Gating can be seen as the 'value exchange' of trading information for content. It's a contentious issue amongst marketers, and it's certain that if ten different marketers are asked about their gating strategy, they will give ten different reasonings and justifications.
There are several benefits to gating, but also to keeping content open:
Benefits of gating content:
- Prospect database can be expanded/better profiled
- Nurture programs can be targeted at prospects after form submissions
- Prospects perceive gated content as high value due to the 'payment' of form submission
Benefits of open content:
- Message reaches a larger audience
- Advantageous for SEO - more backlinks received, content can be indexed
Which types of content should be gated?
It's important to consider the prospect's buying cycle and align content and gating decisions to the right stages.
Generally, content at the awareness stage should be non-gated in order to reach as wide an audience as possible and build brand awareness.
On the other hand, it makes sense to lean towards gating valuable, actionable resources such as detailed guides, eBooks or whitepapers in the research and comparison stages of the buying cycle (also known as Exploration, Evaluation and Consideration stages depending on the buyer behaviour model). Rational rather than emotional content also lends itself better to gating as it is typically more substantial and actionable.
Other gating considerations
Going ungated does not necessarily mean completely losing the ability to target prospects. Wordstream use an excellent example of using RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) to leverage ungated content.
When gating, a fundamental rule should be to keep forms short. Each additional form field should decrease the submission rate. In fact, an experiment by Vital found that adding a phone number field to one of their forms decreased conversions by 47%. Marketing Automation Software such as Pardot should allow a Progressive Profiling feature, which enables certain form fields to be displayed based on other fields having previously being completed, meaning that comprehensive prospect profiles can be built without overwhelming them with too many fields all at once.
The next steps after gating should also be considered. Gating works best when the right nurturing programs and sales follow-up processes are in place. Without them, prospect data is being collected without an effective qualification strategy.
Finally, a trend to consider is the semi-gating, where part or all of the content is open-access, and either the rest of the content or bonus content or downloads are gated. This allows the prospect to better assess if the content is worth 'paying' for with a form submission.
Ask any marketer their opinions on gating content and you’re sure to get a mouthful in response. You might get some who consider themselves progressives by landing firmly in the “no gate” camp, others who will preach the benefits of gating content all day long and others still who will say this is something their team debates every time they publish a new piece of content. So who’s right? It depends.