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My Love-Hate Relationship with Gated Content

Every relationship has its ups and downs. But when it comes to my feelings about gated content — well, they’re more than just a little conflicted.

I love and I hate the idea of asking readers to provide information about themselves to access digital content. Strong words, I know.

You know what I love about it? It improves the top of my funnel by capturing leads and helps me understand which people have at least a little bit of interest in buying something.

You know what I hate about it? It might drive away potential customers. When I have to sign in to a website to read it, I know it’s going to start sending me a never-ending stream of email content — so sometimes, I just leave. As I’m navigating away, I’m thinking: “Is this happening in marketing programs everywhere?”

As you can see: As a marketer, I’m torn.

Does gated content really work for lead generation?

The answer: if you do it correctly. There are a lot of mistakes being made out there. Here are some tips:

  • Reveal your plans. Clearly state how any information will be used and stick to it. People are concerned about how much you will hassle them in the future if they give you any kind of information. Give every reader peace of mind that you aren’t selling their information to other marketers.
  • Don’t be shady. Forcing users to opt out of your mailing list or having an opt-in box automatically checked when they sign up hurts you in the long run. Make it clear that by signing in, they’ll get access to the site, but they won’t be added to mailing lists. Then give them the opportunity to additionally sign up for the really awesome content you send out over email if they want to.
  • You don’t need a zip code. People are mistrusting when you ask for personal information (such as location or birth date) that doesn’t have anything to do with the content they want from you, so don’t even ask for it. You want my credit card info to read an article? No thank-you!
  • Don’t gate everything. Research indicates you can increase leads by gating only the highest-quality content. That means leaving ongoing blog posts and social exchanges ungated, so you can build trust in your thought leadership and information before asking for personal data.
  • Go free-mium. Allow visitors a certain number of free pieces of content before you require any kind of information. Repeat visits mean more interest, indicating they’re the people you actually want information from versus casual readers with whom you would be wasting time.

Your content is meant to help customers move further along through the buying cycle, not to scare them away. Make sure you don’t shut everyone out. If you implement a gating program, keep a close eye on it to ensure that you are optimizing it to get the best contacts into your funnel.

Any other thoughts out there on gating content? Let us know your ideas on one of our social channels, here, here, and here.