To Gate or Not to Gate Content

May 20, 2014 Chris Leonard

When creating a landing page or microsite, it is important to determine which assets or information should be gated. The concept of “gating” involves adding a form before a user is able to access your content. The form then cookies the individual for your Marketo system. A combination of gated and non-gated content can provide the most favorable results and qualified leads. Therefore, it is important to determine which assets you will gate per landing page or microsite.

Marketo offers extensive tracking services once the lead is cookied. The behavior of a lead is tracked in an anonymous state (before form fill out), but the activity becomes more useful after form completion, when the individual becomes “known”.  Therefore, gated content provides a great method of obtaining more “known” leads for your database.

To Gate or Not to Gate

Non-gated: Anything such as blogs and pages that describe the company’s general products and services, or assets considered thought leadership should not be gated. Typically, people do not expect videos to be gated either, as they are generally not of high enough value – unless they are a product demonstration.

Non-gated content should be readily and instantly available to the audience, which helps create traffic through SEO. Non-gated content allows for more indexed keywords, providing more exposure in search engines. If content can be accessed easily, there’s a great chance people will share it, which widens the opportunity for the content to go viral.

Gated:  In general, gated content should include any collateral that shows advanced interest in the product. Anything that details the organization’s products (webinars, eBooks, free product trials, demos) should all be gated. If someone shows interest in accessing these items, they are more likely to be a potential customer than just an onlooker. The leads that come in through gated content are likely to be more qualified due to the higher barrier to entry. Content must be considered valuable to encourage someone to divulge their personal information.

After determining which assets need to be gated, you will need to decide the process after form fill out.  The user can either be redirected to the asset or the asset can be emailed to the address they provided.  The latter greatly reduces the amount of invalid addresses entered into the database.

Identifying the Value of the Asset

High value assets should be gated as these leads are typically highly qualified and their information is valuable. Gated content should consist of something that needs to be specifically tracked by your company such as a paid research study versus a general thought leadership blog post.

It is important to consider the length of the submission form – relatively short will garner a higher number of leads, but a longer form may result in additional information and capture leads who are extremely interested in the product.

Full name, company, and email address are integral for including leads in an email marketing campaign, so these should be included in most all forms. As a global organization, you will also want to include country. Any additional fields can serve to further qualify the lead and provide more detailed information on the lead.

Progressive Profiling

Progressive profiling allows you to learn additional information such as the user’s role in their organization, type of industry, phone number or size of company which can help further determine the quality of the lead.

This feature allows leads to request multiple assets without supplying the same information repeatedly. Marketo is able to pull the data and serve different questions that have not been asked.  This makes the form fill out process much simpler.

Buying Stages

It may be helpful to arrange your content by buying stage as shown below. This helps determine which content should remain gated and which should become non-gated.

  • The Awareness Stage should only contain purely educational material.  These pieces of information are typically not gated since they are thought leadership.  Since the lead is tracked anonymously, when they are ready to explore further, the behavior will transfer over to the known record upon form fill out.
  • The Evaluation Stage gives a more promotional outline of the company and services available, and serves to further determine qualified leads.  These pieces of content are valuable and show further interest, so a form would be ideal.
  • The Purchase Stage is where high-commitment content is being offered and by this point, prospects are more willing to comply with providing information in return for the content.

If content is gated, it should always be valuable.  Leads will be less likely to provide information if they are not receiving quality content in return.


Currently, once an individual converts on a form, the anonymous activity that was previously tracked will now be appended to that record via the cookie. Although progressive profiling can be enabled, the form by default* cannot simply disappear if the individual is already known. Therefore, if you gate content, it will be gated for all users (although the form will pre-fill for known individuals).

*Note- special coding can be implemented using API calls to perform this process.

In conclusion, deciding which content to gate requires some considerations.

  • Evaluate the content carefully – is it worthy of being gated?
  • If the content is not something people would buy, instead of gating it, shift your content marketing strategy – why are you creating content?  Content should be useful.
  • Gating is the best way to capture prospective, quality clients.  The key is to provide value in exchange for their information, and continue to provide worthy content.


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