High-quality content can offer a lot of value to your business. The kind of value that it offers, though, will depend on the type of content you choose to publish. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of both gated and ungated content to help you decide which type is best for your business's content marketing goals.
What is Gated Content?
Gated content is content that is not freely accessible to anyone who clicks on your link or visits your blog. Instead, accessing gated content requires that the person wishing to view it provides something in return. One example of gated content is online newspapers that gate their content and require that visitors purchase a subscription in order to view it. Unless your business model entails making money directly from your content, though, using gated content as a form of lead generation is the best approach. For example, creating a piece of gated content such as an e-book and requiring that visitors provide their email address to download it is a great way to build your company's mailing list.
Types of Gated Content
Since gated content requires visitors to offer something in return, it typically needs to provide a little more value than a standard blog post. While you may have some success gating certain blog posts, choosing types of content that people can't otherwise find for free somewhere else tends to yield better results. Some examples of the types of content that work well as gated content include:
- White papers
- Reports with original research
- Newsletter content
Benefits of Gated Content
The primary benefit of gated content is its ability to serve as a lead magnet that will help you capture more leads. Few things are more valuable to a business than quality leads, and publishing gated content is a great way to acquire them. Using gated content for lead generation purposes also allows you to create segmented lists based on the type of content that your visitors are interested in. For example, if you are a marketing agency that offers both content marketing and business coaching services, you could offer two different pieces of gated content - one on content marketing and one on business coaching. The visitors who download the content marketing ebook could then be segmented into a list that you target your content marketing services toward while the visitors who download the business coaching ebook could be segmented into a list that you target with your business coaching services.
Drawbacks of Gated Content
The downside of gated content is the fact that it doesn't provide any real value from a content marketing perspective. Gated content won't improve your website's SEO, meaning that it won't bring in any organic traffic. Gated content also isn't going to do much to improve your brand awareness. While those that download the gated content will probably learn more about your brand in the process, offering the same piece of content for free in the form of a blog post is certain to ensure that many more people see it.
When It's a Good Idea to Gate Your Content
There are several instances where gating your content is likely to be the best approach. If you are offering content that is especially alluring/valuable, gating that content could be a great way to capitalize on its value and generate a lot of leads. Likewise, if your content already receives a high amount of traffic, choosing to gate it in an attempt to turn a portion of that traffic into leads is a great option to consider. Lastly, gated content can be a tool for collecting valuable customer analytics. In addition to creating segmented lists based on the type of content that visitors are interested in, some companies choose to have visitors complete a survey in exchange for access to gated content. If gathering analytics is a priority for your company, gated content is a great tool to use.
What is Ungated Content?
Ungated content is simply content that you offer freely to your audience without requiring anything in exchange. By far the most common example of ungated content is blog posts. When you publish a post on your blog, anyone who visits the link can view the content with no further action required. Just because ungated content is offered freely, though, doesn't mean that it won't provide your company any value.
To start, populating your website with high-quality content is the most effective way to improve its SEO. By boosting your SEO, you can dramatically increase how much organic traffic your website receives. Ungated content also offers value in the form of promoting brand awareness and communicating your company's most important messages. Ungated content will almost always receive many times more views than gated content. This means that if you would like to use your content as a means of promoting brand awareness, offering it freely is the way to go.
Types of Ungated Content
Blog posts are the most common form of ungated content, but they aren't the only type of content that can provide value when offered freely. In addition to blog posts, other types of ungated content include:
- One-page checklists
Benefits of Ungated Content
If you would like to use your content as a form of inbound marketing, you'll want to leave it ungated. There is nothing that search engine algorithms value more than quality content when it comes to determining which websites rank at the top of search results. This is especially true if you create your content with SEO in mind. In addition to bringing more eyes to your website, ungated content can also help convert those visitors into paying customers.
Ungated content allows you to communicate with the people who visit your website and provide them with the messages that you feel are most likely to convert them into customers. At the very least, ungated content can improve your brand awareness. At its best, ungated content can serve as an impactful part of your sales funnel, soft-selling your products or services by providing your visitors with content that is carefully designed to nudge them toward making a purchase.
Drawbacks of Ungated Content
The key drawback of ungated content is the fact that you might not be fully capitalizing on all of the value that an individual piece of content has to offer. Let's say, for example, that you have a piece of content that provides a lot of valuable information that people can't easily find somewhere else and a piece of content that you feel will be especially attractive to your target audience. You could offer that content for free to boost brand awareness and SEO, but if it is especially valuable and compelling, it could be turned into a downloadable piece of gated content and used to successfully generate a lot of leads. In the end, you have to ask yourself which benefit is more valuable for your company and which purpose your content is best suited for.
When it's a Good Idea to Leave Your Content Ungated
Let's start by saying that some pieces of content are much better suited as ungated blog posts than gated, downloadable content. If your content is somewhat more generic (meaning it's content that isn't that different from content that your visitors could easily find somewhere else) it may not offer as much value as a lead magnet. However, it can still offer a lot of value in terms of SEO and brand awareness. Of course, if SEO and brand awareness are your primary goals, creating content that is meant to be left ungated is the best way to accomplish those goals.
Making the Decision
When deciding whether to publish a piece of content as gated or ungated, there are two different factors that you need to take into account. The first and most obvious of these factors is your unique goals for your content. If lead generation is your primary objective, using gated content as a lead magnet is sure to generate far more leads than offering the same content freely and simply including a call to action for people to sign up for your mailing list at the end of the content. If SEO and brand awareness are your primary objectives, though, ungated content is going to offer far more value.
The second factor to take into account is the piece of content itself. Let's say, for example, that you have created a truly unique piece of content that is packed with original information and valuable research. A piece of content such as this could be highly alluring to your target audience. Since it's much easier to create content that will improve your SEO and boost brand awareness than it is to create a piece of content so original and compelling that it will convince people to hand over their contact information, you will probably get more value out of that content by gating it and using it for lead generation purposes.
In the end, the best approach to content marketing is likely to be an approach that employs both gated and ungated content. The majority of the content you produce should be left ungated to improve your website's SEO, boost brand awareness, and communicate the messages that are most likely to convert your visitors into paying customers. In the instances where you produce a piece of content that is especially valuable to your audience, though, you will want to gate it and require people to sign up for your mailing list in order to download it.
How LAIRE Can Help You Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level
At LAIRE, our comprehensive approach to marketing utilizes both gated and ungated content to generate a range of beneficial results. To learn more about how to effectively leverage content marketing to generate more leads, boost your SEO, improve your brand awareness, and ultimately grow your profits, be sure to check out our own piece of gated content by downloading LAIRE's Content Marketing Workbook. In this exceptional workbook, you will find original tips and strategies on how to generate content ideas, create a long-term content strategy, promote your content, analyze the effectiveness of your content marketing approach, and beyond. All that we ask in return is your email address!