Gated Content: Good or Bad?

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

Have you ever wondered if gated content has a place in your content strategy? Let's delve deeper into what gating can do for you. Gated content is content "locked" behind a form. To gain access to the content, a user must provide information, typically an email address. Companies use gated content for a number of reasons such as: lead generation, lead qualification, lead nurturing and content automation. While gated content does have its place on the Internet, it's important to leave some of your content open, as solely gated content can backfire in terms of social media engagement and search engine ranking.

Benefits of Gated Content

Get better quality leads. Gated content offers an exchange. When a reader gives you his or her email address in exchange for the information you have to offer, he or she is expressing interest in your product or service. This places the lead deeper in the sales funnel, allowing you to nurture the lead until the sale is made and beyond. Leads coming to you from free content sources or social media may or may not be as targeted and ready to purchase the product or service you have to offer. While those leads are important, too, leads coming to you from gated content are statistically much more likely to convert. Invest more time with these leads and you'll see higher conversion rates.

Disadvantages of Gated Content

Search engines cannot crawl gated content. Bots are no different from humans when it comes to being stopped by a registration page or password field. If search engines can't crawl it, they can't index it, meaning the content is not going to help grow your organic search presence. Search engines rank each page of your website individually, so having a decent amount of ungated content working for you is the key to ensuring that search engine users find you when they are looking for you, whether they know it is you they are looking for or not. Readers cannot link to or otherwise share your content. Hoping to go viral anytime soon? Without offering visitors the ability to share and link to content, you won't be able to. Sure, they can share a link to your site, but it won't have the same effect as if they shared the awesome content itself. Readers are closely guarding their email addresses. No one wants SPAM, and even though you won't be spamming, your readers don't know that for sure. They also don't know if you'll keep their information private. With the number of free blogs, eBooks and other downloadable resources out there, most readers are willing to grab those resources first before sharing any information with you. According to data from the Epsilon Email Marketing Research Center, though email opens and clicks remain stable, marketers must work harder through more personalized and relevant content than before. Compared to 2011, 2012's click-through rates are lower overall. You may not always get the right contact information. If someone wants what you have to offer badly enough, they can give you an old email address they don't really use, an old disconnected phone number and a fake name to get it. For gated content to be effective, it must create mutual value. What you provide must be valuable enough for the reader to provide their contact information. Without mutual value, gated content becomes nothing more than a nuisance. When used correctly, gated content is an essential tool for any inbound marketer's success. A quality gating strategy will work wonders to get those high quality prospects moving through the sales funnel. When used incorrectly, gated content can destroy inbound marketing efforts and wreak havoc on conversion rates. For an online marketing campaign to be successful, it should ideally have a mix of gated and free form content. This way, you can generate and nurture qualified leads, while still leaving enough content out there to benefit from virality. Photo Credit: TMV_Media via Flickr.

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