Naturally, we want to attract, engage, and entertain as much of our target audience as possible. But we also know how valuable it is to get access to customer data that can help steer leads further through the buyer journey.
So, if you are weighing if gated content is the right thing for your brand, this blog is for you. Read on to discover the differences between gated and ungated content, the pros and cons of each, and how to decide which approach is right for your business – and your customers.
This article will cover:
- What we mean by gated and ungated content.
- What stage in the buyer journey it’s best to use gated and ungated content.
- What the pros and cons of gated and ungated content are.
- How to decide whether gated content is right for your business.
What is gated content?
Excellent question. Gated content is any type of online content that can only be accessed by a visitor to your website in exchange for information about themselves. This information can include a variety of criteria. Some businesses simply request an email address, others ask for a number of details including job role, business name, areas of interest in a particular topic (for example digital marketing activities), address, and so forth.
What is the difference between gated content vs ungated content?
In a nutshell, gated content requires a transaction from the person wanting to view the content. Ungated content is available to any website visitor that wants to read it.
Gated content can be in any format, though it is more commonly used for e-books, webinars, virtual events, downloadable templates and white papers. Ungated content is typically blogs, checklists and tip sheets, podcasts, and how-to guides and videos.
What are the pros and cons of gated vs ungated content?
Gated content is generally used at later stages in the buyer journey, such as the consideration and decision-making. A good level of trust has already been established between the potential customer and the brand, and the lead is interested in the brand’s offering and how they can help them.
Here are the pros and cons of gated content.
The pros of gated content
Helps you find the right leads
Your prospective customers have found your content because they are interested in your brand and its products and services. Now you just need to encourage them to share some data, and you can continue to nudge them along the path to conversion!
Helps you build a great mailing list
Capturing your visitor’s email address is marketing gold dust. You can add leads to relevant email marketing campaigns, newsletters, event invites, promotional offers and so forth. The insights you’ll get from seeing which links they click and how they respond to your campaigns are incredibly valuable. You’ll have a great chance of building that all-important loyalty, and they’ll enjoy a fantastic customer experience and know that they matter to your brand.
Improves your marketing segmentation
This follows on from the previous point. If you are pretty confident you won’t alienate your lead, you could ask for information about their interests, where they live, the kind of job they have and any other data that can help you refine the content you offer them. You can target them with tantalising offers and let them know they are more than just a listing in your CRM.
You build loyalty
Today’s customers are inundated with content. The ability to demonstrate from a fairly early point in the buyer journey that you’re their go-to for the most relevant, authoritative content helps build long-term trust and loyalty, and gives you the competitive edge.
Honing your buyer journey is a challenge. If you are looking for some tips on getting your approach right, take a look at our article on content strategy frameworks.
Cons of gated content
You risk alienating your leads
This is one of the main reasons why brands are reticent about gating their content. Most of us are justifiably cautious about sharing our personal details, and, unless the content is genuinely relevant and useful, your lead may decide that the exchange simply isn’t worth the risk of unwanted sales calls or their data being shared.
The best ways to get around this? Only offer unique, valuable content and reassure your potential customer that you will protect their data at all times. Plus, make it clear that they can opt out of communications at any point.
You limit your potential audience reach
Even if your content is outstanding, the chances are that you’ll deter a few of your visitors from accessing it. This limits your potential audience reach, so you’ll need to think carefully about the balance between reaping the rewards of collecting valuable customer data and putting off privacy-minded individuals.
There’s no SEO value
Gated content doesn’t appear on search, so you won’t get any SEO value from gated content. If the content is behind a log-in function, then the roaming Googlebots aren’t able to complete the log-in and scan what’s behind it.
You might capture incorrect information
There’s nothing stopping a lead putting in incorrect details for their role or phone number. This could result in your sales team’s time being wasted, false details on your CRM and your skewed mailing list metrics.
Ungated content is great for building brand awareness, boosting search and generally attracting a wider audience. It is also good for testing new markets and products and increasing social media engagement.
Here are some of the pros and cons of ungated content.
Pros of ungated content
Good SEO potential
Quality, unique, keyword-rich content can drive high-quality traffic to your website for many years to come (providing you keep it updated, of course).
It’s great for extending your brand reach
Ungated content is shareable and ideal for promoting on social media. By choosing not to create a barrier between your business and your reader, you give yourself a much better chance at getting your content in front of them. Plus, if you deliver interesting, compelling content they are should be impressed that you are offering it for free rather than as some sort of value exchange.
It improves the buyer journey
Creating a seamless path through the buyer journey is always a high priority for ambitious content marketers. Once you have captured your audience’s attention with an elegantly promoted blog on Twitter or a useful guide on LinkedIn, you might not want to risk creating a blockage in the buyer journey by asking for personal info. Once that lead is gone, they are likely to be gone for good.
Cons of ungated content
You won’t get that valuable customer data
When you don’t ask for customer data, you are very unlikely to get it. It’s as simple as that.
However, if you decide against gated content, there’s no reason to think you’ll reduce your ability to convert that lead. If the content is worth its salt, and you include a killer call to action with clear instructions on how to contact you (or access even more great content) you needn’t lose that warm lead after all.
Want some help boosting your marketing collateral? Check out our 5 tips for content creation excellence.
You won’t get those valuable customer insights
This follows on from the first point. When you don’t ask, you don’t get. But as the relationship matures, and providing you keep the lead engaged, you should be able to get them to a point where they make contact on their own volition and will be happy to tell you all about how you can help.
We’ve reached the end of our guide to gated vs ungated content. No doubt you have plenty to think about on this rather divisive topic. It really is all about choosing the right approach for your business and getting to grips with which tactics your customers are likely to respond to. If you want to discuss your content goals and challenges, please reach out to the team at Contentoo. We are always happy to help.
You can also get a wealth of content insights from our new industry report on the current state of content creation 2022.