Gated vs un-gated content: which is better?

Unsure whether to gate your content? We help to decide if the perks of gating content will outweigh the cons of asking for personal information from users.

Stephen Reilly
4 MIN|November 18, 2019

Unsure whether to gate your content? This is a common issue for many marketers today, who struggle to decide if the perks of gating premium content will outweigh the cons of asking for personal information from users.

In this blog, we’ll assess each side of the coin and offer advice on implementing your own gated content – capable of driving more traffic, leads and revenue to your business.

What is gated content?

Gated content, in short, is any content or media that is hidden behind a lead capture form. To access the content, a user must provide personal information, usually in the form of an email address, phone number, job title, industry information or an answer to a survey question.

Gates are highly valuable to marketers because they are powerful tools for lead generation. Typically, users will arrive on your site through a blog or social post. Hopefully, if they are impressed by what they’ve seen, they will be interested in accessing more of your content. And by creating an enticing gated content offering – you then open up the possibility of generating numerous, new and valuable leads.

Importantly – gated content is not content that your audience needs to pay for. Rather, gated content trades access to the content in exchange for an action or information from users.

Ungated content, on the other hand, allows visitors to access content without filling in forms or providing personal information. It often comes in the form of infographics, blogs or videos. Ungated content is a valuable asset for building trust with prospects – as it removes any roadblocks to interesting, useful information.

Of course, while ungated content can increase views – it can also have a negative effect on lead generation, as you are not capturing contacts along the way.

What kind of content should I gate?

eBooks and whitepapers

There are several ways that you can use gated content. Digital assets like eBooks and whitepapers are a great example – as they are ideal for delivering further value (by going in-depth on a topic your audience is interested in), whilst also establishing your business as a thought leader. Thanks to their high-value, users are often happy to part with contact information as an exchange.

Content upgrades

Content upgrades are another popular gated content strategy. This simply involves offering readers bonus content – or an upgrade to the content they are currently viewing – in exchange for their data. This technique is effective as your audience’s interest is pre-determined – you already know that visitors on a specific page or blog have at least some interest in the content that your upgrade provides.


Webinars provide you with a unique opportunity to provide content in a live online setting. They typically have high conversion rates because they are seen as having higher value than other gated content types.

Usually webinars will have their own landing page where lead information is captured. It makes sense to put them behind a subscription wall, rather than giving them away for free, as they generally focus on high-value topics. As such, webinars are a quick and effective way to grow your email list and reach new leads.

When should I use ungated content?

The answer to this question isn’t always straight-forward. Generally speaking, though, it comes down to whether you are trying to increase brand awareness or generate leads.

For instance, during the awareness stage, most prospects will know very little about your brand. They have no reason to trust you and may be unwilling to part with personal information. At this point, removing the gate from content can boost the visibility of your brand and improve your credibility.

Then, as prospects travel along the marketing funnel, their interest in your business should peak. As they become more familiar with your content, they will likely be more willing to fill out a form to access further assets. This is the point where you can begin generating leads.

The great content gate debate

As we’ve seen throughout this article, there are many compelling reasons to gate your content. Equally, there are also several benefits to keeping it ungated. As such, marketers just can’t seem to agree on what strategy is best.

On the one hand, marketers believe that the pros of gaining qualified leads outweigh the cons of turning away potential visitors. On the other hand, it is believed that asking for personal information can cause your business to lose the potential reach of your content and link opportunity.

All we can really say for sure, at this stage, is that there is no steadfast rule. Gating the wrong content at the wrong time during your customer’s journey can discourage potential clients from continued engagement with your brand. Likewise, gating the right content at the right time can do wonders for nurturing leads and building a strong relationship with future clients.

To help you decide on the best content delivery strategy for your business, we’ll leave you with some questions:

1. What are your competitors up to? Are they offering similar content ungated?

If your competitors are providing content without a gate, then it could be worth doing the same. You risk putting your brand at a disadvantage if you add a form at this stage.

2. Is your objective brand awareness or lead generation?

If you’re aiming to improve brand awareness, then it makes sense to keep your content open. If you’re looking to generate leads, then gated content is the right option – as you’ll be able to capture valuable information about your prospects.

3. Is your content of high enough value to warrant a gate?

We touched on the kind of content that should and shouldn’t be gated. Improve your chances of capturing leads by ensuring the content you wish to gate provides enough value to your prospects before you ask them to part with contact information.

Do you need help with your content strategy? As a full-service digital marketing agency, the team here at Fifty Five and Five have the tools to help. Get in contact with us today to learn more about the pros and cons of gated content.