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To Gate or Not to Gate: 5 Questions

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Of course, every marketer on the planet wants qualified leads. The holy grail — the contact details of that one person who is truly interested in your product or solution. That one contact you can easily push down your funnel and transform into a very happy customer in no time.
We all sure wish it was that easy!

The reality is very different. The road from lead to MQL to SQL can be long and winding. And all your marketing efforts should not actually only focus on getting those initial leads.

I discuss this topic with my clients a lot — clients eager to see qualified leads in their pipe in no time, and so tempted to gate everything they do, and every piece of content they produce. As if leads were the only objectives of their communication and content marketing campaigns.

What about visibility and awareness? What about credibility, recognition, and trust? What about community building and customer loyalty?

We often talk about the art of demand generation vs the science of lead generation. 
David Meerman Scott suggests that according to his statistics, “a white paper or eBook will be downloaded 20 times and up to 50 times more without a gate in front of it.”

So how do you decide if you should gate your content or not? 
Start by asking yourself these 5 questions:

1- Are you new on the market or already a market leader?

Do people know who you are? Do they already trust you and see you as an expert in your field?
If the answer is no, don’t gate.

2- What’s the objective of your campaign?

Do you want people — as many people as possible — to learn about you, your new company, your new product? Do you want as much traffic as possible to your content, including SEO and social share? Are you trying to become a thought leader in your field? Do you want to be perceived as an expert? Do you want to offer your audiences more than your products?
If the answer is yes, don’t gate.

3- Do you know who will read your content?

Do you have a good understanding of your target audience? Have you developed solid, detailed personas? Do you know what your customers need and want? Do you know at what stage of the funnel they are when reading your document?
For example, people at the top of the funnel have a low commitment, so no desire to share their information.
If you have no info on personas and no clear understanding of your audience, don’t gate.

4- What kind of content are you promoting? Self-centered or added-value?

How valuable is your content to your target audience? Are others giving away the same content for ‘free’? Will your audience be ready to give away their contact info to get it? Is the content all about you and how wonderful you are or are you providing some unique input and knowledgeable insights to your audience?
For example:
Blog post, articles, infographics, customer testimonial video, a case study: don’t gate
Research, white papers, webinars, events/video on demand, software tools/trial: you can consider gating

5- What are you going to do with that lead?

Do you have a nurture strategy? Do you have a process in place?
Do you have additional content available to push your lead down the funnel and convert?
If no, get ready before you start gating!

Of course, you want qualified leads but you have to be realistic about it all as there are many occasions when gating content doesn’t make sense. So, think about it before you do.
And, of course, it is not just one or the other — your lead gen strategy should coexist with your demand gen one. Both serve different purposes and should work together. For example: why not use a non-gated infographic to drive traffic to your site where you can then offer a more detailed, gated white paper on the same subject!