Vice President, Digital at Clearbridge Branding Agency, overseeing clients’ digital and social media efforts.
getty
There’s been a lot of conversation—especially between marketers and sales teams—about gated versus ungated content. Should you gate your content and require people to enter their personal information to access it, or leave it ungated, open for anybody to download and enjoy?
Gated content is a great way to fuel your email list, garner new leads and build out audience lists for advertising. But users can be hesitant to input all their contact and company information to get that gated content. We’ve all been there: You come across a great-sounding white paper, infographic or e-book, but a website form requires your contact information before downloading it. You hesitantly put it in, only to be deluged over the next week, month or longer with emails and phone calls from the company that supplied the white paper.
This tactic is what makes ungated content so appealing to end users but not so much to a company’s sales team. However, ungated content assists in building organic awareness while leaving the door open for users to consume future content.
At Clearbridge Branding, we believe that gated content should be used later in the buyer’s journey. The further along in the journey your prospective client or customer is, the more likely they are to engage your brand. In this part of their journey, they may be more willing to offer up their personal information and more likely to accept (and even expect) a follow-up phone call or email. Using gated content this way should help to foster quality leads that will convert at a higher rate.
What makes desirable gated content?
Exclusive insights, data or other hard-to-find information, including original research or market surveys, make for great gated content. If you expect someone to give up their contact and company information, the potential client on the other side of the computer also expects the content they’ve given up their data for to be worth it.
When analyzing whether or not you should gate content, consider: Is asking someone to share their identity and personal details worth access to this information? Also consider the supporting materials and marketing that you have (or maybe don’t have) at the ready. Gated content should be a part of a larger, overall marketing effort. If you’re not there yet in terms of supporting the next steps with your business, product, service or campaign, ungated should be considered.
Let’s make a distinction, however. All of your content should be high quality and informative, regardless of whether it is gated or ungated. While gated content is designed to foster leads, remember that ungated content provides a different type of value. When asking yourself what type of content should be ungated, your brand’s goals must be at the forefront of that answer. Of course, you want the ungated content to also provide leads, but without asking for contact information, what are the other goals to consider for that content? Appropriate objectives could include brand awareness, brand exposure and even testing potential interest in your product with ungated content.
But what if your gated content isn’t performing well?
If your gated content isn’t pulling in qualified, closeable leads (or any leads), you have a handful of options. First, take a fresh look at the content and revisit it to see if the information you’re serving is worth the ask. Next, dive into how you are promoting that gated content. Do you need to increase the ad spend? Are you reaching the intended audience? Are the platforms you’re using to promote it the right ones? Maybe it’s time to ungate the content and analyze how it performs both behind and in front of that gate.
To gate or not to gate?
Your company’s goals should be regarded as a key factor in deciding the answer to this question while keeping in perspective what your audience wants to see and why.
Have you been entrenched as a trusted source, or are you still in the process of gaining certification as a reliable key holder of information? If the former, then gated content is a valuable way to further your relationship with potential clients. If the latter, then ungated content is an impactful method of bringing attention to your business and just what exactly you offer.
Upon establishing your organization as insightful and enlightening, gated content can be used to strategically capture high-quality leads. It’s all about providing a valuable experience to users. Gain their trust and, using a combination of gated and ungated content, nurture prospective customers along the buyer’s journey all the way to the finish line.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

source