Gated vs ungated content: Which is best?

Lead generation has long been considered a top priority for marketers, with gated content among the most successful techniques for achieving it, especially in the B2B sphere.

Now, against a backdrop of the increased emphasis put on SEO and site traffic, we ask if it’s time to abandon gated content. Or, should this method of generating business leads continue to be part of your B2B marketing strategy going forward?

What does gating content mean?

Gating content means only granting access to it in exchange for information, such as the user’s email address. When they come across it on your website or social media pages, they’ll encounter a form asking for their details to unlock the article or guide.

The premise behind gated content relies heavily on creating specialist reports, ebooks, whitepapers or the like that offer a high level of value to your audience. Users understand the desirability of their data and expect to receive something they covet in return.

Marketers must offer a snippet or preview of what readers can expect to get by sharing their data in order to entice potential customers in. That means carefully considering information to display on the ungated side of your site and how to present it for maximum effect.

Gated content as a lead generating tool

Like all areas of marketing, gated content can’t be done half-heartedly. It isn’t simply a case of taking your latest article and hiding it behind a form. For gated content to work as a lead generating tool, it must be targeted towards the needs, wants and pain points of your audience.

The overall aim is to create leads, which means it’s the data you require and not a fee for the content, which is what differentiates gated content from a paywall. Usually, a call-to-action (CTA) or pop-up will direct users towards your gated content.

What to do with the information you collect

After going to all that effort to collect leads through gated content, it’s important that you use it to follow up afterwards. This is something that should be considered in your original strategy and be part of the wider picture.

If you use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, then enter the details you obtain into it and assign the responsibility over it to an individual and establish next steps. Don’t let these hot leads go cold.

Has gated content had its day?

So, if gated content is so good for lead generation, why wouldn’t you adopt it, you may ask. Any content that you put behind a form will not be contributing to your business’ site traffic or your brand’s awareness, which are also likely to be goals within your content marketing strategy.

If you don’t promote gated content properly, you could be putting a lot of resources into something that very few people see. Some marketers suggest that ungated content is a better way to engage with visitors in the long run, building a more loyal audience.

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How ungated content can contribute to SEO

Ungated content is all the blogs, videos and graphics you’re adding to your website for everyone to see. Each one of these pieces of content should be part of a larger matrix that demonstrates your brand’s expertise and authority.

Google and other search engines crawl these pages to determine your ranking in results pages, with ungated content contributing to organic traffic as a result. Gating your content takes it away from general public view and beyond the scope of your SEO efforts.

Gated content in a cookieless world

It’s no secret that marketing is having to adapt to a digital landscape that relies less on cookies. This means tried and tested techniques are under scrutiny and have to fight for their place in the new order of things.

In a world where users are actively prohibiting cookies from collecting their data, gated content is a way of overcoming this issue. If the prospect of what’s to be unlocked is tempting enough, then visitors will willingly hand over their information. What’s more, they will be engaged and relevant leads to pursue too.

In a nutshell: Leads versus site traffic

The discussion around whether to publish gated or ungated content boils down to one thing: your goals. The two types of content perform different functions and considering the desired outcome is the most effective way to decide which route to take.

If you’re on a quest to generate leads quickly, then gated content can be a useful technique, as long as it’s properly targeted at your audience. For long-term engagement and an increase in site traffic, ungated content will boost your SEO and visitor numbers. A well-balanced strategy that combines both types of content can allow you to take advantage of both techniques.