A question marketers frequently ask themselves when producing a piece of content is how do we present it to our audience? Do we give it away or should we request the reader’s information in exchange for the content?
It, of course, depends on your ultimate goal for the content. There are pros and cons to each strategy. Inbound marketing is genuine. It’s about creating something which appeals, educates and enlightens your target market. Earning their attention, rather than paying for it. And one of the critical components of inbound marketing is gated content.
What is Gated Content?
Gated content is any content which can only be accessed once a website visitor has provided lead information. It’s also one of the top lead generation strategies out there. It’s estimated that as much as 80% of B2B content marketing assets are gated. Marketers use gated content to generate leads by providing prospects with valuable information in exchange for their name, email address, industry, title, and other contact information. This type of content can be a variety of content marketing assets such as whitepapers, videos, ebooks, product demos, or case studies.
How does it work?
It works by incentivising lead generation. A previous brand touch-point (often your blog) will have convinced your website traffic that you know what you’re talking about. You know your stuff, so you’re worth hearing from. You’ve also created something valuable and comprehensive.
Look at it as one step on from someone subscribing to your blog – this has provided you with valuable lead information which enables you to nurture them into a sale.
Why should I be using gated content?
Gated content is one of the best ways to capture valuable lead information at the same time as you’re generating qualified leads. Gates are a content marketing staple because they are a powerful tool for lead generation. Gating your content isn’t always the best strategy for maximising the viewership of your ebook or report but every qualified lead is worth several readers.
When to use gated and ungated content
Are you trying to generate leads or increase brand awareness? Those are the questions that marketers must answer when determining whether or not to add a gate to content. The ideal scenario is to generate leads while also increasing the number of views for your content.
One way to do this is to use gates only at certain points in your marketing funnel. Gating content early in the marketing funnel can scare away prospects who could use your business as a solution to their problem. By waiting until later to use gates, you increase your brand visibility at the top of the marketing funnel while still generating leads in the middle and bottom of the funnel.
- The awareness stage: The prospect knows they have a problem, but they don’t know much about your business. Useful content for this stage includes blogs, infographics, podcasts, ebooks, and white papers. Most prospects know very little about your brand and have yet to trust you. Removing the gate from content in this stage can improve your brand’s visibility and enhance your credibility with prospects.
- The consideration stage: Prospects are beginning to see your brand as an authority in your industry and a potential solution to their problem. Content for this stage often includes webinars, software downloads, and case studies. As prospects move down the marketing funnel ness, they will be more likely to be willing to fill out a form in order to access this content.
- The decision stage: The prospect decides whether your brand’s products and services can meet their needs. Try offering free consultations, product demos, and free trials.
There are trade-offs to gating content just as there are with any other marketing technique. Gating your content is done primarily to generate leads. There are other reasons to gate your content such as that the content is too valuable to give up for free, or you want to deliver the content to truly interested parties. The downside is that once you position the content behind a form, your content won’t be seen as much. Your ungated blog post is much more likely to go viral than your gated ebook.
Ungated content may not generate leads but it does increase your brand’s visibility and build trust with prospects. You can get an SEO boost as well with more web traffic and inbound links.
Ask yourself the following questions when making the decision to gate your content or not.
What’s your objective?To build brand awareness or to generate leads? For brand awareness, ungated content is likely the better option, however for Lead generation, gated content is superior because visitors must complete a form with their information before they can access your offer.
What do your competitors do? If your competitors are offering the same content without agate, then adding a form to your version can put you at a competitive disadvantage.
Is the content valuable enough? Some content isn’t valuable enough to be gated. Make sure that your content is providing significant value to your prospects before you ask them for their contact information. Think 10-page ebook or a free trial.
How do you define a ‘quality lead’? Think about what the minimum amount of information you need to nurture a lead? A long form often reduces the chances that prospects will convert.
While you definitely do not want to gate all of your content, a balance between gated and free content will prove your expertise and heighten the value of your relationship with your audience.