Look around the internet and you’ll notice that more and more websites are making their most valuable content harder to access. From blogs and news sites to streaming companies and eCommerce stores, owners are realising that there are benefits to gating some of their content. Here, we look at what gated content is and the different types of benefits it offers.
An overview of gated content
Gated content is content that is not freely available to everyone. Access to it can be limited to the website’s members or to those who carry out some form of action to gain access. In some circumstances content is gated because it is private and confidential, in others it is because the content has a premium value.
Most people will have seen how gated content can be accessed when searching online. Common methods of access include becoming a member of an organisation, one-off payment or monthly subscription, signing up for emails, completing a survey or sharing a link on social media.
The benefits of gated content
There are many benefits to gated content and here are some of the most important.
Security and data protection
The most common way that websites use gated content is to keep private information private. Anyone wanting to access information about their bank account, medical records or children’s education, for example, will need to log in to a members’ area and will be presented with personalised information that no one else can see.
Aside from ensuring privacy, there are many benefits to having a members area of a website. It can cut down on administration, help keep user information and contact details up to date, it can be used to take payments, change membership plans and access communications.
Some content is more valuable than others and you can charge people to access it. Netflix, Spotify, Prime Video, Ancestry and countless other businesses operate using this model. In many cases, basic membership with access to some content is free, but if you want to access the premium content, there’s either a one-off fee or more commonly, a monthly subscription. Of course, to keep customers coming back, the gated content needs to be good and updated regularly. It’s why these companies spend billions on making new movies and series and buying the back catalogues of music artists.
You’ll find this type of money-making content on websites of every kind, including sites selling online courses, blogs, newspaper sites, ‘how to’ sites and so forth.
Grow email lists
Since the invention of email, email marketing has consistently outperformed every other type of marketing in terms of its return on investment (ROI), which is why it remains very popular. It’s also a very inexpensive way to advertise to people and, importantly, it directly targets those who have shown an interest in a website and its products or services
To make the most of email marketing, however, websites need to recruit more and more subscribers. One way to tempt them is to give them access to gated content. This is why thought leadership websites ask people to sign up before they can download reports or white papers, and why some websites require a subscription to download money off vouchers or get early access to the latest collections. Sometimes a website will even carry out a service for you in return for an email subscription, such as colourising an old photo, proofreading a document, or doing an SEO audit of your website.
Some brands thrive on exclusivity. By making some or all of their products exclusive to particular users, these brands create reputations that give them kudos and enable them to charge higher prices for their products. One way to do this is to gate the most exclusive products and require customers to become members to see them.
Another brand-related use for gated content is to increase customer loyalty, often done via a membership. Those who sign up for brand memberships get exclusive deals that non-members don’t. Amazon Prime members, for example, get a whole host of goodies, including free shipping and access to movies and music, while Tesco Clubcard members get in-store discounts and points they can trade in for money off vouchers at restaurants and venues. There are thousands of businesses using gated content to increase customer loyalty, improve relationships and boost long-term sales.
Contrary to what some people might expect, hiding content away and requiring visitors to either pay or carry out an action to see it can be highly beneficial. It can be used to maintain security, earn revenue, grow subscriber lists, build brand exclusivity and increase customer loyalty.
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