How to Create Gated Content that Converts

Did you know that 80% of all B2B content marketing assets are gated? While gated content is among one of the most popular lead generation tactics, it must be done right. It’s important to strategize around every piece of gated and ungated content on your website to ensure success. We want to share some of our best practices and strategic tactics to help ensure you’re creating gated content that converts.

What content should be gated?

One of the most common questions asked when determining your content marketing strategy is ‘what content should be hidden behind a form?’ While it’s a great method to generate leads and sales, it can create a poor user experience or simply drive away valuable traffic when not properly marketed. Additionally, gated content only provides SEO value from its respective landing page or from leveraging paid ads leading to your content. Focus on developing your toolbox and reinvent your strategy to engage your customer base.

  1. First, we recommend you start by looking at a 30,000-foot view of all of your content. Determine what drives the most monetary value and the least. Now you can begin to determine what content is “gate-worthy.” 
  2. Pull out any data you have and take a look at how each piece is performing, you want to ensure that both the value and interest are there before you can consider gating your content. Remember, what you think is the most valuable information may not be what most people consider valuable or helpful.
  3. Gate content that provides the most value to your audience. We recommend keeping blogs ungated, but white papers and most types of longform content can be effective content strategy pieces to gate.

Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

Once you’re able to see what your existing content library consists of and how all of it is performing, figure out what purpose each piece serves for your business. Attempt to align each content piece with a stage in your buyer journey. This will allow you to see where you may be missing a valuable asset and where you’ve got more than enough content. It’s important to develop a strategy around the content you want to gate that aligns with your existing audience and their current website experience. You can always optimize and make the user experience better, but always start with your content strategy first.

You will want to avoid using gated content for awareness or top-of-funnel campaigns, but if your prospects are further down the customer journey, you’ll be able to attract qualified leads that are more apt to submit a form and provide additional information about themselves.

What questions your customers are asking? Create content that drives value by answering those questions. Don’t simply create out of opportunism, but rather think creatively and find a way to spark a conversation with your readers. Be sure your gated content landing pages are clear about what you’re delivering in exchange for their information.

Progressive Profiling can also help you determine additional information about your existing audience. You can leverage this data to create gated content around a specific type of persona or audience.Don’t forget the most important part is to follow through on your brand’s promises. Don’t create buzz over a piece of content that frankly just doesn’t serve a direct purpose or is just fluff. This will turn away qualified prospects. Focus on content that increases your brand’s value, provides a unique perspective, or boosts loyalty. You will want to build customer trust and loyalty, so be empathetic and creative when developing your next marketing strategy and don’t forget to think about the future.

What are some of the benefits of gated content?

Simply put, gated content generates leads that can potentially turn into more sales and in turn more revenue for your company.  It is a means of capturing contact information for prospects so you can outline and segment your customers based on interests to equip your sales team with the information they need to spark a conversation with prospects. You’ll be able to truly determine who your hottest leads are and how your product or offering can help them. 

Additionally, gated content offers analytics and insights into your customers that you won’t be able to find elsewhere. Be sure to leverage heat maps, click tracking, or a scroll map to gain a visual representation of how your customers are interacting with your content. The combination of both analytics and tracking provides the quantitative and qualitative data you need to be able to understand what is garnering the most user attention and what the next topic of interest may be. It’s a way to predict trends in your space and position yourself as a thought leader. Focus on the whole picture and decide how you can leverage gated content to be the most beneficial tool in your content strategy.

It creates the “premium content effect” and generates a sense of “fear of missing out” on content that may not be available elsewhere. This FOMO effect allows you to assess the demand for your content.

Drawbacks of Gating Your Content

It’s important to understand the purpose of gated content when considering its drawbacks. Gated content doesn’t aim to provide brand visibility, simply because the purpose is to nurture prospects, not increase traffic and improve trust with your audience. This doesn’t take away from the fact that both types of content are valuable (and necessary) assets within your content marketing strategy. However, it’s important to talk about what NOT to expect from gated content. 

Don’t use page views, reach and traffic metrics to analyze your gated content’s performance. If you’re looking to generate buzz and brand loyalty, use a different approach. While gated content itself doesn’t provide an SEO benefit, you can write a 600-700 word summary on your landing page to ensure you still rank for valuable keywords. Be sure to pick some that align with your SEO strategy that also appear on various other pages across your site.Some people hate forms and will refuse to provide their information despite how great your content is. Don’t worry, the right people will submit the form, but be sure to keep it brief and simply ask for what you need to know. Ensure you build a strong, compelling landing page that draws enough interest to justify asking for an email, name or phone number. Don‘t forget that you’ve got to provide incentives with gated content, so share your intent and don’t overpromise and under deliver. Many times less is more, so visualize your needs versus wants.

Best Practices for Gated Content that Converts

The question is, what gated content converts? Well, we recommend you start with a Marketing Sensitivity Analysis to help create custom best-practices for your business. Some key questions to ask and answer include the following:

  • What are your target audience segments?
  • How is your lead scoring model performing?
  • What landing pages are converting?
  • What’s the best day to send an email?

While this is only the start, this method can help you determine how you should approach gated content specifically for your business and where your low hanging fruit is. You’ll be able to figure out where you can optimize best for lead generation.

Be sure to take a look at forms and fields. What type of information is truly necessary for your lead generation efforts? Don’t make your leads feel like you’re collecting too much information. Keep in mind, you’re trying to cultivate a long-term relationship with your audience, so don’t create a form with 10 fields. 

Simple is best, but be sure you’re collecting information that can help you deliver more personalized content to them and help your sales team spark conversation. The average web form length is about 5 fields, so keep that in mind if you’re optimizing for higher conversion rates, you’ll want to use progressive profiling.

Progressive profiling uses dynamic forms to gradually gather demographic data and preferences over time rather than asking a prospect too many questions all at once. Benefits of progressive profiling include:

  1. Ensure higher conversion rates – you’ll be able to keep your forms short and your questions relevant to your visitor. You won’t be asking the same question twice, so it’s more likely that they’ll want to provide new answers.
  2. Create a positive user experience – since your forms will change based on the audience, they’ll feel like you’re delivering a more relevant, timely and personalized experience. Additionally, you’ll be able to get to know your prospects better over time.

Build trust with your sales team – sales will love having used insights into the potential buyer’s concerns, interests, budgets and even challenges. They may get too excited and want information more quickly, but remember that slow data capture is best, so work closely with sales to prioritize the information they find most necessary to qualify a lead.

You’ve put all this work into your content and website, so be sure to have an inbound marketing strategy that’s just as strong. You’ll want to share your content with existing website visitors and clients, so offer something strong in exchange for their emails. Be prepared to track conversions and measure your analytics across the board. This data will help you make adjustments and optimize your strategy as time passes.

Longform content like ebooks, white papers, webinars, and templates are best suited for gated content. We recommend keeping your blogs ungated, while knowledge is incredibly valuable, it can be hard to provide incentive without something tangible. That doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose blogs and update that information in exchange for a form fill. Be very clear with your call-to-action and let your audience know what they’ll receive in exchange for information. If they’re signing up for a webinar, be sure to send an email with the next steps. If they’re downloading an ebook, have a thank you page that recommends similar ungated content. 

Try using progressive fields if you’re going to promote other gated content, otherwise, don’t make your prospects have to provide the same information twice. Take a second glance at your buyer’s journey to determine how you can leverage forms to your advantage. Don’t forget to ensure that every step of your process is user-friendly. There’s not a single piece of amazing content that can make up for bad user experience. 

Successful Types of Gated Content

Case studies are the most successful types of gated content because you’re presenting a problem and providing a solution. Prospects are interested in knowing how you faced a challenge and what tools or strategies you used to overcome. Ebooks and webinars are also effective, so try to incorporate these content pieces into your strategy. Templates are another favorite form of gated content because it holds a higher perceived value than an ebook or white paper. Notice that at the core of these popular content pieces is education, so focus on topics that are sure to create buzz and answer your audience’s most burning questions. You can create an entire campaign around a topic that includes an ebook, template, and webinar, so be sure to keep the buyer’s journey in mind when deciding what you want to offer and when. 

Content upgrades are growing in popularity. One approach is to offer the second part or and update to an older, but popular blog post. Be contextual with these pieces of content, the blog post must be long enough to justify adding a form or asking for information without being invasive or aggravating. If you’re going to leverage this strategy, be sure to be relevant to what they’re already reading, you want to expand and improve on existing subjects, not divert traffic where it doesn’t make sense. Upgrades should add value to what already exists on your website.

Video can also serve as a good example of gated content. Whether you’re offering a demo, a how-to video, or a previously streamed webinar, you should ensure you provide enough background info and an enticing call-to-action when creating a landing page for these types of assets. We recommend creating short, compelling preview videos of your longer content to entice viewers to sign-up for the rest of the video.

Whether you’re creating your first piece of gated content or still developing a successful strategic marketing campaign is the most important marketing objective. GNW consulting can help you audit your process, find your target audience, and create an actionable road map to support your demand generation and lead generation efforts. It’s time to kick-start your marketing, so contact us today to help you get started on your next project. 

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