Gated Content Best Practices: Your Ticket to Expert-Level Engagement & Conversions

Imagine you’re given a special key to unlock a door that leads to exclusive insights, knowledge, or resources. That’s what gated content is all about.

It is the type of content that is like a hidden treasure trove of valuable information waiting for genuinely interested people.

Do you want to know how to use gated content marketing strategy to boost your lead generation efforts? (Content gating is arguably one of the best ways to grow your email list)

In this detailed guide, let me walk you through the ins and outs of content gating so you can effectively engage your audience and generate high quality leads.

Quick links:

  1. What Is Gated Content?
  2. Gated vs. Ungated Content
  3. When Should You Gate Content?
  4. Gated Content Examples
  5. Gated Content Best Practices
  6. How To Create Gated Content?
  7. Which Content Gating Tool Should You Use?

What Is Gated Content?

Gated content is online material, such as articles, videos, infographics or downloadable resources, that you can only access after taking a specific action.

Usually, this action involves sharing some of your information, like your email address or name. It’s a bit like a fair exchange – you provide some details and get access to premium content in return.

As we’ll discuss later, gating content has pros and cons. But when done right, it can

  • make your content more appealing
  • help you to engage with your target audience
  • result in better leads

At OptinMonster, we’ve seen excellent results from content gating, including one website that got 11,000 new subscribers monthly with a simple content upgrade.

Case Study See how this one digital agency used gated content to boost conversion rates by 62% and 2x their email list.

For more details, keep reading!

Gated vs. Ungated Content

Now, let’s talk about the difference between gated and ungated content. Picture two paths in a garden:

  1. Gated Content: This path is like a VIP entrance. When you go down the gated path, you agree to provide some personal information, like your email or zip code. In return, you can access more in-depth, valuable, or exclusive content. Think of it as a way for websites to get to know you better and offer you something special in return.
  2. Ungated Content: Conversely, the ungated path is like a stroll in the park. You can enjoy the content without sharing any personal information. It’s like watching a movie trailer – you get a taste of what’s inside but don’t have to give anything in return.

In essence, gated content is a secret club where you exchange a small piece of information to access premium content. In contrast, ungated content is freely available for anyone to enjoy without any strings attached.

When Should You Gate Content?

Let’s explore when you should consider gating your content.

1) When It’s Extra Special

Like you save your favorite treats for special occasions, consider gating exceptional content. If you have a piece of content packed with insights, solutions, or secrets, your audience can’t easily find elsewhere; it might be a good candidate for gating.

2) For In-Depth Guides and Resources

Imagine you’re giving someone a detailed roadmap to a hidden treasure. Gating content like comprehensive guides, ebooks, or webinars that dive deep into a topic can be a great idea. People are more willing to share their info for valuable, in-depth resources.

3) Exclusive Events and Experiences

Think of gating content like handing out VIP passes to an exclusive party. Gating the content can create excitement and exclusivity if you’re offering something unique, like a live webinar with an industry expert or early access to a product launch.

4) Valuable Tools and Templates

Imagine you’re giving someone a toolbox filled with handy gadgets. Gating practical tools, templates, or checklists your audience can use to solve real problems can be smart. People are often willing to trade information for tools that make their lives easier.

5) When Building Your List Matters

Just like you’d collect keys to open different doors, gating content can help you build a list of interested people. If growing your email list or capturing leads is a priority, gating certain content pieces can be an effective way to achieve that.

6) For Advanced Learning

Imagine you’re sharing advanced secrets with those who are ready to learn. Gating content that caters to a more experienced or specialized audience can be a great way to ensure you’re delivering value to the right people.

7) When You’re Testing Waters

Think of gating content as trying a new recipe – you want to see if people like it before making a big batch. If you’re experimenting with new ideas, products, or offerings, gating the content can help gauge interest and gather feedback.

8) Balancing Gated and Free Content

Imagine you have a buffet with some special dishes behind the counter. It’s essential to strike a balance between gated and free content. Gating everything might turn people away, but offering a mix of both can help you provide value to different types of audiences.

Ultimately, the decision to gate content boils down to the value you’re providing and your goals. Just like protecting precious items, gating content adds a layer of exclusivity, making your audience feel like they’re part of something special.

Understanding when and why to use gated content can create a strategy that enhances engagement, builds relationships, and opens doors to exciting opportunities.

Gated Content Examples

Here are some real-life examples of gated content that companies and organizations have used to engage their audiences and generate leads:

1) HubSpot’s Marketing Resources

HubSpot's Marketing Resources - Gated Content

HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing platform, offers a variety of gated content resources such as ebooks, templates, and guides. Users can access these valuable materials by providing their contact information, which helps HubSpot build their email list and nurture leads.

2) Neil Patel’s Advanced Marketing Guides

Neil Patel's Advanced Marketing Guides - Gated Content

A prominent digital marketing expert, Neil Patel, provides in-depth guides and courses on topics like SEO, content marketing, and social media. Access to these advanced guides often requires users to opt in with their email addresses.

3) Moz’s Whitepapers and Webinars

Moz's Whitepapers and Webinars - Gated Content

Moz, a well-known SEO software company, offers whitepapers and webinars on topics related to search engine optimization. Users can access these resources by filling out a form, allowing Moz to capture leads and provide valuable insights to their audience.

4) Salesforce’s Reports and Surveys

Salesforce's Reports and Surveys - Gated Content

Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, publishes industry reports and surveys that provide valuable insights into trends and best practices. These reports are often gated, requiring users to provide their information before accessing the data.

5) DigitalMarketer’s Training Videos

DigitalMarketer's Training Videos - Gated Content

DigitalMarketer, a platform focused on digital marketing education, offers training videos on various marketing strategies. Users may need to sign up and provide their email addresses to watch these videos.

6) The New York Times (News Publishing)

The New York Times (News Publishing) - Gated Content

The New York Times offers non-subscribers a limited number of free articles each month while gating the rest of their premium content behind a paywall for subscribers.

7) Medium (Content Publishing Platform)

Medium (Content Publishing Platform) - Gated Content

Medium offers a membership program where subscribers can access premium articles, curated content, and exclusive features created by a community of writers.

These examples illustrate how companies leverage gated content to offer valuable resources, insights, and education in exchange for user information.

Gated Content Best Practices

Now that we’ve thoroughly examined content gating, let’s look at some best practices.

1) Know Your Audience Inside Out

Before you create gated content, gaining a deep understanding of your target audience is crucial. It would be best if you answered the following questions:

  • Who are they?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • What information are they hungry for?

Tailor your gated content to address their needs, pain points, and aspirations, ensuring it offers real value and resonates with their interest along the buyer’s journey.

2) Choose the Right Format

Gated content comes in various shapes and sizes. From ebooks and webinars to templates and case studies. Select the format that aligns best with your audience’s preferences and the nature of the information you’re sharing.

A well-chosen format enhances engagement and encourages users to provide their information willingly.

Bonus content: What is a Lead Magnet? Proven Lead Magnet Ideas and Examples

3) Craft Irresistible Headlines and CTA

A compelling headline and call to action button are your golden ticket to capturing interest in the digital age of short attention spans. Craft headlines that promise a clear benefit or solution, sparking curiosity as we move along the customer’s journey.

A well-crafted headline is the first step toward convincing users that your gated content is worth their time and information.

Bonus content: 130+ Proven Opt-in Headline Ideas to Get More Email Subscribers (Cheat Sheet)

4) Deliver Value Beyond Expectations

Gated content should surpass your audience’s expectations. Offer insights, knowledge, or solutions they can’t easily find elsewhere. Strive to provide actionable takeaways that empower your audience to apply what they’ve learned in their own endeavors.

5) Design User-Friendly Landing Pages

A seamless user experience is essential. Design landing pages that are clean and intuitive, guiding users through accessing your gated content. Keep forms concise, asking for only the necessary information, and assure users of the value they’ll receive in return.

Bonus content: Expert Tips for Writing Landing Page Copy That Converts  & Anatomy of the Perfect Optin Landing Page (Tips & Best Practices)

6) Promote Strategically

Gated content is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Promote it across your marketing channels – from social media and email campaigns to your website and partnerships. Leverage teasers, snippets, and compelling visuals to create anticipation and drive interest.

7) Leverage Social Proof

Incorporate social proof, such as testimonials and user reviews, to boost credibility and increase conversions. When seeing others benefit from your gated content, people are more likely to provide information.

8) Decide How Visitors Will Access the Content

Knowing how you’ll give new subscribers access to the content you’ve gated is important. Some of the options include:

  • Sending the content by email, which I always recommend
  • Providing an immediate download link
  • Opening the content in a new window or redirecting subscribers to a page where they can access the content

You can use any of these options in any OptinMonster campaign by customizing the success view.

The next section will show you how to gate content with OptinMonster.

How To Create Gated Content?

For this tutorial, I will show you how to gate content by creating an inline form campaign for a particular page with OptinMonster. Here’s how you do that.

Step 1: Create Your Content Gating Campaign

First, click Create New Campaign from your OptinMonster dashboard.

Create new OptinMonster campaign button

Next, you’ll need to choose a campaign type.

OptinMonster offers different campaign types, including:

  • Floating bar
  • Fullscreen
  • Slide-in

We’ll need to select Inline Campaign to create a content lock campaign.

Choose inline camapaign in OptinMonster_

Now, you’ll need to choose a template.

OptinMonster offers 65+ templates, and all work beautifully across all devices.

Today, we’ll pick Transform.

Choose Transform template_

Name your campaign and click Start Building to enter the OptinMonster editor.

Name content lock campaign in OptinMonster

Step 2: Activate the Content Lock

First, we’ll activate the content lock feature.

Select Inline Settings from the left-hand side in your OptinMonster dashboard.

Inline settings homepage

Turn the toggle switch Lock Below Campaign? to green.

turn on content locking

Select the style of content lock you want:

  • Obfuscation: will blur the content
  • Removal: will completely remove content

Content Locking style

Now, we’re ready to customize our content lock campaign.

Step 3: Design Your Content Lock Campaign

Changing anything about your content lock campaign form is easy in the OptinMonster editor.

All you need to do is click on any part of the campaign to change it.

Let’s see how that works.

To edit the text, click on it. This will bring up the editing tools, and you’ll be able to change the text’s font, copy, color, and alignment.

Transform template inline texit edit_

Similarly, to delete an element, simply click on it.

Transform template inline texit edit_

You can also add elements to your campaign, like:

  • Text
  • Images
  • HTML
  • Video

Click Add Blocks at the top of your editor.

Add blocks

From the left, you’ll be able to select the element you’d like. Then, drag it into place on your popup.

Add new block to Transform template in OptinMonster

This is our content lock campaign after a few quick edits.

Content lock inline campaign OptinMonster

Once you’re happy with the design of your popup, you’re ready to add your email

Step 4. Choose Your Display Rules

Next, go to Display Rules. The first step to setting display rules is selecting your conditions. You’re telling OptinMonster when you want the optin to appear.

Here we’ve set the optin to display when the content URL path exactly matches the URL of the page where we want the campaign to display.


If you want to show your locked content only to visitors who are already engaged, you could also enable Visitor has viewed ‘X’ pages and set the number to 2 or more.


Step 5: Add Your Integration

To collect subscriber data via your email marketing software, you’ll need to add an integration to the platform you use.

To do this, go to Integrations at the top of the editor.

Integrations ribbon

Next, select Add New Integration.

Add New Integration

Select your email service provider from the dropdown.

OptinMonster Email Provider Dropdown

Then, follow the prompts to connect your email provider with OptinMonster.

Now, it’s time to publish your content lock campaign on WordPress.

Finally, save and publish the campaign.

Grab the embed code and paste it into your post or if you’re using WordPress, go to your dashboard.

Grab the optin slug from under the Live link.


Add it to this text in place of “SLUG” to create a shortcode you can embed in your content.

[optin-monster-shortcode id="SLUG"]

And that’s it, you have just learnt how to to gate content.

Which Content Gating Tool Should You Use?

OptinMonster is the best content gating tool. It’s built-in content locking feature is proven to get results. Remember those stats I mentioned earlier?

You can deliver your gated content immediately with OptinMonster’s success themes.

OptinMonster also integrates with all the major email marketing platforms and content management systems, so you can use it for gating content on any site.

Still waiting to start using OptinMonster? Click here to get started!

Hello, I'm your guide to the WordPress universe. With a knack for plugins that elevate websites and a mastery of marketing, I'm on a mission to educate you on how-to WordPress and monetize your web traffic.

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