Exploring the Optimum Mix of Gated and Ungated Marketing Content


Brand awareness v lead nurturing: the conflict…

What comes top of your list of marketing objectives? Brand awareness will be a key concern. If you’ve researched your market and come to understand what’s involved in the buyer process, you’ve probably also come to realise the importance of lead nurturing.

Can you see a possible conflict between these two aims? Firstly, think about how you are going to try and achieve success. In both cases content, as they say, is king. Once your name is attached to useful and original information, this increases the chances of you being seen as a go-to authority in your chosen niche. At the same time, how do you guide your leads through the sales process? Once again it’s through content; i.e. with carefully curated information designed to provide customers with precisely the answers they are looking for at that particular time.

How should you make that information available? Herein lies the conundrum. Leaving it open (i.e. ungated content) maximises the chances of your marketing efforts reaching – and being shared among - the widest possible audience. Gated content on the other hand – e.g. accessible through filling in a contact form, opens up the potential of building a relationship with that particular lead.

80% of B2B marketers use gated content – but they tend not to use it exclusively. Both gated and ungated content are likely to have a role to play in your strategy. Here’s how to optimise the mix…

Ungated: reaching the widest possible audience

Suitable for: newsworthy articles, case studies and information focused on your products or services.

What are you aiming for?

  • General awareness. In broad terms, giving unrestricted access to content means as many people as possible are going to view it – and share it.
  • A higher search engine ranking. You may have been responsible for the most comprehensive how-to guide yet to be seen in your niche – but if it’s positioned behind a form, the search engines are unlikely to see it.
  • More links to your site. Other sites are less likely to link back to a contact form.
  • Increased traffic. More useful content increases the chances of you being seen by Google as a useful authority. Visitors themselves are more likely to come back if you are offering something useful.

Gated content: attracting self-qualified leads

Suitable for: whitepapers, eBooks, how-to videos, webinars and free trials.

What are you aiming for?

This depends on the stage the lead is at within the sales funnel…

  • Awareness stage: by agreeing to fill out a form, individuals are effectively prequalifying themselves as potential leads – albeit at a low commitment stage. Here, you are providing general information to address readers’ areas of concern and to build trust.
  • Evaluation stage: providing more focused information inviting the reader to consider how your product may offer the answer to their specific problems.
  • Buying stage: providing detailed information about the benefits of your solution – including, potentially, a demo or consultation.

Gated and ungated can work in tandem…

Use open content (e.g. blog posts) to raise issues and point readers in the direction of more focused content.

What’s in it for me?

Make it clear that behind your sign-up form lies high value information that your reader going to love. Clear, carefully designed landing pages are the best tools for getting this across.

Make it easy…

On any opt in form, keep required fields to an absolute minimum. Usually, just an email address will suffice.

Track your results…

The point of gated content is to get identifiable leads. Are you picking up these leads and nurturing them in the right way? A marketing automation solution is a must if you want to achieve something other than merely giving your audience an interesting read.

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Matt Hodkinson

About the author: Matt Hodkinson

Chief Exec Agent, veteran inbound and social marketer, and the prior 17+ years spent in the Tech industry. Annoying colleagues with classic house music and 80's movie quotes. Family and friends delight in exclaiming... "Haven't seen you on TV for a while, Matt"!