We’ve all seen it, but maybe you didn’t know what it was called or why it’s used. Gated content is any content online or on your site that is separated from your site viewer by a form asking for some basic contact information. Generally, you can recognize a content gate by its super positive tagline: “Just fill out the following form and we’ll email you your first-class awesome great life-changing content!” That might be a little over the top, but you get the point. Gated content is currently our most effective way of gathering contact information from people who seem very interested in what you have to say, or as we like to call them, qualified leads.

But what you really need to know is, what’s the point? Most people wonder, “Why go through all the trouble of locking my great content away?” You’ve created this spectacular piece of content, and now only people who actually want to will see it. While we’re fans of unceremoniously foisting our beautiful opinions on others too, implementing gated content is a little like playing hard to get.

You’re making that potential lead work just a bit to get more in-depth content that, hopefully, you spent more time on. By making them put in a little extra effort, you know that they’re definitely interested in what you have to say.

In addition to learning just who is interested in your company, gated content provides you with a lot of other great opportunities to help improve your marketing strategy:

You get contact information

And more than that, you get the contact information of someone who’s legitimately interested in what you have to say. This provides you with valuable information that you can use to reach out to those individuals, who are now qualified leads.

Builds relationships

Once you get people’s information, it’s easy to include them on your contact list, and send them even more great content that is relevant to them, and helps shepherd them through the buyer’s journey.

Increases sales

With gated content, it’s easy to know that the people who download it are interested in your company. After you reach out to them, they will be much more inclined to move farther towards an actual sale than a person who just ended up on your site by accident. Gated content helps you develop the most qualified leads, allowing you to nurture those leads into sales.

So, we’ve established that gated content is great.

But how can you make it work for you? Just like anything else, there are do’s and dont’s of gated content. So we’re gonna help you out with a few best practices and tips to get started:

Make sure your customers know what’s happening: When they click to download your content and a form pops up with no information whatsoever, they’re likely to bail. Your forms and every aspect of navigation should make it clear to site viewers that they’ve come to the right place and are making the right choice. Express the offer multiple times, so they know the benefits.

Promote, promote, promote: The fact is, no one’s going to fill out the forms if they don’t know the content exists. Whether you link this gated content to other ungated articles and blogs on your website, or your promote it on your social media pages, you have to get people to want it before they’ll download it.

Only promote great content: If you’re making potential leads jump through hoops for less than stellar content, you’re missing the point. When they get all the way through and realize your content is a watered down version of what they were actually looking for, they won’t be so happy with you, and will be less likely to respond to any emails you send them. Take the extra time to create awesome, unique content for your gated content offers, because you are asking potential leads to provide something, and you want them to actually appreciate what they get.

Thank you: Mama always said “mind your manners” and it still applies. If you have site viewers provide their information for your content, make sure you send a Thank You page after they download. Not only is this a good way to build positive relationships, but it puts you on your way to nurturing that lead into a long-term customer. You can also add a section to that thank you email urging the lead to contact you if they have any questions about x, y or z.

Follow up: You didn’t get that information for nothing. If the person who downloaded your gated content hasn’t said anything to you in about a week, try reaching out. Don’t be pushy, just say something like “Hey, I hope our (insert content name here) Guide answered your questions! If there’s anything else you’d like to know, I’d love to hear from you!” And then obviously leave your contact information. There’s no need for an aggressive, hard-sell approach, but offering them more useful content related to what they already downloaded is a great way to start a conversation.

In the end, opting to gate some of your best content is a choice. While you can leave it open for anyone to access, if you’re looking to get more qualified leads, gated content is the way to go. You don’t have to gate every single piece of content you create either. Just start with a few, really informative pieces that might be helpful to serious leads, and see where that takes you.

If you have any questions about gated content, aren’t sure how it works, or want to know more, just give us a call at 616-843-0877 or schedule your free inbound marketing consultation with HA Digital Marketing today. We’d love to hear from you!

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