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Gated Content: When to Put Your Premium Content Behind a Form

Jun 22, '16 / by Neil Hayes

Should All Premium Content Be Gated?

You’re a big believer in content marketing and well aware of the standard practice of placing premium content behind an opt-in form on a landing page. But should this always be the case?

Gating your premium content does make sense. Besides, the most successful content marketers gate their most valuable and unique content, and who are you to argue?

Then again, you’ve always wondered if potential leads unwilling to surrender their email address for your ebook, white paper, case study, on-line course or webinar are gone forever. Plus, you’re hearing your competitors might soon allow free access to their gated content, creating a conundrum.

The question of whether or not to build a wall extends well beyond the current political debate and back to the early days of content marketing. Unless someone designs a gate that’s welcoming to all and alienating to none, expect the debate to rage on, because marketers entrenched on either side will keep producing compelling statistics that support their own point of view.

Not that that is any of your concern. As a marketing professional, you’ve got enough on your plate, including scrutinizing every aspect of your content marketing strategy and formulating clearly defined plans to hit your goals.

The real question you should ask

Let’s worry less about whether to use gated content and focus on when to gate your content.

Perhaps the best way to start is to consider which goals you prioritize highest.

Related Content: How to Create SMART Marketing Goals for Your Business

For example, f you’re trying to generate traffic more traffic to a certain page, placing your premium content behind an opt-in page may not be the answer. Here are other factors to consider.

Advantages of gating:

  • Accountability because ROI is easily measured
  • Opt-in forms generate three times as many leads
  • More effective in later stages of sales funnel
  • Ensure the resulting leads are higher quality leads

Advantages of not gating:

  • More effective for generating inbound links
  • Typically results in more downloads
  • Less time spent sifting through fake emails and bogus phone numbers
  • Potential for better brand perception and long-term relationships
  • More effective in earlier stages of sales funnel

As is often the case in polarizing debates, the best answer for your company may lie somewhere in between.

To help you make your decision, start by defining the purpose of each individual piece of content. For example, the intent of a case study might be to raise awareness, while an e-book may be created to generate more leads. In that case, the case study may be most effective if it’s available to everyone, while leveraging maximum value from the e-book may require the visitor to surrender an email address in return.

Try these approaches with your content

The pillar approach

One of the best ways to combine accessible and gated content is to create pillar pages, which involves creating long-form ungated content that covers all aspects of a certain topic on a single web page.

And because many people prefer to read content in PDF format online, the pillar page also includes a form where you can download the pillar page content as a traditional e-book.

Shhhh! This is a content library

Another approach requires repurposing older content to create a centralized, gated content library. How many of us have read a helpful blog post or white paper, for example, only to be unable to find the link when we’re finally in a position to take advantage of the tips provided?

Ever wonder where those blog posts or e-books go? Do they become space junk orbiting the Internet?

They may have been shunted to a content library, which can include everything the marketing department creates for customer consumption. Blogs, ebooks, white papers, webinars and other content can be organized by subject and made available to subscribers only. 

Not only can such a resource generate more leads and promote your company as an industry leader, it prevents marketing materials from going to waste, saves time, can aid in training new employees, ensures brand messaging is consistent and keeps marketing and sales departments speaking the same language.

Better yet, by not going all-in on opt-ins, you can opt out of perhaps the oldest debate in content marketing. When asked “To gate or not to gate?” you can respond with a single word.


How does your marketing stack up?

Topics: Content Marketing, Inbound Websites

Neil Hayes
Written by Neil Hayes

Neil Hayes was an author and award-winning journalist before moving into business-and-marketing writing. He wrote the best-selling book "When the Game Stands Tall," which was made into a major-motion picture in 2014, and has co-authored two other books.

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