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March 13, 2018
The Moment of Truth for Content: Gated or Not Gated?
Bob Musinski
Bob Musinski

One of the toughest calls for a content strategist is whether content should be gated or not.

The justification for gated content is clear – you can get names, emails, phone numbers and other information by requiring people to fill out a form before they can download your document.

But people are averse to filling out forms for a couple reasons – time and the likelihood that providing their email address will unleash a flurry of “spam” emails from the company that offered the document.

You can still get valuable analytical information from website visitors if you ungate the content, but it’s not nearly as rich as if the reader provided personalized contact information.

So, while you don’t want to be the one who posts a document that no one reads, you also want to make sure you aren’t giving away exclusive, high-value content.

Here are three questions to ask that will help you decide whether to keep your content under lock and key, or leave the door wide open.

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1. How does your audience behave?

If your audience is looking for quick-hit information and frictionless interaction on your website, you’re really rolling the dice if you think your gated content will attract any viewers.

For example, in B2C audience outreach, you’d likely need a contest or some other enticement to get people to give their personal information. They’re not expecting research papers – they want instant information to help them in their daily lives.

B2B buyers aren’t dramatically different – they also don’t want to waste time – but they’re more likely to appreciate well-researched content that can help them solve business problems and save money.

2. Does your content contain game-changing insights?

Be honest. Your latest white paper, infographic or video might be well-researched and impeccably produced, but is it enough to make someone give up personal information?

We produced a report for a client that featured exclusive auto recall statistics from an internationally renowned thought leader and had worldwide ramifications for the industry. The report was highly anticipated each year and shared with auto industry influencers across the globe, who had to provide their contact information to get full access.

In that case, it worked. The leads generated by the gated content resulted in highly desirable new client relationships. But it’s not easy to find a well-known subject matter expert with exclusive data no one else can develop.

3. Can you effectively sell your content to your audience?

If you have the time and budget to conduct an integrated content campaign around your report, you can make it enticing enough for your target audience. The goal is to use various pieces of ungated content to lead to a primary, gated piece for serious prospects.

For example, you can:

  • Create an infographic
  • Write blog posts for both internal and external blogs
  • Develop a presentation based on the premise/data
  • Offer a webinar
  • Share on social media (paid and organic)
  • Call attention to it on the main page of your website
  • Conduct a limited ad outreach campaign, including display and short, written pieces
  • Put together a video from the subject matter expert who wrote the report and/or a clip with key stats and images
  • Plan an email outreach campaign
  • Tie into a trade show
  • Develop a press release and conduct media outreach

In sum, if your primary goal is lead generation (collecting full names, email addresses, etc.) then you should develop and gate content that is highly meaningful and valuable to your target audience. If your main goal is awareness, then value-add, non-gated content is the way to go.