An Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Gated Content

Posted on 21/03/2017 by Team Hallam

Have you used content gating on your website to generate leads? There are many benefits and drawbacks to using gated content as part of your inbound marketing strategy.

Content is at the centre of any well executed inbound marketing strategy. Creating content that people love and share is what it’s all about. But why should it stop there? Is your content contributing to driving leads for your business? This is where gated content can help.

google trends data showing the growth of gated content
Source: Google Trends

In this post, I will:

  1. Define what gated content is along with its benefits and drawbacks
  2. Provide some examples of gated content pieces
  3. Provide best practice on when and where gating your content is most appropriate

What is Gated Content?

Content gating is a technique used to by marketers to generate leads through websites by requesting information from visitors in return for access to a piece of content. This is usually done by giving them a form to complete requesting a name and email address.

Examples of gated content include:

  • Demos
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars
  • Interactive tools
  • Podcasts
  • Training resources such as guides and videos

Examples of Gated Content

Your Strategy: When & Where to Use Content Gating

When creating new content for your website, you have two options – gated or open access.

Open access content is essentially content on your website that’s readily available and doesn’t have any barriers to access it. Typical examples of open access content include:

  • Landing pages
  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Case studies

The option that you choose should really be dictated by the objective behind your content piece and the audience you’re targeting. As illustrated below, defining the objective of you new content will help guide you to the more suitable option for your piece:

Gated Content Flow Chart


So overall, if you’re looking to generate leads from your latest piece and have a large audience to work with (by which I mean the size and quality of your email lists, your social media presence and organic reach in search engines), then gating your piece would be an ideal option to take. T

The critical factor to consider when deciding whether to gate your content or go for open access, is the degree of value that your piece offers the audience. What you don’t want to do is gate content that’s low quality, available openly elsewhere or lacking a ‘wow’ factor. If the piece falls into one of these categories, you could risk irritating people because you’re not meeting their expectations. As a result, you could do some damage to your brand and risk people not coming back.

Benefits of Gated Content

So, you’ve defined the objective of your piece and gone through the long process of ideation and creation and are still unsure whether to gate your content or make it open access. Here are some benefits and drawbacks of gated content help you decide whether it’s right for your strategy.

Some of the benefits of gated content include:

  • Source new leads from people that are genuinely interested in your business. If someone takes the time to complete a form to gain access to a piece of content, they’re genuinely interested in your brand and what you have to offer.
  • Organically build your customer database and email lists. This is a far better approach to purchasing list data, because users that give up information for your content are already engaged and familiar with your brand’s products and services.
  • Allows you to gather more information about your audience. By requesting users to give up information about themselves in return for your content, you’re better positioning yourselves to learn more about your audience. As a result, you can use this information to feed ideas for new pieces of content.

Drawbacks of Gated Content

On the flip side, there are some drawbacks to gated content that you should be aware of, such as:

  • There is a much smaller audience potential compared to openly published content.
  • Gating your content will also limit your SEO potential. Because content isn’t immediately available, other websites will be less inclined to link to you. In addition, landing pages with gated content lack the necessary on-page signals to build traction in search engines. This includes the lack of content depth to answer search queries.
  • Negative brand perception. There will be people that won’t be willing to give up personal information easily to access to your content – especially if it’s openly available elsewhere. People will only be more likely to hand over data when they trust your brand. There’s also a chance that even when these people give you their information, they could be disappointed with what they’ve signed up to.

How to Drive More Value from Gated Content

There are some techniques you can use to help drive more value from gated content and bypass potential drawbacks such as audience reach.

1. Use semi-gated content as opposed to fully gating

Offering a ‘teaser’ of your eBook, for example, will help bring some SEO benefits into play. This will give the landing page more content depth which will not only help it gather some traction in search engines, but also boost engagement from people that find it. Offering some teaser content on the page will also increase the chances of it being shared on social media.

If you find that the teaser content isn’t getting enough traction, you could tweak it to publish on SlideShare or submit it for external publication – which could then lead to a link back to your website.

2. Take the open access model but use add-ons or expansions

If you’ve written a rich content piece, make it openly available but offer additional incentives to persuade readers to sign-up or give up some information in return. This will be particularly useful
for adding more value to landing pages. You’ve clearly communicated the benefits of your product or service and how it can help solve your audience’s problems, but why not bolt on a piece of research or a whitepaper on the latest trends to download? It’s relevant, adds value your landing page and will help push through a lead. What’s more, it will help position you as a thought leader and search engines will reward you for offering valuable content to meet the needs of the searcher.

Content Add-Ons

3. Use paid advertising to help boost your audience reach & drive leads

If your audience reach across organic channels such as search engines and social media are limited, gating your content may not be the most appropriate option. However, if you believe that your piece offers significant value to your target audience and your business, you can use paid advertising to amplify it and reach a wider audience.

To reach new audiences with gated content, I would recommend paid social advertising with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn in particular. With paid social, you can be very granular with your targeting to help boost your reach to a relevant audience. So, whether it’s a content piece specifically relevant to an industry sector, age group, gender, or geographic location, paid social ads are ideal for amplifying your gated content pieces.

Promote Gated Content with Paid Social Advertising

In addition to using paid social ads, you can adopt traditional paid search channels such as AdWords. I would recommend using remarketing to target those that have visited your site and use your content piece to bring back and help you earn you new leads. As well as text ads, remarketing through the Google Display Network has demonstrated to be an effective channel for content promotion by giving you a massive reach while also producing bigger CTRs.


I hope this post has helped to explain the purpose of gated content along with when and where it’s best to use it. The biggest takeaway is to always define an objective for your piece and understand where your target audience is within the marketing funnel before making commitments. By keeping this mind, it will help you generate higher engagement from visitors and, overall, a better return on your investment. What’s more important to keep in mind is the SEO drawbacks of gating your content. The lack of content depth will hold you back and people will be less inclined to link to a piece that’s gated. So, to help overcome this, look at offering add-ons or a ‘teaser’ as part of gated offering.

Is your gated content and overall inbound marketing strategy struggling to deliver returns? Speak to the experts at Hallam today.

If you need help with your don't hesitate to contact us.

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An Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Gated Content

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