Gated Content – Why Your Channel Strategy Still Needs It

In the ever-evolving landscape of channel marketing, staying ahead of the curve is crucial.

Gated content is a strategy that has proven its worth. Despite the growing debate around its necessity, recent data reveals that demand for this kind of content has surged, with a 77% increase since 2019. This shift underscores its importance in capturing high-quality intent leads and building meaningful relationships with potential customers. But is it really a matter of gated versus ungated, or is there room for both in a balanced strategy?

The Case for Gating Your Content

It operates on a simple but powerful principle: value exchange. By offering high-quality, valuable content in exchange for user information, businesses can capture detailed insights about their audience. This not only helps in building a robust database of potential leads but also enables marketers to tailor their follow-up strategies based on specific user interests and behaviors.

Building Trust and Authority:
Gated content allows businesses to establish credibility and authority by providing valuable insights that address the specific needs and pain points of their audience. When prospects willingly share their information to access your content, it signals a level of trust and interest that can be nurtured through targeted, personalized communication.

High-Quality Leads:
Another key advantage is the ability to generate high-quality leads. Since users are willing to provide their information, they are likely more interested and engaged, making them prime candidates for follow-up.

The Value of Ungated Content

On the other hand, accessible content plays a critical role in brand awareness and audience engagement. It allows for a broader reach, as users can access it without barriers, encouraging sharing and wider distribution. This type of content can be particularly effective at the top of the funnel, where the goal is to attract and inform a wide audience.  

Increased Reach and Visibility:
Without barriers, your content can reach a larger audience, increasing brand visibility and awareness. This can be particularly beneficial for companies looking to establish thought leadership and attract new prospects.

Enhanced SEO:
Search engine algorithms can read it, which can improve your site’s SEO performance and drive organic traffic.

Why You Don’t Need to Choose

The most effective channel content strategies often incorporate both kinds of content, leveraging the strengths of each approach to maximize reach and engagement.

Strategic Placement:
Use ungated content to attract and engage a broad audience, then introduce gates for more in-depth resources that require a higher level of interest and commitment from the prospect.

Balancing the Funnel:
At the top of the funnel, content like blog posts, infographics, and videos can draw in a wide audience. As prospects move down the funnel, keeping eBooks, whitepapers, and case studies behind a gate can help to qualify leads and provide deeper insights.

Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

In Channel, the buyer’s journey is rarely a solo endeavor. Decisions are often made by committees, with multiple stakeholders involved at different stages. This complexity requires a nuanced content strategy that caters to various needs and preferences.

Awareness Stage:
At this stage, ungated content is highly effective. Blog posts, industry reports, and infographics can attract a wide audience and raise awareness about your brand and solutions. It should be easily accessible and shareable for maximum reach.

Consideration Stage:
As potential buyers delve deeper, they seek more detailed information. This is where eBooks, whitepapers, and webinars become invaluable. By gating this content, you can identify serious prospects who are willing to exchange their information for in-depth insights.

Decision Stage:
When buyers are close to making a decision, they look for content that validates their choice. Case studies, product demos, and detailed guides are crucial at this stage. Gating them can provide these valuable resources while also allowing for further qualification of leads.

Catering to Multiple Stakeholders

Different stakeholders have different information needs. For example, a technical lead might look for detailed product specifications, while a C-level executive might seek ROI-focused case studies. Here’s how to address these diverse needs with a strategic mix of content:

Technical Leads:
Unlocked content like technical blogs and how-to guides can draw them in. Detailed whitepapers and webinars, however, can provide deeper insights.

C-Level Executives:
Accessible thought leadership articles can capture their interest, but gated case studies and ROI calculators can provide the detailed business justification they need.

Mid-Level Managers:
These stakeholders often look for practical implementation advice. Readily available checklists and tips can engage them initially, while gated eBooks and detailed guides can offer the comprehensive information they need.

Recent insights from the 2024 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report highlight the continued relevance and effectiveness of locked content:

77% Growth

There has been a 77% increase in demand for gated content since 2019.

High Engagement

eBooks represent 39.5% of all B2B content demand, with registrations increasing by 34.5%.

Purchase Intent

Users requesting case studies are 78.5% more likely to make a purchase decision within the next 12 months.

Conclusion

Gating your content is a strategic approach to channel marketing that can yield significant results. By offering valuable content in exchange for user information, businesses can build trust, capture high-quality leads, and drive meaningful engagement. However, this doesn’t mean abandoning ungated content. A balanced strategy that leverages both can maximize reach, engagement, and conversion. As you review your content strategy, consider integrating both approaches to cater to the diverse needs of the buyer’s journey and enhance your lead generation efforts.

Daren Bach

Daren Bach (FCIM)

Chief Creative & Digital Officer
The Channel Agency: Purechannels
Helping Channel Marketing teams unleash indirect revenue through creativity, digital and storySelling.

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