What Is Gated Content?

What Is Gated Content?
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What is gated content? Gated content is any content such as white papers, long-form blog posts, infographics, webinars, videos, and ebooks that is only accessible to readers if they fill out a form.

It is called gated content because it lives behind a virtual gate, and that entrance can only be opened if the reader provides contact information. That data is extremely valuable to the marketer because it creates an opportunity for ongoing and personalized relationship-building.

Content strategy today involves creating a thoughtful and cohesive range of educational, inspirational, and useful writing and visuals that help build a company’s authority, brand, and ultimately, sales.

Unlike a short-form blog post that a reader can usually consume in a matter of minutes, gated content is usually more in-depth and perceived as more valuable to the reader/viewer.

With the proliferation of free and varied content online (especially throughout the pandemic), some marketers argue that gating content can depress readership, but if your content is useful to the reader and your prospect is genuinely interested in your business or product, they will gladly give up their information in exchange for information and ideas that build their business.

These compelling examples of gated content will help you market.

  • Content Upgrades. We have all seen movie trailers or Netflix previews. Giving someone a taste of what’s to come can be a powerful way to engage them. Companies may share a snippet of a compelling article or a portion of a colorful and fact-filled infographic and encourage the reader to sign up to see the rest.
  • White Papers and Ebooks. To download a comprehensive report, the viewer must provide information (see below). This is a great way to identify which of your viewers is seriously interested in your business or category and provides a lead list for follow-up. Make sure that the content you’re providing is valuable and unique; otherwise, your readers may feel cheated.
  • Webinars. Involving thought leaders and experts in a particular topic, these workshops and interactive experiences can be a great way to familiarize prospects with your brand. Make sure they are not simply sales pitches. Some marketers enable participants to meet and communicate with each other, adding to the perceived value attendees are getting from your company.
  • Subscriptions. Some media companies offer readers a free sample of their content and limit the number of articles you can read online prior to giving up your information (and, in some cases, paying a fee).

Should you gate content or not?

Making that decision depends on who you’re targeting, the stage of the buyer journey you’re appealing to, and how valuable your content is to that population.

If you do decide to gate your content:

  1. Build a landing page that’s appealing. Let the reader know exactly why they should download your content and what it will enable them to do that benefits them and their business.
  2. Keep your form simple. Do not expect a new prospect to spend 10 minutes to complete a form that results in a download that takes two minutes to read. Test your entire end-to-end process to make sure accessing the content is fast and simple.
  3. Balance gated content with free content, so you’re appealing to the greatest number and types of prospects. As you build out your content strategy for the upcoming months, be sure that you’re offering a wide variety of useful information.
  4. Plan your lead follow-up in advance. Thank your readers/viewers immediately for engaging with your gated content. Develop a clear and focused sequence of follow-ups (emails, calls, additional content) that will ultimately result in a relationship with your reader. Pay special attention to those prospects who download multiple content pieces, as they are likely to be most interested in what you’re marketing.

Whether you gate your content or not, one principle applies. Offer your readers and reviewers timely tips, insights, and knowledge that they can only get from your brand… and they’ll come back for more!

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About the author

Nancy Shenker

Nancy A. Shenker has been an independent consultant, writer, and speaker for more than 15 years, following a career as a C-level marketing executive. Her company theONswitch provides virtual CMO services. A content strategist and writer, she is the author of four books and publisher of five business and lifestyle websites. Her passions are humanistic tech, food, gadgets, and travel.