How to make gated content work

Let’s go through the steps on how to make gated content work on your website.


What is gated content?

The concept behind gated content has been around since Kellogg’s gave away pet Dodos for five Corn Flakes box tops. Give us your contact details, we’ll give you a present.

In web terms, “gated” means you have to give your contact details before you can download something.

  • If you click a link and download a PDF, that’s a normal download. It’s ‘ungated’, if you like.
  • If you click a link and a form asks for your name and email address, that’s gated.
A typical example of a page offering gated content.

A typical example of a page offering gated content.


The 7 golden rules

Here are the 7 golden rules on how to make gated content work on your website:

  1. It’s got to be valuable. It doesn’t need to stop the earth rotating on its axis but your visitors have got to think it’s worth them giving you their contact details in exchange. For example, the recordings of our webinars can be downloaded free (ungated). But the PDF versions with all the extra content and links, that’s gated content.
  2. Make sure visitors know what you’re offering. They won’t pass over their details unless they’ve been convinced it’s valuable.
  3. The landing page that asks for their details should be simple. Drop the site’s other menu options. This page has one purpose: get sign-ups.
  4. You may want to know everything about the visitor, but don’t ask straight away. The more questions you ask, the fewer responses you’ll get. You can create a workflow in your marketing automation system to gather more details.
  5. Don’t make everything on your site gated. It puts a barrier between you and your visitors. Make sure you have plenty of content that can be downloaded without a form.
  6. Plan how you’re going to send the gated content to your visitors. It works best if you have an automated process that does it for you. That needs a clever forms app or marketing automation. But it also works if you have a manual process – as long as it’s a process you follow.
  7. Don’t expect massive results in week one. Gated content is an old technique. Its virtue is that it keeps on working forever, unattended, and for free.