Should content be gated or free for all?

Does it really matter?

In the constantly evolving world of digital media it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with new trends and concepts and even harder to decipher the good advice from the bad. For years we’ve been told to keep important information or useful content caged behind a gate so that people have to register or at least provide their email address before they can access the info… the latest data suggests this is not necessarily a good idea.

Does it really matter?

The internet is cluttered with lots of whitepapers, eBooks or information sheets which require you to registerer to unlock the information. Much of it offers no tangible benefit to the reader and often come with a large serve of unwanted emails from the website owner.  Add to this the annoyance of trying to wrangle cumbersome PDF’s on a phone and it’s easy to see why people are turning away in droves. 

It really is surprising that despite evidence to the contrary, some Marketers are still encouraging their clients to follow this format.   While we accept that it won’t work for every business, there is a good case for un-gating your content to add value and build trust with prospective clients.

The upside

  • Sharing content adds value to your website, which in turn benefits from increased traffic and visibility.
  • Allowing content to be shared via social media increases your reach, demonstrates its worth to consumers, while avoiding the hard sell.  
  • Accessibility provides search benefits because the information is not behind a form. This also applies to links.
  • It also builds trust with the readers and removes roadblocks to visitors taking action.

Consider your reader

Technology has now evolved to the point where many people access the information they need via their mobile – this is a game changer for how many of us do business.  The PDF is a case in point, it can work on a desk or laptop but PDF’s on a phone are a different matter.  Who hasn’t lost patience waiting for the file to download, scrolling sideways, trying to read the information using pinch-to-zoom? For many it’s not worth the effort and files are simply discarded. It’s not a good user experience and that matters because that’s what people remember.

Un-gating your content has the potential to make conversion difficult since you can’t have a direct conversation or provide tailored content.  Plus, you will of course have to be more creative on how you get a prospective customer to engage with you. There is always a trade off… Overall, we believe it’s better to have quality over quantity when it comes to leads, as it allows you to focus on the person who is really ready to commit.

Before making the decision to un-gate all of your content, we suggest starting with one your landing pages, and then running some CRO tests. This allows you to gather and assess some useful data before taking the plunge to give away all of your content for free.