To Gate or Not to Gate – That is the Question…

The question of “to gate or not to gate” is not necessarily a new one. Yet given all the changes in the world of content marketing, we figured it was a good time to clear the air on the gate debate and surface both sides of the story. But like so many rules in marketing, the question really isn’t that black and white. Gated content is a small piece of a much larger picture, and needs to be looked out holistically.

Let’s dig deeper into the pros and cons of gate-keeping content and how to determine if it’s the best idea for your business.

What is gated content?

Gated content is any content that can only be accessed only after a website visitor has provided some sort of personal information.

The most common forms of gated content include:

  • Ebooks
  • White papers
  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Slideshows

The Upside of Gating Content

  • More Leads

A potential customer who reads your content may not be ready to purchase your product or service quite yet. Instead of just allowing these website visitors to gather research and leave your site, however, gated content presents them with an option to gain some sort of valuable information in exchange for their contact info. Without a gate in place, there would have been no way to gain that lead.

  • Perceived Value

Giving something away for free can imply that it doesn’t have much value. Getting a prospective lead to “invest” by providing contact information in exchange for content not only increases the value to your visitor, it makes them more likely to consume your content since they took the extra step to get it.

  • Better Quality Leads

Leads from free content sources or social media may not be primed to purchase your product or service, since they are simply taking advantage of free information. Leads coming to you from gated content, however, are statistically much more likely to convert.  Providing contact information proves that they are interested enough to invest in your content – which, not coincidentally, gives you a way to follow up with them.

  • Targeted Lead Nurturing

Based on the content a lead has requested, you can gain a good sense of what part of your business they are interested in. With that information, you can target that lead with more information pertaining to that specific interest. The more you can target your marketing to these leads’ specific interests, the higher your conversion rates will climb.

The Downside of Gated Content

If gated content is great for all of the aforementioned reasons, why would anyone not do it? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons some marketers shy away from this tactic.

  • Untouched Content

The gate can be the death of your potential opportunity to impress a visitor. Instead of moving forward with your content, the visitor may get annoyed and leave the site without ever finding out how your product or service can help them.

  • Lead Animosity

While interested visitors may download your content, it’s likely they’re not ready to buy. If those people start receiving solicitations from you that they don’t actually want, they might end up feeling annoyed and avoid doing business with you in the future.

  • Fake Leads

Many visitors try to bypass content gates by supplying false information. I can’t tell you how many times Michael Jackson has emailed me from beyond the grave. Depending on your sales cycle, this may lead to wasted effort by you or your team.

  • Goodbye Search Engines

When you put your content behind a gate it means that the content is blocked – not just from users who don’t fill out the form, but also from search engine bots. If a search engine can’t read your content, it can’t rank your content.

Should I gate my content?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule as to whether or not a company should gate their content. After all, each business’s information and sales cycle are different.

However, there are some best practices concerning what to gate:

  • The information should be extremely valuable – not just marketing-speak
  • It shouldn’t be available from your competitors for free
  • It should relate to leads that are actually interested in becoming your customer

Still not sure? Let talk…