If you’ve spent a lot of time and effort putting together an exceptional piece of content, you’re going to want to get the most from it. But what is the best way to do this? Gated vs non-gated (or ‘open access’) can be a tricky decision to make when it comes to getting the best return on your content creation efforts.
Should you ask your visitors for personal information, such as their email address, in return for the insightful guide you’ve spent hours creating, or should you leave your guide open to anyone in hope of maximum exposure?
Here we take a look at the pros and cons of gated content!
What is Gated Content?
Gated content is any kind of content, such as a guide, an eBook or a downloadable PDF, where access is restricted behind a lead capture form. This means that a visitor must fill in a form and provide personal information, typically an email address, in order to gain access to the content.
Gated content is usually ‘premium’ content, which can offer your audience even more value than the standard content that you publish to your blog. Visitors will provide their details, in return for you providing them with a piece of premium, high quality content that will offer your audience extra value.
Benefits of Gated Content
The most obvious benefit to gating your content is leads. By asking your audience for their email address and other qualifying information such as their interests, you can accurately target and nurture these leads in your future marketing.
Gated content also helps to segment your audience, because when someone signs up for a piece of content, you know exactly what it is they are interested in.
With gated content, you’re able to ‘protect’ your hard work. If you’ve put a lot of time, effort or even money into a piece of content, you may not want to give it away for free. Many readers will automatically perceive gated content as higher value for this very reason.
Downsides to Gated Content
It’s important to consider some of the downsides to gated content. From an SEO perspective, search engine ‘robots’ view and navigate a webpage very differently to users. A search engine robot is not going to fill out a form in order to access your content, meaning you are essentially blocking off this content from the bots.
There are some things you can do to help combat this issue, such as providing a snippet of content on your download page. Not only will this help to gives search engines some context to the gated content, but it should also increase the amount of visitors filling out the form by offering a enticing ‘teaser’!
Gated content may deter some readers. No matter how short the form is, some visitors will be put off. They may not want to give their details away through fear of being bombarded with emails, or they simply might not want to put in the time or effort required to gain access, particularly if they are not already familiar with you and your brand.
This style of content tends to be much harder to earn links, and your readers may be less inclined to share gated content with their friends because of this ‘barrier’, reducing your potential reach.
Should you gate your content?
Even after reading the pros and cons of gated content, it can be difficult to decide when your content should be gated. Making this decision really does depend on your goals – do you want more leads, or is increasing awareness and reach more important to you?
You also need to evaluate whether or not your content provides high enough value to your readers. The content should be extra special and a step above your regular content if you’re going to gate it.
Finally, consider whether you have a large enough audience. Gated content will automatically have less reach than your standard content due to the barrier in place. If your audience is already small, it’s going to be very hard to get your content in front of lots of people.
Content gating definitely has its place, and if you’re careful about the type of content you choose to gate, it can be a great way of generating leads and building audience relationships. Gate the wrong content at the wrong time and you risk discouraging your audience and losing engagement.
If you’re stuck on whether or not to gate a piece of content the below quote from Rand Fishkin sums it up pretty nicely.
“If audience size, reach, and future marketing benefits are greater than detailed leads as a metric or as a value, then you should [provide] open access [content]. If the reverse is true, if detailed leads are more valuable to you than the audience size, the potential reach, the amplification and link … then you should go with a gated model.”