Content: To Gate, or Not to Gate?

By Christy Hill — Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 at 11:00am

Content: To Gate or Not to Gate


Content: To Gate, or Not to Gate?

Gated content makes up a lot of content marketing. What is gated content and what is its purpose? Gated content is any content that is behind a form on your website (the form is the gate- get it?!). In order to access the content, the user must provide some information, be it an email address, phone number, company info, etc… Most of this content was created with the purpose of lead generation in mind. So, is gating your content a good idea or a bad idea? That depends- are you interested in having more views or are you interested in obtaining more leads.

Let’s look at some of the positives and negatives when it comes to gating content.

Gated Content is the Worst! Why Would You Do That? Whyyyyyyy?

First, let’s start with the obvious: If you gate your content, you’re gonna get some fake info. “Yay! Someone filled out my form! is such a cool email address! I wonder how they landed that gem? Waaaaaait a minute…” Well, that didn’t go as planned. Ouch.

Gated content is also not indexed by search engines. If a human can’t get past the form, neither can a bot. So, gated content does not help with your SEO and organic search presence.

Fewer people will see your content. When faced with a form, many visitors just don’t want to be bothered with filling it out or do not want to provide their personal information. If your content isn’t getting many views, you may feel like you did a lot of hard work for nothing.   

Gated Content is the Best! I Love Gated Content! 

When you require a form to be completed in order to access content, you will get better quality leads. The people who fill out your form are expressing interest in your product or service. 

Gating content is a great way to convert leads faster by identifying otherwise anonymous visitors and being able to reach out to them based on their activity on your site. You will get a better glimpse of where these visitors are in the buying process by the types of content they are viewing. Leads that go to only your ungated content may not be as targeted, so gating is a good way to separate the serious from the merely curious.  

Content that is gated is often perceived as more valuable than content that isn’t gated. In fact, many companies even charge for access to these types of content.

So, now that you’ve weighed some of the pros and cons of gating your content vs. leaving your content open, if you’re thinking you might like to give gating a shot, here are some tips for having a better chance of succeeding with your efforts!

What Types of Content Should You Gate?

You will find that most ebooks and webinar recordings, as well as many white papers are gated content. These types of content are typically require the most effort to produce and provide the most valuable information. Content that is also sensitive or product specific (stuff you might not want to just drop in your competitors’ laps, for example) is also a good candidate for gating. You might also consider gating content you want tied back to a customer’s viewing history.

What Types of Content Should Never Be Gated?

Blog posts, press releases, and articles about your company are a few examples of content that is in your best interests to make easily available (and shareable!). Blog posts are optimizable and can drive a lot of traffic to your website. Press releases and news stories are also items that get your name out there and let people know what is happening with your company and your industry.

 How Can You Make Gated Content More Effective?

One of the easiest ways to get a better response on your gated content is having forms that are short and simple. You can experiment with different types of forms to see which ones give the best results, but as a safe bet, try to keep your forms to 1-3 fields so people don’t feel like you’re asking for too much information. (And really- do you honestly need the name of their grandma’s cat? Unless your business is “Bob’s Emporium of Toys for Your Grandma’s Cat” you probably do not.)

Your first piece of content should be free. Provide some value up front to hook your reader, but provide a link to a more in-depth piece of content at the end, this time requiring your visitor to provide some contact information in exchange for access to the material.

Instead of just redirecting the reader to the content after filling out the form, you may want to send the content in an email to the address provided. This is a good way to test whether the respondent provided valid information- if they don’t provide a real email address, they won’t have access to the requested content.

Without some type of email or marketing automation system in place, gating your content might not be the best idea because you won’t have a way to nurture those leads until they are ready to speak to a sales rep. Not every reader who downloads content will be immediately ready to speak to someone, and even if they were, your sales team may not have the time to personally follow-up with each and every lead.

Finally, once you have decided to give gated content a shot, the only thing left to do is test, test, test! This is the only way to make sure your gated content is effectively generating leads. Some types of content will perform better ungated, others may be effective lead generating machines when put behind a form. When you’ve figured out the approach that works best for you, you may just find your leads are higher quality and much more likely to convert to sales! 


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