It’s been a marketing golden rule: Always gate your most valuable content. But is this still true today for author websites? As the gatekeeper of your author website, it is up to you to determine what content you will or won’t keep locked behind a sign-up form. The marketing experts at Web Design Relief have tips to help you determine if you should stick to the gated default or ungate your online content for visitors.
How To Determine If You Should Ungate Content
For writers, gated content is typically newsletters, blog posts, sample chapters, exclusive short stories, and other content that can only be accessed after joining a mailing list. While an email address is the most common information requested, a writer might also request full names, addresses, and phone numbers before revealing the locked-away content.
You may be wondering: Why would I ever gate my content? Don’t I want the largest number of people to see it as possible? However, there are a number of reasons why gating your content is an effective marketing strategy.
By requiring data input, gated content separates the real readers from false clicks and spam bots. This ensures your content gets into the hands of people who actually want to read it! Gated content is also a good idea if you’re looking to establish a large list of contacts. By building a substantial following to your mailing list, you’ll be able to keep readers in the know for your latest releases, readings, and events.
When To Gate Content
A good rule of thumb is to keep important, special content gated. If there is something on your author website that people can’t get anywhere else (like an exclusive short story, poem, or book excerpt), it’s fair game to keep it gated. We also recommend keeping high-effort content gated, such as free e-books, PDFs, or videos, because gating creates a sense of value. Consider gating content that is a multipart series or a promise of first access to content that is later to come. You’ll build your readership and establish a long-term connection with readers who are genuinely interested in your content.
Be careful not to over-gate your website! Visitors need something to read and share that doesn’t require disclosing their personal information or email.
When To Ungate Content
If you have limited content, you shouldn’t lock it behind a gate—you won’t have enough content for your author website! You also shouldn’t gate your most popular content or blog posts, because this will limit your initial exposure to potential followers and limit the growth of your author brand awareness. And gated content can’t contribute to your website’s SEO if search bots can’t find it.
You may also want to avoid gating any content you want shared on social media. It’s much easier to share a post or page on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms without the friction of a sign-up form.
Your audience will benefit from both free and exclusive content they can read on a regular basis. Having some of your content ungated will help visitors build trust and become more familiar with your writing. Removing the barrier allows your audience to access the information you want to share. But gated content shouldn’t be considered a negative aspect of your author website. In fact, gated content can be mutually beneficial for both the author and the visitor—just be sure your barrier suits the prize behind the gate.
Question: What content would you sign up for?