By Marc Woodland on August 04, 2020

The great gate debate: should you gate your content?

We live in divided times. 

Over the past year or so, the marketing industry has split neatly into two camps. People who gate their content and people who don’t.

The great debate of whether or not gated content is effective simmers away on LinkedIn each and every day.

“Gating content reduces lead quality!” One group cries.

“But ungating it reduces lead quantity!” The other responds.

For all the debate, it’s hard to find clear cut answers. So if you’re wondering whether you should keep your content gated or ungate it right away, we’re here to help.

But before we get into that...


What is gated content?


Gated content is where you ask your reader for their contact data in exchange for a premium piece of content like a whitepaper, report or eBook.

Their contact data is then stored in your CRM so you can contact them by email.

Marketers used to love it because it’s a quick and targeted way to grow your email subscriber list. Every sign up that you get also presents an opportunity to convert these new ‘leads’ into customers.

But now a lot of them aren’t so sure…

Let’s start by looking at why gating your content can be a good idea.


The arguments for gating content


B2B marketers don’t have it easy these days. 

Yes, there are more ways to reach people than ever. But you’re also at the mercy of platforms that are more interested in selling you ads than helping you grow your own audience.

Plus, there’s more competition for attention than ever. In fact, there are 10,000,000 blog posts published every day (yes really!). 

Gated content gives you a faster way to build an ‘owned’ audience you can reach when you need them. A large email subscriber list can be a genuine game-changer for any business.

See how we helped a B2B SaaS startup launch with over 250 high quality leaders, here.


In fact, email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing tactic. Marketers make $42 for every $1 they spend on email marketing.

Email gives you more control, more access to data and as a platform it has longevity. LinkedIn might fall out of favour, but email won’t.

Email can also be automated, which means you can put a lot of your lead gen process on autopilot, delivering a reliable pipeline of leads for your sales team to close.

Finally, platforms like Hubspot and Salesforce allow you to analyse and enrich your CRM data using things like lead scoring. When a customer demonstrates a certain level of intent, your sales team can be notified. 

This gives you a rich source of sales and customer data that can help you create a more personalised, timely and smooth buying experience.

Granted, email marketing is totally possible without gated content. But it will take you a lot longer to get contacts into your CRM with an ungated content strategy.


The arguments against gating content


The most common argument for not gating content is the most obvious.

Buyers get how modern marketing works - and nobody wants more email marketing (or spam) than they already get. There will be people who don’t want to hand over their data, which means you miss out on the opportunity to build a relationship.

But there are other side-effects of gated content.

Just because I download an eBook, does that mean I want to buy? To put it another way, does informational intent (wanting to know stuff) infer purchase intent (wanting to buy stuff)?

Marketing often blames sales for not following up on their leads. But sales often point out that marketing aren’t targeting people who want to buy. Is gated content to blame for this?

There are also people who say that gated content harms your sales and email metrics, because there are leads in your CRM who only converted because they had to.

Finally, gating content means that you can’t capitalise on the search performance of your best content. If SEO is a big part of your business model, this can be a real problem.


My view…


Used properly and in the right situation, I’m all for gated content with a few important caveats:

  1. The gated ‘asset’ needs to be super high value
  2. It needs to offer something unique to the reader
  3. It needs to be used in the middle-to-bottom-of-the-funnel stage in your content plan
  4. It needs to come with clear permission guidance and information on how their data will be used (be GDPR compliant)
  5. The follow-up process needs to be focused on offering more value (and not spam)

Staying front-of-mind with prospects is tough. People are bombarded with countless messages on a daily basis. Having a way to accelerate the growth of your email list is important - and as marketers we have targets to hit and a constant battle to prove ROI.

We create high impact content campaigns for businesses. Book a discovery call here to see how we could work with your business.


Marketing's job is to provide sales with qualified leads. Premium gated content and the proper use of lead scoring is a great way to do this.

But as I’ve mentioned, you need to go about it in the right way.

There’s nothing worse than submitting your details only for the gated content to not deliver on the promise made in the CTA, in the knowledge that you’ll now have to unsubscribe as well.

Finally, the follow-up process on any new contacts needs to be thoroughly thought-through. 

It’s no good calling up anyone who has downloaded your eBook in the hope of a sales call. You need to take the time to learn more about them and build the relationship. That’s where lead-scoring can be helpful. 

What do you think? 

Are you for gated content or do you feel your audience should have the freedom of full, easy access to your best insights?

Guide: How to adopt ABM

Image credit: Adobe Stock, by Kovalenko I

Published by Marc Woodland August 4, 2020