High-Impact Gated Content Strategies for 2024 and Beyond

High-Impact Gated Content Strategies for 2024 and Beyond

By Patrick Schober, Founder & Creative Director, Poetica Marketing 

A writer at heart and a strategist by trade, I’m passionate about creating compelling written and visual content for SEO performance and social media. I started Poetica Marketing in 2018, and I’ve since helped companies and professionals all over the world enhance their online presence while increasing sales!

Years ago, the digital marketing world sounded the death knell for gated content, and then they never looked back. 

 

Big mistake. Big, big mistake. 

Gated content still holds huge lead gen opportunities for brands that genuinely care about their target audience. 

And I’m going to prove it to you—and also give you some tips for making gated content your number one driver of lead generation. 

The Secrets to Gated Content In 2024 And Beyond

As content marketers, we’re in the information business. Sure, there’s an element of entertainment for some of us (especially in B2C brands), but our talents ultimately come down to crafting engaging content seasoned with the 5 Ps of marketing. 

 

Our target audience wants information. They’re just used to that information being a Google preview snippet away. 

Everything else has to be worth their while. 

 

And here’s how to make that happen.

1. Create Content Your Audience Really Cares About 

Gated content “failed” because marketers gated everything—even things that were meant to be shared on social media, like infographics.

 

As marketing professionals, we undervalued email addresses while consumers learned they could get better answers to their questions with a simple Google search. 

SEO made gated content obsolete—or so it seemed.

 

Gated content still works really well when you create exclusive, hard-to-find-anywhere-else content developed specifically for your target audience. 

 

Here’s a quick example: I run a super niche music blog for the metal underground, and I developed a 16-page band marketing guide that covers everything from social media to album releases to advertising. 

 

Bands love it. 

Over the last few years, that little guide has helped me collect hundreds of email addresses from bands all over the world—and has also led to some cool marketing projects. 

 

But the only reason this works is because:

  1. It’s niche. 
  2. It fulfills a dire need (the metal underground is incredibly underserved). 
  3. It’s high-impact content. 
  4. It follows other gated content best practices (like inputting new subscribers through an automated email flow). 

 

If you want your lead gen strategy to work, create something that’s worth more than an email address.

 

2. Share Insights That Can’t Be Quickly Answered With A Google Search or ChatGPT Query

Like I said earlier, gated content “died” in part because a quick Google search became more valuable than most gated content pieces. 

And with the rise of ChatGPT and other AIs, we have even more competition. (By the way, check out our article on the pros and cons of GenAI in marketing.)

 

So if you want a steady stream of leads, your gated content should contain valuable, hard-to-find information that immediately benefits the reader. 

This means you might need to conduct your own research to develop heavy-hitting content that matters. 

 

As we’ll discuss in a moment, that could mean a pretty heavy lift from your team. 

But if you put in the necessary hours, you’ll publish a high-value piece of content that’s beloved by your target audience and that may even pick up additional promotion from industry insiders. 

3. Put the Work In

Years ago, I cut my teeth at an agency that would gate the equivalent of a blog post and sell it as a “lead gen” strategy.

 

It worked about as well as you’d expect. 

As marketers, we weren’t dedicating enough time to create impactful content. 

 

And that’s the real difference between good gated content and bad gated content. 

Good gated content can take weeks or even months to develop. 

 

Bad gated content is often created in a single afternoon, between a client discovery call and a trip to the kitchen for a 3:00 PM pick-me-up. 

There is, however, one important exception. 

 

If you niche down far enough, you can create content that doesn’t already have a ton of competition—and that can give your lead gen efforts a nice jump start in a short period of time. 

4. Focus On Your Copy At Every Stage

We’re getting back to our marketing basics here: Be compelling at every stage. 

After all, there are multiple stages to gated content, and a breakdown at any single stage can flatline your efforts. 

 

Place a heavy emphasis on:

  • Your promo copy
  • Your landing page
  • The copy and CTAs within your gated content
  • Your email drip campaign
  • Any other related marketing materials

 

A/B test as much as possible, and continue testing against your winners on a regular basis. Gated content is a tough business, and it’s only going to get harder in the coming years. 

Focus on winning copywriting for better results. 

5. Monitor the Right Metrics and Continually Improve

Look, I’m a big fan of gated content. But I’m not stupid. I know it’s tougher than ever. 

 

So keep an eye on the numbers. 

Data from WordStream shows:

  • The average landing page conversion rate is 2.35%. 
  • The top 25% of landing pages have a conversion rate of at least 5.31%. 
  • The top 10% of landing pages have a conversion rate of at least 11.45%.

 

With that in mind, focus on two things:

  1. Your landing page conversion rate. Aim for 3% or higher (though I’d love to see you obsess over reaching 10%). 
  2. Your landing page traffic. With a 3% conversion rate, you’ll need 33 page visitors for one lead. Are you generating enough traffic for that conversion rate to be meaningful? 

 

Of course, that’s just phase one. You still have a lot of work to do after pushing those contacts into your sales pipeline. 

But this is a good starting point. 

Be Bold For Gated Content Success

It’s 2024, and people everywhere are hesitant to give up their contact information. 

Unless you can really churn out great content they’re dying to have. 

Be bold. 

 

Dig deep into your audience’s wants and needs to create truly compelling content. 

The results aren’t just a fuller sales pipeline. 

 

It’s a streamlined sales process with better conversions on the other side. 

Generative AI for Marketers: Friend or Foe?

Generative AI for Marketers: Friend or Foe?

By Patrick Schober, Founder & Creative Director, Poetica Marketing 

A writer at heart and a strategist by trade, I’m passionate about creating compelling written and visual content for SEO performance and social media. I started Poetica Marketing in 2018, and I’ve since helped companies and professionals all over the world enhance their online presence while increasing sales!

One of my first days on the editorial floor almost a decade ago, a senior editor tapped me on the shoulder and offered a few chilling words of advice:

 

“Get ready for the machines to take over. They’re going to take our jobs.”

I laughed, but inside I was nervous. It was 2014, and there were glimpses of computers that couple replicate articles. 

 

A complete elimination of human writers still seemed far, far away. 

But when ChatGPT grabbed headlines a couple of years ago, I started panicking. 

 

The editor’s awkward, unsolicited prophecy was coming true. 

And I was going under, marketing agency and all.

 

But then I actually checked out ChatGPT for myself. And after 30 minutes of testing, I realized a valuable, comforting truth: 

 

The true marketers of this world aren’t going anywhere. 

ChatGPT and all other AI platforms are simply tools. They can augment what we do, but they’re not yet sophisticated enough to completely replace us. 

 

Let’s dive into the perks and drawbacks of AI—including the pros and cons of ChatGPT in marketing.

 

What’s Covered 

Pros of AI In Marketing

AI Is Great for Research

AI Is Great for Establishing A Starting Point

AI Is Great for Generating New Ideas

AI Is Great For Copying Tone And Style

Cons of AI In Marketing

AI Isn’t A Great Marketing Strategist

AI Isn’t Clever

AI Has Serious SEO Limitations

AI Has Accuracy Issues

AI Isn’t A Thought Leader

AI Doesn’t Replace Great Writers, Artists, Or Designers

Final Thoughts On AI In Marketing

 

 

Pros of AI In Marketing

Here are some of the biggest advantages of leveraging AI in your marketing efforts: 

1. AI Is Great for Research

Yes, there’s a reason ChatGPT keeps this warning at the bottom of the screen: ChatGPT can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

 

AI can make huge, costly mistakes.  And some of them have been embarrassing. One of the biggest cases happened back in 2023, when a gentleman sued an airline for an injury he sustained when a serving cart struck his knee. 

 

His attorney used ChatGPT to help build his case—and it cited cases that didn’t exist, and the whole debacle landed the attorney in hot water. Despite such high-profile flops, I still argue AI is a great starting point for industry research.

 

Think of it like Wikipedia. Wikipedia is crowdsourced (and AI, in a way, is also crowdsourced), so it’s liable to contain a few inaccuracies here and there, but its citations and depth of knowledge are great for getting an overview on a certain topic. 

 

AI is the same way. 

We shouldn’t rely on it as the final word on anything, but it’s still a great way to quickly learn about a new client’s industry or your biggest competitor’s most popular products.  

2. AI Is Great for Establishing A Starting Point

Marketing is a fast-paced world, and sometimes the creative juices just aren’t flowing. 

 

But AI works with the flip of a switch. 

For writers and designers who are struggling with that next deadline, AI is a convenient way to blow up the dreaded blank page and provide a convenient starting point for that new project.

3. AI Great for Generating New Ideas

AI is phenomenal at generating new ideas—even around specific parameters. 

 

Here’s one example: 

I’m co-hosting a seminar with a few partners, and I wanted to develop a list of questions we could cover that would:

 

  • Allow two speakers to answer each question while leveraging their own expertise
  • Allow each speaker to answer four times
  • Focus on pressing topics for SMB owners and marketing managers

 

I spent about 30 minutes on it, and when I was done I had something I was only semi-confident in. 

When I shared my concerns, one of the partners ran the prompt through ChatGPT and had a strong list of comparable questions in only a few minutes. 

Follow the old rule: Work smarter, not harder. Whether you’re trying to come up with new blog topics or think of great holiday marketing campaign ideas, AI can help. 

4. AI Is Great for Copying Tone And Style

AI is clever enough to copy an individual or brand’s voice. As an example, I gave ChatGPT this prompt: 

 

“Write me 300 words about the pros and cons of AI in marketing and write it in the voice of Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy.”

 

Here’s what it came up with for the first paragraph: 

 

What’s the deal with AI in marketing? It’s like every brand has suddenly discovered a magical genie. You ask it to whip up a marketing campaign, and bam! It’s faster than Kramer sliding into my apartment. But, let’s talk about this—there are pros and cons.

 

That was OK (I find it works better if you read it in Jerry’s nasally, rising-and-falling tone), but I didn’t like that it relied on referencing his show for humor—something the rest of the essay did as well. 

 

So I gave it this response: “Write it more in the style of his standup. Don’t reference the TV show.”

The first paragraph this time?

 

Have you ever noticed how marketing has changed since AI came along? I mean, it used to be a guy trying to convince you his brand of cereal was the crunchiest. Now, it’s like a robot has taken over, and it’s analyzing every crunch you’ve ever enjoyed!

 

Better! This could use more work, but it’s a decent starting point from our original prompt. 

And for busy marketers who aren’t natural copywriters, AI is a convenient tool for capturing a brand’s tone before publishing new copy. 

Cons of AI In Marketing

Here are some of the biggest reasons AI could harm your marketing efforts if it’s leveraged incorrectly: 

1. AI Isn’t A Great Marketing Strategist

For all of the tasks AI is great at, it’s still not a great strategist or QB. 

Yes, it can outline what a great marketing strategy looks like, but it lacks that human understanding of countless variables and previous brand success stories that influence every single decision. 

 

And while it’s possible to get it to that point, you’ll spend so much time feeding it data points that you could have been more efficient leading the charge yourself. 

More importantly, AI hasn’t reached the point where it can actually execute. So even if you did get a brilliant strategy from it, you still need team members who understand the nuances to execute it properly. 

2. AI Isn’t Clever

There’s a certain magic to a great marketing tagline, and AI still doesn’t seem to be on the level as a team of brainstorming humans. 

Take this example from writer from Josh Lieber on LinkedIn: 

 

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He was impressed (and rightfully so) by the Nike tagline for their collaboration with college basketball star Caitlin Clark:

You break it, you own it.

 

The simple line fits perfectly into the Nike ethos and plays well off the “You break it, you buy it” rule so common in grocery stores. 

It’s bold. It’s catchy. It’s Nike. 

But, as Lieber points out, AI wasn’t good at replicating such a spot-on tagline. 

3. AI Has Serious SEO Limitations

This drawback really only applies to our SEO specialists, but it’s a nuanced point worth getting into. 

 

ChatGPT is bad at SEO. We’ve tried training it over and over at Poetica Marketing, and it’s taken a long, long time to get it anywhere beyond intern-on-their-first-week-in-the-agency.

 

Tools like Outranking and Semrush are getting better at it. 

But for as much as AI is evolving to study keyword performance and write original, high-ranking content that matches a company’s tone, it’s still missing a few valuable features:

 

  1. It’s still not automating the publishing process, so it relies on humans to fix layout, embed links, place meta descriptions, choose tags and categories—and more. Messing any of this up can have major repercussions! 
  2. It’s still not capable of creating internal site links for every new piece of content that’s generated. 
  3. It’s still not capable of submitting its own new content in Search Console (though plugins do exist that can automate some of it). 

 

SEO can assist in some facets, but it’s not a blanket replacement for your SEO strategists. Not even close. 

4. AI Has Accuracy Issues

We mentioned AI’s factual inaccuracies earlier in this article (in the pros section no less!), but it’s worth repeating:

You can’t trust every line of content AI generates. 

 

Even when you ask it to cite its sources, history has shown us it’s liable to make up its own citations for studies and articles that simply don’t exist. 

That’s a major no-no. 

So you still need to fact-check every line AI writes.

5. AI Isn’t A Thought Leader

AI still can’t replace original thought leadership. 

Yes, you could try pumping all of your original blog posts and LinkedIn articles into it and ask it to create new content—but it would still lack so many human elements. 

 

Most importantly, it would lack storytelling, those fun little anecdotes that help explain the larger point. 

Worse, AI is built to aggregate as much content as possible and average it out into something cohesive—but it’s not designed for deep introspection and original thinking. 

 

6. AI Doesn’t Replace Great Writers, Artists, or Designers

AI is a tool for human professionals, not a replacement for human professionals. 

 

While AI can quickly generate a strong starting point, it’s still not capable of creating something ready to publish on the first draft. 

That’s where human professionals come in. 

 

With a strong understanding of the fundamentals of copywriting, web design, graphic design, or art, a human can leverage the AI’s starting point in something truly impactful. 

Final Thoughts On AI In Marketing

As I mentioned earlier, AI is a tool. It’s only going to be as impactful for your company as you make it. 

 

Over time, I suspect it’ll continue to evolve. 

And specialists are already popping up throughout the industry to support companies in leveraging AI for all it’s worth. 

For now, though, explore the tools available on the market and consider how they can benefit you and your team. 

 

AI is scary, but don’t resist it. 

Embrace it. 

 

There’s lots it can offer if you give it a chance. 

Level Up Workshop Series: Google Ads

Level Up Workshop Series – join us for these workshop sessions to level up your skill set and sharpen your marketing knowledge.

Google Ads: Optimizations Never End (an advanced lesson)

Google ads should be a part of your lead generation campaigns! However, it’s not enough to “set it and forget it.” If you’re not getting leads or the volume you want, we’ll show you optimizations that will take your campaigns to the next level!

 

RJ Huebert, Founder and Managing Principal, HBT Digital Consulting

RJ created HBT Digital Consulting LLC in 2019 and resides in Pittsburgh, PA. He was born and raised in Erie, PA and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. After, he earned his Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication Management from the University of South Florida.

RJ has worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, education, market research and banking. In his ten-year corporate career, he rose through the marketing ranks to Marketing Director for a world-wide market research firm. His specialty and passion lives in the world of digital marketing, and finding target audiences online. He does this as a Google Ads certified marketer, and through paid advertising on social media channels.

A lifelong volunteer and business mentor, he served on the Board of Directors for The University of Pittsburgh’s Tampa Bay Alumni Chapter as Vice President. Currently, RJ sits on the Board of Directors for the American Marketing Association – Pittsburgh Chapter.

www.hbtdigital.com

Marketing Mondays: Holly Wilbanks, LinkedIn Level Up

Marketing Mondays: Holly Wilbanks, LinkedIn Level Up

 

Marketing Mondays: Holly Wilbanks, of The Wilbanks Consulting LinkedIn Level Up: Think you’ve got your LinkedIn brand down? Join us as award-winning career coach and talent strategist Holly Wilbanks of The Wilbanks Consulting Group uncovers the biggest wins and fails she sees (yes, even marketing) professionals make via their digital billboard.