Is gated content still a good idea?

5 min read

Is gated content still a good idea?

“To gate, or not to gate, that is the question”. It’s a little-known fact that the great debate on whether to gate your content was first considered by William Shakespeare back in 1603. Ok, maybe we’re exaggerating a little bit, but it does FEEL like the debate has been going on for that long. 

Today, there are strong opinions on either side of this…gate… (see what we did there?) Love it or hate it, gating content is at the heart of most b2b marketing strategies. However, there are lots of articles doing the rounds just now urging b2b marketers to ungate all their content.

The ability that gated content has to generate high quality leads is definitely difficult to argue against - but we’re not ones to shy away from a challenge. So, is pushing someone into a conversion funnel that they aren’t ready for really the best strategy? Let’s get stuck in and figure it out. 

What is gated content?

First of all, let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page. Gated content is any type of content that is kept behind a lead capture form. In other words, if you must provide any kind of personal information, like an email address, to access the content, then it is gated.

Gated content is usually billed as being a ‘premium’ offering, with common examples including eBooks, white papers, videos and in-depth reports.

Got it? Good! Let’s get into it, then!

Benefits of gating content

Let’s start with the positives: there’s a reason that gating content is so prevalent in the industry - it works…kind of. What we mean by that is - if you’re looking to prioritise high-quality lead generation over page views - then it works. 

Often, the people who are prepared to bare their souls - or in this case their email addresses - are those who are more heavily interested in your business. So, if you’re looking to separate the wheat from the chaff then it can be beneficial to gate the content as it goes some way towards cutting out the weaker leads.

Gating content also allows you to gain valuable insight into the type of people who are interested in your company. The details they provide to access your content can be nurtured in a much more personal way and can help to forge stronger relationships between you and them.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong! Because there is always another side to the story…

Cons of gating content

Sure, getting access to a higher quality of lead is great - not even we can argue with that. But is it worth losing countless other potential leads who are put off by having to part with their personal information? This is exactly the dilemma you face when gating content.

Ironically, despite so much of our lives being in the digital space, more people than ever are protective of their personal details. Sure - they’re happy to share that questionable selfie with anybody “lucky” enough to follow their social channels. But the thought of giving up their personal information - even for something they might genuinely be interested in - is a massive turn off. 

Gating content, therefore, is quite literally creating a barrier to building awareness of your brand and increasing your reach. Not only are you limiting the number of people who have access to your offering, you’re also missing out on the potential knock-on impact of likes and shares. 

That’s because gated content is so much less likely to be shared by your audience. Think about it like this - if your audience isn't totally sure about giving you their information in exchange for your content, why would they expect their audience to do it?

Here’s another way to consider this issue. Imagine the all-important hook that changes a prospective lead into a sale is exactly what you’ve hidden behind that gate. You’ve just turned away business all for the sake of an email address…but which would you rather have?

A hybrid solution

So, if you’re still with us by this point, you’ll be somewhere around the understanding that gating content is highly effective…but also highly ineffective too… Confused? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

Turns out, rather than coming down on one side or the other the best case is simply to sit on the fence - or in this case, the gate! (Last pun, we promise). The trick is ensuring you gate the right content at the right time on your customer’s journey. Lucky for you, we’ve thrown together a few tips for you to get you started.

1. Audit all your currently gated assets 

Take some time to go through your gated assets, noting down things like how many views and downloads you got for each of them over the last two years.

2. Pick out the best of the bunch

Take note of the top content assets that are still generating a healthy number of leads. You may also want to consider updating them to keep them relevant. 

3. Hub and Spoke

Take the time to think about how you can develop new, ungated content that is connected to your gated content to further boost your leads. Read more about the hub and spoke approach here.

4. Freedom!!!

To paraphrase Mel ‘Braveheart’ Gibson himself: “they may take their email addresses, but they’ll never take your content’s FREEDOM!!!!” Make a plan for all that juicy content no one is reading, open the gate and let the people in. 

Taking this hybrid path won’t only feel a lot less risky, it will also help you gain a better understanding of the type of content your audience is engaging with. Ensure you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and ungate all your content in one go, this will also allow you to fully appreciate whether you even need it at all.

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