When you offer an ebook, audio file, white paper or special report off your site, it's "gated" if you require a reader's email address. It's not gated if you allow digital downloads freely without any exchange of information.
Here's an example of gated: The Blog Squad's free ebook Better Business Blogging. It's an free give-away with plenty of information on how to use a blog for business results. We've used it for a while now as a lead-generator.
The list of people who've downloaded this report is valuable. All of them are interested in learning more about business blogging. Once on that list, there are a few follow-up autoresponder messages that suggest other actions such as subscribe to our blogs, review blogging products, and special discounts on blogging services.
Here's an example of "not gated:" When David Meerman Scott published his new book World Wide Rave, he offered the entire book for download free to anyone who wished and who had an Amazon Kindle. The only strings attached was a five day limit. So only "people in the know" such as Twitter followers and blog readers found out about this.
Why? Scotts knows that owners of Kindle, the electronic book reader, are movers and shakers and many of them publish blogs. His purpose was to get publicity for the book, not build a list. He wants news of the book to spread.
Here's the point David makes: According to his statistics, a white paper or eBook will be downloaded 20x and up to 50 times more WITHOUT a gate in front of it.
For that, you must allow free circulation and not try to capture email addresses.
Joe Pulizzi writes about this on his Junta42 blog here: Tear Your Content Walls Down. You need to read this and decide which is best for you to offer on your own site:
- Free ebooks for anyone to download (and possibly share with others)?
- Free digital stuff for anyone who takes the time to type in their email address?
Initially, I came out against taking gates away because you lose a valuable way to build a marketing list.
But I'm thinking it over… 50 times more readers? I may have to experiment with this.
I want your opinion, what do you think? Gated or not?