If you are reading this article, the chances of you not knowing what gated content is are very slim. But just in case you are reading this article out of idle curiosity, let’s make it clear before we get into details. Gated content is a piece of content – an article, a study, a white paper, a video, a podcast or any other type of written or visual content – that is locked behind a form and requires registration to gain access.
Marketers choose to hide their content behind forms for the purpose of getting the user’s personal information, such as names, emails, phone numbers and other associated information. The philosophy behind this marketing tactic is simple: I give something useful to you and I want something in return. Fair enough.
Gated content is another quite powerful lead generation technique. Some marketers might say that gated content is dead for lead generation. However, statistics say that around 80% of all B2B content requires registration to access it. But gated content can actually turn into your marketing enemy if overused or improperly utilized. It might be quite hard to make a decision about when to gate content, which content to gate and whether it’s a good idea for your business in the first place.
Let’s imagine that your primary goal is lead generation, and you think you might give gates a shot. Unfortunately, this is not enough reason for gating your content and expecting it to work for your business. You can easily identify whether gates are the best option in your case. Check whether any or all of the following statements are true:
- Your company is a well-established enterprise with a certain level of authority
- Your content is useful and brings value to readers
- Your content is unique, meaning that none of your competitors have anything similar to it ungated
If any of the above statements is untrue, your efforts will be a waste of time. It is quite obvious why:
- Firstly, if no one knows about your brand, no one will trust you with their personal information. Your brand’s name has to speak for itself (at least within a particular niche) to inspire credibility.
- Secondly, you must be sure that your content is worth filling out an annoying form. Poor quality stuff can be found everywhere on the Internet, with no need to share personal information. Gating poor content will leave a bad impression about your company. In the future, how do you expect to market to people who wish they had never accessed your website in the first place?
- Last but not least, if your competitors offer content that elaborates on the same topic, but without asking anything in return, your gated piece of content does not make sense. It is a no-brainer.
Even if your company and the content you are looking to gate meet the requirements, do not rush into things. Here are still some facts you should keep in mind before you get busy gathering leads by gating your articles, videos, studies and whatever else you offer your users. The tactic of gated content has its pros and cons, which you had better be aware of.
Let’s start with the negative side.
#1 Gates are a barrier
No matter how you slice it, gates are a barrier. Forms take up users’ time to fill them out, and they raise suspicions about how you are going to use their personal information. “Will they send me a hundred emails?
Or will they call me once a day to push their products? No, I’m better off without this article.” In most cases, gates create friction which the majority of users will try to avoid.
#2 Gates make it harder to get links
If a user comes across a piece of content that he or she finds useful, it is more likely to be shared across social media platforms if it is freely accessible. Ungated content stands a better chance of being linked to from other resources, which is always great for SEO. Gates can make the difference between going viral or not.
#3 Gates form a negative brand perception
In most cases the requirement to fill out a form gives users a negative feeling. This feeling can occur at any stage of user interaction with the brand:
- When users are filling out the form (“I hate forms”)
- After filling it out (“Is that it? I had to fill it out a form for this?!! You must be kidding!”)
- When brands reach users by phone or email to sell their products or services (“I didn’t have any intention to buy anything from you, I just wanted that article”).
But, on the other hand, gates are not always a bad thing.
#1 Gates simplify audience analysis
Depending on what information you require your users to share in exchange for your content, you can get a better understanding of who your prospects are, where they come from and what they do for a living. By knowing your audience, you improve your chances of perfecting your marketing approach.
#2 Gates can create a sense of value
This one lies in human psychology. “If content is locked behind the form, then it must be something awesome.” Users might see a particular piece of gated content as valuable, useful and unique, simply because a website chooses to make it accessible only to those who are ready to invest some effort.
#3 Gates facilitate marketing outreach
You have a better chance of selling your product or service to someone who trusted you with their personal information than to those who did not. Moreover, there is a possibility that users who took the time to complete your forms have more interest in what you market, and trust your brand a bit more than those who abandon your content in favor of gate-free stuff.
Regardless of its drawbacks, you cannot deny that content gating is a powerful lead generation technique. Just be careful to not to abuse it. You can try to use a mixed approach to mitigate the drawbacks and enjoy the benefits at the same time. Whether you choose to gate your content or not, do not forget about A/B testing to find out what works best for your business.