Let’s say you have a piece of content that you want to share with your audience. You could give it away for free, which ensures more people will see it. Or you could make it gated and ask readers to give something up in order to view it.
So which is the best option? Well, it depends on your goals and what you want to get out of that content.
Keep reading to learn all about gated content, including when you should use it, and why it’s beneficial. We’ll also share 11 different examples of gated content to inspire you.
What is gated content?
Gated content is any content that requires users to submit their contact information to access it. The strategy allows you to use your content to grow your email list and generate leads that will hopefully become sales. This is why gated content is sometimes referred to as a lead magnet.
Gated content vs ungated content
The opposite of gated content is ungated content. This is any content that users can access freely without having to give up any information. Examples of ungated content include:
- Landing pages
- YouTube videos
- Social media posts
While gated content is meant to attract leads, ungated content is more about brand awareness. Ungated content also has SEO benefits, meaning it’s often how new customers discover you. This is why it’s a good idea to pair gated content with ungated content.
For example, you might have a blog post that targets a keyword related to your product or service. Then at the end of your blog post, you offer visitors the chance to learn more by submitting their contact information and downloading your ebook. This person is now a qualified lead who can market to and hopefully turn into a customer.
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Pros & cons of gated content
When used correctly, gated content is a valuable lead generation tool. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any drawbacks. Make sure to consider the pros and cons before deciding to gate a particular piece of content.
- Gated content helps you generate leads and grow your email list.
- Create different email lists for each piece of content, allowing you to segment your list and send more targeted emails.
- If you nurture your leads correctly you’ll increase your sales.
- By analyzing your results and seeing what content generates the most leads, you’ll gain a better understanding of your audience.
- Gating a piece of content limits its page views and traffic.
- There’s no SEO benefit to gated content, so you can’t use it to drive traffic to your website.
- Some users might be turned off if they have to submit their information to consume your content.
What type of content should be gated?
If your goal is to generate leads then gated content is a good way to do that. Not only does it allow you to collect email addresses, but if the content is relevant to your business it helps you qualify your leads (if someone is interested in your gated content, chances are they’re also interested in your products and services).
This doesn’t mean you should gate all your content though. You need free and easily discoverable content as well to attract new visitors to your brand. So, what types of content should you gate?
Here are some (rough) guidelines to consider:
- Short-form content (3,000 words or less).
- Aimed at beginners.
- Covers high-level concepts.
- Long-form content (like an ebook or whitepaper).
- Aimed at those who already have some familiarity with the subject matter.
- Provides more specialized knowledge not readily available through blogs or free content.
As you get to know your audience you’ll have a better idea about what types of content should be gated. For example, if a large number of your users consistently ask for a specific piece of content chances are they’ll be willing to give up their contact information to get it. So use your best judgment.
Gated content examples
Are you looking for some ideas for your next piece of gated content? Here’s a list of the most common types of gated content to help get you started.
Checklists are probably the simplest form of gated content, but they’re very effective. Usually delivered as a PDF, checklists outline a series of steps, tasks, or items required in order to achieve a specific goal.
Unlike other types of lead magnets they’re rather short, but this can work to their advantage. Because they’re easier to digest than other lead magnets some users might be more inclined to download them.
Think of a common problem your audience has and then list out what they need to do to solve it. You might already have a blog or course that tackles this issue, in which case you could simply summarize that information.
Just remember, even though a checklist is short it should still provide value. Be brief and to the point, but make sure to provide enough information to allow people to achieve their goal.
Ebooks allow you to tackle a subject in a lot more depth than a blog post would. Writing a book might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually easier than you think.
First off, you don’t need to write a novel. There are plenty of ebooks out there that are 5,000 - 10,000 words long. There are also design templates readily available to help your book look professional, even if you’re not a designer.
Not sure how to start? Here are some ideas:
- Combine a series of blog posts into an ebook.
- Expand on one of your checklists.
- Survey your audience and look at forums to see what information people are looking for.
- Read other ebooks from creators in your industry. What did they miss and how can you improve on them?
When done right, an ebook will help you build trust and authority with your audience, which will boost your conversion rate when you eventually make your sales pitch.
Reports & Whitepapers
If you really want to show off your knowledge on a specific topic you can offer your audience a whitepaper.
While similar to ebooks, whitepapers are generally longer and utilize a lot more data and research. They’re more like academic reports, rather than books, which makes them ideal for B2B sales.
Thinking about writing a whitepaper? Here’s what you’ll need:
- A very deep understanding of the subject you’re covering.
- Informative data, either gathered from research or your own experiences.
- Charts, graphs, and infographics.
The goal here is to cover a topic more comprehensively than anyone else, establishing yourself as one of the leading authorities in your industry.
Webinars are live (or prerecorded) interactive presentations that allow you to share additional knowledge with your audience. They generally have a high perceived value because they feel more exclusive than a PDF download or ebook.
Use webinars to:
- Give live lessons.
- Share slideshow presentations.
- Answer questions from your audience.
Video chatting software like Zoom will allow you to host a webinar, or try a product like WebinarJam, which is specifically designed for webinars.
Make sure to end your webinars with a strong call to action so participants know what to do if they want to learn more. It’s also a good idea to send follow-up emails to get feedback and continue to nurture your leads.
Many users want to see a product in action before they buy it, which is why product demos are such a powerful piece of gated content.
You can deliver product demos in two different ways:
- A live demo where you demonstrate the product to one or more people.
- A free trial that lets users test the product out for themselves (perfect for SaaS products).
The route you choose will depend largely on your product. Simpler products probably only require a quick demonstration. Users just want to see if it can solve their particular problem. If it does, they’ll likely be ready to buy.
More complicated products with multiple features and functionalities often require users to spend a little time with them. This is where a free trial is very effective.
And of course, you can always offer both to provide even more value to your audience.
Content upgrades are a simple yet very effective form of gated content. This content serves as an add-on to a piece of ungated content and expands on the original subject matter.
For example, let’s say you have a blog post about social media marketing. At the end of the blog, you could include a call to action to download your social media marketing checklist, check out your social media marketing ebook, or sign up for your social media marketing webinar.
The key is to provide value with your free content but leave your audience hungry to learn more. Then offer gated content that expands on the topic and helps them take the next step.
Email series or newsletter
A lot of gated content is delivered via email, so why not make the emails themselves the content?
An email series generally consists of five to ten emails, with one email being delivered every day. Each email contains a different lesson on your chosen subject, which is why many businesses promote these as “email courses.”
You can also start an email newsletter. These are generally sent bi-weekly or monthly and often include:
- Tips and advice
- Business updates
- Industry news
Consider offering perks to newsletter subscribers, like early access to sales and new products. This provides a little extra incentive for users to give up their contact information.
We just discussed creating an email course, but many people are more visual learners. This is why video courses are steadily growing in popularity.
Luckily, filming videos is easier than ever. Every smartphone is equipped with an HD camera these days. Add a decent microphone and a little lighting and you have a quality setup for your online course.
If you’re a little camera shy don’t worry. Screen capture videos are also popular. Use this method to walk students through a slideshow presentation or give live demonstrations.
One thing to consider about video courses is they require a larger time commitment. That’s why many businesses charge money for them, rather than simply asking for an email. If you do want to use a video course for lead generation, consider offering the first lesson for free and then charging for the rest.
Do you have templates that you use for your business? You might want to consider sharing them with your audience.
Templates are great because they’re a “done for you solution” that doesn’t require a lot of commitment from your users. All they have to do is download the template and add a few customizations or variables to get a solution to their problem.
Some examples of templates to share are:
- Landing pages
This is a great way to build trust with your audience. If you offer them a template that provides a quick fix they’ll be much more likely to purchase a product from you down the road.
Have you ever taken a quiz only to have to submit your email in order to get the results? This is an excellent example of gated content. The quiz itself is free, but the results are gated. If someone has gone through the trouble of taking your quiz, chances are they’ll submit their contact info to get the results.
Depending on what type of quiz you’re offering you’ll also be able to segment your leads based on how users answered the questions. This allows you to serve leads with more targeted content, which will result in more sales.
One last piece of gated content to consider is a private community. This involves creating an exclusive area (forum, Facebook group, membership site, etc.) and requiring people to submit their contact information to gain access to it.
In order to entice users to sign up for your private community, you'll need to offer exclusive content to members. This could be in the form of articles, videos, or course materials.
The great thing about a private community is that as it grows the discussions and content created by your members will also provide value and can be used as a selling feature for new members.
How to promote and deliver gated content
Okay, so you have an awesome piece of gated content. How exactly do you go about sharing it? Here are three steps you need to take:
Build a landing page
No matter what type of content you’re promoting it’s going to need somewhere to live. Landing pages are standalone pages designed to persuade visitors to take a specific action (such as downloading a piece of content). This makes them perfect for gated content.
There are lots of ways to create a landing page, but by far the easiest is to use a landing builder like Leadpages. With this method, you simply choose your template, use the Drag & Drop Builder to edit your text and images, and hit publish when you’re ready.
Leadpages also offers an analytics dashboard that tracks the number of visits to your page and how many downloads your content receives.
Set up email marketing
Once you have your landing page you need a way to collect people’s email addresses and deliver your content. This is done through email marketing.
If you’re using Leadpages you can use the built-in lead magnet delivery feature to deliver downloadable files like PDFs and ebooks. Simply upload your file to your Leadpages account and connect it to a form on your landing page. When someone fills out the form they’ll get an email with your gated content and their contact information will appear in your Leads Library.
Another option is to connect your landing page to an email marketing tool. Leadpages integrates with all the most popular email providers, including Mailchimp, Aweber, Active Campaign, and Drip. Once your tool is integrated, log in and create an email to send when someone requests your content. Make sure to also create automated follow-up emails to nurture your leads and segment your email list based on a number of different factors.
Drive traffic to your landing page
Finally, you have to drive traffic to your landing page. The two most popular strategies are:
- Search engine optimization (SEO): A strategy where you follow search engine best practices (keyword research, building links to your content, etc.) in order to receive organic traffic.
- Paid advertising: Buying ads from Google, Facebook, and other providers to drive paid traffic to your page.
Both strategies are effective. Just keep in mind that SEO takes time to work while ads help you generate traffic immediately (assuming your ads are set up correctly). Of course, in the long run, SEO is more cost-effective. If you have the resources, your best bet is to utilize both. That way you’ll enjoy the short-term benefits of paid ads and the long-term benefits of SEO.
Assuming you target the right traffic, and optimize your landing page correctly, you should generate a steady stream of leads from your gated content.
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