Watergate, Bridgegate, Content gate.
Fortunately, gated content isn’t as controversial as its predecessors, but it is a hot topic in the marketing community today. Gated content – content you need to pay, subscribe, or swap personal information for — is a popular tool among marketers who want to build their e-mail lists and generate detailed leads.
In some circles, though, the decision to gate content is a hot-button topic.
While gating content may drive away some users who don’t want to give you their personal information, it can also serve to build subscriber lists and help you connect on a more personal basis with the users who want to pay for your content.
Because of this, deciding when (and if) to gate your content can be a complex decision, and making it involves completing an honest appraisal of the benefits and drawbacks of gated content.
What are the Benefits of Gating Content?
First, let’s talk about the benefits of gated content. Gating your content offers many perks, including the following:
The Drawbacks of Gated Content
Just like gated content has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks. They are as follows:
When to Gate Content (And When to Leave It Open)
So, should you gate your content? The answer is yes, and the answer is no. Gated content can help boost your e-mail list and make pre-sales easier, but it must be used carefully. Remember that customers who are that far along in your sales funnel are a rare breed — and you’ll likely get much more engagement, shares, and traffic for your content if you leave it open. This is especially true for a young company.
Imagine a startup that gated all of its content. Because the startup wouldn’t have much name recognition, and people wouldn’t be familiar with the company enough to understand what it was or where the content was coming from, they’d likely be hesitant to input their e-mail addresses. As a result, the company’s content could easily stagnate, and the company may even fail as a result.
Case in point? Young companies will do better with free and open content than they will with gated content. Because gated content provides more detailed leads, it’s a wonderful tool for any company who wants to collect as much information as possible from customers.
Older companies, however, or companies with an established customer base can afford to gate some of their content from time to time. As a general rule, content that is meant to drive a high number of leads, such as an eBook, report, or white paper, should be gated. Content that just aims to drive engagement, though, should be left open.
By fostering a healthy balance between gated and open content, a company can cater to its customers while also enhancing its own voice and marketing.
The Case for Gated Content
While gated content has its drawbacks, it can be a helpful tool for companies that are looking to build their leads and promote higher numbers of sign-ups and subscriptions. By learning to use a mixture of gated and non-gated content, companies can gain all of the benefits of growing an audience while also promoting engagement and shares.
Gated content isn’t an either/or deal, and learning to balance it correctly is critical for the success of a company. By opting for gated or semi-gated content with a fair amount of free or open content peppered in, companies can grow audiences, build authority, and build closer relationships with customers all at once.
Julia McCoy is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster and an expert content marketer. She’s also the founder and CEO of Express Writers, a leading online content creation agency, with more than 60 content writers and strategists. Julia leads her team to serve hundreds of worldwide businesses with the highest-quality content for their online presence. Follow Julia’s blog.