You have a premium piece of content to share that you know is going to be attractive to your target audience. It is relevant to the businesses you want to reach and you are confident it can have a substantial impact in terms of fresh leads and brand authority. Should you publish it directly on your site, free for all to view, or should you demand some data from your users before they can access it?
Gated content is content that is only accessible to a user in exchange for their personal data – typically name, email address, phone number, company name etc. It is particularly useful for B2B marketers as a source of quality, pre-qualified and engaged leads. However, there are some downsides. Here we look at the pros and cons of gating your content.
- Data. Top of the pros is the valuable data you can collect from those who sign up to receive your content. Typically, this might be the user’s name, email address, and role within the company: valuable data you can use to communicate with them further.
- Better tracking. Gating your content allows you to track all those who access it. You can use the data you get from their first visit to track users and companies as they view different pieces of content or campaigns. If properly set up, you should be able to track your B2B leads across all the touchpoints to a sale, so you can measure the impact of your content and other marketing activities more accurately.
- Focused content. A gated content strategy often leads to content that is more directly conversion-focused and strategic. Content strategies can be ‘catch-all’ in their approach and lack a clear logic back to sale. With gated content the goal is much clearer, it is linked to the customer journey and so tends to be written directly to the target audience and the action desired.
- Better read content. Gated content is seen as more valuable because it’s that bit harder to access. It is a value exchange: your premium content for the reader’s data. Your audience knows this, will expect premium content and will often devote more time to reading it.
- Inexpensive. With limited resources you can create more of a measurable benefit with a piece of well-targeted gated content, whereas creating the brand awareness required for your ungated content to impact sales, usually requires much more sustained activity, cross channel and a much larger budget.
- Less reach. By definition, you reach fewer people and don’t generate the brand awareness impact that a well-read piece of open content could bring. Published content has the potential to influence thousands if it is read and shared online. Gating that content makes it much less likely that it will ‘go viral’.
- Fewer leads. You will lose a lot of people at the gate, people who might have been persuaded by your content and gone on to become valuable leads. Many people expect their content and especially their corporate content to be free and ungated these days. If you make yours too hard to get at, people may go elsewhere.
- SEO neutral. Gated content will not be indexed by Google and other search engines. By the very nature of being non-public, Google’s bots won’t be crawling your gated content. Although this may be an easy problem to solve. Many publishers create additional content that is indexed. For example, it is not a lot of extra work to publish extracts from your gated content on a landing page that will rank.
Ultimately the decision to gate or not should come down to what your core goals are. Brand awareness and thought leadership will mostly be better served by open content. But if quality leads is the core outcome you are seeking, gating your content makes a lot of sense.