To gate or not to gate, that is the question.
There are big benefits to gating your content, but that doesn’t mean you should be doing it for every piece of content you create. If you did, you’d lose out on lots of traffic from people who are looking for quick access to the resources that they need. You’d also miss out on an opportunity to display your company’s thought leadership capabilities to a wide audience.
The best approach is to strike a balance between your gated and non-gated content, utilizing both methods of content sharing to expand your audience, boost your brand’s authority, and drive more traffic and conversions.
So how do you do it? Keep reading to learn how to identify when your content should be gated and when it shouldn’t — plus why gating content is important in the first place.
What is Gated Content?
Gated content refers to any piece of content that requires site visitors to fill out a website form before they can access it. Generally, these forms request contact information such as a name and email address. Once the information is provided, the content is available for download or is emailed.
Benefits of Gated Content
Any piece of content that you create for your brand is driven toward your larger marketing goals. Unlike blog posts and on-demand assets, though, gated content is designed to offer very rapid, very tangible returns.
We’ve talked about the benefits of creating gated content before, but here’s a quick overview of the reasons that you definitely want to include at least some gated pieces in your content marketing strategy:
increased lead flow. High-quality gated content takes time and effort to create. Do it right, though, and you’ll attract high-quality leads in return. When seeking out information, people are looking for both value and original insight — and when they find it, they’re usually willing to exchange something for it.
It’s great for building your contact list. Gated content is one of the best ways to help your brand build up a robust contact list for your email marketing efforts. Just be sure that in addition to requesting a lead’s email address, you also include a direct option for opting-in to your email, such as a box that must be checked consenting to your newsletter.
It helps you with segmentation. Segmenting your contact list is just as important as growing it. Use your gated content form to gather essential data that can help you decide how you should target specific leads, such as asking for information on industry, job title, and budget. Just don’t get too nosy — you don’t want to lose out on contacts because you made the form too invasive or long.
It boosts your SEO. Any well-researched, well-written piece of content that you produce has the capacity to garner interest from other reputable sites. Because of the nature of their format, gated content tends to fit the bill, offering original insights that can’t be sourced elsewhere. This means more backlinks and mentions — and ultimately, more SEO prowess, as backlinks are the most important ranking factor.
When to Gate Your Content
If people are going to be offering up their information to you in order to access a piece of content, it needs to be worth it. Besides their modes of access, there’s a difference between gated content and general content in terms of quality and effort. While you obviously try to achieve both of those things with everything you create, there’s a much stronger expectation with your gated pieces that readers will find something they can’t get anywhere else.
Any piece of content that you choose to gate should have a few key elements, including substantial information, highly unique tips, and/or proprietary data. Some examples of the types of content that fit the bill include:
- Long-form content or ebooks
- Extensive guides that outline a tried-and-true process or explain things that are difficult to master
- Tutorials on your product
- Data-driven reports that provide insights into a particular industry or audience base
In all instances, before you decide to gate a piece of content, ask yourself if you’re giving as much as you’re getting in return. You don’t want to risk disappointing your readers, especially when the goal is to gain more qualified leads and contacts.
Remember: the goal here is balance. Your content marketing strategy should cover both gated and non-gated content, with the latter coming out on a more consistent basis and the former coming out on a schedule that aligns with your content creation process. By coming up with a plan in advance, you give yourself time to gather the information needed to create killer gated content, whether that’s through surveys, studies, or other research endeavors.
Both gated and non-gated content serve an important role when it comes to gaining more leads and making more sales. When you include both types in your strategy, you ensure that you’re dotting your Is and crossing your Ts for the most effective content strategy possible.