Gated content is a term that isn’t heard very often, but everyone knows what it is. For instance, think of Pardot’s whitepaper download form: it asks for your name, company, and email before it allows you a copy of their whitepaper. The key here, of course, is obtaining your email, an easy and surefire way to contact you with further demonstration proposals and sales promotions. Annoying but effective, the tactic of gated content offers a quality piece of content in exchange for a little bit of contact information. Its usefulness to marketers and simplicity to implement has made it a staple of lead generation.
However, the tactic of gating content is two-sided. On one hand, it’s effective for revealing the names of previously anonymous people on the other side of the screen and providing a bit of preliminary information on their interests. On the other, it’s estimated that gating content reduces downloads to an incredible 2-5% of what they could’ve been.
As with all marketing decisions, there’s a tradeoff to be made when deciding whether or not to gate content.
Suppose you do decide to gate your content. You cut your downloads, the visibility of your content, and how much it’s going to be shared. How are you going to make up for the lost leads?
First, keep in mind that the leads that you gather from gated content are likely to be of higher quality, because these people have overcome a barrier (albeit a small barrier) to obtain something of interest to them, thus proving the extent of their interest.
But what about a proactive way to promote these?
Social media proves itself to be an effective channel of distribution for gated content. Twitter is especially conducive to this purpose. If your short, Twitterified hook catches their attention and manages to get them to click, it’s more likely that they will go through with the form on the download page. Intuitively, it makes sense that anyone who clicks the link has already decided that they want to view the content, and as long as the form is not tedious or intrusive enough to turn them away, it is likely that they will go through with it.
However, gated content tends to be less “viral” on social media. This is a direct function of the smaller number of people who will read the content, which is all the more reason to promote the content more heavily through social media.
Of course, there are always people who will bounce at the last minute. Any one of many reasons could explain this behavior. It’s easy to get greedy and go overboard on gating content, and just as easy to go in the opposite direction, not gating enough and ending up with too few contacts.
What are your tips on how to strike a balance between gated and non-gated content?