This post was updated October 2018 for accuracy and relevance.
If you’re struggling to generate leads or drive conversions, you may want to consider creating more gated content offers. Gated content is a powerful lead generation tool, but it can be hard to execute.
Here, we’ll look at how to decide when to gate content, and provide a few examples of gated content for inspiration. First, let’s clarify the meaning of gated content.
What is Gated Content?
Gated content is any content that can only be accessed after users have provided you with information such as their name and email address. The content is usually more in-depth and useful than “standard” content, so users are more willing to give up their information. You can then use this lead information to build email lists and drive conversions.
Does Gated Content Work?
Marketers have long debated the merits of gating content. While it can be great for lead generation because it requires users to enter their information to gain access, it doesn’t help your SEO and many readers will simply not be interested in trading their information for it. As a result, your great content will have a much smaller reach if it’s gated.
But if lead generation is an important part of your marketing engine, then gated content has clear value:
- According to a BIA/Kelsey Local Commerce Monitor report, 58% of SMBs rated online forms as a good source of sales leads.
- Similarly, Copyblogger found that gating valuable content increased their email signups by 400%.
Even better, the leads that do come in through gated content tend to be higher quality. When Debra Ellis, founder of Wilson and Ellis Consulting, offered an ungated white paper, it was downloaded much more than when it was gated. However, those who filled in the form to receive the same content were generally high-quality leads which could then be followed up with.
How to Decide If Content Should Be Gated
So what kinds of content should be gated, and when should it be used? To help you decide, try to answer the following questions:
- Do you want to build brand awareness or generate leads? For building brand awareness, ungated content may be the best option.
- Is the content valuable enough to be gated? Make sure the content is worthy of being gated. If your competitors already offer similar content that is ungated, it could give them the competitive advantage.
- What information do you need to gather quality leads? Longer forms with multiple fields may provide you with more lead information, but asking for too much information will put off some users.
Ideally, you want to increase content visibility and generate leads at the same time. To do this, you need to use the right kind of gated content at specific points in the marketing funnel. The three primary stages are:
The Awareness Stage
Here, prospects have a certain problem and are looking for more information about your business and its solutions. Blog posts, infographics, and ebooks are all useful for this type of prospect. It might be smarter to ungate these forms of content to increase readership and strengthen your credibility.
The Consideration Stage
During this stage, prospects already see your business as a potential solution. Provide gated content that digs deeper into the solutions you offer. This could include white papers, guides, in-depth blog posts, videos, and case studies.
The Decision Stage
Prospects are closer to a buying decision and are more likely to want access to gated content if it promises concrete solutions. Gated content could include free consultations, FAQs, customer stories, product demos, and free product trials.
The fourth stage of the marketing funnel is loyalty, and while content marketing is a great way to keep your loyal customer engaged, gating that content doesn’t not make a lot of sense because you don’t need to generate a lead for an existing customer.
Examples of Gated Content
Here are some of the most popular forms of gated content to include in your content marketing mix:
Ebooks, Guides, and White Papers
These types of content are great for explaining complex topics and establishing your company as an authority in your industry. Users can download a PDF or gain access to your email newsletter which features exclusive content.
Business intelligence platform provider BrightGauge provides prospects with various in-depth guides to boost leads and grow their email list.
Templates and Product Demos
BrightGauge also offers gated content such as templates and product demos alongside links to their blog content. Even though some of their forms require users to fill out more fields, genuine leads won’t see this as a barrier.
Presenting new data to your audience is a great way to build your credibility. HubSpot achieves this through its annual marketing report by sending out surveys and compiling the results.
How does your company solve real-world problems? Use examples to create a case study based on your experience. Highlight how your solutions can help others in the same boat.
Videos and Email Courses
Consider gating video demonstrations of your product or service, or offer a weekly series of emails to educate your audience on a particular topic.
Content upgrades give readers access to additional content. For example, when reading a blog post, users are asked for their email address to receive more in-depth information about the topic.
They work because they’re not too invasive and are relevant to the content already being viewed. In a Backlinko blog post about Google ranking factors, users are given multiple opportunities to download a checklist that supports the post.
Getting the Most Out Of Gated Content
To ensure your gated content is successful, here are a few general tips:
1. Offer Value First
Before asking for a reader’s information, make sure they get some value from you or at least get a good sense of the value you’ll provide with your gated content. Repurpose tiny sections of gated content into blog posts, infographics or social media quotes as a preview.
2. Create a Dedicated Landing Page
Create a landing page that highlights the value of your gated content.
3. Keep Form Short
Just ask for a name and email address.
4. Choose the Right Channels
To get traffic and leads, you need to find out where your audience already is. What works for one company with a certain type of content won’t necessarily yield the same results for others.
5. Use Action-Oriented, Personalized CTAs
Instead of a button that simply reads “submit,” try “Get my free report,” or “Send me the case study.”
Finding the Right Balance
Using ungated content in the early stages of the marketing funnel can increase content visibility, build trust with prospects, and boost your search engine rankings. However, if you want to generate quality leads, offering gated content to prospects further down the marketing funnel is a must.
The best content strategy uses a mixture of both. It’s about finding the right balance so that your content helps you achieve multiple goals all at once.