It’s 2022. Is your gated content backfiring?
It’s 2022. Is your gated content backfiring?

By on in Content

It’s 2022. Is your gated content backfiring?

Gated content has been a great way to generate leads—and it still can be. It’s had a good run. But with so much information freely available on the internet and prospects researching far more broadly at the awareness and consideration phases of the customer journey, it’s time for a serious rethink about when to gate content and when to throw away the locks.


The first, and biggest issue with holding your content for ransom is that you’ll surely send some people away before you’ve even made a meaningful connection.

A tactic that used to generate pretty healthy leads can now act as a high hurdle. Prospects all know what that form means—if they give you any information, you’re likely to add more to their already-overwhelming inboxes. And they know that if they want to talk to you, there are other ways of reaching out.

The first, and biggest issue with holding your content for ransom is that you’ll surely send some people away before you’ve even made a meaningful connection.

As you think about gating or ungating content, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is this information unique? If your competitors—or even Wikipedia—offer similar information freely, you may just push people away.
  • Will the reader truly value what’s inside? People (especially professionals) can recognize a promotional piece masquerading as a white paper a mile away. You risk burning trust when you need to be building it.
  • Would we gain more by having this content searchable? Gated content doesn’t help you in the search department, while specific, detailed, regularly updated information has the potential to make a big impact.
  • Are we prepared to act on the data we collect? We’ve all received messages from marketers who finally got around to using email addresses we provided three years ago. It’s weird.

Finally, the most important question:

  • Do these leads actually help your sales team? Forrester research suggests that 60% of B2B purchases now involve four or more decision-makers, and the number of interactions required to make a purchase rose from 17 to 27 in just two years. If you’re sending respondents into a lead nurture program, scoring responses and interactions, and automating relevant outreach, emails gleaned from gated content may be worthwhile. But unless you can clean out the false addresses and provide more to go on, sales is unlikely to equate downloads with qualified leads.

Gated content doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can share awareness-phase information freely and require signup for detailed, decision-phase white papers, ebooks and webinars. You can gate survey results or proprietary reports and users will be happy to give up a little information to read them. Or, as FATFREE does, you can make it all free and then—once you’ve demonstrated that you have something important to say—invite them to sign up for more.

Just be thoughtful about it.