Gated vs. Ungated Content: What, Why, Which and When
As a content marketer serving clients in the B2B space, I am frequently asked about the appropriate time to gate content on sites selling products and services to other businesses. When developing integrated strategies for my clients, I use this method in nurture campaigns focused on connecting emotionally with prospects in order to build relationships that will convert to sales.
What Is It and Why Is It Important?
First, let’s define what “gating content” means and why it’s important to B2B small-to medium-sized companies. Gating content is a common content marketing tactic using online web forms to capture users’ contact information and convert them into leads by offering users with high-value, unique and useful information that addresses their needs.
And, identifying when to put this asset behind said forms, or to keep it free is crucial for keeping prospects engaged in the buying cycle.
A question I hear a lot is, “does gating content improve relationship building or increase the possibility of losing prospects due to inconvenience?” The answer is gating the wrong content at the wrong time in the customer’s journey and using intrusive forms can deter prospects from continued engagement with your company. Alternatively, gating the right content at the right time makes positive first impressions, nurtures continued engagement, and builds trust by helping prospects understand what your company does and how it will resolve their pain points.
Types of Gated and Ungated Content
When guiding clients through the process of deciding when and what to gate, I outline positives and negatives for the user’s experience along with potential implications throughout the buying cycle. If a client’s goal is to establish thought leadership, grow brand awareness, increase site traffic and improve SEO, we recommend leaving most content ungated because search engines don’t find content behind gates and these objectives are best met when content is easy to find and is shareable.
Examples of free content types include:
Visuals (images, GIFs, memes)
However, I find my client’s goals frequently include driving conversions that lead to sales where leveraging the next level of value-add content behind a gated form is key.
Examples of gated content types include:
Templates and Tools
Timing Is Everything
Now that we’ve covered the basics of gated and ungated content, it’s important to consider the time in which your assets are made available to prospects in campaigns. Ultimately, I’ve determined that mapping marketing assets on a case-by-case basis against our client’s customer journey is most successful.
I craft content strategies around the client’s customer’s needs throughout the buying cycle, in order to provide answers to problems at specified times. This results in trust of my client’s brand. Over time this trust grows into a genuine connection that results in conversion, as prospects feel your company will truly provide the service they need to address their pain points.