When You Should and Shouldn’t Gate Content

Should I Gate My Content?

By Casey NewmanJan 19 /2021

You spend a lot of time working on high-quality content for your prospects and customers. It’s a great piece so, when it’s complete, it should be gated, right? Not so fast. There can be a lot to consider about whether to gate your content. Let’s take a look at how you can decide whether to put your content behind a form.

What is Gated Content?

Gated content is any piece of content that you put behind a lead capture form, so if someone wants to access it, they have to provide some of their personal information — an email address, name, phone number, etc.

Should I Gate My Content?

The answer to this question is another question: Is the content valuable enough for someone to provide their information in exchange for it? While the answer might seem like a simple “yes,” it can be more complex than that.

Considering your content’s objectivity, quality and format can help you decide whether you put it behind a form. But, let’s back up a second. While you may think your content is great because after all, you created it, there are a few things to consider. What makes great content in the eyes of the consumer is different from what you might think. Consumers want helpful content, not a sales pitch. So, in this case, if the content you produce is self-promotional, your prospects and customers likely won’t find it valuable, and as a result, won’t want to give you their information in exchange for it.

Gating your content can also help you gauge the level of interest from your audience. If you offer an in-depth guide for free and then put it behind a gate, you’ll see some clues. If the level of traffic drops dramatically, it may mean that your guide isn’t as valuable as you thought. If, however, the traffic only changes marginally, it may mean you have a piece your audience really views as valuable.

5 Times When You Should Gate Content

So, now that you know it’s not the best idea to gate self-promotional or sales content, what should you gate? If your content does any of the following, consider placing it behind a form:

  1. It saves the reader time or money
  2. The reader will learn a skill or lesson
  3. It’s instructional
  4. It’s original research
  5. It features insights from noted thought leaders (not from your company) or authors

There are a few times when, even if your content is instructional or helpful, it shouldn’t be gated. If your content is a blog post or an infographic, don’t place these things behind a form. You also shouldn’t gate case studies. If, however, you’ve got a whitepaper, list or video that meets the above criteria and is non-promotional, then you could gate it.

3 Times When You Shouldn’t Gate Content

While gating content does have advantages, there are a few scenarios where it’s unwise to do so:

1. You Want Brand Awareness

Shareability helps with brand awareness, and having your content behind a gate inhibits this. Leaving your content freely available lets it be widely shared and allows it to be indexed by search engines, potentially resulting in even more traffic.

2. You Want to Engage Your Customers

If they’re your customers, chances are you already have their information, so asking them to submit it again can be a real turn-off.

3. You Want Sales Enablement

Your sales content — product brochures, pricing, case studies, etc. — should be as easy as possible for your prospects to access.

Common Questions about Gating Content

Won’t Having Less Long-Form Content Negatively Impact my SEO Traffic?

While having less long-form content can hinder your SEO efforts, you can combat this by offering a teaser piece of your content on your landing page. This not only helps your SEO efforts, but it gives your prospects the feeling that the content is even more valuable once they’ve had a sneak peek.

Will Not Gating Content Impact My Lead Generation?

Yes. Because you’re not collecting leads, your email marketing efforts can be negatively affected. Without leads, you’re not going to be able to do a lot of email marketing let alone do in-depth campaigns or segmenting. However, you are still moving website visitors through the sales funnel by offering valuable content, which will keep them engaged and increase the chance that they will return for more information and, at some point, convert.

What About My Existing Gated Content?

It can be helpful to do a content audit here. If your landing pages have a conversion rate of less than 3%, try ungating the piece and see if the traffic you get is greater than the leads you were getting. If your gated content is performing well, it makes sense to keep it gated.

What Should I Do with My Ungated Content?

You’ve probably created an array of content. Depending on the topic, you can take some of your ungated content and create a larger, more in-depth resource that you can place behind a form.

Gating Content Going Forward

As you can see, a lot can go into whether you should gate your content. Considering your content and marketing goals can help determine whether to put a form in front of your hard work or leave it ungated.

5 Secrets Revealed

Casey Newman
The Author

Casey Newman

A former journalist, Casey tells brands’ stories and helps to create engaging content strategies for companies. Before joining Kuno, she was in charge of public relations for marketing tech company Knotice. She earned a gold Hermes Creative Award for Knotice’s blog content and spearheaded several content initiatives that helped lead to the company's acquisition.