Gated content is exactly what it sounds like: putting your content behind a “gate”. Gating content is now standard practice among the conversion driven marketers of the world to improve the results of campaigns, by putting a resources (think along the lines of a white paper, or case study) behind a form/landing page/opt-in. This is typically seen as a great way to convert leads faster. When visitors are prompted to provide information in exchange for you high-value content, you’re gaining access to the identities of your anonymous website lurkers. Once the identities of these site visitors are revealed you can then track their movements on your site, providing your with in-depth insights on their behaviour patterns, which you can in turn use to optimize your eCommerce site for those visitors.
Sounds great right? Well, sort of. There’s a great gate debate in the digital marketing world, particular in the realm of B2B marketers and website operators who are in opposition of the gated content practice. Many believe that online content should be free to access by anyone, our of sheer kindness, to help with brand perception, and to not hinder your SEO efforts (we’ll circle back to SEO implications later in the post.).
So what’s a digital professional to do? We want our marketing efforts to be measurable, by tracking opportunities and all associated revenue, which is more important in to marketing professionals (I speak from experience) than impressions and shares. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of gated content to see if it is in fact a marketing win.
If you’re placing a heavy emphasis on increasing leads, then gating content will help you achieve that goal.
Forms a strong relationship
Your content generation efforts are done in part to help build relationships with a vast yet anonymous audience. Your gated content can help build a relationship with the anon of the internet – building the ever important concept of trust.
Increase the perceived value of your content
This sounds a little shady, but once you assign a certain level importance or even a dollar amount – as some B2B companies do for downloadable reports – to content you could in turn attract more prospects.
You’re peeving off your site visitors
Your forms and opt-ins are a nuisance to fill in and get by. You might not think so, but put yourself in the shoes of your site visitors. Gating your content could leave prospects and site visitors with a negative view of your intentions and business.
Less eyes will be on it
This is a matter of fact. Content that is behind a gate will be read less then non-gated content. For most people going through the effort of filling out an online form is too much, especially if they weren’t that serious about the content in the first place.
No SEO Value
That’s right, your gated content isn’t being indexed in Google. Your valuable gated content will have no SEO value, limiting the amount of leads it will generate for your business.
As you can see, there are some positives and negatives to using gated content. What you need to do is look at your strategy, and the goals you’re trying to achieve with said strategy. If you’re purely trying to increase your site conversion, drive leads, and track who’s looking at your high value content then by all means gate that content. Evaluate your content and ask yourself whether it’s worthy of being gated. In my experience, content that is educational in purpose should be free (like this blog!). Remember to test your campaigns to see what’s working best for your business, testing will always help you determine the best route to take – but set a goal first!