Why gated content has become more acceptable

Over the years I’ve always tended to argue against ‘gated content’ – asking prospects for their contact details before allowing them access to sales and marketing collateral. Obviously, if you require something in return, even if it’s just an email address, you’re going to get fewer people taking up the offer.

The argument for gated content has always been: “I’d rather give the information away to 10 people who gave up their details than 100 who didn’t”. The counter-argument to that is: “You’ll eventually get more – and better – enquiries from 100 anonymous people than those 10”.

In addition, and perhaps critically, by giving the information away for free, you’re also giving it away to search engines, which could turn that 100 people into 1000.

Has anything changed? Probably not. But I do think there’s an increasing acceptance online that you can’t keep getting something for nothing. The objection people have to giving up their details as a quid-pro-quo may not be as strong as it once was. In addition, GDPR and other rules have definitely had a positive impact in giving consumers confidence that offering up their details will not result in a deluge of unwanted material from businesses they’ve never heard of.

It’s a difficult one to test. I’d suggest that the case for gated content is weakest at the very early stages of the purchasing cycle (introducing your company, for a start). However, once we get on to high quality, decision-stage information, I doubt many prospects care as much about anonymity. One ‘should this be gated or not?’ deciding question I once heard was: “Would I want my competitors to see this?”. It’s a broad brush approach, but not an unreasonable place to start.