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Gated Content: What It Is and Why You Should Consider It

The use of gated content is a debated marketing practice. On one hand, it can help you increase the number of qualified leads that access your content. On the other hand, it can potentially turn away interested parties if they’re uncomfortable sharing their personal information. But gated content can be an incredible resource for you and your brand. Consider this your primer on gated content — what it is and why you should consider it. 

Understanding Gated Content

Gated content is any information behind a lead capture form, which is a section of a website where visitors give you information like their name, email address, or job title to get access to something. By entering their information, they get access to premium content, and you get valuable data about your audience.

Gated content and lead magnets are related. All lead magnets are a form of gated content. But not all gated content is a lead magnet because its purpose isn’t always conversion. Sometimes gated content is for research purposes.

Gated vs. Ungated Content 

Gated content can help you share worthwhile information with your audience and establish your business as an industry expert. 

Advocates of gated content argue that the generation of valuable customer information more than outweighs the potential loss of customers who choose not to fill out the form. 

Critics of gated content argue that it turns people away from accessing your content and damages your brand image and trustworthiness in their minds. They also argue that people are less likely to share content with a lead form in front of it, so the potential for organic growth is limited.

When Should You Gate Content?

Using gate content is right for you if you want to generate leads or gather audience information instead of building brand awareness. It captures people at a point where they’re already familiar with your brand and see you as a trustworthy source within the industry. Capitalizing on their trust and interest can give you access to a wealth of information about your target audience.

How Gated Content Works 

Gated content works by placing high-value content behind forms that ask for the reader’s information. Readers can only access that content if they provide the necessary information — often their job title, email, company name, and/or geographic location.

Is Gated Content Effective?

Gated content is most effective when you have high-value ungated content to back it up. High-quality ungated content that delivers value to your target audience helps establish your business as an industry expert. As a result, consumers are more likely to see your gated content as 

Using Gated Content in Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C)

Gated content can benefit B2B and B2C businesses, but the type of content used typically differs. Gated content for B2B includes things like e-books, flipbooks, industry reports, calculators, and assessments. B2C gated content usually includes discount codes, limited offers, memberships, and videos.

Types of Gated Content That Generate Leads

Consumers will be more likely to hand over personal information if they consider your content highly valuable. These are the types of content that will help you generate the most leads:

  • E-books
  • White papers
  • Webinars
  • Instructional videos
  • Email subscriptions 
  • Educational courses
  • Contests
  • Templates and tools like quizzes or calculators
  • Exclusive communities 
  • Free trials

Why to Consider Using Gated Content 

Creating content that’s high-value enough to be kept behind a gate takes a significant amount of time and resources, so what are the benefits? 

Improves Audience Targeting

Using gated content can help improve your audience targeting if you ask the right questions. Including questions like these can help you get a better understanding of your audience:

  • What’s your job title?
  • How long have you been in the industry?
  • What part of the country are you in?

Validates Incoming Leads 

Lead validation is verifying and scoring the quality of the leads that a particular piece of content brings in. Using gated content helps you separate high-quality leads from low-quality ones and gives you a better picture of your target audience.

Ensures Effective Segmentation

Once you have a clear picture of your target audience, you can begin segmenting them by demographic, geographic location, level of experience, etc. From there, you work on creating separate campaigns to effectively reach each segment. 

Streamlines the Sales Process

Conducting outreach and following up with those who elected to access your gated content will be more effective because you have vital information about them. This information can help you make better suggestions and entice them to make a purchase. 

Nurtures Existing Leads

Once you’ve created your high-value gated content, send emails or text messages to your existing leads urging them to check it out. Doing this reengages their interest and brings them back into the sales process. 

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Benefits of Implementing Gated Content 

Implementing gated content into your marketing strategy can significantly impact your brand image, sales, customer following, and more. 

Gated content helps you: 

  • Build Your Email List. Putting high-quality content behind a form that requires an email address helps build your email list. It also helps ensure they’re high-quality leads. 
  • Increase Website Traffic. If you create high-quality, ungated content that consistently references back to your main piece of gated content, you will see traffic go up on your website. 
  • Foster Trust. If your business can consistently answer questions and deliver high-quality content, consumers will start to see your brand as an industry expert. This expertise helps foster a trustworthy brand image. People only do business with brands they trust.
  • Generate Engagement. Creating high-quality content that consumers want to share or discuss with their friends and colleagues provides valuable engagement for your business on the micro level. 
  • Provide a Better User Experience. Users who sign up to receive emails or text messages from your business benefit from a streamlined user experience. They’re the first to hear about updates, promotions, new releases, etc., and can take action more quickly.
  • Have Customer Insights. Including questions in your form about demographics, industry, and geographic location can give you invaluable insight into your customer base. 

When You Shouldn’t Use Gated Content

Although the use of gated content can be a great marketing strategy in many circumstances, there are some times when it’s not worthwhile.

Don’t use gated content for: 

  • Building Awareness. When you’re making people aware of your brand, you’re trying to expose as many people to it as possible. Putting up barriers like requiring information from your audience to view content isn’t a good idea at this point.
  • Low-Value Content. You want people to feel like they exchanged their information for something of value. Giving them low-value content may make them feel tricked and suspicious of your brand. 
  • Building Organic Traffic. When you’re attempting to rank for certain keywords and send more organic traffic to your website, gated content isn’t the answer. In those circumstances, you want as many people finding and coming to your website as possible. You want the barrier for entry to be low.  

Best Practices for Gated Content

You need to use gated content well and in the right circumstances for it to benefit your business. Following best practices will help you get the most from your efforts.

Gated content best practices include: 

  • Complete a Competitor Analysis. Consider what type of materials your competitors are offering without a gate. If it’s something you’re considering for gated content, you may want to reconsider as this could drive consumers to go to your competitor instead. Your gated content should be something greater than your target audience can get on your site or somewhere else.
  • Offer Strong Incentives. These incentives include discounts, the most up-to-date industry news, long-form content like e-books, etc. The most important thing is ensuring your content provides real value to your consumers. 
  • Use Effective CTAs. Using strong calls to action (CTAs) in your gated and ungated content will help drive conversions by identifying the next step for your audience. 
  • Keep the Process Simple. Keep the user journey in mind as you create and design your gated content. If the sign-up process becomes too confusing, consumers will likely lose interest and give up. 
  • Deliver on Promises. Perhaps the most important thing on this list is to deliver on promises. Failing to deliver the promised content or promotions can seriously damage your brand image and instill distrust in your customer. 

Strategies for Integrating Gated Content 

Ready to add some gated content to your content marketing plans? Use the following strategies to integrate gated content effectively.

  • Build Landing and Thank You Pages. A landing page typically includes a brand introduction, trust indicators, and a clear call to action. Thank you pages help reassure users that their request went through and tell them what to expect moving forward. 
  • Use Automation. Set up emails to go out automatically once someone signs up for your gated content and again a few days later. This lead nurturing can help keep your business fresh in their minds. 
  • Use A/B Testing. A/B testing — the practice of releasing two forms of the same piece of content and comparing their performance — can help you maximize your results by testing what works best 
  • Use Opt-Ins for Quizzes, Assessments, and Surveys. People often overlook these types of content when creating gated content, but they can deliver high value for consumers. 
  • Leverage Social Media to Generate Leads. Social media can be a fantastic resource for generating new leads. But it’s best to push gated content only after you’ve developed a strong brand image. 
  • Use Pop-Ups to Capture Leads. You can use pop-ups to offer discounts, limited-time offers, access to newsletters, and more in exchange for an email address or phone number. If you decide to use pop-ups, make sure they’re straightforward. 

Let Content Journey Guide You

Gated content can be a fantastic marketing tool to help grow your business. If you think it could benefit your business, but you want to make sure you’re doing it right, Content Journey is here to guide you. Contact us today.

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