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To gate or to ungate? That is the question!

19th May 2022 | Written by Maddie McMunn |2.5 Minute Read

The buyer's journey is not an easy one. First you have to navigate through a whole heap of benefits and drawbacks before deciding whether or not the product will work for you. But that doesn't mean there aren’t other ways of improving your online presence. 

What is Gated Content

As most of us know by now, gated content can be defined as media and information acessible by providing a short response to a question, or submitting personal details such as an email address or phone number. Gating is predominantly linked to the capture of valuable data in exchange for desirable content, with the aim of generating conclusions about the form-filler through their content choices. In other words it requires the exchange of information from the audience to the creator.   

What is Ungated Content

On the other hand, ungated content can be defined as media and content accessible straight from a search engine without providing any personal data. It’s linked mainly to content such as blogs, videos, infographics and case studies, as its primary purpose is to inform and educate on a topic rather than collect intelligence. 

It's true that ungated content doesn't have gated's direct lead generation value, but it still matters for your buyer's journey. While gateways are designed to bring in leads, free posts on social media and blogs go beyond improving SEO and increasing brand awareness. They provide additional distribution opportunities, giving you an unfair advantage over competitors who don't use this strategy.

The key difference between gated and ungated content is that a gate requires the person accessing it to provide personal data to the owner or creator of the content. A way to differentiate the two is to think of the content behind a lock; gated content requires you to trade information for the key to open the lock, whereas ungated content provides you with the key without any exchange. The contrasting characteristics of the two concepts are in fact, what make them useful in certain situations and for different purposes and outcomes.

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So when should you gate content?

When to gate content is an excellent place to start when determining what content would benefit from the exchange. A good indicator of when to gate content is if the content topic is generating significant curiosity levels, as collecting data can help to draw conclusions on what is behind the topic’s popularity and how attracts people. Another reason to gate content is if it is of high value and worthy enough that people will be willing to provide information in exchange for the content. Content with original ideas, or exclusive data and statistics that can't be found elsewhere is perfect to be gated in this regard. This is why the types of content typically gated are long-form, including eBooks, whitepapers and webinars. Their information is invariably of high quality and value, making an exchange with the reader for access justifiable.  

What content should you ungate and when?

A common reason not to gate content is when its aim is to promote brand awareness, since the gate reduces the content’s reach as it makes it harder to access the information. Also not including a gate can improve trust with the audience because of the lack of roadblocks to the content. Other reasons to skip the additional barrier around your media include if the content is underperforming, as a gate will deplete its success further. 

Best practices of gated vs ungated content

A key idea to consider when going through the “great gate debate” is to think: Is it worth it? 

A major turnoff  of gated content is that it provides next to no SEO value, actually reducing how much of your content is visible to Google. But, if gating your content is the path you choose, it's crucial to make the forms short, simple and non repetitive. This makes the reader more inclined to fill it out instead of clicking away from your content. Basic and non repetitive questions are ideal as they provide the must-know information of the reader. More in depth information can be discovered with follow up questions when further profiling the audience.  

Article written by Maddie McMunn, Events Coordinator