To gate or not to gate: The great gated content debate

Jan 10, 2024


by | Jan 10, 2024 | Campaigns, Strategy


Picture this. It’s a warm day, you’re at a Summer fair, ambling between stalls selling local produce. Something catches your eye – a sign advertising free cake. As you get closer, someone stops you and shoves a clipboard in your hands. “Pop your name down for a free cake!” they shout at you. Down your name goes and you advance. You race towards the slice, only to get stopped by another clipboard. Can we get your address? Hmm, okay. Can you run five laps around the field? Maybe not. Unicycle through a flaming hoop? Forget it. You walk away with a sense of frustration and a lack of cake.

Traditional reasons for gating content

Fortunately, the above example is unlikely – but it raises a valid point around the value exchange in marketing. What are we really willing to give away for what’s being offered in return? As good as you feel your content might be, do your potential customers feel the same way? Traditionally, gated content has been a cornerstone of B2B marketing campaigns, but traditions shouldn’t always be upheld for the sake of it.

Personal data is a precious commodity, and today’s internet users know it. If they’re going to part ways with their valuable data, they’ll want something valuable in return. If you can’t offer that value, you should consider ungating your content. 


Reasons to consider ungating

There’s tonnes of reasons to ungate your content, and here are just some of them:

1. Benefits to your website SEO strategy

You’ve worked hard on this eBook, it’s got loads of relevant industry and product messaging which you know will resonate with your audience. The only problem is you’ve gated it, so none of the content crawls or is indexed by search engines. If you take extracts from the asset or publish the whole thing ungated, you’re boosting your ranking for key terms, and increasing the value for your site users.

2. Shareability

It doesn’t really matter how far and wide they share it, because it’s got your logo all over it, and your great thought leadership within it. Plus, if you’re tracking your links correctly, you’ll be able to see how far it goes online. Maybe it gets downloaded by a junior member of the team, but then shared online with the CTO you’ve been trying to get hold of for months. Make it easy to share and who knows how far it will go?

3. Perception of value

If you give away some industry insights for free – you look great. Engagement on these free assets helps you gauge the warmth of your prospects, it also helps you create bespoke retargeting lists based on user behaviour. These lists are the perfect way of maximisng your paid activity spend further down the funnel.

4. Thought leadership

Finding your niche is one thing, becoming a fountain of reliable knowledge for that niche is another. If you’re ungating your content, you’re getting in front of more eyes. More eyes on industry-leading content means more shares, more followers, and ultimately more credibility.


It doesn’t have to be one extreme or the other

Look, we get it. Telling your board that you plan to delete all the forms off your site and stop collecting lead data might not go down too well. But there’s still a place for collecting good quality lead data on your site. In fact, you’re much more likely to get higher quality leads once you’ve taken prospects on a journey from early ungated content, through to high quality content, which they’re willing to part ways with their data for.


How to get started

Ungating content on your website is a big undertaking. It requires input and sign off across various departments. You’ll need to persuade the board of the value of the process, and when they will start seeing the benefits. Rather than ungating all of your content right away, consider beginning with a pilot test.

The board is more likely to sign this off, and there will be less upfront work required for your team. As part of this test, you can provide clear guidelines on which metrics should be measured, as well as expected performance. You could either test ungating specific pieces of thought leadership content, or test gating content after a specific amount of preview copy has been scrolled past.

If the test is successful, you’ll be able to use the results to advocate a sitewide rollout.

Ad types which support ungated content

We’ve been helping some of our clients fulfill their ungating strategies, and activation is at the forefront. LinkedIn document ads are a great way of getting thought leadership content in front of an engaged audience. Because the user can preview the document in the feed, as well as having the option to download the asset, there’s a clear value demonstration without having to leave the platform.


Ways of measuring engagement without form fills

If you’re not collecting data at this early stage, how do you prove it’s worth and keep your budgets for next year? There are several things you can focus on here: 

  • The size of the generated retargeting audience, 
  • Impressions, 
  • Ad engagement, 
  • Social shares; and, 
  • Follower growth. 

All of this gives you an indication of what content is working, which audiences are most engaged, and where you stand amongst your competitors in the market.

In short, there’s always a need for lead capture, but ungating can actually increase the quality of the leads you’re capturing, as well as improving your brand perception.


Searching for guidance on your content strategy? 

We understand the role that content plays in successful B2B campaigns and can help you achieve growth through targeted messaging. Get in touch.

Related reading: 7 steps to a powerful content strategy

Need guidance on moving away from gated content?

Further reading

The impact of the strategic skills gap in marketing technology

When conversion tracking goes wrong, everything gets shaky

Leading change: Unpacking the Forrester B2B Summit, North America