One of the most long-standing debates among marketing professionals is whether or not to gate white papers and eBooks. If
you’re releasing this kind of content, should you gate it behind a form and use it for data collection, or forget about the data and make it available to anyone?
The fact is that neither option is right or wrong.
Although there are pros and cons to going with either option, the evolution of technology means that the question cannot be answered easily. There are now some other options you may not have even realized were available.
With your main goals in mind, keep reading to find out more about the advantages of gating or not gating.
Will People Give Data in Exchange?
To start with, evaluate your white paper or eBook honestly and thoroughly. Is it going to be seen as worthy enough for readers to give their data? When your white papers are gated, there is essentially a price to access them, so anybody who gives you their information will want to ensure it’s worth it.
It’s important to keep this in mind as often, the first real interaction that somebody might have with your company is through reading a white paper. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that it’s a positive one; otherwise, your reputation may take a knock.
Benefits of Gating White Papers
Once you decide whether or not it is worth gating the white paper, here are some of the main benefits.
The main advantage of gating a white paper is that it provides an ideal way to generate data on new leads. With a form that needs to be filled in so that visitors can access the white paper, you can gather names, email addresses, and more information that can be helpful when it comes to determining how well a lead fits your customer profile and how you can nurture them. Along with this, you know that you are getting hot leads, as anybody willing to provide your business with their personal contact information is likely to be searching for a solution to a problem or pain point that they think your business may be able to provide.
When a white paper is gated, you will need to gather information from people before they read it, which gives you the chance to personalize the experience further. Once you have the reader’s name, all you need to do is use merge tags in the white paper to personalize them, increasing the average time readers spend reading your content and getting the relationship off to a great start.
Finally, gating white papers can provide further insight into visitors’ interest in the content. If you are getting a large number of users who are giving their information to get access to your content, then you know that you have something valuable that people are willing to give something up for. It also indicates that your company has a strong reputation as an authority source.
Benefits of Providing White Papers For Anyone to View
While missing out on generating leads is the biggest disadvantage to making your white papers freely available, some benefits include increased viewers. Some visitors will not provide personal information on a matter of principle, even if they’re interested in the subject. So, forgoing gating can automatically increase your views and lead to more brand exposure.
White papers not behind a gate provide an excellent opportunity to generate more traffic from everywhere online, including listings in search engine results. There is also an increased potential for content creators, online influencers, and others in your niche to promote the content on their own online channels. Interested visitors and readers can also share it in their own circles on social media.
Google will find and index any eBooks and white papers that are free to access online. As a result, this can potentially increase your SERPs rankings. On the other hand, if the content is gated, it won’t be found by web crawlers that follow links on your site.
Other Options You Might Not Have Thought About
Partially Gated White Papers
A semi-gated white paper allows visitors to access the first couple of pages of the white paper without having to provide anything in return. If they want to continue reading, they will then be required to fill in a form. If your readers have already gotten an idea of the content you’re offering before they fill out the form to continue reading, this lets you know that they have a very high interest, which could make them a red-hot lead.
Capture Information In Other Ways
If you have concluded that it’s best not to put your white papers behind a gate, then there are still other ways that you can use them to gather lead data. For example, you might want to insert calls to action throughout the content to encourage readers to leave their information to find out more. Many readers might be more compelled to provide you with their data once they’ve read the content. A retargeting pixel can also be added to interactive white papers, allowing you to reach your readers in the future.
As is clear from the pros and cons, the decision to gate or not gate your white papers largely depends on the main goal you have for them. Gating is an ideal choice if you’re mainly generating leads. In contrast, not gating might be a more useful option if you’re mainly looking to improve SEO, build brand awareness, build your online presence, and make a name for your business