential prospects. In the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), more useful content that may be proprietary to you (think RFPs, buying guides, calculators, industry reports) should be gated. And finally, at the Bottom of Funnel (BOFU), we recommend opening the content up again - this content (product comparisons, etc.) is generally most valuable to prospects who are already engaged with you and your sales team and is affirming their decisions.
But when it's the appropriate time and place to gate content, clients often struggle with how much prospect data to request on the form. I always boil it down to this: What's In It for Me? And I don't just mean me the prospect, but also me the marketer.
What's the value for the prospect? This one is fairly obvious, but hard for marketers because we can be pretty biased about the awesomeness of that tool/guide/calculator/report we're offering. Put yourself in the prospect's shoes instead and be brutally honest:
• Can the prospect get this information elsewhere?
• Are my competitors or anyone else offering something like it (and if so, are they gating it)?
• Does this content answer a question my prospect needs to help solve their problem?
The more exclusive and useful the content is, the greater its value to the prospect and the more likely they are to a) fill out the form in the first place and b) fill in more fields to get it. Even subconsciously, prospects are looking at the form between them and your content and evaluating "do I think this will be worth the time to fill out and/or the release of my personal information to get?" So if the value is lower, per the above, consider either not gating it until you can make that content more valuable OR make sure your form is short and sweet.
But also think "What's In It for Me?" as a marketer - what's the utility and value of the data you're requesting on the form? If it's a contact request form, it makes sense to ask for a phone number. But for a buying guide or a report? You don't need that data to deliver the content the prospect is asking for, so why are you asking for it? If this is the first form your currently anonymous prospect is visiting, will they find a "phone number required" field off-putting for a guide? Probably. Do you need to know what their job title / role is in order to provide them the right version of the guide/tool etc.? Definitely ask, but consider explaining to them that's why you're asking. Transparency goes a long way with prospects when asking for data.
Now, eventually, as you take your prospect along your customer journey and get them to engage with more and more of your un-gated and then gated content, you will need more and more information from them in order to fully qualify them for your sales team. That's what progressive profiling is for! From form to form, you'll ask them more and more qualifying information and it will a) be easy for them because it's only a couple of questions at a time and b) make sense to them because what your'e asking should also be tracking to their customer journey (region of the world, buying timeframe, buying role, etc.) It won't feel invasive, intrusive or unnecessary to the value of the content you're offering.