When it comes to your marketing content, there are essentially two types: free and paid. Free content is the stuff you provide for free, like your social media page. Paid content takes it a step further, requiring payment for access to more in-depth, valuable content, like a subscription. Gated content, however, is somewhere between the two. Because it’s free, it’s a way to engage your audience even more–and move them through the sales funnel.
What is gated content, how should you use it, and why does it matter? Let’s take a look!
What is Gated Content?
Gated content is any web content locked behind a gate. This means the visitor has to provide some sort of information–typically an email address–in order to access the content in question. It’s essentially hidden content. Your audience just has to engage with it to unlock it. But why would you want to hide content from your audience?
You’re not really hiding the content, you’re just requiring the visitor to show they’re more than just passing by in order to see it. Since you want to attract the right customers anyway, gated content effectively helps to wean out the uninterested.
You can’t expect to make a sale from something like a standalone video or blog post. You have a much etter chance at nurturing a lead into a sale through gated content as long as that content appeals to the buyer through each stage of the journey.
Gated vs. Non-Gated Content
Remember, any gated content is not effective for SEO purposes. That’s what your ungated content is for. Since anything behind a gate is effectively hidden, it’s not likely to get as many views as your ungated content either. However, because it’s more tied to stages of the buyer’s journey, gated content is more effective at turning leads into customers.
In a nutshell, ungated content serves to boost your SEO and improve your brand recognition. Ungated content provides the kind of first-hand value that turns interest into repeat purchases and brand loyalty. The two go hand-in-hand in most effective integrated marketing strategies, as long as they’re used appropriately. So when-and how often-should you use gated content?
When Should You Gate Your Content?
Are your goals more geared towards overall brand visibility and awareness or lead generation?
In the case of the former, gated content won’t get you anywhere. If you’re looking for effective lead generation, gated content should be your go-to. Most web pages have a solid mixture of gated vs ungated content.
At the same time, deciding whether or not to gate content depends on the content itself. Short-form pieces of content like social media posts or blogs should be left ungated. Longer, more detailed content like whitepapers or manuals work better as gated content. The trick is that gated content is more interesting and valuable to your audience. By simultaneously proving your expertise and getting their contact information, you’re moving customers along in the funnel without them even knowing it!
Examples of Effective Gated Content
One of the best ways to leverage gated content into a purchase is through free trials. For example, a landing page might emphasize a new product or feature your brand offers. In exchange for their email address–which the company then uses for future communications–the customer gets a free trial of said new product or feature. Even if the customer doesn’t purchase upon expiry of the trial, the company can still use that email address for further sales opportunities.
Another way to get the most out of gated content is to put your most in-depth, informative content behind a gate. Things like webinars, ebooks, instructional manuals, and ebooks are best served as gated content. Anything that has a high perceived value is likely to pique your audience’s interest. Your visitor might be hesitant to give out their contact information. If they get something of value in return, they may be more persuaded.
The more layers of communication you require, the less likely the visitor will engage with your gated content. In other words, if you require name, address, email address, etc., the customer is going to move on. For best results, a gate should ask for–at most–name and email address, though the latter is sufficient on its own. At the same time, personalized content goes a long way. Including the prospect’s name can go a long way in nurturing a healthy relationship.
The name of the game is nurturing leads, all the while emphasizing the unique benefits of doing business with your brand. By the time the prospect has consumed all the gated content, you’ve likely earned yourself a customer-possibly for life!