Why SaaS Marketers Need to Stop Gating Interactive Demos

Jason Graub
October 13, 2022

You’re a savvy tech marketer and you know it. You party with influencers, your ops are flawless, and your dashboards look like they were stolen from Minority Report.

Well, maybe not — but you ARE on the cutting edge because you’re using interactive demos to drive demand with today’s self-educated buyer.

The big question: are you using them the right way?

Well that depends… When you finished building that dazzling interactive experience did you stand back and think, “You know, this is basically the most valuable freaking content asset known to man. We should probably put a huge gate in front of it.” (heads nod around the room)

If you did, see below.

Tech marketing is evolving, keep up

If you’ve gated your interactive demos, we don’t blame you. 

For many marketers, gating high value content is like a grandparent choosing to pay with a check at the grocery store. It’s just what they’re used to. 

But we’re tech marketers. We’re the trend setters. We should be double-clicking for Apple Pay, scanning our smartwatch on the card reader and glaring at granny as we walk out with our bags.

Fact: SaaS buyers don’t want to buy the way their grandparents did. They want a streamlined experience. They want to get in and get out. And at the top of the funnel that means they need to self-serve copious amounts of product information (product tours) without friction.

Now you might say, “Well, we gate our tours because if buyers show us they want to see the product, they must be an MQL.” That’s a trap (for both sides).

When a buyer hits your site for the first time, they just aren’t ready to be your MQL. They don’t know you yet, and they’re trying to decide if it’s worth their time to get to know you. 

At this point, it’s like they're trolling Tinder. They want to scroll through your pictures and see what kind of crafty message you came up with to describe yourself. Once they’ve seen your profile, then they’ll decide if they want to swipe left or right. 

Forbes tells us that 94% of visitors want to self-educate BEFORE they talk to your sales team. So think of ungated product tour experiences as the edge you need to give buyers what they want first, so they’ll agree to set a date with your sales team next. 

If you throw a lead form in their face before they’ve had a chance to see what you’re all about, you’ll be missing out on a big chunk of could-have-been opportunities AND setting your sales team up on a bunch of ice cold blind dates.

84% of SaaS buyers say their biggest frustration with SaaS websites is being forced to go to sales to see the product and understand the “how”. (SaaS Buyer Report)

So don’t force them to do anything — instead, be a matchmaker. Warm your leads up with those beautiful, ungated product tours and give your sales team a better chance.

Life without the gate

So how do we put this into action? How do we serve today’s self-educating buyer? First, make this your new standard: “if it’s better for the buyer, it’s better for us.” 

Building great content (like interactive product tours) is an investment in the idea that your product itself is the most valuable marketing asset you have. So rather than turning it into a mouse trap for quick lead gen results — it should be a garden for your long term demand strategy.

Here’s some ungated, buyer-inspired ideas. 

Use bite-sized (micro) tours  

When buyers enter your funnel they want to snack, so give them a menu of tours that are short, quick, and most importantly, extremely shareable. 

Pro-tip: breaking tours into smaller pieces to highlight specific features, value props or personas makes it easier to identify which resonate most in your engagement analytics.

Create a tours page (and put it in your navigation)

Interactive product tours are “the most valuable freaking content asset known to man” (we covered this ☝️) so you need to display them like a trophy room. 

Give them their own page, dress it up, and make them look quickly digestible so your buyers consume and keep consuming.

Want examples?

Check out DataRobot’s tours page, and here’s our own.

Don’t just leave them on your website, share them everywhere

Once you’ve decided to unleash your tours, why not let them explore beyond the boundaries of your website? 

Use them to light up your outbound emails, get them in every employee’s email signature (this works surprisingly well), strut around your next live event with an iPad and a short that reads “I’m your tour guide”. 

If there’s a channel you’re using to message to buyers, there’s a place to share your tours.

Opening the gate unlocks more data

Consider this equation, less friction to enter a product tour = more buyer engagement data. It’s that simple. 

When you have hundreds or thousands of buyers interacting in your tours every month, the data is powerful, even more so with our Marketo and HubSpot engagement integrations. 

Pro-tip: use your automation platform to build lists of buyers that engage, then run campaigns for all those high-intent buyers — right when they have you top-of-mind.