Back to all posts
Marketing

What is Gated Content? Examples and Best Practices for B2B Marketing

Considering gated content in your marketing strategy? Discover what it is, when it's effective and how to implement it.

Rose McMillan · April 26, 2024
What is Gated Content? Examples and Best Practices for B2B Marketing

Go to section

Go to section

Lead generation in 2024 can be difficult. Especially with potential customers trying to ignore just about every marketing message they see. Marketers are doing their best to reach their target audience with lower budgets and one of the most effective ways to do this is with gated content.

To some, it may seem like a cheap content marketing strategy. To others, gated content is a valuable lead generation method for getting more qualified leads through the door.

Let's explore everything you need to know about gated and ungated content.

What is gated content?

Gated content is any type of content where the view someone has to take action to gain access to it. In other words, they have to provide something in exchange for the value of your content. Typically, the potential customer has to leave their contact details to access what you're offering.

Some examples of gated content formats include:

  • Checklists
  • Guides
  • Calculators
  • Cheat sheets
  • Ebooks
  • Instructional videos and courses

And various other types of exclusive content that is otherwise not freely accessible to your usual target audience. When you gate content, you must ensure that it's valuable enough for the potential customers to willingly exchange their contact details for it.

In other words, successful gated content is valuable content that you won't typically find on a landing page or a blog post. If you deliver on your promise your gated content can build awareness, generate high-quality leads, and turn potential buyers into customers.

It's a common content marketing strategy and many brands use it across industries, with different levels of success.

Gated vs ungated content debate

You may be wondering if gated or ungated content is better for your target audience. On the one hand, gating content helps generate qualified leads but on the other, ungated content can generate more organic traffic.

So, which route do you go? Here are some considerations to keep in mind when you gate content.

Benefits of gated content

Gated content helps generate qualified leads

Set up a lead capture form and some basic marketing automation and you can grab the contact info from valuable potential buyers. Leaving content ungated means that potential buyers could access your content without ever progressing further in the customer journey.

Digital marketers love gated content because it's an easy way to generate leads and move them through the sales funnel.

Connecting with your exact target audience

Anyone can stumble upon a blog post and read it, but the person who leaves their email in your lead capture forms is more likely to make a purchase from you. They are in a different stage of a buyer's journey and want the exclusive information you have that is otherwise not easily accessible on your website.

When you create high-quality content with a specific angle, you create it for a user persona and not just any website visitor. This helps your sales team because when they reach out to leads generated with gated content, they have a better understanding of who they are and know exactly what to pitch them.

More qualified leads

Gated content is usually created to target a certain audience. For example, if you set up an email marketing strategy to collect leads from a landing page, you'll get all types of leads. Some are in the awareness stage, some are ready to purchase, and some are in between.

When you gate content, the leads you get are more qualified and likely to purchase. Traditional content marketing formats are not as suitable for lead qualification as ones gained through gated content.

Problems with gated content

Decreased reach

When considering gated vs ungated content, you need to consider how it performs in search engines. For on-page SEO, gated content won't bring any value because you're putting it behind a lead capture form.

When thinking about whether to leave content ungated, think about the content strategy behind it. If the keyword has lots of potential value and could attract thousands of visitors, then it is better to leave it ungated rather than collect some contact info from a handful of visitors.

User frustration

The average user today knows pretty much every digital marketing tactic in the book, so they may not be too happy about a landing page asking them for contact details. Depending on the stage of their buyer's journey, a gated content piece could deter them from your brand instead of converting them into a paying customer.

It's worth looking into your competitors and doing a quick check before gating a piece of content. For example, if a direct competitor does not require any information before someone can download their guide then they may choose to access their content over yours.

Trust concerns

If your gated content is targeting a larger base of visitors and you're trying to build brand awareness, you might face some trust issues. While it is a powerful tool for lead gen, it may lead to some issues as visitors may not want to share their valuable information with you.

In an era of sophisticated cyber-attacks, potential customers have a right to be cautious about handing over their contact details. Be clear with them about what happens with their information once they enter it on your landing page or capture form. This can help reassure them about your company’s commitment to security and data protection.

Gated content examples

Wondering where to get started with your gated content strategy? Here are some superb examples that you can learn from.

Bouncer's 2024 Email List Hygiene Report

Bouncer is an email verification service that helps businesses of all sizes verify their lists to ensure that the emails they're sending out are legitimate addresses. This year, they published an email list hygiene report that is super valuable to just about anyone who sends emails.

Before jumping into the gated content piece, you know exactly what you're exchanging your address for. There are insights from more than 250 responses, and 12 email deliverability experts giving their thoughts creating a total of 50 pages of valuable content.

Prodport's top 10 Shopify conversion tactics

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms out there as it helps anyone with a modest budget get started with their own store. But what good is it to drive traffic to a store if it is not driving new conversions? Prodport created a guide for all Shopify store owners to help them get more sales out of their existing traffic.

Marmind's guide on how to choose marketing resource management software

Marmind is a marketing operations tool that helps businesses of all sizes manage their marketing resources in one place. MRM or marketing resource management software is a relatively small category in marketing software and choosing the right kind can be really difficult.

While Marmind does sell this type of software, the guide promises - and delivers - an unbiased view that helps the reader make a purchasing decision.

Intercom's customer service trends for 2024 report

Intercom is a giant in the customer support game and for a good reason. The product is well adopted with thousands of companies around the world using it for their CS and CX operations. This gives them plenty of data that they can use for gated content creation.

There are more than 2,000 entries all from existing Intercom customers. While the insights themselves are valuable, what's even more valuable is that each one is a new opportunity to sell Intercom as a product.

Tableau's best practices on building dashboards

Tableau is a business intelligence and data analytics tool that helps companies of all shapes and sizes perform data analytics. A huge part of that is data visualizations in the form of dashboards, this report can help you find out how dashboards work and how to build one for yourself. Since Tableau has strong reputation, the gated content here is guaranteed to provide value to the end user.

Gated content ideas for lead generation

Want to offer high value with your gated content? Here are some great ideas for various gated content types of lead nurturing and driving more sales.

Ebooks

An ebook is one of the most common types of gated content and has become a standard in many industries. An ebook helps you present relevant data in a manageable, downloadable format.

Content marketers know that ebooks are great for repurposing. For example, you can combine several great blog posts into an ebook, or add new research and data to your existing content and turn that into an ebook as a form of gated content.

Whitepapers

The difference between an ebook and a whitepaper is that the latter is a more technical and authoritative document that explains a specific subject matter to an educated and informed audience. In other words, while an ebook could have a marketing or sales angle, the role of a whitepaper is primarily to educate and inform.

Whitepapers are commonly geared towards more technical audiences and they fit well into specific stages of the B2B sales cycle.

Webinars

The growth of webinar software has helped improve the prevalence of webinars. You can hold webinars for hundreds of people at once and use software to poll attendees, add calls to action or links, and split them up in breakout rooms.

As an extra, you can record them and have evergreen webinars that potential customers can watch on demand, which means that this gated content format is very reusable. When coupled with other digital marketing strategies (such as emails), webinars can be an extremely lucrative and cost-effective way to drive new leads.

Exclusive reports

Industry reports are commonly created as ungated content because gated content doesn't perform well SEO wise. In other words, a report that anyone can view and quote is great for link-building and building brand awareness.

However, an exclusive report like the one mentioned above by Bouncer can be highly effective for user engagement. You're giving highly relevant content to an audience that understands it rather than hoping it gets picked up by the right authors online.

Courses

Why let customers learn from YouTube videos when they could use your own content? For example, Ahrefs is an SEO tool that has a range of courses on various topics, from technical SEO to how to build links to a landing page. When someone opts in to get access to that content, they get instructions on how to do all the things mentioned, while using Ahrefs.

Research studies

It doesn’t have to be scientific research, but having hard data behind your claims can help persuade a decision-maker to opt for whatever you're offering them. To make this type of gated content work, make sure you have all the relevant details: who did the research, what the methods are, and why the results are relevant for whoever is reading.

Free trials or demos

This is the most common type of gated content B2B, but it's so easy to get wrong. If you're offering a demo or a trial, you need to make sure that the product delivers on the promise and solves a pain point for your target audience. Make sure your free trial onboarding process is flawless and that the end user knows exactly what to do after signup.

For demos, doing them live is a bigger exchange of value compared to pre-recorded ones.

B2B gated content - yay or nay?

Gated content for B2B requires careful consideration. B2B audiences make important purchasing decisions and typically, the sales cycle is longer and the amount of money in question is usually higher. Your sales and marketing team need to carefully consider whether they should have gated or ungated content for this demographic.

The sales cycle is more complex

The B2B sales cycle requires a few decision makers so, you have to carefully choose when in the sales cycle you're going to gate the content. If you gate the content too early, the leads won't provide you with enough valuable information because the person consuming it is not likely to be a decision-maker.

Compared to B2C, a B2B sales cycle can take months, which can also mean that by the time someone is ready to purchase, your content may need updating.

The expectations for value are higher

People have high expectations when it comes to gated content.

Since they're supplying their work email and phone number, the content you're giving them should solve a specific pain point and be relevant to their business needs. It may be worth your time to do some research and talk to your potential customers about the kind of content that would make them interested before you spend any time creating gated content.

Otherwise, you risk doing a lot of work only to get no leads at all.

There are multiple decision-makers

When sharing gated content in the B2B sphere, you should be aware that the person reading may not be the person who can make a purchasing decision.

There are typically boards, departments, and relevant stakeholders that need to weigh out the decision on where their budget goes. So, the gated content should appeal to a larger group of people and it can be hard to accomplish that with a single piece of content.

The landscape is very competitive

Creating gated content in the world of B2B is one of the most common content marketing plays. You're doing it, but guess what - so is everyone else.

In a competitive landscape, there is a good chance that someone else is producing more content, promoting it more heavily on channels like LinkedIn or something else. Other websites could be better at this strategy so you may consider “ungating” content or using a different kind of approach.

It's focused on short-term results

B2B is all about building trust and gated content can be the opposite of that. For many stakeholders, forcing gated content early on in the relationship may feel like too much of a push in the wrong direction. In other words, it's likely to do more harm than good. Get to know your audience first before creating any type of gated content.

It's hard to measure how effective gated content is

Figuring out how effective a piece of content is can be anything but easy Since there are so many stakeholders and touches involved. You won't know at which point someone decided to purchase making it hard to tell which person was influenced (or not) by a piece of gated content.

Even if you have the best CRM or sales attribution software, measuring the effect of a gated content piece is going to boil down to asking someone whether they read your ebook or not.

Wrapping up

The final decision on gated vs ungated content requires a lot of research for your use case. There are many potential benefits of using this type of digital marketing strategy. You need to offer your visitors something of high value and strike the right balance that will make the visitor give you their info in exchange for that content.

And if you want to drive sales and get increased revenue, you need a tool to give you in-depth sales insights from your leads. With Capsule CRM, you can track the buyer's journey and turn your gated content into legitimate sales opportunities.

Grab your free trial of Capsule and boost your business operations.

What to read next