To gate or not to gate is a common question among marketers. The truth is, there isn't necessarily a straightforward answer to this question. There are several reasons why you might want your prospective customers to give their contact information to access your content. Similarly, you may have valid reasons for keeping your content free and accessible without requiring your readers' contact information. It all comes down to your goals, objectives, and marketing collateral.
What Is Gated Content?
Gated content refers to the type of content that is only accessible to a viewer when they give out their contact information, usually by submitting a form on a landing page. This information may include their email address, name, business name, and industry.
Most of the time, gated content offers in-depth and valuable information to the readers. This content includes webinars, eBooks, guides, newsletters, templates, white papers, and virtual events. You can think of gated content as a transaction that doesn't involve money. The provider offers something of unique value. In exchange, the recipient is happy to provide their contact information with the implication that the provider may market their services to them in the future.
Pros Of Gated Content
- It allows you to capture several email addresses. This, in turn, increases the number of your leads
- You can easily forecast the number of leads you'll get within a particular period, say a month
- It can add perceived value to your content. If all you have is ungated content, people might perceive your content like just any other content on the internet that doesn't offer much value
- It segments your audience by revealing who is more interested in what you offer. This allows you to focus more on those who are interested
- It helps you open a line of communication with your customers since you already have their contact information. That means you will not rely on the consumer solely to initiate conversations. Instead, you can rekindle their interest in your product or services using email campaigns.
Cons Of Gated Content
- It can deter potential leads if they don't want to give out their contact information. Not everyone is comfortable with giving out their contact information to gain access to a piece of content
- It requires you to create content which is actually worthy of being gated, which takes much time and resources (i.e., is this good enough that someone would trade their contact information for it?)
- It can lead to the loss of potential leads
- There are no SEO benefits with this type of content
What Is Ungated Content?
Ungated content is the type of content that a viewer doesn't have to give out any information to access. Instead, they are free to browse and scan it at leisure. Essentially, most of the internet. Ungated content is critical in the buyer's journey, as it helps build trust in the early cycles, which encourages prospects to exchange their contact information later. In most cases, ungated content is used at the initial stage of the buyer's journey to make them familiar with the products or services a brand offers. It's also used to boost engagement and drive traffic.
Examples of ungated content include educational videos, blog posts, pillar pages, podcasts, and infographics.
Pros Of Ungated Content
- It can bring you impressive SEO results
- It promotes a greater reach since readers can share content besides reading it. Additionally, people won't leave simply because they were requested to give out their contact information to access your content
- It helps your audience build trust in your brand
Cons Of Ungated Content
- It leads to potential leads lost since you don't get the crucial details of the readers of your content
- Readers might not perceive you as a leader in your industry since they might see your content like any other they find on search engines
How To Choose Between the Two
Consider Your Audience
If you want to reach a bigger audience, ungating your content is usually the way to go. People are more likely to access your content and go through it when there are no barriers. Also, ungated content is significantly more likely to be shared. After building initial trust with your audience, you can then proceed to gated content by using more relevant content.
Consider The Amount of Traffic A Content Topic Is Generating
If there is a content topic that has been generating impressive traffic, you might want to take advantage of it and gate it. Such a topic might signify that the content is of great value, and users would not mind giving out their contact information to access it.
Another common practice when addressing an important topic is to use a combination of gated and ungated content. You can use ungatged content like blog posts and videos, all of which include a call-to-action for a more comprehensive, valuable resource that you can gate behind a landing page.
Know Which Goals You Want to Meet
Considering the goals you wish to meet should guide you on whether to gate or to ungate. For example, if your goal is to reach a bigger audience, ungating content is the way to go. Once again, when you put barriers to the accessibility of content, you limit its shareability, which deters your efforts to reach out to a bigger audience.
Additionally, if your goal is to enhance your SEO benefits, you should consider using ungated content. If you have just created a website that doesn't have a lot of traffic, gating your content isn't advisable, as no one will see it.
If you want to increase leads, gated content can help you achieve your goals.
Consider Whether Your Content Is Valuable Enough to Be Gated
It would be so frustrating for readers to share their contact information and then click a link only to find obvious, half-baked content. That's why it's advisable to only gate content that is very valuable and offers quality information.
Although you might consider yourself lucky after getting the contact information of prospective customers, you may end up losing their trust if the content they get doesn't meet their expectations.
Know What You Intend to Do with The Collected Contact Information
There would be no point in collecting contact information if you don't have a strategy on how to use it. Only gate content when you have a plan on what to do with leads you collect. Even if that plan is just to send a monthly email newsletter to everyone that converted on one of your gated content offers.
- Always anchor your content strategy in an ecosystem of rich, ungated content to improve SEO and share your content with a wider audience.
- If the goal is to reach more people, always stick with ungated content.
- If the goal is to convert subscribers and/or leads, gated content can work, provided the content itself is valuable enough to warrant the "free paywall" of a contact form.
- Test and learn. If you have content on your site that is exploding with traffic and engagement, that could be a signal its in high-demand. You may want to experiment with gating some pieces of it, provided that aligns with your strategy. On the other hand, if your gated content isn't converting well, consider ungating it to allow more people to see it.
- Ultimately, your job is to serve an audience. That must be abundently clear to everyone who follows you or consumes your content. If your marketing goals ever appear to get in the way of providing real, substantive value, your marketing metrics will likely soon reflect that. Show up. Be helpful. Use common sense.
By the way, here's a great video on this subject from an authority on content marketing, Ross Simmonds.
Now that you understand more about gated and ungated content, you can be able to choose the best for your brand. You can also integrate the two to enjoy the best of the two worlds. Just consider things like your objectives and the quality of your content. You also need to be strategic on what you do with the contact information collected before gating content.
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