Have you ever been intrigued by an article online or another form of content (such as a video or interactive guide) and eagerly clicked on a link—only to hit a paywall or sign-up page?

You might wonder why a company would go through the trouble of bringing you to their page, only to stop you from reaching it. It can be a frustrating experience that makes you want to close the tab and never return. It feels like being teased.

However, there is a strategy in mind behind this approach to reader engagement.

What is the point of gated content?

In theory, the point of gated content is lead generation. That means the website owner wants to collect someone’s name and, typically, their email address, in order to give them permission to access content. 

Then, the idea is that the content owner is going to reach out to the reader with follow-up about other content they might be interested in, send special offers, or track their continued engagement (seeing which other content they explore in the future) to learn more about typical customer behavior online, so they can provide a better experience in the future.

(Of course, a paywall is obvious: This means that someone wants to generate some revenue from either one-time access or long-term subscriptions to their content; but this is a separate, supplemental strategy.)

The question is whether this approach actually makes sense every time it’s applied.

Is it still relevant in 2020?

Our opinion is that gated content should be used very sparingly—and only when you have a specific strategy in place. 

That means that you can’t just be collecting and hoarding leads. You need a comprehensive plan about what you’re going to do with those names and email addresses, as well as a way to periodically revisit your plan to make sure it makes sense for your current needs.

Here’s an example: You can have your names automatically added to a mailing list that will feed into an optimized nurturing campaign. Each piece of content might belong to a different level of nurturing, because some pieces are written for people who have never heard of your brand or services, while others are designed for people with more familiarity. Those audiences will require different emails to follow up; they’ll also have different CTAs. The goal should be to take the reader from whatever level of familiarity they had when they reached your content to the next level. By collecting their email address and name, of course, you can also see if they’ve engaged with your content in the past. This might boost them to a totally different level, like a salesperson reaching out with a personal call after they’ve visited your content several times.

So, the short answer is: Yes, gated content still makes sense as a marketing strategy in 2020. 

But it’s also going out of style, in lieu of more modern lead gen and conversion strategies. Gated content, however, is a less expensive, less-tech-intensive way to achieve the same results. It’s a way to dip your toe into lead gen and nurturing campaigns. And in that regard, we do wholly encourage it while you get a feel for it and work out a more sophisticated, long-term strategy.
For more insights about how to generate leads and win over your audience in 2020, Contact Us.