Should we gate or not gate content? (Depends if you’re a #ContentBully)

Last week, Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi reached an impressive milestone with the 100th Episode of their consistently fantastic PNR with This Old Marketing Podcast.

During this centinial ebisode they covered a broad range of topics and predictions, however one particularly forward thinking thought around the age old “to gate, or not to gate” question has stuck with me all week, and is something all our readers should understand and use to address a key question.

Do you have a content marketing or collateral strategy?

On this topic Robert pointed out that the question of whether to gate content is not a topic bigger than asset type or campaign strategy, but one that is fundamental as to whether your business has a content marketing strategy. On this topic he specifically said:

“If you are wondering whether you should gate or not gate content, you don’t have a content marketing strategy, you have a collateral strategy that you are trying to determine, which pieces are most valuable.”

Don’t fear the free test drive

He then goes on to argue that those organizations who are striving to build a content marketing strategy, should take a very different view of this question, which turns out not to be the shallow question of should I gate my content or not, but rather the more inward reflecting question of

is my content of a high enough caliber, that readers want to receive more. Specifically Robert advocated for brands to:

“Put your content out for free, and for those that register after consuming it are the ones you want. That’s building a content marketing strategy.”

All I can say is holy shit is he ever right. For years I’ve tried to ineffectively articulate this concept and have worked to build a company whose very foundation lies in the fact that upfront, gated landing pages are broken and that the worst mistake marketers can make is to lead with a self servicing gate, vs. reader serving quality. Even with all of that, it wasn’t until Robert so concisely presented his case that the importance of this difference in approach and mindset really sunk in. Robert goes on to elaborate:

“If you can put your content out for free, and it is so great they want to register afterthey read it, now you have a content marketing strategy.”

Build relationships by being interesting, not with strong arm force

When your organization reaches the point of the after engagement opt-in, you will have arrived because your readers will be consciously choosing to build that relationship with you and your

brand. Or as Robert puts it:

“(Readers are) subscribing to the piece they haven’t gotten yet, and they don’t know what is coming yet, but you’ve created so much participatory delight with that one piece of content that they want another, and that’s when you have an engaged audience and engaged subscriber.”


So, do you as a content marketer agree?

Robert points out that the market is not to this point as he states that this is a practice “we are looking toward and are moving there, but don’t think we are there yet.”

So how about you. Do find this notion as inspiring as I do, or do you think the notion of when or if to gate has nothing to do with the successful development of a content strategy? Would love to hear your thoughts via the comment below, or if you agree and enjoyed this post simply CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE to our new project featuring insider stories from some of the best and brightest minds in content marketing.

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