How to make the most of gated and non-gated content in online marketing

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing.

OPINION: When mapping out your content marketing strategy as a small business, there are two main types of content you need to consider: gated and non-gated.

Gated content is any content you create that people need to pay for, either with some type of contact details, such as an email address, or perhaps with actual money.

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Non-gated content is content that is accessible publicly, without barriers.

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There are distinct advantages to both. Non-gated content can help people who have never heard about you, or what you do, find out more. It can help you reach beyond your current audience, and build trust with people who one day might choose to work with you.

This column is an example of non-gated content. It’s not on a platform I own, it’s not behind a paywall, and you can read this one – and all my other weekly columns – whenever you want.

You may one day get in contact to ask me to work with you, but the vast majority of you will just keep on reading and not take it any further. And that’s how ungated content works.

There is complete anonymity on your side, unless you choose to respond to it in some way.

If you’re creating ungated content, there are two core outcomes we’re looking for.

Gated content is any content you create that people need to pay for, either with some type of contact details or with actual money (file photo).

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Gated content is any content you create that people need to pay for, either with some type of contact details or with actual money (file photo).

First, does it inspire people to engage with it in some way, through comments, shares and likes? And second, does it, when combined with your other ungated content, move the right people closer to your gated content, or even to a sale?

It’s unlikely one piece of freely available content from you will be enough to get someone ready to buy from you. We layer up this content, creating different types on different platforms, creating a network of content that all has the same style of voice, message and makes you start to feel familiar.

Our ungated content should reflect our values, what we do, and our core products and services. It can be pretty broad (like this column) or more specific, such as a blog on your own website or a social media post.

If you were to build out content in this way you could consider using blogs, infographics, video, case studies, catalogues, online magazines, podcasts, LinkedIn or Facebook Lives, a print book, flyers, or social media posts.

Because I live and breathe content marketing, and also to make sure I’m able to add value to my content marketing coaching clients, I have quite a broad range of ungated content. As I mentioned before, this column is part of that.

The content for this is often based around my weekly podcast. My blogging has become a little sporadic in the last few months, so I’m working hard to get back to that.

We also have case studies on our website, and then there’s daily and regular posting on TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube (this sounds a lot, but some of the content is reposted to keep me sane!).

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing.

Stuff

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing.

My book Be a Spider, Build a Web also counts as ungated content, even if someone paid for it. They can purchase it from anywhere, and I won’t know who they are. (Unless they purchase it directly from me.)

My book was, like all good ungated content, designed to stand alone, complete in itself. However I have a gated downloadable workbook that comes with the book, and through that a number of people who bought the book have then worked with me to build out their content marketing.

While we talked about ungated content first, it’s the type of content we need to create last. Once we’ve worked out who we can best help with our product and service, and what offer works best for them, we can then create some gated content to help attract and nurture these people until they are ready to buy from us.

The reason we start with this content first is so we can create ungated content that relates to this gated content closely.

While I’m a fan of the downloadable checklist for many small businesses, you can have a huge range of different types of gated content. As long as it adds value to your ideal customer as a stand-alone piece of content, it’s a good choice for gated content.

If a checklist doesn’t feel like a good fit, you could try a whitepaper, short course, a series of private videos, an in-person event (that needs registration), downloadable pdfs, free or low-cost webinars, or even a private podcast.

The magic of gated content is that much of it can be set up using marketing automation. It takes a bit of effort to get it all working, but once created it keeps ticking along, drawing people closer and building a community of people who feel comfortable giving you their contact details, or even some money to get the content you’re providing.

In terms of our gated content, our simplest content is a DIY Marketing Audit small-business owners can do to find the holes in their marketing. We have many other checklists for small, niche audiences we often work with.

We also run free webinars on marketing topics through the year, have a few free courses about to go live on our Shopify site, and have the free downloadable workbook that goes with the Be a Spider, Build a Web book

All of these capture contacts who may have spent weeks, months or sometimes years enjoying our ungated content.

Of course, once they’ve jumped the gate it’s then our job to make sure we continue to make them feel at ease, that the messaging still feels like it did before they gave you their details.

No matter whether it’s gated or ungated, all your content needs to keep on building that trust in you. No matter what.

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How to make the most of gated and non-gated content in online marketing

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