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Let’s start the era of gateless content

Let’s start the era of gateless content Let’s start the era of gateless content Let’s start the era of gateless content Let’s start the era of gateless content

Don’t let forms stand between you and your customers.

dont let forms get in the way

Let’s be honest; nobody wants to fill out a form to get your content. And no one believes those ‘personalised’ emails are written just for them.

If we want to create real engagement and real connections, it’s time we stop hiding content behind forms and make it freely available to everyone who wants it.

Get ready to uncover the secrets of gateless content.

How it started...

About a year ago, I had a call from one of my favourite clients. The head of marketing was very pleased with our content marketing campaigns, resulting in lots of leads and engagement on social media.

But this was not the head of marketing calling me.

Oh no: This was the head of sales, and he was not happy.

“Whatever you’re doing, it’s not working,” he said, starting a rant about how content marketing was not working for them. All the leads were competitors, students or people he couldn’t find on LinkedIn. “Maybe we should just stop doing this,” he concluded. Then hung up the phone.


After the call had ended, I remember feeling offended. As an agency, we worked so hard to generate all those leads for them, and if it didn’t work, then how come the head of marketing was so happy?

There was only one explanation:

The head of sales just didn’t get it.

After all, he was in sales, and sales professionals just don’t understand marketeers. That must be it.

But then it hit me. The angry head of sales was right.

Yes, we had generated leads, but they didn't convert to customers.

Workflows weren't converting leads into new customers, and form submissions didn't result in more sales. These customers were inspired by hearing our client speak at an event, getting word of mouth referrals from other customers or seeing free to access content on the website. 

We'd been so focused on vanity metrics such as clicks and email open rates that we lost sight of what mattered: reputation, trust and value for potential customers.

It’s the forms!

I must admit that it took some time to realise that forms were the problem. The content was good - and the head of marketing often shared how well received it was, even from big ass companies such as Microsoft. The issue was that the forms blocked people from getting their hands on all the great content hidden behind the gate. It wasn’t our workflow filled with lead nurturing content and sales meeting links that did the trick - it was the sum of all marketing activities like events, blogs and social media, together with great reputation and word-of-mouth. Gating the most relevant information prevented potential customers from getting to know our client. All we were doing was making it harder for people to become customers.

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That’s when we decided to do things differently.

We started small, ungating the best performing content and making it freely accessible on the website: no form blocking the way. Our measure of success was simple: would it increase the visitor-to-customer rate?

The answer: it did.

Website traffic increased, and forms still on the site were used more frequently. These were all bottom-of-funnel forms to request a demo, ask a question or schedule a chat. Visitors liked the content on the website; they educated themselves and, when ready, reached out to get that demo, find out more or start that conversation with sales. It was as simple as that.

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Let’s stop pestering and start helping

80% of all B2B content marketing assets are gated [HubSpot, 2020]. That's the lion's share of all B2B ebooks, guides and case studies. Using content behind forms to convert website visitors into leads is mainstream: it's what we all do. But it does not have the effect we want. Instead of increasing quality leads, it's scaring people away.

Put another way: when was the last time you felt nurtured or helped by an automated email? More likely than not, you felt hassled and hounded, which is exactly how your leads feel. 

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Imagine a gateless world

Now imagine you ungate your content. You share your white papers, ebooks and webinars on your website without asking for anything in return. Visitors will love you for it, and since you publish more content on your website, you also rank higher in search engines, get more readers and grow your reach. Instead of tricking people into handing over their email addresses, you gain their trust and make their lives easier.

Who do you think will be more likely to buy from you, someone who hates your emails or loves your content?


Gated content

Gateless content

Low threshold

More readers

Good for SEO

Happiest people

But I need lead nurturing

Hold on a minute. If the world becomes gateless again, will it become impossible for you to try to stay top of mind through lead nurturing campaigns and website personalisation? Also, won't you lose insights into lead behaviour and marketing ROI? Surely we can't just open all the gates?

When we look at it like that, doesn't gated content comes with quite a few perks?

Choose either



Gated content

Gateless content

Lead generation

Lead nurturing

Lots of lead insights

Able to proof marketing ROI

That’s all true. But what if we told you that you could have it all?

You can have it all


There’s a simple way to benefit from both ungated and gated content.

Imagine you built a website content library that includes gated and gateless content. You’d give many of your resources away for free while creating a lot of goodwill among your audience (and search engines). At the same time, gated content pieces would still get you your leads, that are probably more motivated since they’ve been given so much content for free already. In the end, this would lead to both happiness and leads.

Which content should you ungate?

what content should be gateless-1

That’s a great question. The answer completely depends on your company. If you’re fairly new to your audience and haven’t earned a place in the top rankings of search engines yet, opening the gates might be good as it will get you more traffic and a lot of goodwill. Then again, if you are an established brand with an extensive online content library, adding a form to your top pieces of content is probably a good idea.

In our experience, short content such as blogs, videos and infographics should always be gateless, as they’re not worth an email address, and long reads such as ebooks and case studies often are. When deciding whether you should go with gated content or gateless content, consider these factors:

Brand awareness
SEO rankings
Content value

Written and designed by
Deeply Digital.

Deeply Digital is a global content marketing agency and HubSpot solutions partner, working with companies like Booking.com and Casio.

With offices in the UK and the Netherlands, we deliver the creative you need to get noticed, using the HubSpot tech stack to make it happen. 


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