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Gated Content vs. Ungated Content: How to Let the Leads In

By: Corinne Sinesi

There’s a classic debate in marketing around serving content that is gated or ungated, which basically means whether the resource requires someone to fill out a form before viewing it. The right answer isn’t to choose one or the other and run with it. The most effective B2B companies make the best use of gated content and ungated content by using forms for the right content at the right time—and sometimes combining the two strategies for optimal results.

In B2B inbound marketing, valuable content is marked by how much knowledge and expertise you can share with your audience. However, we’d be lying if we said, “don’t worry about generating leads!” The truth is, marketers are always thinking about leveraging more leads, more interest, more prospects, and so on. As a B2B marketing agency, we’ve been studying the success of gated assets for years. While we’re always learning new tidbits, we mastered the use of gated and ungated content—not only for our clients but also for the success of Sagefrog. Let’s define gated content vs. ungated content and then dissect gated content best practices for the greatest effectiveness.

What is Gated Content?

Gated inbound content requires interested individuals to fill out a form with contact information to download the resource. It’s usually safe to assume that if the person goes through the motions of filling out the form, he or she is likely interested in your B2B company’s software or service. By gating different content pieces, you can determine where a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is in the Buyer’s Journey and nurture accordingly. This content might be perceived as more premium. Think infographics, eBooks, whitepapers, and comprehensive guides.

What is Ungated Content?

On the other hand, ungated inbound content doesn’t require a form to download the resource; the content is available to view upon landing on the page, and its primary purpose is to build the company’s reputation and thought leadership. Ungated assets help reach a larger audience and enhance SEO efforts. Further, people will begin to return to your website as a source for industry-specific information. Think blogs, YouTube videos, and social media.

Debating a Gate? Try Both Strategies Together.

When it comes to deciding whether to leave content gated or not, you might find it challenging to decide what’s worthy of requiring a form. All your content is quality. Rather than focusing on the form itself, think about how you can better strike a balance on your website. Is everything ungated and completely accessible? Try a gated asset to see how it performs. Do you only have gated content online? Publish a couple of public blogs to see if you can attract more website traffic.

Even better, you can take a two-in-one approach, leveraging both strategies at once. Here’s an example from Sagefrog. We wrote a blog called “Quick Tips to Build Brand Trust as a *New* Business,” detailing various tips for fostering brand trust. As you read, you may notice hyperlinks and a final call-to-action button that leads to the 2021 B2B Trusted Brands Report, which requires a form to view. This is a prime example of how a B2B company can utilize gated content and ungated content in tandem, providing an educational experience upfront and informational resource for those deeply interested in the topic. People who read the blog and download the report are considered MQLs for expressing multiple points of interest in Sagefrog’s B2B marketing expertise and services.

You can also test how semi-gated content works with your audience. This might include a landing page with a teaser or short excerpt from the gated asset, cultivating interest in the topic and a greater desire to download the full resource.

You aren’t the only one trying to determine gated content best practices, and you won’t be the last. The best thing you can do is experiment with your audience and discover how they prefer to receive content. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you optimize your content marketing initiatives.

Schedule a time to chat with us!