What Is Gated Content: Lead Gen Hero or Marketing Villain

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The ultimate goal behind any content strategy is to convert more leads into sales. And for a number of businesses, using gated content to generate leads and increase sales has become a go-to strategy. So, what is gated content? How does it work? What are gated content best practices? And when should you ungate content? We'll discuss all this, and a lot more in this blog post.

What is gated content?

Gated content refers to those pages that can be accessed by the user only upon sharing some information and/or answering some questions, e.g., name of the user, email ID of the user, contact information, organization, position in the organization, and organization size.

However, gated content is not hidden behind a paywall. The only purpose is to gather user information that can be used later for generating effective leads and for conversions into sales. The content though is usually long-form, informative, academic, or in some other way of a distinctively premium character.

How does gated content work?

Once users arrive at your website, they will see a CTA or pop-up that offers a content piece in exchange for some information. It will lead them to a landing page where the visitor will get more information on the content offered. 

Gated content admittedly doesn't lead to higher traffic. It cannot be used for the purpose of brand awareness or visibility campaigns, because hidden content will never bring more users to the page. However, marketers can still use it for lead generation by gathering user information and attracting leads. The purpose behind gated content is to target a very specific audience with a high conversion rate. 

Gated content examples

Besides understanding the concept of gated content, you also need to have a broad idea of what forms it can take. The type of gated content you use will depend on the kind of issue that you are addressing. As such, the following are some of the appropriate gated content examples- 

  1. White Paper
  2. Ebook
  3. Templates
  4. Webinar

Gated vs. Ungated content

While gated content is hidden content that can be accessed only after the user shares some information, ungated content is openly available. It can be accessed without sharing any information prior to gaining access. Moreover, while gated content is used for lead generation, ungated content is meant for improving brand awareness and enhancing the SEO factor.

The kinds of content that are gated or ungated also differ. While gated content falls in the premium category like white papers, ebooks, or webinars, ungated content is usually in the form of blog posts, infographics, or YouTube videos. As such, gated content has the following pros and cons.

Pros of gated content 

  • Improves lead generation.
  • Helps the sales team. 
  • Helps you understand your audience.

Cons of gated content

  • No Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • No incentive for higher traffic. 
  • No brand awareness or visibility. 
  • Lack of interest amongst users to access hidden content. 

Should I include Gated content in my overall strategy?

Any kind of content that you use for your business should be a part of your overall strategy. Gated content should be a matter of strategy and not used as a tactic. Once, you understand what is gated content, you will realize that you actually cannot end up gating all content that you publish.

Both gated and ungated content are valuable for you. When and how you use them depends entirely on your understanding of the audience to be targeted and the purpose to be served.

Also, you need to realize what kind of content will help boost your SEO strategy and brand visibility, and which type of content will help you bring in more effective leads.

Now, that you have understood what kind of content is to be gated, you also need to understand gated content best practices.

Gated content best practices

Create content for each stage of the buyer's journey 

Every buyer goes through three specific stages in the buyer journey- awareness stage, consideration stage, and decision stage. Your gated content should address each of these stages.

At the awareness stage, your target audience is looking to educate themselves about a particular problem or issue. So, at this stage, the content should be informative, e.g. an ebook. Next comes the consideration stage at which the user has understood the problem/ issue and intends to research it. And finally comes the decision stage, where a video demo or a webinar may help the user take the final call.

Do a competitive analysis

Businesses tend to face cut-throat competition. You always have to be a step ahead of your competitors. So, keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and ensure that you do make content offers that keep you a notch above your competitors.

Incentivize your content

Gated content is a hidden marketing asset. It creates no brand awareness or visibility and doesn't serve your SEO strategy either.

Still, your gated content should carry some value for the user and shouldn't lack substance. When your content is valuable, more users will fill out the information form and help you in generating effective leads.

Create a proper landing page

Once a user clicks a CTA and is then redirected to a landing page, the page should carry a strong & compelling copy, and generate a proper form. Only when you get your user's undivided attention, will you be able to generate quality leads.

Segmenting your audience

Once your audience downloads the gated content, you will receive their email address.

So, for proper use of the information that you gathered, you must segment your audience and chalk out an effective email marketing campaign. Once you start sending out nurturing emails, you will be able to leverage the leads you generated.

Track your progress

In the case of ungated content, the progress you have made shows up naturally. You see your brand becoming more popular and the users gaining awareness about your business. As for your SEO strategy, you do realize that your page is rising in terms of search results rankings. However, it is not so simple in the case of gated content.

Gated content however doesn't give the kind of results that show up naturally. You will need to track the conversions you made and measure the analytics.

Measuring your success will let you know if your gated content strategy is working in terms of generating leads and eventually making useful conversions. The data you therefore compile will help you in understanding your audience better and improving your content strategy to make the necessary rectification.

Gated content is no longer unique to a few brands having an online presence. If you make an online content strategy, gated content will invariably form its part. As such, it can be a great lead generation tool if used properly. But if used without a proper plan, it can also affect your marketing strategy.