Before we dive into the benefits and drawbacks of gated content you should ask yourself a business question. What is more important to my company, visibility or leads? If you answered the question with visibility, it’s strongly recommended that you limit the amount of it that you create. Gating content can be very helpful in generating a full leads funnel, but it has some drawbacks that some companies or organizations may not want. Now, with that in mind, let’s dive deeper.

Before you Begin

Determine What’s Important

The first step you should take in assessing the benefits of gated content is what are your goals. If your goal is to create a lot of leads, but understand that many will be unqualified, “the cast a wide net method,” consider using a simple form.

If you want detailed information about your visitors to know how qualified they are, a more complex form can be used. When speaking with your marketing agency or your design agency that piece of data is important.

Understand Your Content

Before you go any further in the process of gating your content it’s helpful to know the quality of your content. If the content you’re creating has significant value, you can ask for more details. If it’s not as informative but more informative than your standard blog, you can use a simple form – basically asking for name and email. When the content isn’t that informative, don’t gate it at all. This will be explained later.

Benefits of Gating Content

Learn About Your Visitors

As a marketer you want to know more about your visitors. You want to know who they are, what are their job titles, what are their favorite TV shows and podcasts; anything that will help you to connect with them. You also have a responsibility to your sales force to help them get more leads, nurture them into sales, and delight them in the future.  Gated content will help you get more of that information before sales even comes into the picture.

Discover What Resonates

This is especially helpful when you have multiple pieces of content. You can test which content pieces lead to the most downloads or form submissions. You also start to learn where someone is in the buying cycle based on the content that they submitted a form with. This is helpful on determining whether someone is marketing qualified, sales qualified, or if that content can be used as a filter.

See Who’s Serious

Some content is simply meant to see who really is interested in working with you and who’s a “tire kicker.” For example, we use our Pricing Guide, placed prominently on our Home Page as a filter. Many visitors submit their information to us, check our pricing out, and then promptly leave the website. That’s ok! Not everyone will be a good fit for us. Those that see the price, and fill out the contact form or download deeper dive information are already prequalified for our sales people.

Drawbacks of Gating Content

Reduction in SEO Benefit

This is supposed to be your best content. This could get you backlinks and get shared across social media. With a high quality piece of content, you have the opportunity to bring in lots more visitors and then remarket to them through AdWords and Facebook. This will be greatly diminished if you gate your content. If visibility is your primary objective, especially in the early going of your SEO campaigns this may be a hindrance to those efforts.

Might Make You Look Bad

This really goes to the heart of all content, but especially gated content. If the value of someone’s data is higher than the content you deliver for that data, you’re going to look really bad. Invest in infographics, and good imagery. Get a copywriter to help you craft your message. The more data you want, the better that content should be. If you don’t know, test with people outside your company. If they’d give up their information for this content and be satisfied with the transaction, ship it.

Reduces Your Audience

If you can’t amplify content through social media the audience that will view your content will be limited. Depending on where your company is in terms of site visits and your social engagement gating high quality content could limit the audience you are able to reach.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Just because your website is not highly trafficked doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t gate content. It just means you’re going to have to work twice as hard and create more content to close that gap and grow your visitors. However, if you don’t have time to create a lot of content or the budget to hire an outside agency you’ll need to determine which is more important, visitors, or knowledge.

Of course this can be a difficult decision to make, so use your analytics to determine what you can do and if you have the ability, consult with a marketing agency to get their opinion on what they would do in your situation.

Published 10/24/16 by Matthew Perkins