To gate? Or not to gate? That is the question…

Should we force the audience to provide their personal data in exchange for our valuable content so that we can follow up? Or should we give it freely and wait for the reader to contact us if the need arises?

It’s a question that I’ve debated many times, with many people, and I’m not sure I have a definitive answer.

So let’s consider the pros/cons of each…


5 reasons to gate your content…

  1. It’s really valuable content that is genuinely going to help solve someone’s problem or make their life easier.
  • People inherently attach more value to things they’ve ‘bought’ – even if that currency is their personal information.
  • You cut out the ‘tyre-kickers’ because they won’t register to access it if they’re not that interested.
  • The opportunity has come to you as a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) and is of a better quality because they’ve decided you have something of value to offer them.
  • You’ve secured their permission to contact them and follow up.

5 reasons to give your content freely…

  1. It’s not valuable enough. Typically the types of content that are gated are white papers, reports and guides because they perform a deep dive on a particular subject and offer up practical advice. Anything else is given freely.
  • Your audience might not be ready to make such a big commitment. If they’ve landed on the page and the first thing they see is you asking for their details, it’s going to be quite off-putting. This is when it helps to have ungated content (or at least supplementary ‘free’ content to provide reassurance that your gated content is worth it).
  • You don’t have a process in place for following up the leads. Sounds stupid, but I’ve seen a few companies who choose to gate their content but for various reasons those leads are never actually followed up. If you’re collecting data and doing nothing with it, why bother?
  • If your competitors are gating their content, it can be a very powerful statement to give yours away – you’re effectively saying “You can trust us because we genuinely want to help and are therefore more than happy to give you the information you need to succeed.”
  • If your content is easy to access, it’s easy to share. And if you’ve created something that is interesting/relevant/useful, your audience is more likely to share it within their network, which gains you greater exposure.

How do you decide what’s best for your business?

I’m going to bounce this answer back to your content strategy.

Before you even wrote your valuable thought leadership content you had an objective – perhaps it was something like:

  • Lead generation.
  • Better qualification.
  • Readership.
  • Brand awareness.

If the purpose of your content was about building brand awareness and getting your name out far and wide, you have to sacrifice the strategy to gate your content.

But if you’re actively seeking to build a quality sales pipeline, or if you can afford to be more choosy about the opportunities you go after, it may be worth add a barrier that forces people to experience a little ‘pain’ in order to access it – afterall, if they’re prepared to suffer for your content, they must be a pretty serious opportunity.