Gated content is a common marketing strategy businesses use to gain subscriber data or sell their quality articles. Aside from making money straight up, the tactic is fantastic for lead generation and improving client relationships. Even better, gated content can be used at any point during the customer journey, although it’s most effective during the awareness stage.

In this article, we’ll talk more about the concept, how it can affect your content marketing strategy, as well as its pros and cons. Enjoy!

What is gated content?

The main difference between gated and ungated content is accessibility. Unlike regular posts, gated pieces implement some sort of barrier to entry, prompting visitors to take a specific action before reading the article. Paywall is a common gated content example, but a website might also use some sort of lead capture form.

One of the best gated content examples is the New York Times. Like many other news outlets in the US, this platform doesn’t allow you to access articles without subscribing. Although this might seem like an extreme measure, it allows the brand to stay in business and provide top-tier content for its users.

The likelihood that a piece is gated content increases with its quality. For example, this marketing strategy is much more common for valuable content, like white papers and case studies. Although you can use it for a random blog post or landing page, it won’t convert that well. In fact, it might even cause trouble to your search engine optimization.

Pros and cons of gated content

Although the thought of gaining users’ contact details for free sounds alluring, that doesn’t mean it will work for your company. Gating content only works in certain cases and for specific marketing goals. So, here’s how the method works in practice:


  1. Lead generation and sales

First and foremost, gated content is used to generate leads. When visitors fill out a form, this is a clear indication they’re heavily interested in your content, given that not everyone will leave their sensitive data. Furthermore, it usually indicates that users have a certain level of brand trust.

The experience shows that it’s much easier to strike up a personal and meaningful conversation with these individuals. After connecting with a user, you can pitch them with product demos or put them into the sales funnel. These high-quality leads usually convert at a much higher clip than regular visitors, who might’ve reached your pages just to read a nice blog post.

Certain types of gated content are perfect for increasing the subscriber base as paywalls prompt readers into making a purchase. Furthermore, once you gather data via a signup form, your sales team can pitch the user during email marketing campaigns.

  1. Audience segmentation

Signup forms for gated content are fantastic for gathering insights about website visitors. Aside from contact name and email, you can ask a user all sorts of questions, like what is their job title or what industry they work in. Nevertheless, keep in mind that adding too many questions might be risky as people don’t like leaving too much personal info.

Target audience segmentation can work in many ways during the buyer’s journey. For example, if you have flexible plans, you can tailor your offer based on the amount of money that a person has. Similarly, you can create several types of outreach messages, each suited for a particular demographic.

Although segmentation can be tricky to implement and requires extra marketing efforts, it can significantly improve your conversions compared to ungated content.

  1. Trust and authority

Even if the gated content is mediocre and doesn’t provide unique information, it still has high perceived value. For the most part, this mental effect, coupled with customized messaging, is the reason why it converts so well.

Whatever the case, users will perceive it as valuable information, given that it takes so many steps to access it. As a result, this will lead to higher authority and trust. Even if your sales team doesn’t manage to convert users, this simple tactic might boost your performance in search engines and website engagements.

  1. Data-Driven Process

As you’ll have much more data about a user, it will be much easier to track conversions from the awareness and consideration stage to the eventual sales. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for marketing teams to create sheets to track interactions with qualified leads.

The granular approach isn’t only great for boosting conversions but can also work well for tweaking your methodology. If you notice bottlenecks during certain stages of the customer journey, you can easily tweak them for better performance.


  1. Brand awareness

Gated content isn’t necessarily good for your overall brand visibility. As only a limited number of users can access these posts, you won’t be able to share them with other users. This is especially problematic if you’re using social media to generate leads, as these platforms are highly dependent on virality. People often get mad if they can’t easily access the linked content deciding not to share the message with friends.

Then again, there are situations where these pieces can increase brand awareness. For example, if you’re a small, unknown brand, most website visitors will forget you after leaving the platform. However, if you turn them into newsletter subscribers, they can learn more about business after receiving messages in their inboxes.

  1. SEO

This inbound marketing process is considered among the best methods for gaining web traffic and closing potential clients. In the last few years, Google and other search engines have placed more emphasis on user experience as the primary ranking factor. So, for blog posts to reach the top of the search ranking pages, visitors have to interact with its elements.

That being said, gated content will seriously hamper the SEO value. Many people bounce immediately from a page as soon as they notice a paywall or any other simple form. This sends a strong signal to Google that a post is irrelevant to a particular topic bringing it down in rankings.

In other words, if you’re looking to maximize traffic and brand awareness from this search engine, you should stay away from gated content.

  1. Downloadables

One of the most common gated content examples is downloadable. Website package their white papers, ebooks, and case studies in these files, allowing only registered users to access the content. While this gives the content an appearance of exclusivity, subconsciously increasing its value in users’ brains, it can also lead to problems.

Most notably, if you’re a relatively new and unknown blog, people will be reluctant to download anything from your platform. In that sense, not only will gated content affect your ability to draw in regular users, but it will affect those actually interested in your posts.

7 Steps for using gated content strategy

If you’re interested in lead generation via gated content, you should first formulate a bulletproof content marketing strategy. Adding a paywall or a contact form to just about any post on your blog will lead to an adverse effect, potentially hindering your main business objectives.

To help you out, the MiroMind team has decided to create a short, step-by-step guide that will help you create a winning approach:

  1. Formulate your goals

Based on everything we’ve said so far, first, you need to make a decision between gated and ungated content. Ungated content is significantly better for smaller brands that wish to get as much traction from Google as possible. Gated content is better for established businesses that already have some following and are now looking to increase conversions.

Among others, you should also decide which type of gated content you’re willing to use. Adding cookies and scraping email addresses is the simplest, least damaging thing you can do, teetering somewhere between gated content and ungated content. The contact form is a bit more complex and requires additional engagement, but it improves lead generation.

Subscriber paywalls are one of the best practices for top-tier news outlets. As these platforms are world-renowned, most people are willing to pay for such a service and even consider it warranted.

  1. Perform comparative analysis

If you never had experience with gated content, we recommend that you learn more about the best practices for certain formats. This will help you determine if your strategy is good enough and if the chosen content format will be suitable for your audience. Among others, it allows you to steal some tricks from the best-performing platforms.

Keep in mind that this is a comparative, not necessarily competitive, analysis. In other words, these websites aren’t necessarily from your industry, and they aren’t your competition. Nevertheless, you should try to find the closest examples to your business to gain the best insights.

  1. Create a buyer’s journey

The main reason why we use gated content is to put people into our marketing and sales funnel. Sometimes, that journey is short and ends instantly, as is the case with subscription-type gated content. However, most types of gated content require numerous steps, from the first contact with a brand to potential conversion.

In most cases, the process starts at the early awareness stage, when visitors provide contact details for the first time. The company uses this data to connect with a prospect, usually via email, putting a lead into a funnel. To streamline this process and effectively manage potential customers, many businesses opt to utilize lead generation services, which help identify and engage with prospects at the early awareness stage. Alternatively, the marketing team might send promotional offers, such as discounts and product demos, to convert a person.

Each step of the journey requires a certain format. As mentioned, everything starts with gating content, which comes in the form of a content form. After that, it transitions into an email sequence meant to drive a person toward landing pages. There, a prospective customer can test the product or service, and become a paying customer.

Of course, this is an oversimplification of the process, as things can be much more complex than that. Furthermore, your approach to the funnel might vary based on the product and industry.

  1. Optimize gated content

One of the things many marketers do wrong is focusing too much on contact forms and the customer journey while completely neglecting the gated content. As you can guess, this is a major mistake.

You should always remember that a company creates a bond with a lead through unique articles and white papers, not through marketing tricks. If a person doesn’t get a reciprocal value when visiting a site, he will never truly enter the funnel. This is why they need to feel good immediately after leaving personal information.

Here are a few secrets that will generate real value for your readers:

  • First and most important, take your time to create a piece. Perform thorough research and ensure there isn’t anything similar on the web. Using this strategy for each article on your website is usually counterproductive and can alienate readers
  • Make sure that the reward matches engagement. As previously mentioned, if you’re already asking a person for some sensitive information in exchange, you should give them lots of quality insights. On the other hand, you can increase the amount of asked information based on how much information you give in return
  • Similarly, your visuals and charts should be unlike anything a person has seen elsewhere. The entire price has to ooze uniqueness, from phrasing to structure
  • Follow the best practices for readability. If a person leaves your post too early, even if a post is fantastic, they will blame you for a poor experience. In other words, you won’t be able to convert them
  • Paywalls should be used only if you’re one of the biggest brands in the industry and have world-class experts on your team

The last piece of the puzzle is the promotional activity that prompts the user to download gated content in the first place. Your main landing page should be advertised throughout the site and have a strong hook. Like any other piece, it should exploit users’ pain points.

  1. Test the concept

Due to the inherent risks that gated content carries, it isn’t the best idea to roll it out straight away. In the worst-case scenario, you might completely ruin the optimization and promotional potential of an incredible, comprehensive case study. So, instead of gaining thousands of organic visitors and top placement in Google, you’ll just receive some info about leads that you’ll never convert.

There are a few ways you can perform this test:

  • Create a blog post that highlights a few interesting facts and stats featured in future gated content. Link the two pieces and measure the click-through rate. After brief testing, you’ll have to decide whether this CTR is high enough to warrant gating
  • Infographics might be even better for this purpose as they focus on the best information. You can create a visual page and share it across the web. Post a link on top guiding users to the gated content. As the infographic’s format is suitable for social media, you can also test the gated content’s potential on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram
  • You can also test the quality of gated content by testing the page itself. You can start sharing the piece with various influencers to see if it will gain steam. You don’t necessarily have to optimize the keywords, as you should never prioritize optimization instead of quality. If the article starts to gain better rankings in Google and even generate leads, it’s a good indication that you should turn it into gated content

Aside from these tricks, you can also create a focus group with industry experience and ask them whether they would be willing to leave information to gain access to this piece.

  1. Filtering leads

We’ve already spoken a bit about segmentation, but lead filtering is even more important. Basically, you should determine which people are suitable for your product or service and which ones should be immediately removed from the list.

Filtering is especially vital for B2B brands that work with expensive products. As these companies commonly use account-based marketing, they can’t afford to waste too much time on people who aren’t their target audience. Aside from that, filtering will work in all other cases where sales and marketing scaling is impossible.

  1. Measure the results

If this is your first gated content campaign, and you wish to use it in the future, it’s necessary to measure the performance. Even if it weren’t for that, analytics will help you modify your messaging or other aspects of the strategy. Furthermore, if you’re not getting the required results, you can abandon the gated approach altogether.

It’s crucial to remember that data can be interpreted in many different ways. In other words, even if you didn’t manage to accomplish what you initially set out to do, you might still have achieved good performance despite not realizing it.

Sometimes, inexperienced marketers abandon the concept too soon before making any sales. It’s vital that you’re patient, as gated content can help you land some enormous deals.

Share This