How to Use Gated Content in Your Content Marketing Strategy

Have you ever clicked on a news article and run into a block of text, pop-up, or other roadblock that asks you to subscribe before reading more? It can be frustrating when you’re trying to read the news, but “gated content” is becoming more and more prevalent.

This kind of content isn’t restricted to news media outlets. Businesses in all kinds of industries, from online educators to marketing firms, find success in gating their content. One small business owner reported gaining 11,000 subscribers by adding a content gate on his site. It’s a strategy that isn’t going away—and it may be a good fit for your business.

What is gated content?

Gated content is online content that entices readers to share personal information in order to gain access.

In some instances, the reader is asked to provide their email address or phone number. In others, like news or research sites, they may also have to sign up for a subscription or pay a fee. The content can be practically anything: articles, videos, white papers, eBooks, and much more.

illustration showing a person holding a tablet and entering details into a subscription form

Who should use gated content?

Gated content is beneficial for a wide variety of businesses. The ultimate goal of gated content is to secure qualified leads or more loyal customers who want to consume all of your content – and are willing to pay for that privilege.

If you’re an independent expert in, say, YouTube marketing, putting your premium instructional content behind a paywall can be a great way to generate revenue. If you run a Mommy blog, by keeping your “How-To” guides behind a paywall while the rest of your content is free, you can identify your most dedicated readers and boost your profitable conversions.

Your gated content is also a valuable asset to your marketing strategy. Instead of asking for monetary payment, you can give readers access to gated content in exchange for an email address or phone number.

Take content marketing group Copyblogger. They created a premium content library of 15 eBooks and an exclusive marketing course, and gave subscribers access in exchange for their email addresses. They increased email signups by more than 400% and generated $300,000 in sales. This demonstrates that if you have something valuable to offer, you shouldn’t just give it away.

When readers provide their email address in order to access your gated content, they are also naturally segmenting themselves for your email lists.

Are you creating valuable content, or just content noise? Find out How to Tell if Your Content Marketing is Working!

A Word on the Value of Segmentation

Segmented audiences are audiences that have certain traits in common, such as people who have purchased something from you multiple times, versus people who have made a single purchase.

Consider how you would communicate differently with those two groups of people, or any other population – including those who have signed up for your gated content. You should send different messages, newsletters, and content to people in different segments.

MailChimp’s data shows that segmented campaigns have a 14.4% better open rate than non-segmented campaigns, so it pays to create those segmented lists.

Customers who are willing to give up information to access your gated content are likely your most engaged customers. When you can separate your most engaged, loyal customers from your one-time buyers, you can create a smarter, more targeted marketing strategy.

So, who should use gated content? Anybody with something valuable, exclusive, or special to offer their customers.

How Do You Use Gated Content?

Now that we’ve explored what gated content is, here’s how to implement it.

1. Create Your Content

It’s possible that you already have content that you can put behind a gate. You want your gated content to be valuable enough to provide real incentive to your customers.

For news publishers, that’s easy: people will always want to read the news. A software company might gate a free product demo, or video tutorials for advanced uses of your product. Businesses in certain industries might also compile reports featuring unique data, or templates that readers can use to build out their own assets.

Gating those special features and assets is a great way to suss out your most dedicated customers, and potentially drive more profit.

If you’re creating new gated content, make sure it’s:

  • Relevant to your audience
  • Valuable enough to merit an opt-in, share, and reference
  • Actionable for your audience

2. Build a Landing Page

A landing page is a form through which people will opt-in for your locked content.

If you have existing content you plan to gate, there are many tools that can make this step easy. If you’re gating new content, your landing page may tease what the gated content includes. The landing page is where you “sell” the content and justify why it’s behind a paywall or requires handing over an email address.

It should have:

  • An enticing headline
  • Copy that introduces the content and justifies the cost of access
  • A great call to action that compels readers

Remember to only ask for the information you need or a price that is genuinely fair. Each barrier between your audience and that content is a potential drop-off point, including lengthy or confusing forms, an unjustified price, or asking for too much personal information.

3. Design Access Options

Giving customers access to gated content may be as simple as letting them through to the next webpage after they’ve provided certain information. However, if you’re collecting information, this is an opportunity to use it.

Some other possible access options:

  • Deliver the content via email
  • Deliver the content via SMS
  • Provide an immediate download link
  • Redirect subscribers to a new portal of your website designed specifically for VIP users

4. Track Your Success

No marketing initiative is complete without constant measurement. You need to track how many people are signing up to access your gated content and measure how those people then interact with your brand or products.

Relevant metrics will vary from business to business, so you’ll need to identify the most important data points for your company’s goals. Tools like Google Analytics or your email marketing software are vital for verifying the success of your gated content marketing strategy.

The Bottom Line

Gated content is a powerful way to leverage both new and existing content to engage new audiences – and to retain legacy ones. By providing value through gated content, you can gain a better understanding of your audience, improve your marketing efforts, and increase your bottom line.

 

Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief and VP of Marketing at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business financial solutions. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.