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 by using gated content.
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. It’s also referred to as locked content.
Here’s an 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 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 content locking, 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!
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.
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.
Aside from blog posts and articles, content you can lock includes:
- Research reports
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
- In Google Analytics
- Via your email marketing software
- With OptinMonster’s conversion analytics dashboard, shown below:
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?
- Marketing agency Whole Whale increased their email signups 100% with content locking.
- Photography education site Photowebo saw a jaw-dropping 3806% lift in conversions by implementing gated content with OptinMonster.
- Trading Strategy Guides added 11,000 subscribers in a little over a month using gated content.
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 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.
Choose a campaign type. Let’s stick with the high-converting Popup campaign.
Choose a theme. We’ll use Fashion.
Name your campaign and select the website where the campaign should appear. Then, press Start Building to go to the OptinMonster campaign builder.
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.
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.
Here’s one example of how your final campaign could look:
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.
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.
Alternatively, you could add a display rule that will display the campaign when the visitor has scrolled a particular distance down the page.
Step 4. Set Up Your Form Success Action
Click your Sign Up button to bring up editing tools for that element.
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.
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.
Pro Tip: Use Monster Leads along with your email marketing service integration to store leads right in your OptinMonster dashboard. This creates an easy-to-export backup of the leads from your optins!
You can also link Google Analytics via the Analytics tab. Click Connect to add connections.
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.
Quick Tip: OptinMonster has built-in analytics that gives you all the information you need to track the performance of your campaigns.
Finally, save and publish the campaign.
You have multiple publishing options including sitewide or campaign-specific embed code, MonsterLinks™, or WordPress.
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 in 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.
See if your campaign appears in the list. If not, click Refresh Campaigns.
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.
How to Use OptinMonster’s 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.
Choose the type of content blocking you want to use. We’re using Obfuscation.
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.
Add it to this text in place of “SLUG” to create a shortcode you can embed in your content.
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