How to Use Gated Content to Skyrocket Engagement & Conversions

You want to know the best way to make people more interested in what you have to offer? Take some of it away.

Content gating does just that.

What Is Gated Content?

Gated content is online content (like articles, videos, white papers, etc.) that you have to fill in a form to get access to. The form might ask for just your email address, or you might need to provide your name, phone number, or other information in exchange for access.

Here’s an example:

gated content example hubspot

As we’ll see, there are pros and cons to gating content, but done right, it can make your content more appealing, help you to engage with your target audience, and result in better leads.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to gate content for more engagement and conversions. We’ll share gated content best practices and examples, so you can use the content gating strategy effectively to improve marketing conversions, and drive leads and sales. We’ve seen amazing results from gated content, including one site that got 11,000 new subscribers in a month with a simple content upgrade.

Case Study: See how this one digital agency used gated content to boost conversions by 62% and 2x their email list.

Here’s a video tutorial if you want to skip right to implementation:

For more details, just keep reading!

Let’s get started …

Getting Started with Gated Content Marketing

First, let’s look at some examples to explore the possibilities.

One common type of gated content is a blog post or article where you have to opt in to read the rest. It allows you to access some of the content, whetting your appetite for what comes next. You’ll see this type of content gate with messaging similar to “sign up to continue reading”.

how to gate content - financial times

There’s a popular version of this that you’ll see on online publications like New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times and others. These let you read a certain number of articles, or a monthly quota, before removing access to the rest of the content.

content gating strategy nyt

And sometimes you need to opt in for additional features. For example, on the Statista site, you can see basic reports for free. However, you need to opt in to get more options, and to pay a subscription for full access.

statista content gating

Aside from blog posts and articles, content you can gate includes:

  • Research reports
  • Webinars
  • Video replays
  • Downloadable tools and resources
  • Cheat sheets and checklists

In fact, practically any lead magnet or piece of content can be gated.

Content Gating: Pros and Cons

Content gating has its advocates and detractors, and it’s true that there are pros and cons to the strategy.

On the plus side, you can enhance the value of great content – and it does need to be great – with content gating. If people have to provide contact details in exchange for content, it increases the perception of value.

When you gate content, the data you collect on your audience (for example, via email marketing and analytics) can help you understand them better. That makes it easier to:

  • Build a relationship with users through your marketing
  • Understand who your most valuable users are
  • Use email list segmentation for more targeted promotions

Those benefits lead to conversion and revenue gains. Unbounce‘s gated content statistics show campaigns with conversion rates between 19% and 45%.

But it’s not all good news, which is why Sprout Content and others have decided to ungate most of their content.

Some of the disadvantages of gating content include:

  • Annoyance, which may cause people to have a negative perception of your brand
  • The difficulty of persuading visitors to fill out long forms with too many form fields
  • Reaching fewer people, because fewer people share and link to gated content, resulting in poor SEO and less traffic

With these pros and cons, before you work out how to gate content, it’s important to decide whether it makes sense to gate content at all in your business. The next section will help with that.

When Should You Gate Content?

As Hubspot’s flowchart suggests, the best gated content is both valuable and shareable, and not too self-promotional.

hubspot content gating flowchart

So, if you’re going to gate a piece of content, make sure it’s relevant and provides value to your audience.

Uberflip suggests that another reason for gating content is if you have a large enough audience to make it worthwhile. If you get lots of traffic, content gating can help you to separate your most interested and committed visitors from everyone else.

uberflip content gating flowchart

You also have to think about content gating as part of your overall marketing strategy, which should also include valuable ungated content. That lets your audience understand the potential value of the gated content.

Think about whether a piece of gated content will help to move prospects through the sales funnel to become customers. But don’t guess; use analytics to measure the success of your gated content in driving conversions. We’ll explain more about conversion tracking later in this guide.

Finally, gated content isn’t right for every business. While the content gating strategy can work well for businesses producing lots of content, if you’ve got a more hands-on business, like say an electrician, it might not be right for you.

Gated Content Best Practices

Now that we’ve look in more detail at what content gating is, let’s look at some gated content best practices.

Create Your Content

First, create content that’s valuable enough to provide a real incentive to your target customers to provide their information. Our guide to creating a lead magnet will help you craft content that’s:

  • Relevant to your audience
  • Valuable enough to opt in, share and reference
  • Actionable, providing tips they can use

Alternatively, as we’ve said, you can gate a piece of existing content, like a blog post. We’ll show you how to do that later in this guide.

Build a Gated Content Landing Page

Next, build a landing page where people will opt in for your gated content. You’ll need to include:

Here’s an example of how to gate content from Mirasee:

mirasee gated content landing page

For more help with building landing pages, check out these expert landing page copywriting tips and this guide to landing page creation.

Your gated content landing page will also include an optin form. Remember to ask only for the info you truly need. Most research shows that people are more likely to fill out short forms.

Work Out How Visitors Will Access the Content

It’s essential to know how you’re going to give new subscribers access to the content you’ve gated. Some of the options include:

  • Sending the content by email, which we always recommend
  • Providing an immediate download link
  • Opening the content in a new window or redirecting subscribers to a page where they can access the content

You can use any of these options in any OptinMonster campaign by customizing the success view.

Track Conversions
Finally, measurement is an important part of any marketing strategy.

You’ll want to know how many people are signing up to get your gated content, and whether they’re following links to move closer to being leads. You’ll be able to do this:

gated content statistics and analytics

This data will help you figure out what’s working so you can tweak your gated content strategy if necessary.

Why Use OptinMonster for Content Gating

Which content gating tool should you use?

OptinMonster’s built-in content locking feature is proven to get results:

You can deliver your gated content immediately with OptinMonster’s success themes. OptinMonster also integrates with all the major email marketing platforms and content management systems so you can use it for gating content on any site.

In the next section, we’ll show you how to gate content with OptinMonster.

How to Gate Content with a Signup Form

For this tutorial, we’re going to show you how to gate content by creating a pop-up optin campaign for a particular page. Here’s how you do that.

Step 1. Create Your Campaign

Login to OptinMonster and click the green Create Campaign button.

create_campaign

Choose a campaign type. Let’s stick with the high-converting Popup campaign.

select_campaign_type

Choose a theme. We’ll use Fashion.

select_template

Name your campaign and select the website where the campaign should appear. Then, press Start Building to go to the OptinMonster campaign builder.

name_campaign

Step 2. Edit Your Campaign

Go to the Optin tab and tweak the campaign design. You can replace the default image with one that matches your lead magnet or gated content. Just click directly on the image to open up the editing tools.

replace_image

Then click on the headline and body copy to edit these to match your campaign. Again, you just click directly on whatever you want to edit to bring up the editing tools to the left.

edit_headline_text

Here’s one example of how your final campaign could look:

gated_ebook_example

Step 3. Choose Your Display Rules

Next, go to Display Rules. The first step to setting display rules is selecting your conditions. Basically, you’re telling OptinMonster when you want the optin to appear.

Here we’ve set the optin to display when the content URL path exactly matches the URL of the page where we want the campaign to display.

display_rules_gated_url

If you want to show your gated content only to visitors who are already engaged, you could also enable Visitor has viewed ‘X’ pages and set the number to 2 or more.

display_rules_pages_visited

Alternatively, you could add a display rule that will display the campaign when the visitor has scrolled a particular distance down the page.

display_rules_distance_scrolled

Step 4. Set Up Your Form Success Action

Click your Sign Up button to bring up editing tools for that element.

optin_edit_form_actions

Go to Form Action to set your Form Success Action. Change the Form Success Action to Redirect to a URL and enter the URL of the page where visitors can access the gated content.

redirect_url

Step 5. Add Your Integrations

To collect subscriber data via your email marketing software, you’ll need to add an integration to the platform you use. To do this, go to Integrations » Add New Integration and select your email service provider from the dropdown. Then choose the list where new subscribers will be added and click the green Connect to button.

add_integrations

You can also link Google Analytics via the Analytics tab. Click Connect to add connections.

add_google_analytics

Here you select your Google Analytics account and the website you want to use. Clicking Next will bring you to a confirmation page indicating that you’ve successfully connected Google Analytics and OptinMonster.

add_google_analytics_select_account_site

Finally, save and publish the campaign.

publish_campaign

You have multiple publishing options including sitewide or campaign-specific embed code, MonsterLinks™, or WordPress.

select_publishing_platform

You can publish your campaign on any type of website, but we’ll take a look at how to do so on WordPress since it’s so popular.

How to Gate Content on WordPress with OptinMonster

To publish your gated content in WordPress, login to your WordPress dashboard.
Click on the OptinMonster icon. This will take you to the list of campaigns.

gate_content_wordpress_optinmonster

See if your campaign appears in the list. If not, click Refresh Campaigns.

refresh_campaign_list

Click Go Live under the campaign you want to make live on the website. For more specific settings, click Edit Output Settings. This will allow you to display campaigns according to post categories, post tags, and other criteria. Save your settings.

wordpress_output_settings

How to Gate Content with Content Locker

You can also gate content with OptinMonster’s Content Locker functionality.

To do that, follow the steps above to create and edit a new campaign using the Inline campaign type.

From the campaign builder go to Inline Settings and turn on Lock Content Below Campaign by clicking the toggle.

inline_campaign_gated

Choose the type of content blocking you want to use. We’re using Obfuscation.

content_locking_style

Save and publish the campaign. Grab the embed code and paste it into your post or, if you’re using WordPress, go to your dashboard.

Grab the optin slug from under the Live link.

optins-tab-optin-id-slug

Add it to this text in place of “SLUG” to create a shortcode you can embed in your content.

[optin-monster-shortcode id="SLUG"]

Now that you know how to gate content, check out these blog post ideas to help with gated content creation. And read our tips on measuring content marketing ROI to see if your strategy is working.

Finally, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more in-depth guides and actionable tutorials.

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Jacinda Santora
Jacinda Santora is a writer specializing in ecommerce and growth marketing. She prides herself on her ability to make complicated things easier. When she isn't writing you can find her daydreaming about campervans, drinking coffee, and listening to podcasts.