Gated Content

How your small business can use gated content to drive leads

5 min read
Derek Miller

Small businesses are finally discovering the power of inbound marketing. This form of digital marketing is designed to drive customers to your website using techniques like SEO, social media, PPC and content marketing, including gated content.

While traffic to your business website is important, being able to convert those visitors into customers is critical. Turning web traffic into qualified leads is a necessity for businesses large and small. In fact, a study from CopyPress on content marketing found that 43 percent of companies wanted to increase sales and revenue using content marketing.

If you run a small business and are trying to increase leads from your website, try using gated content.

What is gated content?

Gated content is any type of content that requires a user's action to access it. Most of the time, this content is locked behind an email form that exchanges a user's contact information (name, email, phone, etc.) for the desired content.

Gated content incentivizes visitors to provide their personal details.

When done correctly, gated content provides value to both parties — customer information for the business, and valuable resources for the visitor.

What types of content should you gate?

It's your prerogative as a publisher to gate content. There are pros and cons associated with gating, so keep your end goal in mind. For example, if you decide to gate a high-quality piece of content, you'll lose out on the SEO value of that content. However, gated content can vastly improve your lead flow because it requires a person to give up their personal and valuable information.

This dilemma means there is no hard or fast rule for determining whether to gate a specific piece of content. It's entirely up to you.

Generally speaking, you should only gate content for which your target audience would be willing to give up their personal identity. This usually correlates to the quality, usefulness and type of content.

For instance, a basic blog post covering an industry-specific topic isn't worth gating. Blog articles are a great way to drive organic traffic through search and social while positioning your brand as a thought leader. Because most blog articles are fully discoverable, your visitors could feel alienated if you gate your articles.

On the other hand, content like whitepapers, eBooks and webinars could be worth gating if they’re objectively valuable. If you need help deciding whether to gate a piece of content or not, consider following this flowchart from HubSpot:

Gated Content Hubspot
HubSpot breaks down the use of gated content with this nifty flowchart.

Why should your small business gate content?

Simply put, gating content is one of the best ways to grow your lead list. While you might sacrifice traffic and other engagement metrics, you will certainly see an increase in qualified leads.

It's fair to assume someone who provides their contact information is more qualified than someone who’s unwilling. This assumption is especially true the closer your content is to the end of your sales funnel — i.e., case studies or niche whitepapers. Armed with their contact information and specific interest, your sales team or marketing department can create a targeted strategy for pushing that lead toward a sale.

How to maximize ROI of gated content

Creating quality, gated content can require an upfront investment, and the real value might not be realized for weeks or months down the line. To maximize the return on your investment you should:

Create an optimized landing page.

A great way to increase conversion rates on your gated content is to create a customized landing page that highlights the unique value of your gated content, making it easy for the user to provide their contact information. There are tons of ways to optimize your landing pages, but some things to consider are:

  1. Have a clear call-to-action.
  2. Use colors and imagery that elicits emotional responses.
  3. Only ask for the minimal required information in your lead form.
  4. Ensure that your page is mobile-responsive.

Promote on your website.

Your content will always underperform if you aren't actively promoting it. Because your website is one of the most valuable marketing assets you have, it's important to use it to help drive traffic to your gated content. Some effective strategies for promoting your gated content on your website are to:

  1. Create a popup or overlay.
  2. Add a call-to-action or contact form in your sidebar.
  3. Create secondary assets like blog posts, infographics or webinars.

Promote off your website.

While you have much more control on your website, you can still generate a lot of interest off-site. If you build an optimized landing page, then off-site promotion can also create SEO value in addition to generating increased conversions. Some tactics for promoting off-site include:

  1. Sharing your landing page link on social channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  2. Sending custom emails to your active lead list.
  3. Using outreach and publisher relationships to write off-site content linking back to your landing page.

Be strategic with your leads.

If you want to generate the most ROI with your gated content, you need to have a strategy for working that lead through your sales funnel. This typically involves:

  1. Using a drip email campaign to leverage your targeted email list.
  2. Tracking submission data and continually updating their information.
  3. Try collecting their phone number so you can take the conversation offline.

Should your small business use gated content to drive leads?

Many small business owners struggle to justify content marketing. After all, it can be difficult to back-out investments in content to a measurable KPI. However, if you decide to invest in gated content, you'll have a distinct measurement in the form of contact information. This is powerful — not just for justification, but to help drive revenue for your small business.