What Is Gated Content & How to Use It to Generate Leads

Author 
Chipo   0

To gate content or not to gate content? That is the question.

Gated content can be a successful way to generate leads, segment your audience, and develop targeted email marketing strategies to win sales…

But it can also be a big barrier to your website visitors, causing them to leave your website if they’re not ready to give you their details for the privilege of accessing your content.

In this article, you’ll learn what gated content is, when to use it, and 10 examples of gated content that work well to generate leads.

What Is Gated Content?

Gated content is any content that requires website visitors to submit their contact information to access it. This strategy allows you to use your valuable content to grow your email list and generate leads that will, hopefully, generate sales in the future.

Gated vs. Ungated Content


The opposite of gated content is ungated content. This is any content that site visitors can access freely without having to provide any personal information. The purpose of gated content is to attract leads, but ungated content focuses on building trust, authority and brand awareness. Examples of ungated content include publicly available:

  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Landing pages
  • YouTube videos
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts

Ungated content has many search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, which means new customers are more likely to find this content organically, compared to your gated content. This is why you should frequently pair gated content with ungated content.

For example, let’s say you are a nutritionist, you can create a blog post that targets a keyword related to one of your products or services (e.g. “healthy eating”).

At the end of your blog post, you can offer visitors the chance to learn more by submitting their contact information and downloading a PDF guide on 7 Foods That Will Boost Your Metabolism. These visitors are now leads you can nurture with the aim of converting them into paying customers in the long term.

Pros & Cons of Gating Content

Gating your content is a great way to build interest and FOMO among your audience. This can be a good way to encourage visitors to act. But it also risks putting some people off.

Essentially, a site visitor has to “pay” for access to your gated content with a few pieces of their personal information, such as their email address, name, business name, position, or industry. Not everyone is comfortable with that and may prefer to find ungated alternatives to your access restricted content.

So, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons of gating content before doing so on your website:

Gated Content Pros
  • Ideal for generating leads and growing your email list
  • Allows you to collect additional information like a visitor’s full name, business name, and industry – also useful for creating personalized email campaigns.
  • Provides an opportunity to segment your online audience into different contact lists based on the gated content they subscribed to access.
  • Can increase sales from sending more targeted emails
  • Adds perceived value to content. By gating it, your audience will assume it offers more value than your ungated content.
  • Makes it easy to identify the content your customers are most interested in
Gated Content Cons
  • Creates a barrier that can drive leads away because they don’t want to divulge their contact info
  • Can result in people leaving fake information just to access your restricted content
  • Hampers SEO efforts, which can decrease the number of people who find your content organically
  • Can be more costly than ungated content as you may have to use paid advertising to drive traffic to your gated content pages
  • Requires more time and work to create an offer that your audience feels is valuable enough to exchange their information for
  • Can put off some site visitors, leading to higher bounce rates as they search for ungated alternatives

When Should You Use Gated Content?

It all boils down to the goal of your content.

Are you looking to generate leads or boost brand awareness? If the answer is the latter, then gated content is not the best option. Ungated content like blog posts, infographics, and even videos work better.

Gated content is better suited for lead generation. However, a more ideal scenario is to create content that both generates leads AND increases traffic to your website.

One way to do this is to use gated content only at certain points in your marketing funnel. Here are the different stages in a marketing funnel and the types of content that works best for each:

The Awareness Stage:


In this stage, a prospect is looking for a solution to their problem, but they don’t know much about your business. Your goal, here, is to show prospects why they should trust you.


Most of your content should be ungated for this stage of your funnel as new visitors know very little about your brand and are yet to trust you – create ungated blog posts, infographics, and YouTube videos for this purpose. 

However, gated content that may convert at this stage will include helpful reports, quick checklists, and engaging quizzes.

The Consideration Stage:


During this stage, prospects are starting to view your brand as an industry authority and its products or services as the potential solution to their problem.


Your goal, here, is to build trust with visitors and increase their confidence in your business. Ideal gated content for this stage are ebooks, white papers, webinars, templates, software and case studies.

The Decision Stage:


At this stage of the buyer’s journey, prospects decide whether your business’ products and services can meet their needs.


Your goal here is to convince them that you are the solution to their problem. Strong gated content offers at this stage include free consultations, product demos, and free trials.

As prospects move through your marketing funnel and become more interested in your business, they become more likely to fill out your opt-in forms to access the problem solving content you’re offering them.

10 Gated Content Examples for Lead Generation

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective types of gated content you can use to build a segmented mailing list and generate leads:

Ebooks (or Guides)

Image of eBook as gated content

eBooks are one of the most popular forms of gated content. When done right, they can be one of the most effective as well.

Ebooks are an effective way to deliver a huge amount of valuable information in a nifty, easy-to-read format. You can also use ebooks to give your brand authority and build trust with your audience.

Your site visitors are more likely to share their personal information to get their hands on a problem-solving ebook. However, you must make sure you have enough expertise in your field to convince visitors that reading your words is worth their time.

For example, if you’re a copywriter with 4 months of writing experience and you’ve earned less than 5-figures in your writing career, it wouldn’t be a good idea to offer an ebook on “How to Become a 6-Figure Copywriter”.

Another great thing about ebooks is that you can create them without having to write heaps of new content. If you have a cluster of popular posts around one topic, you can combine the information into a useful guide or ebook. This content creation method is known as content recycling.

And if you create an ebook that offers irresistible value and resonates with your target audience, this can turn into an effective lead-generation strategy.

Templates

Snapshot of a Notion templated as a gated offer

Productivity expert Thomas Frank offers Notion templates to help his audience organize their lives and become more productive.

Templates are an ideal solution for people looking for ways to save time, reduce the number of mundane tasks on their plate, and make their lives easier.

For example, if someone has little to no design or coding experience, but wants to improve the visual design of their website, web page templates would be a great solution to their problem.

If you can offer templates to help your audience achieve a goal more easily, they’ll love you for it. Examples of template include:

  • Google Slides or PowerPoint Templates
  • Notion templates
  • Landing page templates
  • Spreadsheets (for budgets, meal plans, etc.)
  • Design mockups
  • Social media content templates
  • Planners & organizers

The goal of this approach is to get your leads to use your free templates, realize how easy you’ve made things for them, and return to consume more of your content or purchase your products.

Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are simply an upgrade to the content that a site visitor is already viewing.

They are usually found inside ungated blog posts, where the gated offer is access to additional, but opt-in restricted content. Content upgrades can also be offered in videos or podcasts as well.

In one of our recent posts, How to Maintain Your Online Website Like an Online Business Pro, we provided an ungated, detailed guide on how to maintain your website without the assistance of an IT professional. We then offered a content upgrade in the form of a downloadable checklist that can be used to make website maintenance easy:

A Content Upgrade example from the blog post How to Maintain Your Website Like an Online Business Pro

The main reason why content upgrades have become such a popular gated content strategy is because they are a non-aggressive way to grow your leads.

Site visitors get to enjoy the benefits of accessing a valuable blog post, or watching a high value video, but can then choose to provide their information to receive additional content without feeling forced to.

Private Communities

Another type of gated content that has grown in popularity is access to a private community.

This involves creating an exclusive, members-only area (Facebook group, membership site, Telegram group, Discord channel, etc.) and inviting people to submit their contact information to gain access to it.

Private communities can be used to:

  • Keep members accountable as they pursue the same goal (e.g. weight loss groups)
  • Conduct cohort-based education
  • Provide exclusive creator content to subscribers
  • Offer VIP services to coaching clients (1:1 sessions, expert-led workshops, special discounts, etc.)

You can offer free access to a private community, or create a two tiered community – paid and free — adding more valuable offers (e.g. 1:1 coaching) to the paid tier.

Snapshot of offer to join the Ikario community for free or for $4.

Private communities can be free, paid, or “both”.

But, to encourage people to sign up for your private community, you’ll need to offer high-value exclusive content –like interviews from industry experts, in-depth articles, materials to help excel in your courses, discounts or special offers for your products.

Snapshot of an opt-in form to access a private community

Entice your audience with access to exclusive content, premium courses, or tools in your private community.

Think of it this way:
If you succeed in providing real value to your private community, your members could become so impressed they’ll end up purchasing your products and telling people in their networks to sign up for your private community too, which means even more leads!

White Papers

Snapshot of a white paper offered by Zendesk

White papers are a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. However, creating one white paper requires a lot of time and research.

White papers are often used to establish authority on a specific topic. Though similar to ebooks, this content is usually a much longer, in-depth report and requires more data and research to publish. White papers also feel more formal than ebooks, guides, and long-form articles.

This content requires a lot of time and research to produce, so you must be sure that your white paper will meet your target audience’s needs before creating it.

White papers make great gated content due to the value they provide. Essentially, you’ve broken down a complex topic people are struggling to understand and provided solutions or recommendations on how they can implement this information in their lives or businesses.

When done right, a white paper can help your brand become an industry expert on a topic. When you're a trusted expert people can come to for guidance, they’ll continue to return to consume more of your content and, possibly, purchase your products or services.

Product Demos

A product demo as gated content works best if you’re a SaaS company or you have a product that people can try online.

Product demos are the perfect way to showcase your digital product in action so users know what to expect when they buy it.

You can deliver product demos in two different ways:

  • A live demo where you demonstrate the product to one or more people
  • A free trial

When we launched Bookwise, a WordPress theme for indie authors and writer-preneurs, we offered a 14-day free trial to let interested users experience the theme (and Thrive Suite) for themselves.

Snapshot of a free trial as a gated offer

Free trials give interested leads a chance to experience your tools for themselves, before making a decision to buy.

That way, visitors could experience for themselves how easy it is to build a professional author website to promote their books, before having to purchase Thrive Suite up front.

Product demos are a neat way to collect email addresses, while giving your leads a chance to “test drive” your product.

Choosing a live demo versus a free trial as your gated content will depend largely on your product. If you have a simple product that can be explained in minutes, a live demo is the way to go. But if your product has multiple features and functionalities, and requires users to spend some time with them – a free trial works better.

Webinars

Webinars are a very popular type of gated content because they:

  • Can be hosted on a low budget
  • Are an effective way to interact with your audience as you educate them about a particular topic
  • Have a higher perceived value than a checklist or ebook because they feel more exclusive
Snapshot of a Webinar Poster

Webinars are an effective way to engage with your audience, answer some of their questions live, and solidify their trust in your business.

You can use webinars to:

  • Answer frequently asked questions from your audience
  • Give a live lesson on topics related to your industry
  • Co-teach with an expert in your field
  • Provide a live demo of an upcoming product

Your webinar can be as simple as setting up a video call on Zoom, preparing your slides in Google Slides or Canva, and creating a simple webinar funnel to get your audience to sign up.

Just make sure that the content you’re offering is relevant to your audience and helps them in some way.

And don’t forget to end your webinars with a strong call to action (buy one of your courses, book a coaching session, etc.) so attendees know what to do if they want to learn more from you.

Be sure to send follow-up emails to get feedback and continue nurturing your leads.

Quiz Results

Have you ever taken a quiz only to have to submit your email in order to get the results? This is an excellent example of gated content.

With this type of lead generation, the quiz itself is free, but the results are gated. If someone has gone through the trouble of taking your quiz, there’s a high chance they won’t mind submitting their name and email address to get their results.

Snapshot of an example of using quiz results as gated content

Quizzes are a great way for site visitors to interact with your website, and for you to segment your leads.

Not only are quizzes a fun way to engage with your site visitors, but you can also use the information you get about your leads to segment them. And with the right quiz building tool, you can easily build a beautiful, engaging quiz that your visitors will want to take.

With list segmentation, you can then offer your quiz takers targeted content and product recommendations based on their needs.

This allows you to provide leads with content that is relevant to them, which usually results in more conversions.

Courses

Online courses are seen as super valuable because of the time and effort required to create them. People sign up for courses because they believe such courses will solve a problem they are facing or help them achieve a certain goal.

Snapshot of an online course as gated content

Creating courses can take a lot of time (and money). Some people prefer to offer a few episodes for free, and the rest of the course as a paid offer.

By offering courses, you can position yourself as an expert within your industry and earn the trust of your customers. This is what makes courses one of the best gated content examples you can use.

Visual learning is also on the rise, which is why video courses continue to grow in popularity. But this type of content can take a lot of your time to create, which is why most people charge for them.

However, if you do want to use courses as part of your gated content strategy, consider a hybrid strategy where you offer the first lesson of a premium course for free.

Course creation is difficult to get the hang of, so if you’re new to it, check out our own free course on how to create amazing, valuable courses for your audience.

Email Sequences

A simpler alternative to video courses is an email “course”.

An email course is a series of spaced out emails sent to people over a set amount of time. This sequence is usually a step-by-step course, packed with tips on how to achieve a particular goal.

You can use an email series as gated content and promote it as an ‘X-day training’ (depending on how long your email series lasts).

Examples include:

  • X day meal plans
  • X day workout plans
  • Mini-(skill) course
  • Resume improvement tips
  • Gardening tips
  • Recipes.

An email series generally consists of five to ten emails, with one email being delivered every day. Each email contains a different lesson on your chosen subject, which is why they are promoted as “email courses.”

Best Practices for Gated Content

If you want your gated content to be successful, you need to make sure you’ve covered all your bases – from creating valuable, relevant content to making sure you have a solid lead generation strategy to attract and convert your target audience.

Here are a few best practices to follow, to get the most out of your gated content…

  1. 1
    Create content for a specific stage of your marketing funnel (i.e awareness stage, consideration stage, or decision stage). If your gated content is aligned with where your prospects are in their journey, they’ll be more likely to convert.
  2. 2
    Build a strong lead generation funnel to attract and convert your target audience. Important components of a lead generation funnel include a:
  • Conversion focused landing page with well positioned opt-in forms connected to your email marketing service
  • Confirmation page instructing your leads to confirm their email address in order to receive their content
  • Download page where your leads can access the content they signed up to get (e.g. ebook, PDF, software download, checklist, etc.) or
  • A Thank You page indicating they’ve successfully registered for your webinar, newsletter, free consultation, etc.
  1. 3
    Segment your audience in your email marketing service so you can send them relevant content and promotions on your products and services.
  2. 4
    Track conversions and measure analytics to determine the type of gated content that works best for your lead generation strategy.
  3. 5
    Make use of multiple ways to promote your gated content – social media, paid advertising, SEO, etc.

Build Conversion Focused Lead Generation Funnels with Thrive Suite

If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution to build lead generation funnels optimized for conversions, then you need Thrive Suite.

Thrive Suite is an ecosystem of conversion focused tools that all work seamlessly together to help you start and grow your online business.

With the Thrive Suite business building toolbox you can:

Creating a thriving online business just became so much easier.

Click here to learn more about Thrive Suite and how you can use it to build a conversion focused website for your online business.

by Chipo  December 1, 2022

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