Does Ungated Content Make Sense in Inbound Marketing?

Tim Holdsworth
Posted by Tim Holdsworth on January 19, 2016


Open the gate on your advanced content or keep it closed? There are pros and cons to doing either and, as expected, marketers have a range of opinions on which method is best.

Before we start, let’s refresh our memories on what gated content really is/how it works. Gated content requires a visitor to input some type of personal information into a form in order to gain access to an eBook, technical whitepaper, etc. Most gated content is specifically developed to generate leads that can be nurtured further down the sales funnel over time.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that in the world of B2B most content is gated, as demonstrated in the 2015 Benchmark Report on B2B Content Market and Lead Generation. This report showed 75% of content assets are gated and the 75/25 ratio of gated to ungated content is steady regardless of industry or company size.

What is slightly surprising is that the percentage of gated assets decreased by 5% from the prior year. While this is not a huge shift, it raises the question of whether more content should be ungated and what are some reasons to consider doing so.

The Arguments for Ungating

I’ve read many arguments for using more – if not completely – ungated content from several sources. Among them are:

  • Getting your content in front of a lot more eyes / achieving significantly more views and ultimately downloads
  • With more readily accessible content on your site, potential leads may visit more often
  • Increasing the likelihood that the content will be shared
  • Not pissing people off/creating backlash from visitors from having to fill out forms
  • With the volume of content that’s out there today – a lot of which is sub-par – ungating your high-quality work is a great way to stand out in the crowd

While not originating from B2B marketers, these arguments raise some interesting points and do make some sense—after all, who hasn’t dreaded exchanging their email address for a PDF whitepaper at one point or another.

However the decision whether to go “fully ungated” or increase the amount of ungated content really lies with you as a B2B marketing value most: generating a lot of traffic, views and downloads or generating quality leads.

When ungated, high-quality content will definitely generate traffic and shares—it’s easy for visitors to get to and there’s no barrier to entry. But if your business needs leads, gated content has to be a major part of your overall online strategy.

The Relationship Between Ungated and Gated

Ungated blog articles, infographics, case studies and videos targeted toward the top of the funnel visitors are needed to drive traffic and awareness. When presented well, this content provides an opportunity to build credibility and show the value of what you offer.

As visitors learn more about what your business offers and gain confidence in what you have to say, when they see a gated content offer they’ll be more apt to exchange their information to download that whitepaper, eBook or project checklist that progresses them into the next phase of your sales funnel. Having the gate also provides context for you to understand what the lead is interested in and the types of problems they’re trying to resolve.

Should you gate every content offer? Many companies don’t. I’ve seen infographics and some reports that are readily downloaded without a form.

However, as with most things in marketing, you should test it out and see what works well for you. Offer a whitepaper for example and test it with and without the gate and compare the numbers. Just be sure to define what success is for you: new leads, downloads, visits, etc.

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Topics: Content Marketing

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