Content Marketing and Copywriting content marketing - to gate or not to gate?

Published on September 23rd, 2013 | by Kim Stiglitz

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To Gate, or Not to Gate? Why You Should Give Your Content Away

To gate, or not to gate your content, that is the question. While lead generation folks may shudder at the thought of having ungated content on your company’s website, I’m a firm believer in giving your content away; no forms, no email address, no first born child required. In this post, we share why giving away your content can help grow your business and some tips to create content your audience will keep coming back for.

At Content Marketing World, the largest in-person content marketing conference in the galaxy, Jay Baer stated in his keynote address that as businesses, we should “create content so useful, people would buy it.” Are you doing that? If your answer is “no” then you might not want to worry about gating or not gating and shift your focus to your content marketing strategy. Ask yourself, why you are creating content in the first place? Content should be above all, useful. In Baer’s best selling book, Youtility, he calls it Youtility, not utility, because instead of content being needed by your company; content should be wanted by your customers. Content that’s massively useful, provided for free, and creates long-term trust between customers and your company.

So, now that you know what kind of content we’re talking about, why wouldn’t you want to give it away? You’ve just spent time, energy and resources to create something useful for your prospects and customers… why would you want to put a massive obstacle in front of it? Would you build a great product, wall it in and not give people access to it? Essentially, this is what you do when you gate your content. You must look at your content as a product. A product your customers need, want and desire. And you are going to give it to them. Absolutely free.

Get Your Content Seen by More Eyeballs and Customers

When you give your content away, your content will be shared and seen by many more eyeballs and prospective customers and clients. Don’t believe me? David Meerman Scott says that according to his statistics, “a white paper or eBook will be downloaded 20 times and up to 50 times more without a gate in front of it.” Joe Pulizzi, known as the grandfather of content marketing and the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says “Let’s say you received 1,000 leads via your white paper download. From David’s numbers, let’s even take a more conservative 10x more downloads if we remove the gate.  This would give us 10,000 downloads with no lead data. Of all those people, let’s say that 1% would share this/blog this with their audiences (with a VERY conservative audience of 100 people, although most blogs get much more). With those numbers, the total possible content reach for gated content would be 2,000 people.  Non-gated content would be 20,000 people.” So, would you rather have 2,000 potential customers read your content or 20,000?

We recently ungated our content at VerticalResponse and have seen our download rates increase by about 7% in just a month – now we’ve got to make sure everyone knows they can come and get our guides, webinars and infographics with no barriers or obstacles.

What’s your stance on gating content? Gates or no gates? Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2013, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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About the Author

Kim Stiglitz

Kim Stiglitz is the Director of Content Marketing & Organic Customer Acquisition at VerticalResponse



3 Responses to To Gate, or Not to Gate? Why You Should Give Your Content Away

  1. Nick France says:

    Content marketing is not advertising. By that I mean, it’s not meant to be immediate. It’s the long haul effort. You’re establishing yourself as a thought leader and building a relationship with your audience in hopes that when they are ready to buy, they’ll buy from you, someone they trust. That’s my understanding anyway.

    I devour a lot of content and I must say that when it’s gated, I’ll fill out a form a few times, but after a few times I stop downloading gated content. I feel as though I’m wasting their time because that day I might not be ready to buy and I want to avoid a sales call. That takes them out of the market for my business in a sense because I’ll likely establish a trusted relationship with a company that freely releases their content — if it’s good, of course. You, as a content marketer, have to be there when they’re ready. To be there, you have to remove all obstacles — for the long haul.

  2. Edwin Vlems says:

    I put almost all the contents of my book online in the form of blogs (one per chapter, that is how I wrote it), and still sell two per week (niche market in a smal country)…

  3. Erika says:

    Thanks for sharing the early results of this marketing experiment! If you don’t give at least some of your content away, how does someone know your content merits them forking over their contact info for your lead form? Removing the gates might actually drive more subscribers to branded content…

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