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Gated content is exactly what it sounds like - content that is somehow gated to prevent immediate viewing. To view gated content, readers must provide more information such as their email, phone number, or other personal information. This is common practice for businesses that rely on subscriptions or tiered memberships, but it’s not without its drawbacks. There’s quite a bit of debate about whether gated content is more helpful than harmful when it comes to audience engagement and lead generation. Like most things, it can be beneficial when done correctly, but ineffective to a business if done incorrectly. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about how gated content can be used to further your business.
Gated content is appealing to users because it is exclusive by definition. It’s the gossip that’s too juicy to share, the secret everyone wants to know, the business hack that will unlock new potential. Gated content might as well be a neon sign that reads “Click Me!” People like feeling that they have something other people don’t, so why not use that to your advantage and generate some leads? There are some nuances to generating leads, but for now, let’s keep looking at the bigger picture.
Using gated content to generate leads gives you insight into your potential clients. When you ask your audience to provide more information in exchange for their access to content, what you’re really doing is forming a better idea of who your potential clients are. What are they interested in? What do they need from you? What information of yours is the most valuable to them? When you know what your audience is looking for, you can start focusing your time and effort on the leads most likely to result in a sale rather than wasting valuable resources on fruitless endeavors.
If you want a solid example of gated content benefiting a business, look no further than popular podcasts. Most podcast episodes are free to listeners, but some podcasts offer exclusive listener memberships for a small fee. In return, the listener gets access to unedited recordings, exclusive interviews, or VIP content that isn’t available for free. The exclusive listeners of these podcasts often form their own cyber communities and contribute to the podcasts’ social media presence, buy merchandise, and refer more listeners. These podcasts have successfully used gated content to stand out from competitors, increase product awareness and audience size, and grow engagement across multiple social media platforms while also satisfying their wider audience of listeners by keeping the bulk of their podcast episodes ungated.
Gated content that is worth the cost of access can bolster client trust and set you apart from competitors who may not be able to deliver the same value to their customers.
Okay, you’ve heard the arguments in favor of gating content. So what’s all the controversy?
We all like having the latest information but the truth is, the cost of providing personal information in exchange for content access will result in fewer leads. We’ve all put our contact information into something before and regretted it after being hounded by salespeople or spammed with junk mail. Not everyone is going to take that leap, no matter how great the content on the other side is.
Another consideration is that ungated content drives more traffic and has the potential to be widely shared, especially if it’s valuable enough to be gated by your competitors. If your biggest priority is to increase awareness of your business, creating a barrier between yourself and potential clients doesn’t serve that initiative. Ungated content has a higher potential to be widely distributed, but gated content with fewer views can still provide valuable information that leads to sizable sales. Some would argue that the quality of leads generated by gated content compensates for limited viewership, but that may not hold true for your specific business needs and marketing strategy.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to gating content is that it runs the risk of eroding client trust if it’s not done appropriately. It’s very important not to gate content that doesn’t deliver value to your audience. Remember when we said gated content is exclusive, and people like exclusivity? Well, get ready for those nuances we promised. Gating content for the sake of making it feel exclusive isn’t reason enough to do it. Whatever it is that you decide to gate has to live up to the expectation that’s set when you ask your audience to work for it. For example, pretend you are hosting a webinar and attendance is gated by an info-form designed to help you analyze participants. If the webinar is little more than a rehashing of your ungated blog content, your webinar viewers aren’t going to be thrilled that they gave away personal information and weren’t given any valuable insight during the webinar, and they’ll begin to lose trust in your business’s deliverables. Whenever content is gated, the content needs to be worth as much or more than what you are asking your audience for in return for access.
There are numerous factors that play into the cost benefit analysis of whether or not gating content is right for your business. This is the part where you’re probably asking yourself what on earth you should do. To gate, or not to gate?
Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to gating content. Content should be gated when it serves a purpose that is critical to your individual business’s needs, and that means every business is its own unique situation. The decision to keep content accessible or gated, and to what extent, will depend on your business’s goals and priorities. Do you place more value on having a wider audience, or do you want to focus on generating promising sales leads? Are you ready to turbocharge engagement, or do you need to increase awareness of your business first? If you decide to gate content, what information are you going to ask for in exchange for access to content? If you ask for too much, your audience will be less willing to provide it to you. If you ask for too little, the information you receive can’t be analyzed and leveraged in the future. How can you be sure that you’re asking for the appropriate information that will give you the insights you’re looking for?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. There are numerous considerations to be made and the wrong choice can lead to roadblocks in achieving your business goals. It’s not a decision to be made lightly and the safest thing to do is seek professional guidance. Lucky for you, Adrilan can help! We’ve been around the block and can accurately assess the best course of action for each business’s unique situation. All you have to do is reach out for a consultation. We’ll gather some information of our own and provide you with a custom content strategy designed to help your business thrive.