Should You Gate Your Content? How Gated Content Works
In marketing circles, gated content is an often debated concept. Why? Let’s start with how gated content works …
Placing a “gate” on your website content refers to the practice of requiring your website visitor to enter specific information to gain access to specific content. For example, you might require a client to log in to your website to retrieve client-specific reports. Another example: requiring a prospect to enter their name and email address to download an eBook. This second example is the type of gated content we’re talkin’ about.
So when does gated content make sense for your website?
The Problem with Gating
Building a mailing list is essential for growing your business. It's your single most valuable asset. By requiring people to log in before viewing your website, you capture every visitor who doesn't immediately bounce. Sounds like a fast way to build your list...but is it effective?
Gating turns a lot of people off. When asked for personal information, or worse, for a credit card to “verify” age or location (or whatever justification you've decided to use), most people will get the heck off your website, pronto…and they might even complain.
Additionally, website visitors who DO fill out your form may provide false information. A mailing list full of fake email addresses or spam-catcher addresses is worse than useless: it can be costly.
When Gating Works: Generating Earned Leads
Let’s face it: there’s a LOT of ungated content out there. So, in many cases, if you haven't earned your prospect’s loyalty, they’re probably not going to go the extra mile to give you their information in exchange for your content. However, there are situations where gating is both acceptable and accepted.
The school of thought on how to generate quality leads has changed considerably. Today, marketers are abandoning the idea of a huge untargeted mailing list in favor of a focused list containing only qualified leads: people who signed up out of genuine interest.
Earning an engaged prospect and customer base is a more involved strategy—but boy, does it pay off. Effort is required on many fronts: engaging in active participation on social media, providing valuable and unique content, and engaging consumers via both direct and indirect channels.
Your end goal: build trust.
An engaged audience will willingly hand over their contact details to acquire valuable assets, enter a contest, or participate in a live web presentation.
Gating only the most valuable content you offer, as opposed to all content, means qualifying leads at the beginning, before the buy cycle even begins. Your sales team will spend less time weeding out uninterested, unqualified, or simply false leads, plus they’ll have more time to engage people who are more likely to become customers.
Selective gating saves you money and helps you avoid productivity losses associated with a large, messy contact lists.
Content for Every Stage in the Buy Cycle
Potential customers, people ready to buy, and existing customers are all looking for different content at different times. Your content plan should include graduated content, from general industry and product information for site visitors in the exploratory stages of the buying cycle to content that answers specific questions to close the sale or retain the customer.
Which content you gate should depend on its value and potential appeal to interested buyers and it should be targeted to a specific stage of the buying cycle. Today's marketing is customer focused. To get and keep their attention, it's important to gate only content with a clear benefit to the reader.
Gating and SEO
Gating content poses serious issues in respect to SEO. Bots can't fill out forms, so gated content is invisible to bots. Be sure to add SEO value with a summary of the gated content on a detailed landing page. Summary pages provide search bots with information while still guarding your value proposition.
If you do choose to gate content, make sure it's worth it. Customers who give up their details only to receive mediocre content that does not deliver as promised are likely to become annoyed. It's easy to break the trust you tried so hard to build. Don’t risk it!
Today, the decision to donate is no longer a moment–it’s a process. Are you truly connecting with your donors? Are you engaging with your donors before, during, and even after they donate?
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