Gated Vs. Ungated Marketing Content: What It Is and How to Decide

Nov 16, 2020
To Gate or Not to Gate Your Content

Content has become one of the most important components of your marketing mix. Marketing content has many benefits, from awareness to education to lead generation. With so many options, the question then becomes whether your content should be gated or ungated. You don’t want to lose prospects by gating content that could push interest forward without immediate data collection, but you still want to collect data as often as possible.  

What Does Gating Content Mean and Why Is It Important? 

Gating content is a marketing tactic used in lead generation campaigns. The idea is to connect the right content to prospects through ongoing nurturing communications that build relationships and convert to sales. Gating content uses online web forms to capture users’ contact information. It converts anonymous visitors into leads by offering them high-value, unique content that addresses their needs.

Identifying when to put marketing assets behind a form and when to keep them publicly available is critical to keeping prospects engaged in the buying cycle. In fact, some research has shown around 80% of B2B content marketing assets are gated. 

A common question that comes up when considering gating is: Does gating content improve relationship-building or does it increase the possibility of losing prospects due to inconvenience? There is no simple answer to whether gated content will chase some prospects away. There will always be someone who doesn’t want to fill out the form, and there will always be a prospect who wants to learn more about your product or service and doesn’t mind sharing contact information.  

What we can say is that gating the wrong content at the wrong time in the customer’s journey and using intrusive forms can deter prospects from continued engagement with your business. Alternatively, gating the right content at the right time makes positive first impressions, nurtures continued engagement and builds trust by helping prospects understand what your business does and how it will resolve their pain points. Here’s a good general rule: If you don’t have the following, it’s not time to gate: 

  • A solid buyer persona 
  • A lot of content to share (gated or ungated) 
  • A solid customer journey map 
  • A nurture campaign plan 

Types of Gated and Ungated Content 

What to gate and what not to gate? If your goal is to establish thought leadership, grow brand awareness and increase site traffic, we recommend leaving most content ungated to allow search engines to index it and make it easier for prospects to find your business. These objectives are best met when content is easy to find and shareable. As you begin to create more content and gain more attention, you can begin a more sophisticated gating plan. 

Pro Tip: In order to optimize SEO and prospect interest, offer “teaser” content on the download page.  

Examples of ungated content types include:

  • Articles 
  • Blogs 
  • Case Studies 
  • Graphics (images, GIFs, memes) 
  • Infographics 
  • Lists 
  • Press Releases 
  • Short Tutorials 
  • Video Teasers 

Also consider the level of value the content delivers. While all content can have value, white papers and eBooks offer your brand’s unique perspective, expertise and solution. A gated form is key if your goal is leveraging that high-value content to drive conversions, start conversations and convert to sales. 

Examples of gated content types include: 

  • Contests 
  • Cheat Sheets 
  • Checklists 
  • Demos 
  • eBooks 
  • Guides 
  • White Papers 
  • Webinars 
  • Templates and Tools 
  • Training Videos 

Timing Is Everything

It is important to consider the timing of when different assets are made available to prospects during your nurture campaigns. Again, there is no simple formula for this. Ultimately, mapping marketing assets on a case-by-case basis and using your unique customer journey is most effective. 

It is important to monitor your gated and ungated content and to understand how it is performing. There are many benefits to this type of analysis. First, you will learn which of your content pieces are garnering attention and if you might need a different strategy to promote your content. 

It is important that your content strategy is created to encompass the entire buying cycle. This will support all marketing and provide answers to problems at specified times, which should result in greater trust in your brand. Over time, this trust grows into a genuine connection that typically drives conversion. As your prospects begin to feel your brand will truly provide the service or product they need to address their pain points, you will have a confident buyer. 

Are you ready to develop your content marketing strategy and plan but don’t know where to start? Register for our Build a Breakthrough Content Strategy and Plan course. This course guides you through the creation of a content marketing strategy tailored to your business and a ready-to-execute plan that drives interest and action for more leads—moving more quickly—through your sales funnel. 

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