Silicon Valley

Date

28th March 2023

For B2B marketers, data is like currency.

And tech decision-makers know their information is extremely valuable to marketers. So, if you want their contact details, you need to give them something valuable in return. 

However, it's also important to have a reason for asking for people's data. Not only from a data protection standpoint but from a strategic B2B marketing angle, too.

Gated content doesn't always mean you'll generate valuable and relevant leads. Successful B2B lead generation also involves targeting the right audiences and using transparent distribution channels.

Typically though, gated content is all about making your content so compelling that your prospects will gladly exchange their contact details to get it.

In this guide to ungated vs gated content, we'll explore:

  • Gated content vs ungated content.
  • How to make your lead magnets stand out.
  • Gated content best practices.
  • How to use gated or ungated content.
Headley Media colleagues discussing demand generation and lead generation

What Is Gated vs Ungated Content?

There's a lot of discussion in the B2B industry when it comes to gated vs ungated content (like this example!), which we'll explore within this guide. But first up let's look at the two types of content in more detail.

Gated Content

Gated content is any resource that requires a person to give information – usually their contact details – in order to access it.

Gated content is typically downloaded via a content form. Once a reader inputs their details into such a form, their content auto-downloads and is emailed to them.

Below is an example of a content form that's live on one of our Cybersecurity Corporate websites (which we use to run content syndication lead generation campaigns for our technology clients).

Gated form example taken from Cybersecurity Corporate

Gated Content Example:

One of the best B2B examples of using a gated content strategy is, of course, Hubspot.

Hubspot has successfully used gated content over the years to build up its database of B2B marketers and other relevant people who might be interested in its CRM systems at some point.

They were one of the pioneers of providing highly valuable, educational content for free in exchange for a person's contact details.

For example, they provide valuable free templates, such as this social media content calendar,  which has been downloaded thousands of times in exchange for people's contact details.

However, the differences between gated and ungated content go deeper than how you access them.

Gated assets, also referred to as B2B lead magnets, have to be desirable.

That means providing data, insights, templates, or unique information to your target audience.

Gated content is usually more valuable than ungated content.

For example, an asset worth gating might contain free solutions to specific pain points. An ungated asset on the same topic might discuss those pain points more generally, giving less away.

The two types of content are also used differently.

Gated Content Examples:

  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Research reports
  • Webinars, educational lessons & courses 
  • Toolkits
  • Templates
  • Events

The emphasis is on offering something useful and desirable: information that the lead will find helpful and would struggle to find ungated.

That's why gated content is fantastic for lead generation. It allows you to attract prospects who are new to your brand, gather their contact details, and promote your brand and solution.

That's not to say ungated content isn't useful, though.

Ungated Content Examples:

  • Blogs
  • Thought leadership pieces
  • Social media posts
  • Product information
  • Sharable or instructional videos
  • Case studies
Illustrational image

When to Use Gated Content vs Ungated Content

Gated content and ungated content have different uses, and those can be divided roughly into lead generation vs demand generation – or outbound marketing vs inbound marketing.

Gated content is primarily used in lead generation, for example in content syndication.

The idea is to dangle a carrot – a juicy, metaphorical carrot made up of unique content that is desired by your potential future customers. You'll work with a content syndication specialist to host and distribute your gated content to collect business card information from potential prospects. When you work with a reputable supplier, your gated content will only be hosted on content syndication platforms they directly own.

On the other hand, ungated content is often the stuff that's less 'good' for lead generation – either because it's not unique, it's readily available from a simple online search, or it's thought leadership content that is focused on building your brand.

However, ungated content is really useful for attracting followers on social media, nurturing prospects via email, and turning people onto your brand via demand generation.

B2B Marketers are becoming a lot more selective with the content they choose to gate.

Great marketers are prioritizing their audiences' experience; making content readily available to them, and only using gated content when it's valuable or unique - or if they want to run dedicated lead generation campaigns.

Chloe Addis, Head of Marketing, Headley Media

By publishing ungated content, such as blogs on your website for SEO and sharing on social media, you can offer something more than just your product or service. You can paint your business as a thought leader, giving information and advice for 'free' to encourage people to follow you – which is valuable in itself.

Ungated content can also include key brand pieces. At Headley Media our annual guide, The Complete Guide to B2B Technology Lead Generation 2024, is ungated. Why? Because it allows us to not only share valuable insights but also showcase our brand. Therefore we want as many people as possible to see it.

On the other hand, our Lead Generation Planning Toolkit 2024 is gated. Why? Because there’s a lot of unique value in there. It's a full package of goodies, including a lead generation planning template in both Excel and Google Docs (shameless plug).

Below is a super useful gated vs ungated content discussion between some well-known B2B marketers, hosted by Metadata.io.

B2B Lead Magnet Ideas & How to Use Them

As we mentioned, gated content is one of your strongest lead generation tools. It's typically published to generate leads in two ways: via your own website, or via someone else's using content syndication.

B2B Lead Magnet Idea #1 - Use Your Own Website

It's worth having a CMS that allows you to build gated content landing pages. You can use your content to generate leads through your website, choosing to publish as gated or ungated depending on the value of the asset.

Don't Forget... Ask yourself, "Is this piece of content worth someone exchanging their contact details to download it?" If not, ungate it!

The best B2B lead magnets include research reports, whitepapers, and eBooks. Gated videos are popular, too – especially if they're educational, or give hard-to-find advice.

There are lots of marketing tools that will help you gather this data and create campaigns to follow up with your new leads – such as HubSpot, Salesforce, and Pardot.

More sophisticated lead magnets can be made available this way too.

For example, have you tried hosting your own webinars? The format is fantastic for lead generation – it's live and interactive, so viewers can ask questions, and if you invite an expert from another business to the webinar with you, you'll get leads from their business, too.

Free tools are also high converting lead magnets, especially for technology companies.

If you make a useful part of your software available for free, people will gladly hand over their contact details to access it – and it will give you intent data on their business needs, too.

Think of your website as not just your shop window, but an active lead generation tool.

Man writing on laptop

B2B Lead Magnet Idea #2 -  Use Content Syndication

Content syndication gives you access to a more niche and relevant audience. Working with transparent content syndication for lead generation suppliers will help you generate lots more leads than using email and social media marketing alone.

That's because reputable lead generation agencies own their audiences and content libraries. They're specialists in content marketing and lead generation, helping you distribute your content much wider than your usual sphere. You can target specific industries or different geographical audiences. For example at Headley Media, our technology brands span over 250 websites, in 60 countries and 32 languages. Not that we're bragging.

Here's How Gated Content Syndication Works:

The lead generation agency you choose will upload your useful content – your whitepaper, eBook, etc. - to their content library.

All of your content is gated. A good lead gen supplier can advise you on the sort of content to use and help you give your gated content meaning.

Readers download your gated content, handing over their contact details via the content download form. They also consent to hear from your business directly. To give you an example, here's how Headley Media's lead generation process works. 

The supplier delivers a list of leads back to you on a fixed and pre-agreed cost-per-lead (CPL) basis. Each of your new leads is aware of your business because they've read your content, so they're already strong leads before the nurturing process has begun.

You could also enhance your lead gen with a Nurture Track campaign, to ensure your leads have more exposure to your brand, moving them down the marketing funnel.

Spot the Difference... An Example of Gated vs Ungated Content

An HR and finance software specialist publishes a blog, ungated, on their website.

Their blog:

  • Is opinion-driven.
  • Is promotional, referring specifically to the company's brand values and own software throughout.
  • Uses secondary research, i.e. stats from other sources.

At around the same time, the business publishes a gated report, via content syndication, on HR Corporate, a Headley Media content library.

The report:

  • Is sourced through first-hand research.
  • Recounts the experience of two high-profile businesses in the healthcare sector.
  • Uses its own data to examine how HR and finance technologies generally, not just its own, affect the healthcare sector.
  • Draws valuable learnings based on these insights.

Both have their uses, but only one of them is likely to act as a lead magnet when gated, encouraging people to hand over their contact details.

Gated Content Landing Page Examples

Your gated content landing page should give potential leads a strong idea of what they’re about to download.

Whether via your own website or content syndication, it's best to use a compelling headline and a detailed abstract, telling leads what they can expect to find in your content.

Here's an example of a gated content landing page on Headley Media's flagship lead generation brand, IT Corporate.

An example of gated content from one of Headley Media's lead generation campaigns.

Finding a Content Syndication Supplier

When choosing content syndication for your gated content, make sure you pick a supplier you can trust.

You need a lead generation agency that owns its own content libraries and can show you how the process works from the leads' perspective.

If they don't own content libraries, they're probably using a 3rd party agency, and the data you'll receive will be much less reliable.

Also worth considering: how easy is the content library to use? For example, does the content download form auto-populate for the reader after the first time they've used it?

Your supplier should be able to answer all your B2B lead generation questions. Check out our blog on Choosing a Trustworthy Supplier to make sure your supplier is up to scratch.

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