What Is Gated Content? Definition, Benefits, Types, and Best Practices

Gated content generates leads, drives conversions, and builds lasting relationships with your audience. Too often, marketers spend valuable hours creating great content only for it to fall short of their lead generation goals.

That’s where gated content comes into play. It’s a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox and can even act as a hub for all of your digital efforts. But if you’re asking yourself, “What is gated content?” this guide is for you.

Keep reading to explore the core concept, along with gated content examples, how it compares to ungated content, and how to use it to optimize your marketing efforts.

Key Takeaways

  • Gated content is a powerful lead-generation tool that leverages your subject matter expertise and prompts potential customers to provide their contact information.
  • The benefits of gated content revolve around lead generation and building your email subscriber list, but you can also improve brand visibility and authority through thought leadership.
  • Successful gated content requires a targeted content idea based on audience pain points, strong landing pages, and effective lead generation forms.
  • An awareness of potential concept drawbacks, such as limiting your website visitors and alienating your audience, allows you to adjust your strategy before you start gating content.
what is gated content

Gated Content Definition

Gated content is any type of online content that requires audiences to fill out a form to access it.

Usually, the form that gates the content asks for contact information, like their email address, so they can become leads in your CRM.

In other words, any content that requires someone’s email address or other contact information before they can view it is considered gated. The idea is to focus on valuable content so your visitors want to complete the contact form.

Unlike a blog post, the point is to engage the reciprocity principle by offering your audience enough value that they won’t think twice about providing their contact information.

Gated vs. Ungated Content

Not all content can, or should, be gated. Instead, a complete content marketing strategy requires a balance between gated and ungated content:

  • Gated content is an excellent way to generate leads.
  • Freely accessible ungated content (e.g., a blog post) drives website traffic, increases brand awareness, and builds trust with your audience.

Ungated content should focus on providing value and engaging users at the brand awareness stage of the customer journey, such as blog posts, articles, infographics, and videos.

Gated content, on the other hand, typically caters to users in the consideration stage and decision stage. It offers more in-depth information that helps users make an informed choice, such as white papers, research studies, and webinars.

The right mix of ungated and gated content depends on your marketing goals, target audience, and the nature of your business. The combination of both helps you effectively reach and connect with potential customers throughout their journey.

Benefits of Gated Content

For content marketers ready to embrace the concept, gated content can provide a few core advantages:

Enhances Lead Generation

Perhaps the most significant benefit of gated content is its ability to generate leads that are high quality and actively interested in what you have to offer.

Once a user fills in their contact information in exchange for access, you can capture valuable data. Your marketing and sales team can use that data for email marketing campaigns and other inbound marketing efforts, nurture relationships, and ultimately drive conversions and sales.

Builds Brand Authority

In-depth gated content is also a great example of thought leadership. It establishes your business as an authority in your industry. By providing users with insights and information that address their specific needs and pain points, you can position yourself as a credible, trusted source of knowledge.

Develops Trust and Meaningful Conversations

Creating gated content can foster trust with potential clients by providing them with valuable information tailored to their needs. That trust, in turn, opens the door for more personal and meaningful conversations. It also helps develop relationships with potential customers, leading to long-term business success.

Potential Drawbacks of Gated Content

There are also a few potential drawbacks to keep in mind if you’re considering this marketing strategy.

Limits Website Traffic and SEO Value

Gating content may result in fewer people accessing it, which can impact your website traffic and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Search engines won’t crawl the content, which can negatively affect your rankings as a result.

You’re automatically limiting visibility since your most valuable content requires your audience to provide contact details. To mitigate this drawback, mix in blog posts and other forms of ungated content to drive more traffic and increase brand awareness.

Alienates Potential Customers

Asking users to provide their contact information can deter some potential customers, especially if the perceived value of the content doesn’t justify giving up their information.

To avoid this issue, ensure the content you’re gating has a high perceived value for your audience, and clearly communicate the benefits of your content on your landing page. More detail is better, especially if that detail is unique to the content you’re gating.

5 Common Types of Gated Content

Gated content examples range widely depending on your industry, audience, and business goals. These five types tend to be the most common:

1. White Papers and E-books

White papers and e-books are long-form and typically provide detailed, research-based information on specific topics related to your industry. They’re an excellent way to show your expertise and build thought leadership.

2. Webinars

Webinars are educational and informative and provide insights from industry experts and thought leaders. They offer valuable information and the opportunity to engage in real-time with the host, thus fostering a personal and meaningful conversation.

3. Product Demos

A live or pre-recorded product demo gives users an in-depth look at your product or service. You can create interest and desire for your product through exclusive access via content gating, which ultimately moves potential customers further down the sales funnel.

4. Research Reports

Research reports provide valuable, industry-specific data and information. They typically focus on surveys, studies, or original research. The right report can establish you as a credible, data-driven leader in your field.

5. Free Templates

Free templates, such as marketing checklists, budget sheets, offer templates, and design templates, can provide users in your industry with practical tools. The right templates can offer significant perceived value to help your audience get things done.

How to Create Gated Content in Three Steps

Using gated content as part of your marketing strategy is just the first step. The next is understanding exactly what you need to do to create content that will successfully capture leads and develop trust.

These steps can help you create gated content that makes sense for your audience and business goals.

1. Identify High-Value Content

The first step is to determine what type of content will be valuable enough for your audience for you to gate. That could be:

  • Information unique to your business
  • White papers with in-depth industry insights
  • Exclusive access to tools, resources, and more

Answer this question: What content will be most successful in prompting your audience to fill out a form to access it?

Try to align your gated content with stages in the buyer’s journey (i.e., awareness, consideration, and decision). This will increase your chances of providing content that’s both relevant and timely.

2. Design a Strong Landing Page

Once you’ve identified the content you want to gate, start thinking about where it will go. Your landing page should clearly communicate the benefits of accessing the content. It needs a clear and concise headline, enticing visuals, and an easily accessible form.

Social proof, such as customer testimonials or client logos, can also help you build trust and credibility. Remember, the more your landing page can convince users to access the content and complete the form, the better.

You can also use pop-ups or on-page forms on website pages and blog posts to capture user information and allow readers to download a gated content asset if you don’t want to create a landing page.

3. Develop Lead Capture Forms

Your lead capture form can make or break your gated content’s success. You’ll need to balance getting as much information about your audience as possible with minimizing friction.

Requesting too much information deters users from completing the form. Too little information, on the other hand, may not provide enough information needed to nurture qualified leads.

Keep the form simple by only asking for the most essential information, such as the user’s name and email address. More information (e.g., job titles) can either be optional or you can gather them at a later point in the sales process.

Best Practices for Gating Content

These best practices can help ensure your gated content plays an active and successful role within your larger business strategy.

Choose the Right Content to Gate

Be strategic by selecting high-value, relevant, and informative pieces that cater to your target audience’s needs. You can also learn about potential areas of interest for your audience by analyzing your most successful ungated content pieces.

Optimize Gated Content for Conversion

Make sure your gated content is easy to access, user-friendly, and provides a positive experience for all users. Whether you’re promoting a white paper or live demo, you should optimize every step leading to the content to drive that conversion from landing page to lead form.

Track Conversions for Your Gated Content

Monitor the performance of your gated content.

Metrics to track include:

These data-driven insights can help you understand where in the conversion journey your content may fall short. It also allows you to track which gated content pieces are most successful and deserve further promotion, which will improve your gated content strategy over time.

Final Thoughts

Gated content helps you build your email subscriber list, get more leads, increase sales, and boost authority and trust. Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is gated content?” you can use this powerful marketing tactic to provide more value to your audience and get more sales. 

Consider the type of content that works for your audience, build the infrastructure and promotion around it, and unlock its potential to generate high-quality leads, build brand authority, and foster trust with your audience. Happy gating!