What is Gated Content?
Gated content is a report, white paper, infographic, or other piece of material that you only allow access to when a person provides contact information for you upfront.
For example, I got an email offering a guide on eCommerce advertising for 2017, but when I clicked through the site had this “gate”:
Content gating has a range of goals. At its most minimal, it may just ask for an email to sign up for a newsletter or email series:
Or, it may be used to get more information from leads, including their company, revenue, decision maker names, employees, etc.
When Should I Use Gated Content?
To use gated content effectively, you must know who your target audience is and what your lead generation goals are.
The purpose of content gating is to directly gather contact information from leads. However, you have to make sure that goal is best being served by gating the content.
The problem with content gating is that a lot of people resist it. There is a tremendous amount of open access content online today, and many people will search elsewhere if they feel uncomfortable giving their contact info.
Likewise, people know if they hand over their phone number on a form, they are submitting to a sales call follow-up.
When potential leads skip this, the gate is keeping your target audience from seeing the content. Not to your advantage.
On the other hand, gating content – when it works – is the only bonified way to generate an actual lead with a content offer. With open access content, you can have thousands of people view your content – and never reveal their interest to you.
Before you create gated content, ask:
Is the content we’re creating valuable enough to motivate people to fill out the form and give us their personal information? This is key. If what you’re providing is easily found on the open net, you won’t convert much. If your topic is not unique, try to put a spin on the title and format to make it more enticing.
Is the form we’re using a match for the content? If the content you’re showing is a short video or something curated, you may not get much more than an email from leads. If it’s a professional white paper with groundbreaking info for your industry, you can rightly ask for more contact and occupational information in your form. A longer form may actually create the impression that the content is of great depth and value.
Is gated content right for my business? If you are an eCommerce site, you may not be collecting leads. You want people to go straight to your sales pages. If you’re a local plumber, there is probably little in the way of topics you could use to create gated content.
For the most part, gated content is used by professional service businesses with longer sales cycles. The gated content provides information critical to the decision-making of the lead, which works well with B2B marketing. To generate leads with content gating, you need a motivated audience.
Executing the Tactic
So what does gated content look like in action?
Usually, gated content has three parts. The call to action that initially introduces the content, a landing page that summarizes the topic and benefits of the content, and the form to capture the lead’s info.
Here’s an example from our website.
First, you have the call to action. We use this in the sidebar of our blog posts:
When you click on this, you go to a landing page that summarizes the information and value the lead gets from the content:
To get the content, you must provide contact info:
Along with your website, social targeting ads is proving to be a strong channel for gated content.
Social media can be of particular value because you can accurately target new audiences based on their demographics, interests, family, profession, income and more.
For example, since I work in marketing, I often get targeted by companies that offer marketing software solutions. The tactic is basically the same as what we have on the website. A sponsored post has a call to action which leads to a landing page. On that landing page is a form I have to fill out to get the gated content.
Gated content also works well with email marketing automation. In this case, you start with an email list and send a sequence of emails that have gated content offers. The email clicks through to a landing page where the lead has to provide additional contact info to receive the gated content. This is an effective way to turn email contacts into hot leads who’ve shown interest in a specific topic and provided you with a phone number.
Here is JB with a review of how to use gated content:
The value to your bottom line relies on your audience targeting, the value of your content, and your sales follow-up process. The more naturally your sales call connects to the gated content you provided, the better your results will be.
Gated content will reduce the amount of exposure your content gets, but in doing so it also qualifies leads. The people who are willing to fill out a form to receive your content are showing a stronger interest in what you do. Use your CRM to segment this list and make sure your follow-up process is consistent.