There are several reasons to hide content and allow access only to users who provide their contact information. But there’s no more compelling reason than lead generation.
So in this article, you will learn why gated content is beneficial to your business’s efforts to generate marketing qualified leads, as well as when and how to create gated content that effectively enhances your lead generation strategies.
What Is Gated Content?
Gated content is any content or media hidden behind a lead capture form. Users can only access the content after providing their contact information. Usually, companies would ask for the name and email address. Others may need more details, such as phone, job title and industry. For users to be willing to share their personal information, they must get something of value in return.
Typical gated content examples:
• Live demos
• Reports and studies
• Virtual events
Benefits of Gated Content
Creating lead magnets like gated content is one of the strategies used in lead nurture campaigns. By following gated content best practices, companies can generate leads and enjoy the following benefits:
1. Generates Qualified Leads
Not all visitors to a website are the intended audience of a company. So what happens is that they consume bandwidth without benefit to the business.
By hiding high-value content, companies can narrow the sales funnel to qualified leads. The reason is that only people with a genuine interest would trade their personal information to access the gated content.
Granted that not all qualified leads result in conversion, those who access gated content are interested in the particular field. So apart from generating quality leads, high-quality content helps increase the company’s credibility in the eyes of people from the same industry.
The following are examples of how to get leads using the collected customer information:
• Lead nurture campaigns, such as using email to offer relevant content for free.
• Customize marketing and advertising messages on social media.
• Personal outreach to show related high-touch interactions or answer questions.
2. Helps in Market Segmentation
Gated content as an inbound marketing strategy is not only beneficial for online lead generation. Besides names and email addresses, companies can also gather more personal details from visitors.
Some details a company may ask for include:
• Job title
• Number of employees
Those extra details allow companies to categorize users and narrow market segments. They can then tailor their marketing messages to increase conversion rates. This benefit alone is enough incentive for marketers to learn how to create gated content.
Beyond online lead generation, another advantage of gated content is that companies can gain valuable insight into customer segments by asking the right questions.
The following are examples of how companies can use gated content to generate leads through market segmentation:
• Send prospects more exclusive content based on their preferences.
• Creating lead magnets or ungated content based on topics preferred by prospects.
• Survey audience segments and use their responses to create new content, products and marketing messages.
3. Enhance Value Perception
In sales and marketing, exclusivity creates a perception of scarcity. This practice aims to make customers think they will miss an opportunity if they do not do something like make a purchase.
Gated content, like exclusivity, creates a near similar perception. So visitors who do not provide their contact information cannot access gated content. Subconsciously, users tend to perceive the hidden content as valuable.
A higher value perception influences visitors to think more highly of a brand, thus increasing trustworthiness and credibility. It is one reason why companies must learn how to create gated content.
4. Generate Inbound Links To Improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Gated content such as case studies or whitepapers provides industry-specific insights. These are high-quality content that has a higher chance of being used as a reference by other websites. As such, they are more likely to get inbound links or backlinks.
More backlinks, especially from high authority referring domains, can help improve search rankings. That is because internal and external links are among the most important ranking signals. Higher rankings, of course, equate to getting more organic traffic and leads.
To ensure that gated content inbound marketing strategy works, reputable lead generation companies not only pay attention to landing page optimization. In particular, they also work with the gated content writing services team to ensure that the published content is value-driven and worthwhile to users.
Downsides of Gated Content
Like other inbound marketing strategies, gated content has drawbacks that companies must be aware of before considering this approach:
1. Does Not Generate Organic Traffic
On SEO, gated content has two limitations:
• Search engines can crawl and index gated content. Because of that, this content cannot attract organic visitors from search results.
• While other websites can link to any ungated page, they cannot link to gated content.
2. May Turn People Away and Lose Conversion Opportunities
Gated content acts as a barrier, a hurdle that visitors need to overcome. Unfortunately, some people are not willing to share their contact information. These include those who have a genuine interest in the gated material.
By denying access, companies can lose potential customers who might have been converted if they had accessed the hidden content.
3. Fake Contact Information
Instead of providing real information, some people enter fake details. These individuals are not reachable, so they do not qualify as leads.
On the plus side, people who bypass gated content using fake contact information may find the content invaluable. They may have a favorable impression of the brand, at the very least. So they could still end up as customers in the future.
Gated vs Ungated Content
If gated content refers to hidden content, then ungated content is the opposite. Visitors can access this content without any form of restriction. In other words, there is no need to provide contact information or personal details.
Usually, the buyer’s journey starts with ungated content. For example, a visitor lands on a blog post. Then, they navigate and learn more about a product or service on other pages. At this point, making a good impression is a must. So companies must ensure that they publish only high-quality content to build trust.
Ungated content does not offer the same online lead generation value as gated content. Even so, this content is a critical part of lead nurture campaigns. Lead generation companies, in particular, are adept at narrowing the funnel, directing visitors to sales pages and converting them to paying customers.
Typical ungated content examples:
• Blog posts
• Educational videos
• Tip sheets
Benefits of Ungated Content
Ungated content is the foundation of websites. For businesses, the primary goal of maintaining a website is to provide information on its values, products and services. Business blogs, apart from informing, also aim to draw in visitors who could be future customers.
Here are the advantages of ungated content compared to gated.
1. Better SEO and Search Rankings
A common question in digital marketing is how to get leads on a website. Marketers often recommend publishing blog posts, which companies can do by hiring gated content writing services. The entire website, of course, needs to be optimized for SEO.
All content found on a website – pages and articles – is ungated content that search engines can crawl and index. Because they may appear in search results, they have the potential to attract organic traffic and generate leads. So in the gated vs ungated content discussion, disseminating information and attracting users makes ungated content valuable.
2. Extend Brand Reach
Besides being indexed by search engines, it is easy to share ungated content. Other websites, for instance, may link to ungated content as an inbound link. Visitors can also share ungated content on their social networks. More referring domains and social shares help increase a brand’s digital presence.
3. Improve Buyer’s Journey
Often, the buyer journey starts with ungated content. During this phase, buyers seek information about a brand, product, or service. Ideally, the copy or blog posts must meet their needs and seamlessly take buyers to sales pages for conversion. Note that companies can improve conversion rates by applying landing page optimization techniques.
Disadvantages of Ungated Content
There are no real disadvantages to using ungated content. But if it comes down to gated vs ungated content, the main difference is not collecting contact information. As a result, the company loses the ability to define a better market segmentation or reach out to users.
When To Use Gated Content
Ungated content is necessary, while gated content is optional. The key is understanding when and how to get leads using gated content as an inbound marketing strategy.
When To Gate Content
• Later in the buyer’s journey. Customers are already interested in a product or service towards the latter part of the journey. It means that they are more likely to engage. At this point, getting ahold of their contact information allows a company to reach out to provide additional materials or persuade them to make a purchase.
• Content that generates massive traffic. Companies can take advantage of content that is getting plenty of organic traffic. A careful analysis of the web traffic, such as bounce rate and average time spent, would reveal if there is genuine interest in the content. If so, hiding this content behind a wall would be a great way to collect user contact information.
• Content is high-value. Gated content should not be yet another blog post. Instead, it should provide complete or exclusive information, offering new insights or data. Companies that can produce high-value content for gating should consider this option.
When NOT To Gate Content
• Creating brand awareness. Ungated content is best for spreading the word about the business. So if the purpose is to raise brand awareness, avoid using gated content for maximum search visibility and shareability. One thing to note is that even if the content is ungated, it still needs to be high-quality and insightful.
• Limited content. Gating some content at a time when a website does not provide enough information for potential customers to make a purchasing decision may be counterproductive. Instead, it would be better to work on landing page optimization and populating the blog section with helpful information to build trust and credibility.
• Gated content not generating interest. If gated content is not performing well, there is no reason to keep it gated. A much better option is to let the public access it. As ungated content, it might even perform better. For example, the content ranks high in search results and attracts many visitors.
Gated Content Best Practices
Suppose a company decides to create gated content. One way to test if a material is worth gating is to compare its value to the value of a user’s identity. In other words, the value provided by the gated content must be enough for users to exchange their contact information.
In evaluating the worth of gated content, consider the following criteria:
Gated content is one of the best ways to generate leads. But collecting user information is more than that. So rather than putting them up without much thought, implement the following gated content best practices used by many lead generation companies.
1. Create Gated Content as Part of the Buyer Journey
Briefly, the buyer’s journey consists of the following:
Since the goal of creating gated content is to generate leads, it is best to position them after the awareness stage. Here is one of the best gated content examples to illustrate this point.
A company spends its time and resources researching a particular topic in its industry, then creates and publishes two types of content:
• Blog post(s)
• Full report
The company has the option of publishing one or more blog posts that contain highlights of the research. These are ungated content that is part of the awareness stage of the buyer journey. Users must provide their contact information to see the full report. The gated content, in this case, becomes a part of the consideration stage. Its purpose is clear – to turn users into qualified leads.
2. Provide High-Value Gated Content
One of the worst things a company can do is to create gated content that does not provide valuable insight. Instead of turning into prospects, users feel disappointed. It is, therefore, a must that the content should meet expectations.
The three elements that a company can use to gauge the quality of content are as follows:
• Valuable. High-quality content worth gating provides valuable insights or data. PDF and videos, meanwhile, are presentable and professional.
• Actionable. Gated content, as part of the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, can help transition users from awareness to the purchase stage. So it should contain actionable elements that take users through the desired steps.
• Relevant. The content must be relevant to the industry and the latest trends. Also of utmost importance is its accuracy and reliability.
3. Create Lead Nurture Campaigns
Gated content must develop and reinforce a stronger relationship between a business and its prospects. To achieve this, the company must ensure that its content provides the necessary information and answers users’ questions as part of the consideration stage.
A successful gated content strategy can boost buyers’ confidence in the products or services. In addition, it can enhance brand trustworthiness – a critical element in the conversion process.
4. Landing Page Optimization
One thing about generating leads with gated content is that it can only be successful if the landing page is persuasive and optimized for conversion. So after learning how to create gated content, it would be best to know the strategies used in creating compelling sales pages.
Final Thoughts on Gated vs Ungated Content
There is no point in debating whether gated content is better than ungated, as each has its purposes. Instead, the more important question is when and how to use them.
Website content, in general, is ungated. And if the conditions are right, gated content can be used to reinforce what users learned during the awareness stage to turn them into qualified leads.
Meanwhile, companies can use users’ contact details in various ways. For instance, they can send them tailored marketing messages as part of lead nurturing. In addition, they may also create new market segmentations and value propositions.
Interested to know more? Our specialists are more than happy to answer your questions, like “what is gated content?” or “how do I create gated content that works?” To learn more, contact Thrive by filling out this form.
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