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What Is Gated Content? (And How to Leverage It in Your Content Strategy)

By: Compose.ly — June 05, 2020

Getting more traffic to your website is only half the battle—you also have to turn that traffic into leads for your sales team.

One of the best ways to generate leads for your business is by using gated content, or digital materials that require personal information to access.

Brands have been using gated content for a long time to turn their websites into lead-generating machines, such as The New York Times:

When you use gated content the right way, you will:

  • Gather contact information on potential customers
  • Qualify leads for your sales team
  • Establish a relationship with your prospects

Here you’ll learn what gated content is, when you should use it, and examples you can emulate.

Let’s jump in.

What Is Gated Content?

Gated content is a digital material that your audience can access if they first provide their information. Examples of gated content include ebooks, white papers, checklists, videos, and case studies.

Companies generally offer this content in exchange for the user’s name, email, company name, and/or title. Once a person volunteers their contact information, they can view the gated content.

When Should You Use Gated Content?

The purpose of gated content is to generate leads for your sales team. It’s a way to gather information on promising leads with the goal of nurturing them into sales.

However, you shouldn’t strictly use gated content in your marketing efforts. It’s important to use a combination of gated and ungated content. The trick is to place gated content at strategic points in your marketing funnel.

Let’s look at three stages in the typical marketing funnel to see when it’s most appropriate to use gated content:

  • Awareness Stage: During the awareness stage, your target audience doesn’t know your business very well. They are unlikely to give up personal information because they don’t trust your company yet. However, they may consume ungated content because it’s low risk and valuable. Examples of this kind of content include blog content, podcasts, and infographics. But you can mix in a little gated content here as well, like white papers and ebooks.
  • Consideration Stage: At this point, your potential buyer is looking at your business in hopes of finding a solution to their problem. They believe you could be a good fit for their needs, but they still need convincing. Ideally, you would provide them with content like case studies, webinars, and software downloads. The further down you go in your funnel, the more likely buyers are to access gated content. Accordingly, most of these options should ask for the audience’s information.
  • Decision Stage: In this stage, your prospect is ready to make a decision on whether or not to use your services. By this point, you should make strong offers such as a free trial, product demo, or free consultation. Virtually all of these should be gated.

The question of when you should use gated content largely comes down to one question: are you trying to raise brand awareness or generate leads?

Generally speaking, ungated content is suited for raising brand awareness as it’s low-risk for new audience members. Gated content is suited for generating leads because it receives contact information, which is extremely valuable to your sales team.

Gated content is particularly useful in B2B sales since the buyer’s journey is usually much longer. B2B buyers rarely make a decision after reading a few of your blog posts. However, if you give them materials like white papers for contact information, you have the opportunity to thoroughly establish your authority and reach out to them in the future.

4 Examples of Effective Gated Content Strategies

Need some ideas for your gated content strategy? Here are some examples you can learn from:

1. HubSpot’s Ebook

Ebooks come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re essentially documents that are longer than blog posts and teach your ideal customer how to do something.

Some industry topics are so complex that it’s nearly impossible to tackle them in a single blog post. On top of that, because the subject is complicated, there are few resources that address it.

This is where ebooks become a powerful tool for inbound marketing, especially in B2B marketing. An ebook is an opportunity to address a complex pain point, establish your company’s authority, and deliver a lot of value to your potential customers.

Since they’re so substantial, ebooks are valuable enough to trade for an email address or other customer information.

Example

HubSpot is well known for creating ebooks in the marketing community, an example being YouTube for Business. To access this particular ebook, viewers must submit quite a lot of information:

Key Lesson

You can get a lot of information if you create high-quality gated content. In the case of HubSpot’s ebook, viewers must give their:

  • First and last name
  • Phone number and email address
  • Business name and URL
  • Number of employees
  • Industry

This is a goldmine for your sales reps.

The one caution here is to avoid asking for too much information. The more fields your visitor has to fill out, the less likely they will be to download the ebook.

Conversely, if your ebook is extremely valuable, it’s important to recognize that and ask for more information before handing it out.

2. Backlinko’s Gated Blog Post

Most of the time, blog articles are ungated. However, there’s a time and place to gate your posts, especially if you already have steady traffic to your blog and you produce quality content.

Larger publications, like Financial Times, gate all of their content. Usually, smaller blogs don’t have that luxury. But there’s a nice in-between where you can gate some of your blog posts.

If your readership gets a lot of value out of your blog, you can gate a few posts. Since they already know your content is good, they’ll be willing to offer up their email to access more.

Example

A good example is How to Rank on Page 1 of Google FAST on Backlinko.

Key Lesson

Sometimes it’s appropriate to gate content that other companies normally offer ungated.

Backlinko is a popular blog, and its creator, Brian Dean, is well aware of it. Dean capitalized on this and gated a few articles, which anyone can access by offering their email.

However, it should be noted that most of his blog posts are ungated. This allows readers to get a taste of his content and, whenever they stumble upon a gated article, they already know it’ll be valuable so they’re willing to submit their email address.

3. Outreach’s Product Demo

Product demonstrations are commonly the last step in a B2B sales funnel. This is the moment where a prospect either decides to buy or go somewhere else.

So it goes without saying that it’s really important to include product demos in your funnel and make them perfect. If all goes well, you’re essentially closing a sale.

Example

Here’s a product demo from Outreach, a software tool for automating outbound sales. The landing page attempts to convince the viewer to sign up:

Key Lesson

Persuade your viewers that the gated content is worth it.

Notice that Outreach doesn’t just ask for personal information and provide a demo. If you look closely at the landing page, there is a lot of information that essentially ‘sells’ the demo, including:

  • Logos of companies that use Outreach
  • The software’s features and benefits
  • Testimonials from customers

More people will submit their information to access your gated content if you spend time explaining why it’s valuable. Take the time to explain how your gated content can help your audience and why it’s worth accessing.

Beautiful design and clear copy go a long way in maximizing signups for your gated content.

4. Monday’s Webinar

Webinars are a unique form of gated content because they are usually live (although they’re often recorded and stored for later use). Those who want to access the webinar must tune in to get the full experience.

Because webinars are live, they create a more personable experience and deepen the customer-brand relationship. Also, webinars easily create scarcity because your audience will not want to miss out on the live feed.

Example

Monday is a workflow software company that created a webinar on how to work remotely using their software. Webinars are live and usually require viewer information to attend. In some cases, they even require a registration cost.

Key Lesson

Choose your form of gated content wisely.

Not every type of gated content is right for every company or audience. Before adding gated content to your funnel, consider which form would best fit your industry, budget, and brand.

In the case of Monday, it makes sense to use webinars; its audience is used to scheduled video calls as many of their users are part of remote teams. Additionally, it helps to use a more visual medium like video when teaching others how to use a software tool.

Generate Leads With Gated Content

If your marketing funnel isn’t creating leads for your sales team it may be time to create gated content.

Constantly publishing ungated content will bring in traffic and get your brand name out there, but what good is that if it doesn’t translate into leads? At the end of the day, your business needs to generate revenue.

You can solve that problem by strategically placing gated content throughout your marketing funnel.

With the right gated content, you can create many solid leads for your company.

This article was written by Compose.ly writer Salvatore Lamborn.


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