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April 6th, 2021 7.5 minute read

Gated Content… Annoying or Awesome?

Paula Folz Writer

That is the question… but before we get into it, let’s talk about what gated content is.

Gated content is any information or resource that your website visitors can only access once they’ve provided their information. Usually, this means an email address or sometimes, like in social media, companies might require follows or likes.

So, is it annoying?

Personally, for me, in a lot of cases, the answer is yes. But it’s not the gate of the content that is at fault. It is fault of the content that has been gated. If something is interesting or compelling enough for me to provide my info, it’s because it feels like it’s worth it. I am happy to give my email to access what I want in the moment and have an expectation that I’ll continue to get more quality information in the future.

So is gated content awesome?

Absolutely, when it’s done right. At Kinetic, we encourage gated content because it incentivizes lead generation. Typically, users will arrive on your site through a blog post. They may have been directed to that blog post by a search engine or social media site. If that first blog post does a good job of convincing them that you are a solid source of information, they may be interested in hearing more of what you have to say. By creating an enticing gated content offering, you give yourself another stream of valuable leads.

It’s also important to know what gated content isn’t. Gated content in inbound marketing isn’t content that requires your audience to pay to access it. Gated content trades access to the content in exchange for an action from readers. Often, this action is providing lead information such as their name, email address, phone number, etc. You can also gate content behind social media actions like follows or likes. While paid content does have its uses in inbound marketing, it is a completely different strategy with another set of considerations.

Now let’s dig into some of the more popular gated content strategies!

Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are a gated content strategy that have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. For good reason, too — they’re some of the most effective ways to entice your readers to subscribe to your mailing list without being invasive.

Content upgrades are simply an upgrade to the content that they’re already viewing. Typically, content upgrades are upgrades of additional content to a blog post that visitors have landed on.

There are a few reasons why content upgrades have risen to the top of popular gated content strategies:

  • Content upgrades are contextual. Opt-in forms can appear anywhere within the blog post, not just at the bottom. In fact, blog posts with a content upgrade will typically offer the upgrade in exchange for a subscription several times throughout the blog post. They’re minimally invasive and are less aggravating than the full-screen interruptions we often see.
  • Content upgrades are inherently relevant to readers. Ideally, your content upgrade should expand on or improve the content that’s contained in the blog post. If your content upgrades aren’t directly related to the subject matter of your blog post, you aren’t doing them right.
  • Your audience’s interest is predetermined. Because content upgrades add value to the existing content, the research can be baked into the writing of the blog post. You already know that visitors to your blog post will at least have some interest in the content that the content upgrade provides, which will improve conversion rates.

Automated Email

Email series and courses are excellent choices for gated content. Everyone uses email, so the medium is a great choice for casting a wide net. One of the best ways to put email content behind a gate is to deliver it in the form of an ongoing class or course. Delivering one email per day or week can be an innovative tactic to break down complicated subjects in a way that’s easy to digest.

White Papers and Research

Digital assets such as eBooks and white papers are a staple of inbound marketing, especially in B2B marketing where they’re typically more relevant. They’re great not only for delivering more value to your visitors but also for establishing your company as an authority and thought leader within your industry. They’re an excellent way to explain difficult industry topics.

Creating an eBook or white paper can be a powerful way to grow your email list over time. They lend themselves well to being promoted alongside blog posts that cover related subjects, in the same way as a content upgrade. Many companies also create their own resource pages that include a variety of white papers for customers to access.

While not gated content per se, Kinetic recently set up a landing page that illustrates how such a content offering can work. Our team accepted a primary research grant to develop a report, landing page and email series depicting the experience of Montana seniors in congregate living over the last year.

Inbound marketing relies on gated content

The entire strategy is about trading high-quality information in exchange for a subscription and lead information from prospects. These examples illustrate some innovative ways to get the most out of the high-value content that you produce. In fact, just putting your content behind a subscription gate can be a great way to increase its perceived value and make your audience clamor for it. However, before diving into gated content, Kinetic has found that companies should first develop a solid reputation for non-gated content and use that as a springboard to grow their list.

Want to learn more? Reach out to the Kinetic team, we’d love to offer you more ideas and answer all of your questions! Feel free to email me at

Paula Folz


She loves languages, adventure and travel. She loves to explore new perspectives and learn about diverse life experiences. Those are terrific qualities for a copywriter, and Paula Folz puts them to work for clients every day. Her decade of experience in marketing and proposal management in the architecture/engineering industry adds even more insight.

She’s excelled at copywriting for years, but with Kinetic clients, “I get to be more creative than ever before. In many ways, this is cultural tourism as I learn about incredible companies that we get to work with on a deep level.” Paula, from Casper, Wyoming, earned a BA in Spanish at the University of Wyoming, where she also did graduate studies in Communications/Marketing.

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