| 27 June, 2024

Gated vs. Ungated Content: How to Know Which is Right for Your Marketing Goals

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It seems that so many sales and marketing conversations are a this or that proposition. While that’s not always the case, the conversation about gated vs. ungated content does fall into this camp, and there are some pretty strong opinions on both sides of the fence in terms of which method can best help enhance a brand’s digital marketing strategy. 

According to the SEMrush 2023 State of Marketing report, marketers and business owners report that their highest performing content of the year was gated. This makes gated content attractive to marketers and business owners as a proven lead generation tactic, but the sheer volume of gated content in the digital space is actually making brands rethink the kinds of content they gate, and whether ungated content actually has more value in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) and thought leadership. 

The relationship between gated and ungated content can be tricky to navigate and is heavily dependent on your marketing goals. Here, we’ll look at the pros and cons of both gated and ungated to help you choose the ideal model for your marketing objectives. 

What to know about gated content

Gated content refers to any type of content where prospects must provide contact information in order to gain access to the piece — in the B2B space, the common types of contact information include first and last name, company name, and email address, and some optional fields may include job title or location. 

This information is gathered via a lead capture form on a website page or landing page. (Optimizing a landing page for conversions is key in creating gated content that generates leads, and we recently discussed the best practices for designing such a landing page.)  

The prospects who convert on a piece of gated content can then be entered into an email marketing workflow, which helps to guide leads through the marketing funnel, and, hopefully, qualify them for the sales team.

There are several benefits to creating gated content. Gated content helps generate leads, and how contacts engage with emails in a subsequent email workflow can help marketers more effectively segment their email contacts for additional, more targeted outreach. 

From a reporting perspective, the performance of gated content via metrics like form submissions can help marketers evaluate if their messaging is resonating with a target audience, or whether they need to refine or revise content to better address the challenges and pain points of a target demographic.

 

When deciding the kind of content to gate, a good rule of thumb is that you want the offer to provide enough value that a prospect feels good about exchanging their contact information. Some good examples of content that’s worth gating include tools like calculators or workbooks; live or on-demand webinars; white papers; industry reports; ebooks; and guides.

Of course, it’s important to regularly monitor and analyze the performance of your gated content to assess what works best for your desired marketing outcomes. 

What to know about ungated content

Ungated content is any kind of content that’s available to website visitors without any kind of restriction. This can include things like blog posts, infographics, case studies, and videos, including brand awareness videos or product and service description videos

Ungated content lacks the lead generation capability of gated content, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to regularly creating ungated content. First, ungated content like blog posts or pillar pages can help boost the SEO value of your website, a component of digital marketing that makes it easier and more likely for potential customers to discover your brand via organic search. 

What’s more, ungated content that’s optimized for organic search — a topic we also recently discussed — can help drive traffic to your website and elevate brand awareness within your industry. Ungated content helps establish and further your brand as a thought leader, and ungated content can also factor into a comprehensive link building strategy to add authority and legitimacy to your brand. 

There’s one more wrinkle with ungated content. A recent tech industry report found that about 70% of those who downloaded a gated piece were disappointed with the quality and value of the content, and the increased suspicion of gated content is creeping into other industries as well. This doesn’t mean you should opt to ungate all content, but it does mean that not gating content can help differentiate your brand and appeal to those B2B buyers who may be burnt out on offering contact information in exchange for content. 

To gate or ungate… which is right for you?

It may seem pretty obvious which content distribution model is right for your sales and marketing needs: if lead generation is your goal, then gated content is probably your best bet, and if organic search traffic and long-term SEO value is what you’re after, then ungated content is probably the ideal route. But there’s no one-size-fits-all hat in digital marketing, and many brands are actually taking a hybrid approach to the gated vs. ungated paradigm. 

For example, one pathway that many companies take is to gate their most valuable content for a defined period of time to help generate new leads, but then ungated the piece and/or repurpose it for blog or pillar page content when new or more relevant gated content is ready. 

This approach can help you reap the benefits of both the gated and ungated model, as long as you realize that this long game strategy requires the capability to produce new gated content to help drive the ungating process. 

At Trekk, we have a wealth of experience in creating high-value gated and ungated content to help B2B companies achieve their marketing goals, whether that’s lead generation, increasing SEO value, or something else entirely. Learn more about our content marketing services, or tell us about your content needs and we’ll connect with you soon.

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