One of the many goals of lead generation is to capture information for remarketing purposes. That is why you will find many companies asking for your name and email address in exchange for a checklist or an ebook. And then sometimes you will find companies that provide a direct link to a piece of content and don’t require that contact information. This is the core difference between gated and ungated content.
What is gated content?
Gated content is a valuable content piece that is provided to you, as the website visitor, in exchange for key contact information.
The type of information that can be asked for includes a name, email, address, company name, phone number, details on their project, position title, and any other type of information specific to qualifying a lead. And these details are taken by a website form that can be provided by a marketing & CRM platform.
Once the visitor exchanges their information for the content asset, they’ll have direct access to the content through a landing page or the content asset will be sent by email.
Should you gate every piece of content?
I often hear this question asked by clients, and it’s a very good one. Marketers will argue this question for hours, but typically, we agree collectively that if the content asset is providing a significant amount of value (or it’s at an important level of your audience journey), then it makes total sense to gate that piece of content.
But I believe that we should think very carefully about what to make gated and ungated in our content strategy. And I believe that decision is based around the customer experience that you want to provide to your website visitors.
Content is an experience for our audience. We have to remember this when we’re in the process of creating, publishing, and distributing content. Content tells our audience who we are, what we value, how we can help them—and it over time builds trust and authenticity through consistent content messaging.
When to use gated content (and when not to use it)
Gated content is valuable for many types of marketing goals. The most common goal is lead generation, and the marketing team has it on their agenda to collect information & to generate leads for the sales team to follow up on. This is most commonly where gated content is useful. It provides the team with key information to build a customer’s story (and to decide if the customer is a marketing qualified lead (MQL)).
However, if your main goal is brand awareness, relationship building, or authority building. It might be a better strategy to leave pieces of content ungated. This is mainly because these types of pieces are first touch instances or the start of growing a relationship.
Just like it would be weird to ask for a phone number at a networking event, gating too much information at the beginning of a relationship might be offset with the customer.
And that brings you to also consider the audience journey level of the gated content piece. It’s in your best interest to use gated content at specific levels of the audience journey. Most commonly, a marketer will gate content that is in one of these phases.
- Awareness level: At this point, the customer knows of their challenge but they don’t know about a possible solution. Content like infographics, blog posts, ebooks, and podcasts are great content assets to build awareness on specific challenges.
- Consideration level: At this point, the customer understands their challenge thoroughly, and they’re now actively looking for a solution. Usually, they’re looking for more detailed specifics on how to solve x/y/z—and they’re looking for partners to help them solve the challenge. Content like use cases, case studies, testimonials, storytelling, webinars, and demo sessions are valuable at this level.
Both levels are important. But think about it: Would you want to discourage a long term relationship by issuing a gated content piece too soon?
How to decide if you should gate your content
But brand awareness isn’t the only time that a company should choose not to gate a valuable content piece. You also have to ask yourself if the content piece is truly valuable.
Imagine if you were offered a promise that a certain content piece would solve your challenge. Once downloaded, it’s a thin piece of content without much value. You’d most likely be upset, a bit angry, and not very excited to keep engaging with that company.
Is your content piece valuable enough to gate?
It’s an important question to ask because often enough the content piece isn’t valuable enough. Consider these few questions when you’re deciding if (or if not) to gate a piece of content.
- Could the customer easily find this gated content topic as a blog post on your competitor’s website?
- Is this gated content asset a quality topic that would jumpstart your sales funnel and lead to possible sales conversations?
- Does this content asset introduce a core topic that is related to your product (or service)?
Consider these few questions carefully when deciding the difference between gated and ungated content. And remember everything doesn’t have to be gated on your website.
At MTC, we decided not to gate our buyer persona template because this is valuable information (but also widely provided on the internet). It’s not a very competitive gated content piece, and it doesn’t offer much more value than what other templates currently are providing on the internet.
Think carefully when deciding what to gate and not to gate for your lead generation strategy. Keep customer experience in mind—and don’t gate information that can easily (& freely) be obtained from a competitor.