Let’s talk about leads. The average B2B marketer spends their time working towards either getting new leads or nurturing the ones they already have. At the end of the day, leads turn into customers and that’s what we’re all here for, right?
For content marketers, the answer to that can be kind of murky. Of course we want to attract new customers, but how far do we go to try to capture these leads? Do we throw a form on every piece of content or do we hope that our content is enticing enough on its own and our readers will eventually request a demo?
The answer to these questions isn’t so cut and dry. Even if your ultimate goal is getting as many leads in the funnel as possible, gating all of your content still may not be the answer.
Gated Content Pros and Cons
Before we get into why you should or shouldn’t gate your content, let’s talk about what we actually mean by gating content.
In general, gating content means that in order for readers to access your content, they need to fill out a form of some kind. At Uberflip, we have forms that overlay our content. In other instances, you may have a form on a landing page, which then redirects readers to another page with the content, or emails the asset directly to them.
Some of the types of content you may consider gating are:
- White papers
- Research papers
Gating content has its benefits, but it can also hurt you if not done in the right scenarios.
Pros to Gated Content
Leads – Considering as I’ve already talked a good deal about leads already, I’ll be brief in the fact that a filled out form = more leads. Yay!
Better Context – If a lead comes in through a request a demo form on your website, you know that they’re interested in your product, but you don’t know much else. By attaining the lead, through a piece of content, your lead gen and sales teams can get some valuable information about them. You know what topics they’re interested in and what types of content they like to consume. This can help your teams send out more valuable content and information to the lead to get better engagement through the sales process.
Protect Your Work – Sometimes you’ll create content that either has specific product information that you don’t want to be seen without knowing who’s looking at it or it’s work that you’ve put a lot of time, effort, and possibly money into creating (like an in-depth research paper) that you’re not able to just give away for free. In both of these situations, it is common to require some information up front, as readers can easily perceive their higher value.
Cons to Gated Content
Deters Readers – I don’t know about you, but I’ve never personally been hit with a form for a piece of content and been excited to fill it out. I tend to pause and decide if I really want the company to have my information. Will they start calling me right away? Will I start getting bombarded with emails? If the content isn’t strong enough to evoke the feeling of “MUST HAVE!” a form will most likely turn potential readers away.
Less Shareability – If you want your readers to share your content to their own networks, gated content can put a damper on that. This is especially true if your gated content is behind a landing page, since no one really wants to say “Hey, look at how nice this form is!”
Larger Audience Required – Gating content inherently decreases the number of views the piece will get (see #1 con). If you’re starting out with a small audience already, gating your content may hurt you more than it would help you.
Un-Gated Content Pros and Cons
Un-gated, free, public, or whatever-you-call-it content is what the majority of us will consume and share on a daily basis. It’s great for quick information and getting your company’s name out there as a thought leader.
Some types of content you may consider leaving un-gated are:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Podcast recordings
While we all love us some un-gated content, it too has its own list of pros and cons.
Pros to Un-Gated Content
Brand Awareness – One of the best uses for un-gated, thought leadership content is getting your brand out there. Presenting valuable information to your audience in a free format, like a blog article, can present your value as a source of education, getting them to come back for more.
Search Engine Love – Un-gated content has the upper hand over gated content when it comes to your SEO. Since it is publicly crawlable, search engines can easily pick up the keywords you’re trying to promote. Of course, this one isn’t a gimme, just for having public content. You have to optimize it to get better search results.
Linking Potential – Inbound links are also likely to boost your SEO. However, outside publications are less likely to link out to gated pieces of content in their own articles. Leaving your content un-gated increases your chances of outside sources referring back to your work.
Cons to Un-Gated Content
Hard to Track – Even if your un-gated content gets plenty of views, it can be hard to track exactly what it’s doing for your company. Without collecting information from readers, it’s harder to know if a piece of content led to any customer conversions, apart from the customer telling your company “I read so-and-so piece of content and it got me to buy!”
Hard to Nurture – If the only way you’re getting leads is through demo request forms and newsletter signups, it’s hard to figure out exactly what type of content they want. You could always have your list of subscribers fill out a survey to tell you what they want to read, but if they were unwilling to fill out a form in the first place, they may not give up this information either.
Easily Forgettable – I’m not saying your content is boring, but if a reader finds your content through a Google search, reads it to get what they wanted to know, and leaves, they may not remember to come back for more information. Without the exchange of information for content, you can’t send them reminders or more content.
So, Gating: Yay or Nay?
After you read through the pros and cons of both gated and un-gated content, you should get a better feel for what resonates with your goals. What you want your content to do for you (along with a few other factors) should be able to guide you towards the right decision.
If you’re more visual, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow flow chart to help you make your decision:
What do you think? Let us know if you have a different take on gating your content in the comments below!
Learn how you can create a better experience around your content – gated or not – in our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Content Experience.
About the Author
Kelly is a Content Marketing Consultant at Uberflip, helping the team with content strategy and implementation. As a Massachusetts native living in Toronto, she spends her free time exploring the city, hanging out with her cat & dog, and watching Tom Hanks movies.Follow on Google Plus Follow on Twitter More Content by Kelly O'Hara