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Most discussions about whether or not to gate content are all or nothing.

But did you know there’s a third option?

I call it the “middle way” and it works very well for my business.

white picket fence with green grass in front and blue sky above

In my last post, I discussed the best practices for gated vs. ungated content. The bottom line: If you want to generate leads, use a gate. If you simply want to get noticed, take down the gate.

But sometimes it isn’t quite that simple. Sometimes we want to do a little of both.

If so, you may want to consider the middle way: Give away your basic content, but ask readers to register for more detailed or premium content.

Give away basic content with no gate

This includes your blogs, infographics, or simple listicles (“5 Ways to Save on Mobility”).

Never gate case studies. These are powerful word-of-mouth references that you want to spread as far and wide as possible.

As these items get onto the Web, you can work to get comments, pass-alongs, and mentions on social media to build buzz about your company.

The more work you put in, the more downloads, tweets, likes, and sharing you’ll see.

But you won’t get much information on where your content goes, or who has shared it.

Gate your premium content

When you invest heavily in a piece of content, think twice before you give it away. After all, don’t you have to justify your marketing budget, and generate leads to pass to Sales?

For example, don’t ungate an ambitious white paper that explains a confusing new trend in your industry.

Don’t ungate the results of your annual survey that will have everyone talking for weeks.

Don’t ungate an online survey that reports how a visitor’s company compares to its peers.  Bundle that with a free consultation to discuss where firms can save money on their operations.

For top-quality content, set up a gate. You will get fewer downloads, but you’ll have contact info to act on for every person who accesses it.

Lead prospects from ungated to gated

You can use a series of content pieces to coax your prospects to a deeper level of engagement.

At the end of a less ambitious piece, insert an offer for a more ambitious piece and give your readers an easy gate to step over.

Don’t ask for the moon… just a prospect’s name, work e-mail, and company name.

Never ask for their mailing address, unless you actually plan to mail them something.

It works for me

My business runs on a far smaller scale than those of my clients, but it’s still a B2B service.

And this middle way has worked very well for me.

I have close to 100 articles on every aspect of white papers on this site ( with all of them available free to visitors with no registration.

Visitors can also find two sample chapters plus links to 40 articles excerpted from my recent book, White Papers For Dummies

More ambitious content, such as my 4-page infographic and 15-page “ice cream” report on picking the perfect flavor for your next white paper stay behind a registration form.

My little team and I are now working on a set of checklists we believe will be valuable enough to gate.

This site’s registration form is simple, just four simple questions: first name, last name, e-mail, and the person’s role in their organization.

All this content makes Google smile 

Due to all the good content we provide here, is listed on the first page of the Google search results for my chosen keywords.

This listing brings in leads for more projects than I can possibly handle.

Plus, asking those simple questions before I hand over my gated content has generated a mailing list of 3,000+ names, segmented simply into B2B marketing prospects and white paper writers.

This hybrid approach has worked well for my small business. There’s no reason why it won’t work for a much larger organization as well.

What do you think of this approach? Are you using something similar? How is it working for you? Please tell me about it in the comments section below.

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 300 white papers on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, from household names like Google and Verizon to tiny startups with big ideas. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned more than 50 5-star ratings on Amazon. And named 2019 Copywriter of the Year by AWAI, the world's leading training organization for professional copywriters.

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1 Comment

  1. marktzk on October 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Great point, Gordon. It’s not either/or. Sometimes an additional option (a fourth way?) is to have a different kind of gate. Rather than asking people for an email address, ask people to share the content on Twitter or their social media networks in exchange for access to it. Someone who’s not willing (yet) to give you an email address may be willing to share it instead, and that can help spread your ideas.

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