How to Use Gated Content to Skyrocket Engagement & Conversions

Do you want to use gated content to boost engagement and conversions?

Gated content is one of the best ways to make people more interested in what you have to offer.

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 inbound marketing conversions, and boost lead generation and sales.

Let’s get started!

What Is Gated Content?

Gated content is online content that you have to fill in a form to get access to. This content could be just about anything: articles, videos, white papers, etc. The form itself might ask just for your email address, or you might need to provide your name, phone number, or other personal information in exchange for access.

Gated content is also referred to as locked content.

Here’s an example:

gated content example

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 fact, we’ve seen amazing results from content locking, including one site that got 11,000 new subscribers in a month with a simple content upgrade.

Plus, locking your content doesn’t impact SEO. Your content is still accessible by search engines!

Case Study: See how this one digital agency used gated content to boost conversion rates 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!

Getting Started with Gated Content Marketing

First, let’s look at some examples.

One common type of locked 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” or “unlock now.”

There’s a popular version of this that you’ll see on online publications like the 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.

gated content examples

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.

gated content examples

Aside from blog posts and articles, content you can lock 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.

Pros and Cons of Content Locking

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 gated content. 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. For example, Photowebo increased conversions by 3806% using gated content. Trading Strategy Guides, another OptinMonster customer, added 11,000 subscribers with a content locking script. And, WholeWhale, whose gated content example we used earlier, increased email subscribers by 100% with gated content.

But it’s not all good news, which is why some big-name blogs have decided to unlock 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 kind of gated content is both valuable and shareable, and not too self-promotional.

gated content decision tree

So, if you’re going to lock 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.

gated content decision tree

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 looked in more detail at what content gating is, let’s look at some 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 locked content. You’ll need to include:

Here’s a gated content example using a landing page:

mirasee gated content landing page

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

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.

Decide 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 locked content, and whether they’re following links to move closer to being leads. You’ll be able to do this:

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

Why Use OptinMonster for Content Locking

Which content gating tool should you use?

OptinMonster’s built-in content locking feature is proven to get results. Remember those stats we mentioned earlier?

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 lock content by creating an inline form campaign for a particular page. Here’s how you do that.

Step 1: Create Your Content Locking Campaign

First, click Create New Campaign from your OptinMonster dashboard.

Create new OptinMonster campaign button

Next, you’ll need to choose a campaign type.

OptinMonster offers different campaigns types, including:

  • Floating bar
  • Fullscreen
  • Slide-in

To create a content lock campaign, we’ll need to select Inline Campaign.

Choose inline camapaign in OptinMonster_

Now, you’ll need to choose a template.

OptinMonster offers 65+ templates, and all work beautifully across all devices.

Today, we will pick Transform.

Choose Transform template_

Name your campaign and click Start Building to enter the OptinMonster editor.

Name content lock campaign in OptinMonster

Step 2: Activate the Content Lock

First, we’ll activate the content lock feature.

Select Inline Settings from the left-hand side in your OptinMonster dashboard:

Inline settings homepage

Turn the toggle switch Lock Below Campaign? to green.

turn on content locking

Select the style of content lock you want:

  • Obfuscation: will blur the content
  • Removal: will completely remove content

Content Locking style

Now, we’re ready to customize our content lock campaign.

Step 3: Design Your Content Lock Campaign

Changing anything about your content lock campaign form is easy in the OptinMonster editor.

All you need to do is click on any part of the campaign to change it.

Let’s see how that works.

To edit the text, click on it. This will bring up the editing tools, and you’ll be able to change the font, copy, color, and alignment of the text.

Transform template inline texit edit_

Similarly, to delete an element, simply click on it.

Remove email icon from transform template_

You can also add elements to your campaign, like:

  • Text
  • Images
  • HTML
  • Video

Click Add Blocks at the top of your editor.

Add blocks

From the left, you’ll be able to select the element you’d like. Then, drag it into place on your popup.

Add new block to Transform template in OptinMonster

This is our content lock campaign after a few quick edits.

Content lock inline campaign OptinMonster

Once you’re happy with the design of your popup, you’re ready to add your email
Step 4. 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 locked 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

Step 4: Add Your Integration

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 at the top of the editor.

Integrations ribbon

Next, select Add New Integration.

Add New Integration

Select your email service provider from the dropdown.

OptinMonster Email Provider Dropdown

Then, follow the prompts to connect your email provider with OptinMonster.

Now, it’s time to publish your content lock campaign on WordPress.

Finally, 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. To get the most out of all your new email subscribers, we recommend you take a look at our favorite email marketing automation tools.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, you may want to learn how to create a paywall to reserve premium content for paying subscribers.

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Bronwynne Powell is a writer for the web. Her background is in journalism, PR, and tech startups.  When she's not writing, she's running after her two young children or listening to supernatural podcasts.

Comments

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  2. If you do inline content locking, does this prevent crawlers (Google’s indexing robots for example) from indexing the page? If so, how do permit the bots full access?

    1. Jacinda Santora
      Jacinda Santora March 2, 2020 at 3:41 pm

      Content locking does NOT prevent crawlers from indexing your page. 🙂

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