Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

What Is Gated Content and How to Use It in Email Marketing

Gated content (or locked content) is a type of content you get access to after filling a form where you specify your name, contact info (email address, phone number), sometimes job position, your company name and its type (typically for B2B resources).

Gated content examples:

  • Feature article;
  • Case study;
  • Infographics;
  • Analytics;
  • Industry benchmarks;
  • Report;
  • White paper;
  • Ebook;
  • Guideline;
  • Images and templates;
  • Expert opinion;
  • VIP content, etc.

You can give access to gated content in two ways:

  • Unlock the hidden (gated) part of the article;
  • Allow a free download and/or print of the file.

Take a look at this example of gated content in our blog – Main mCommerce Trends 2020. It’s a report which you can download after filling a short form with several fields.

Gated content example

The New York Times (as well as many other publishers), hides a part of their articles and you can continue reading only after registration. This is the so-called unlocking.

Example of gated article

Some companies use gated content marketing to sell products. They demonstrate users a piece of the material, getting them interested, and then offer to subscribe to a pricing plan to get full access to it. For example, Statista allows you to view their infographics and charts on the site. Some of them are free to download and some require an account and paid subscription to be downloaded.

Gated charts example

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Benefits of Gated Content and Why to Use It

  • The main benefit of gated content is that it collects data for your contact base and generates leads. In most cases, by filling such a form, users automatically agree to subscribe to a company’s newsletters and receive offers from them. B2C companies often exchange useful content for email addresses only. A B2B company can ask to provide job-rated data like company name, industry a user is working in, job title, and location.

Download form example

  • Gated content also generates website traffic. Search engines still see locked content. Even if you offer to download the file that isn’t technically part of this article, you still complement it with some intro, theses and reasons why a user needs it. This text contains keywords, driving interested people to your site.
  • Gated content helps complete a customer profile. The more data you have, the better you understand your audience. Gated content not only brings in new subscribers; it can also collect additional data on already existing ones. This data will allow more accurate email list segmentation: you’ll be targeting people with more accurate offers.

Gated Content Best Practices

Although gated content is a useful tool to get new subscribers, it’s usage should be well-thought. Some people may get annoyed learning they need to perform extra actions to access the content they like. Some may not like filling out numerous fields in a long form. Some may have download problems.

So not to scare off committed visitors, think carefully on how to create gated content in a user-friendly way. These are pieces of advice to consider:

1. Create valuable content.

Yes, it’s a cliche that is too obvious to be reminded of. Yet, content you offer should be of use and provide value to people who’re registering to get it. Regular articles with mediocre copywriting can be elsewhere on the Internet, and if you want personal info in exchange for your material it’s better be worth it.

Otherwise, users who will fill numerous fields but get no reward instead will get disappointed and kind of tricked. Of course, there will be no sharing of your materials. What’s more, by failing their expectations, you’ll build a negative image around your brand, and that’s definitely not what you’re aiming at.

2. Avoid too big forms.

Although the main aim of gated content is to collect info, too many fields can scare people off. For new subscribers, name and email address might be enough to start with. Later, you may send these people email surveys or ask them to complete their profile in order to fill in missing details.

One-field form

3. Explain why gated content is worth unlocking.

In case you opt for a long form with more than 2 fields, give people reasons why they need to take time filling them in. Provide an executive summary, report takeaways, template samples, or enlist names of professional experts involved in the creation of your content.

Executive summary

4. Make it convenient to access gated content.

If you unlock the rest of the article on the same page, the process is simple. People fill in the form and continue reading. And if you give access to separate files, consider some of these options:

  • Send the content to the specified email address;
  • Give an instant download link;
  • Redirect users to a new window where they can read or download the content.

5. Track conversion.

To know what generates leads, monitor pages with gated content with Google Analytics. You’ll see how many people click the button, fill in the form or follow the link. When you send gated content by email, monitor its click rate in reports of your email service provider.

Such analytics is needed not only to satisfy your curiosity. A low response rate may indicate that you pay not enough attention to promotion, your access form is too complex or there are technical problems with buttons and links. It also may signal that you’ve chosen the irrelevant topic which doesn’t resonate with demand.

6. Create an email strategy for new subscribers.

People who filled the form to get access to gated content automatically get into your contact base. Create a separate segment for them and address them with a corresponding strategy. Since you know what material drew their attention, put it up front and focus on it first in further emails.

For example, a person has downloaded your Email Creation Guideline. At this stage, they’re obviously interested in creating emails rather than segmentation, AI or analytics. So, your task is to keep the conversation going by sending relevant campaigns. First, thank the user for interest in your service and ask if they liked the content. Include the link to the guideline in this thank you email even if the person has already downloaded the file.

Next, send a series of drip campaigns resonating with the topic. It can be an introduction to your email editor, an overview of email template gallery, designer tips, case studies, etc.

Workflow

Last post

Gated Content in Emails

Gated content marketing isn’t a tool for websites only. Apart from following up new subscribers who filled the form on the site, emails themselves can feature gated content, driving people to the necessary page or attracting attention to a particular product category.

In this email campaign by This Savory Vegan, the main part of the content is gated. Mouth-watering images with a short text only describe the meal. To see the full recipe, you need to click the button.

Email campaign with gated content

Such a tactic has several advantages. First, you can direct the user to the page you currently want traffic to. Second, email gated content gets people interested and generates clicks which has a positive impact on the general click rate and your sender reputation in the eyes of email clients.

What’s more, people most likely don’t browse your website daily keeping an eye on news and arrivals. An email can help learn about new gated content you’ve just published, inviting to check them. Marketers at Litmus know that and often send campaigns promoting their new releases.

Email example

Another example of gated content is to direct to resources that simply don't fit the email format. An email copy can be rather long and extensive but still has a limit. Woolf and the Gang, for example, send emails with free patterns. You see the piece you can knit, but the pattern itself is on the website.

And if you direct such an email to anyone, people have to opt in for your newsletters before being able to see the pattern. Which again helps you get new subscribers.

Content example


Gated content can help you fulfill two main tasks: collect new email addresses and collect extra info on existing subscribers. Additionally, it serves as regular content, generating traffic and leading people to your website. To make this tool work for you at its fullest, create valuable resources people would find useful. The more satisfied they’re by what they get from gated content, the more likely they will respond to your further follow-up email campaigns.

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Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

A technical (but still very creative) writer at eSputnik with a strong focus on design, current digital marketing trends, and new solutions for email automation.

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