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Once you have created or commissioned a great piece of content, the question will inevitably become, should someone have to fill out a form to get to it? You need people to fill out forms, after all, and content is a great way to get them to do it. On the other hand, you don’t want to create obstacles to seeing your best stuff.
How do you decide which content should be gated and which should be free to the world?
The Big Question
There really is no easy rule of thumb when it comes to gating, but there is one big question that can help you decide.
Will the person who gets this content feel like it was worth earning it by revealing their identity?
That matters, because what gated content essentially creates is a transaction. A bit of, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.” So you have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Of course, it will have been worth it to you if they fill out the form, but will they feel the same way?
Free Range Content
There are certain types of content that should never be gated, most notably promotional sales materials. You don’t want anything to come between your visitor and the information they need to determine if they are interested in your product. These days, people expect to be able to do product and company research anonymously. If you don’t let them do that, you are doing your competitors a huge favor.
Infographics, blog posts and other relatively light content should also not be gated. These content types aren’t usually substantial enough to make the trade feel fair.
Also, keep in mind that search engines are not people. They can’t give you their email address, so to them, a form is a huge STOP sign. If your content was designed to boost your SEO or generate links, gating it defeats the purpose.
Worth the Price of Admission
In order to determine if content is worthy of a form, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will the person who sees it learn a new skill or better way of doing something?
- Will it save the reader time or money?
- Does it answer an important question?
- Will it make the reader better at their job?
- Does it deliver exactly what is promised?
- Do your visitors fill out forms for other similar content?
Examples of the types of content that might lead to “Yes” answers are: studies and surveys, eBooks, reports by analysts, product agnostic “How To” videos, and webinars with influential panelists.
All Forms Are Not Created Equally
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of the above questions, gating your content might be a great idea, but you need to decide if you are talking about the gate on a little white picket fence, or the gate at the front of the castle. Of course, you want to know everything you can about your visitor, but getting your eBook shouldn’t be like applying to the FBI. The more fields you require; the fewer submissions (and more junk responses) you will get. Name, company, and email address are usually good enough to start a dialog. If you use progressive forms, you can always ask for a bit more information next time.
So the answer to the burning question, to gate or not to gate. Is: Yes. Sometimes. Thoughtfully.