Gated content is an effective way to drive your inbound marketing campaign. Knowing where to draw the line between giving away free content vs asking for visitors’ email addresses is key.
To achieve success with your online marketing endeavors, some articles, videos, and ready-to-implement (e.g., swipe files) content have to be given away without asking for visitors’ contact information.
But there are times when you have to lock your content if you’ve invested a ton of time researching the best solution to a given problem.
You want to gate the information and only give it out to visitors who submit their email addresses and names. That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.
Let’s get started!
What is Gated Content?
Gated content is a type of content that the user fills out a form to read, watch, download, or promote. In this case, the content can be in any form: videos, blog posts, white papers, software, etc.
Once the user fills out the form, they’re redirected to a page where they can access the information. Another term for gated content is “locked content.”
Wishpond’s eCommerce Strategy Guide is a good example of a gated white paper. Until a user fills out the form, they can’t access it. You get the point now, don’t you?
9 Gated Content Examples for Collecting Leads
Sometimes, you may not know what type of content to lock and use as your list building tool. If you’d rather focus on growing your business while a native English virtual assistant writes your content, visit Virtual Latinos to learn more.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in business for the past 10 years or just 10 months, these gated content examples will work for you.
1. eBooks and White Papers
The most common content formats that you can gate are eBooks and White papers. I decided to group these lead magnets because they’re a staple of inbound marketing — and they perform similar roles — especially in B2B marketing.
Ebooks are mostly used by B2C companies to reach individual customers, while white papers are the norm for businesses that are targeting founders, CEOs, and top-level executives.
You can deliver enormous value to your visitors and also establish your company as an authority that should be trusted.
Packaging your content in the form of a white paper or eBook is an excellent way to explain difficult topics in an interesting and valuable manner. Klood locks its ebook “The Beginner’s Guide to WordPress” and only gives users access when they sign up.
If you’re looking to grow an email list for your business over time, you can create high-quality eBooks and white papers, then use them alongside relevant blog posts.
You must have seen many B2B and B2C companies that are leveraging these gated content examples to build their email lists.
These companies usually have a “resources” page dedicated to white papers and eBooks.
In recent years, webinars have become a powerful lead generation technique that works.
This is as a result of the demand for recording and live-video broadcasting, which has become prevalent in most mainstream industries.
Webinars are great when you’re looking for ways to deliver amazing content in a live online setting while interacting with your audience, answering questions, and pitching your product or service at strategic points in the session, or the end of the webinar.
But to encourage users to sign up for your webinars, you have to go hard on promotion on different platforms.
According to a study, “about 29% of webinar attendees won’t sign up for your presentation until the day of the event itself, about 59% in the week to the event. So you need a long promotional cycle to be able to attract the right attendees.
Businesses have seen higher conversion rates from webinars. Because they’re perceived to have a higher value than blog posts and even traditional videos.
Webinars also help marketers to quickly add 100+ subscribers to their email list in real-time.
Melyssa Griffin has built a large contact list and seen as a Pinterest expert due to her free webinars. Funny enough, you can’t attend her webinars until you sign up for her email list.
You may want to use Facebook live to provide information without asking for attendees’ email addresses and names, but you’ll have access to limited tools. It’s better to use webinar-focused software like WebinarJam to host yours.
Typically, you need to use a standalone landing page to capture leads and users who sign up for your webinar.
You can even drive more engagement by publishing pre-recorded webinars on a repository page where users can rewatch their favorite webinars.
3. Video Content
Videos are the future of digital. It doesn’t matter if it’s the traditional video on YouTube, animated slides used for webinars, explainer videos, or documentaries, videos will impact digital marketing strategy stronger in 2020.
It’s already happening, with YouTube being the most popular website on earth. If not for videos and how much people love creating and watching videos, YouTube may likely not be in existence.
Don’t hesitate to ask visitors to sign up to watch your video if you’re proud of the value it’ll deliver to them.
“How to” videos that provide useful tips and advice are quite easy and fun to create. You don’t have to invest a fortune on expensive video production equipment, you can start with your mobile phone and scale from there.
In the beginning, only a few people will worry about your video quality. I’m sure they’ve seen fantastic video quality — your edge, though, will be on the value that your video brings. As long as your video audio is clear, you’ll be just fine.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t invest in professional video production equipment. Of course, you should do so if you have the budget. But getting started is the most difficult part of video strategy — especially when you want to use it to generate leads.
Videos drive ROI. According to research, “88% of businesses who do video marketing are satisfied with the ROI.”
When it comes to using video content to capture email leads, you can simply ask your audience to sign up for tutorial videos or webinars.
If you have a good record of delivering value with your free videos, people will love to sign up to experience what else you’ve got.
A marketing automation software like Marketo and HubSpot can help you to trigger a series of emails to be sent out to those who subscribed to access your gated content over time.
If you have a marketing automation solution (we use Hubspot), you could trigger a series of emails to be delivered to your audience over time.
Video content can also improve your search visibility. How?
When you share your videos on YouTube and optimize for search engines, you’ll be able to rank on Google for the primary or related key phrases.
Linking to your blog post or website will also add an SEO power (if not juice) to your website, even if it’s a no-follow link.
4. Spreadsheet Templates
Not every marketer enjoys working with spreadsheets. It’s boring and sometimes, you end up messing it up. That’s why using spreadsheet templates as a form of gated content can help you collect email addresses of your site visitors.
Why would they want to download a spreadsheet template?
Well, you’ll save them 2 hours or more of their time, depending on the complexity of the topic or task.
For example, conducting a website review and laying out the insights on a spreadsheet can be high-value information. But not too many marketers have the time to do it all.
If you could provide a template that helps businesses fill in the blank spaces, don’t you think they’d appreciate it? In the example below, the website review template is gated behind a popup email form:
Once you provide the template, a lot of people will love to download and start using it right away. Because it’s a necessity!
You should use it to build your list quickly. This type of gated content is perceived highly by online marketers.
5. Process Documents and Swipe Files
How many businesses do you think would love to access your Facebook ads swipe files, especially when it’s generated five or six figures in revenue?
What about an onboarding template that your business can start using today? Would you be happy to download it and save weeks and resources involved in creating it?
I bet you will!
To save time, process documents and swipe files are useful. They’re documentation based on the months and years of trials and errors. A lot of testing has gone into these documents, so it’s priceless.
Digital Marketer, the company that offers online marketing courses and hosts of Convince & Convert conference locks their Facebook ads swipe file behind a web form. Take a look:
Now, you’re not even asking for money but contact information. By sharing these ready-to-use documents in exchange for email registration, your business will generate a lot of B2B leads.
But there’s more. Process documents and swipe files position your brand as the authority in the industry. This builds trust quickly and it can be sustained for a long time.
The only downside to sharing process documents and swipe files is the risk of getting them into the hands of your competitors. No business wants to let the cat out of the bag, especially to its competitors.
Overall, if you can damn the consequences and still proceed to share this value-packed content, you’ll get a lot of people signing up to access it.
6. Email Series
Another effective example of content is email series and courses. Email is a great medium to reach your target audience since most people spend hours on their inboxes.
You can lock valuable email content by delivering it to users who sign up in the form of an ongoing class or course.
PipeDrive offers a 2-week email course on how to grow sales. But the email course is gated so that the company can capture email addresses and follow up later.
There’s no fast rule on how you often you should emails. You know your target audience better than I do, so your decisions should be based on that premise.
Most businesses, however, schedule an email to be sent out each day to their subscribers.
Some send out emails once or twice per week. In each email course, you’re simplifying a complicated subject or topic in a digestible way.
Marie Forleo’s “How to Write Words that Sell (And Sound Like You)” is a great example of a gated email course that teaches business owners how to write better content. To access the video, you’ve got to sign up first. Then you’ll be redirected to the video course.
Marie, Brian Clark, Lewis Howe, Chris Garrett, and so many other digital marketers gate their email courses. These guys have amassed gigantic email lists through this list building tactic.
7. Product Demos
We all love to test drive cars before ‘considering’ buying one. Most people have become professionals at testing things out before putting their money on it.
In the same token, product demos work really well when you’re a SaaS company or new startup with a product you want people to try. Scheduling demos can help you engage with prospects.
It all boils down to giving people a taste of your software or product. You give them 100% access to the software; they can test it and use all of the features. Oracle offers a live demo once a user signs up.
Once they’re excited after getting acquainted with the software, it’ll become hard to quit.
Essentially, you’re not only getting free users to try your product demos but you can increase conversions by converting free users into customers. When they test your product, it’s an indication that they need it.
Ideally, you can schedule a demo with a prospect via phone or email. Software like Infusionsoft and Salesforce have features that allow you to schedule a demo.
This is most effective after people have signed up for your email list. Use this technique when you’re looking to attract qualified leads who will become customers in a short time.
8. Analysis and Experiments
Did your organization conduct an analysis or experiment recently? If yes, then you’re sitting on a goldmine that can add new subscribers to your email list.
Putting hours into an experiment shouldn’t be wasted. Even though the insights gained will be beneficial to your business, you also need to share it with others.
But don’t share it for free. Don’t!
Instead, lock the content. The facts and insights from your analysis could be in an infographic format, an eBook, a video, or laid out in a spreadsheet.
CardinalPath conducted a study on Measuring the Impact of Social Media. The company shared the insights in an eBook, but users have to sign up to download it.
Sharing the results your organization got from a split test or analysis is a great way to provide premium B2B content and generate new leads — while being perceived as the go-to authority in your industry.
In terms of SEO, you can share the document in PDF format. Google crawls PDF formats and even embed links. So this can provide additional SEO value or direct traffic from those who click your website’s link within the PDF report.
9. Free Trials
Most people who visit your website aren’t ready to spend money. This is equally true for social media users — they’re on these platforms to connect, communicate, and make friends with new people.
If you have a software or product, then you can offer free trials to encourage prospects to at least give it a shot. Studies show that “75% of SaaS companies offering a free trial.”
Shopify offers a 14-Day free trial to new users to capture their email addresses before asking for an upgrade on one of its paid plans.
Note that free trials that don’t request credit cards tend to convert better than free trials with a credit card.
If you get 20 free trial users per day, 3 of them will convert to a paid plan of $50 (if you never asked for their credit cards during registration). That’s extra 90 customers per month, based on Totango’s Benchmark SaaS study.
However, if you don’t have the software, you can package your service and offer a free trial or product sample in exchange for a user’s contact information.
Free trials are effective but will likely not work well for every business, except software-based businesses or online course creators.
Free trials are usually for leads that are further down the sales funnel. These people are ready to buy — they just need a nudge to dive in — because they’re already in the decision stage of the customer journey.
There you have it. The 9 gated content examples that are powerful for capturing email leads and increasing sales in your funnel.
Do you need help with setting up your email capture page and which gated content type to use? Bloominari can help. We’re a digital company based in San Diego.
Always remember that being able to email your prospects whenever you want is the holy grail of online marketing. You’re not in business if you have no customer database — whether you’re selling online or offline.
People who subscribed to your email list have not only permitted you to send helpful messages, but they’re also looking forward to your emails.
This means you have the opportunity to position your product, brand, story, and offers in front of them at will.
I’ve provided nine examples of content that can be gated to generate qualified leads. But you can start with one of the examples and eventually, you’ll have 3 to 4 different content formats you’re using to capture email leads.