Why You Should Gate Your Best Website Content

Sam Zastrow Written by Sam Zastrow

So, you've got a great new piece of content. It's been written and edited. It's been designed and approved. You can't wait to let your website visitors get their hands on it.

Now it's time to push it live. Or is it?

Have you considered gating your content to make it so visitors need to fill out a form before downloading it?

If you're thinking, "Why would I do that?" you're not alone. Many people react this way because their instincts tell them allowing open access to all of their website content will avoid creating friction and get their content to as many people as possible.While this is true on its face, there's a very strong case to be made for gated content. Put simply, it's best to collect email addresses from people who want to download your content so you can continue marketing to them via a lead nurturing workflow or even via advertising.

When considering a gate, think about the buyer's journey

If you're producing content, you're likely hoping it will help you sell more of your product or service. But for most B2Bs, the sale usually happens after a 3-step process we call the buyer's journey.

  • Awareness: Prospects start the buyer's journey when they become aware of the problem they have and start researching it at a high level.
  • Consideration: The buyer defines their problem and begins researching solutions.
  • Decision: The buyer identifies a solution and takes action.

Here's a graphic developed by HubSpot that shows a sample buyer's journey for someone who is sick.

buyer's journey examplesSource: HubSpot

If your content is broad and geared toward buyers in (or even before) the awareness phase, you won't get as much value from collecting email addresses via a gate as you would if it were geared toward buyers who are already researching solutions or have one in mind to take action on.

In turn, only people who are very likely to buy your product or service will be interested in decision-phase content. Getting the contact information for these buyers is extremely valuable for your sales team, so using a gate is most appropriate here.

Generally, I'd almost always use a gate for content geared toward consideration- or decision-phase buyers, and sometimes for awareness stage buyers.

It's also more appropriate to ask website visitors for more information if they're further along in the buyer's journey. Gate forms for decision-phase content might include fields for company size, revenue and other specifics, while forms for awareness-phase content might only require an email address.

Finally, avoid gating sales messaging content. No one will surrender their email address to access content that is strictly sales-related (except maybe your competitors).

The breadth and depth of your content is another important consideration

No matter what stage of the buyer's journey your content is written for, your case for gating it is made much stronger when it includes a ton of valuable information.

For example, you'd be much less likely to surrender your email address for a simple infographic on personal finance than for a complete guide to personal finance that includes budget calculators and previously unreleased data.

Even if your content is general and falls into the awareness phase, it's certainly appropriate to gate it if it's highly comprehensive and/or provides a lot of value.

What kinds of content should be gated?

Here's a quick breakdown of common types of content at each phase of the buyer's journey.

Ideally, you'll have content mapped to each area so you can nurture leads, moving them from one phase to another and eventually to a sale.

Awareness phase

This content helps buyer's learn more about the problem they're having, and how to define it. Generally, the most high-value and comprehensive content offerings should be gated, while the lighter content should not.

Should usually NOT be gated:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Video content
  • Checklists
  • Presentations

Should usually be gated:

  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Reports
  • Webinars

Consideration Phase

Prospects in the consideration phase aren't quite ready to be sold to, but they are starting to seek out a solution. Content you produce for these types of buyers should always be gated, because they are significantly more likely to buy your product or service than someone in the awareness phase.

Should always be gated:

  • Webinars
  • Case Studies
  • Video series
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers

Decision Phase

Prospects in the decision phase are almost ready to buy. Gating content designed for decision-phase buyers is a must.

Should always be gated:

  • Free trials
  • Free consultations or assessments
  • Demos
Here's a more visual tool to help you decide whether or not to gate your content, courtesy of HubSpot:

should I gate content flowchart HubSpotSource: HubSpot


Ultimately, the decision to gate your content comes down to your goals.

If you developed the content to help generate leads, and it is highly comprehensive and/or designed for people further along on the buyer's journey, it should be gated. 

If the goal of developing your content was to give your salespeople messaging and visual aids, or to generate traffic with easy-to-digest content, a gate should probably not be used.

Looking to build a successful inbound marketing strategy for your business? 

Topics: Premium Content

Sam Zastrow Sam Zastrow

Sam Zastrow has worked in digital marketing for 9 years. He's a generalist with particular interests in B2B lead generation, analytics, and keyword strategy. Outside of the office, he enjoys hiking, travel, and following Aston Villa FC.