Gated vs. Ungated Content: Pros and Cons & What’s Right for Your Business
Understanding the pros and cons of gated vs. ungated content helps you build a content strategy that maximizes organic traffic, influences customer engagement, and generates more leads. Read on to discover key differences between gated and ungated content, including best practices and examples of each.
What Is an Ungated Piece of Content?
Ungated content is any content your prospects and customers can access freely without submitting personal information. Examples include blogs, videos, case studies, social media content, infographics, and landing pages accessible to anyone on the web.
The focus of ungated content is awareness. It helps potential customers find your website, building brand awareness and trust.
What Is Gated Content?
Gated content is any content or resource restricted to users who provide their contact information in exchange for access. Requesting personal information like email addresses and first names acts like a gate, blocking access until specific criteria are met.
Gated content must offer value to motivate website visitors to provide contact details. It’s often exclusive, in-depth content such as eBooks, research reports, templates, or mini-courses that are not readily available.
Gated content focuses on converting visitors into leads and building your company’s email list for marketing and sales.
What Is the Difference Between Gating and Ungated Content?
While the primary difference between gated vs. ungated content is that ungated content is freely available to anyone and gated is not, there are other significant differences to consider. Each type of content has benefits and plays a vital role in an effective organic marketing strategy.
Benefits of Ungated Content
Ungated content brings prospects to your website. It is the bedrock of organic traffic and essential to expanding your reach and developing your audience.
In addition to making you visible on the web, ungated content supports your potential customers through the buying stages, helping nurture them into leads who are already familiar and comfortable with your company.
Sharing valuable information establishes you as a thought leader, building trust and credibility.
Benefits of Gated Content
While ungated content helps prospects find your website, gated content captures their contact information so your marketing and sales teams can help convert them into customers. When someone signs up for exclusive content, you know they are interested in your products or services. In that way, gated content helps you qualify your leads.
Creating and tracking different gated content offers can also help you identify the topics your audience finds most engaging. You can use the data from your gated content offers to refine your overall content strategy.
When To Use Gated Vs. Ungated Content
Understanding your content strategy is critical when determining the right balance between gated vs. ungated content. You need plenty of ungated content to build website traffic and trust. Your gated offers must be high-value and relevant to your audience to be effective.
Here are some guidelines to help you navigate between gated vs. ungated content based on your business goals.
To Meet the Needs of Your Target Audience
Ungated content should cover a wide range of relevant topics with larger subjects broken down into focused articles. Ungated content needs to meet your audience where they are, answer common questions, demonstrate social proof, or highlight the benefits of your products or services.
As Part of Your Marketing Funnel
Ungated content often targets the top and middle of the sales and marketing funnel. It answers questions buyers have when they are looking for solutions to a problem and are curious about their options.
Gated content targets the middle and the bottom of the marketing funnel. These are solid leads, ready to purchase or closer to it, and an email nurture campaign can be highly effective.
Based on Your Current Content Mix
If you have a well-developed compilation of ungated content, you can use your best-performing topics as a basis for gated content offers.
On the other hand, if you are offering gated content but lack a strong base of ungated content, you will increase your leads by consistently and steadily growing your SEO-optimized, authoritative, ungated content.
Creating Highly Effective Gated Content
A winning piece of gated content will generate a steady stream of high-value, engaged leads. But how do you find that winning piece?
The answer lies in what drives your customers to buy from you and what you can offer to improve their lives.
Common gated content formats include:
- White papers and research reports that provide in-depth analyses of industry trends or specific topics relevant to the problems your business solves for customers
- Ebooks and guides offering practical advice or solutions
- Webinars and online courses
- Templates, checklists, and other practical tools to help prospects with specific tasks or processes
- Product demos and trials that allow people to try a product or service before committing
Here are a few gated content best practices.
- Offer gated content when it’s high-value, exclusive content not readily available elsewhere
- Ensure it targets specific buyer personas with information that speaks to their pain points, desires, or the problems your product or services solve for them
- Follow up with a consistent, well-tracked email program that nurtures leads
Gated Content Examples
Here are a few gated content examples. Each offers relevant insights to attract the right audience.
HubSpot has a wealth of gated and ungated content. They have targeted gated content offers on most of their blogs. For example, this Free Customer Service Training Manual Template for customers reading about customer service.
Unbounce offers a free trial of their software. Interested customers and prospects can also download their Landing Page Optimization Guide by entering contact details.
CoSchedule offers a free Content Calendar Template Bundle to help prospects and customers organize and plan their social media and content schedules.
McKinsey & Company
McKinsey’s insightful and in-depth reports on various current topics and significant industries are available with a free McKinsey Quarterly membership.
Winning gated content examples provide substantial value, insights, and exclusive information. These offers are strong enough to encourage the company’s target audiences to exchange contact information for access.
How To Build a Winning Gated Content Landing Page
Your landing page’s format and content are critical to the success of your gated content. A gated content landing page must entice visitors, qualify prospects by assessing their interests, and grant access to those willing to share information.
Here are the essential elements of an outstanding landing page:
- A compelling headline with a clear value proposition
- Subheading that expands on the content’s value and format
- A brief tease of the content, hinting at the valuable information within
- Specific examples of what they will receive in the download. For example, “exclusive data and benchmarks to measure your success”
- High-quality images that are both relevant and attention-grabbing
- A frictionless form that requires only the most essential information for your marketing team. You don’t want to lose interested prospects by requiring them to complete a long form
- A mobile-friendly landing page and form
- A strong CTA
Gated Content Landing Page Examples
A gated content landing page should be clear, compelling, and to the point. BambooHR does this well with its webinar landing pages.
The gated content is a webinar titled “How to Fix Your Broken Performance Review Process,” which targets HR reps and business owners looking for solutions BambooHR can offer. The page contains an image of the speakers, a summary, bullet points on what viewers will learn, and a form.
For job seekers and hiring managers, Coursera issued a report on the Fastest Growing Job Skills in 2024. The landing page starts with a compelling image of a young job seeker, contains clear bullet points of what the reader will learn, supports it with a quote from a University leader, and provides a form to fill out to download the free report.
What Is an Example of a Gated Content Form?
While some companies require information like company name or job title, a valid email address is the most important asset to get from a prospect.
Shopify takes a minimalist approach with its free, gated Business Plan Template. The landing page is longer than most, with an extensive look at the different components included in the template. The form is a simple pop-up that only asks for a valid email address.
However, sometimes, longer forms can be highly effective. This is particularly true when you’re offering something of higher value. To access a free Salesforce trial, users must complete a three-page form.
Content for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
Ungated and gated content captures your audiences’ attention and draws them into your sales and marketing funnels to become customers. It’s a highly effective strategy that makes your company visible to the people searching for solutions.
As you navigate your content marketing strategy, experiment with different formats and topics until you discover what speaks to your audience. Always track your results so you can adapt your strategy to maximize the impact of your content efforts. If at any point you need expert support or assistance developing or executing your content strategy, our specialized writers and account managers are here to make it happen.
Joan Weisman’s strong research skills, SEO knowledge, adaptability of style and voice, and passion for staying current make her an asset for freelance web content, SEO, and copywriting.