To gate or not to gate, that is the question. And it’s a valid question. There seem to be two major camps in terms of how to make use of a white paper. The first camp thinks the white paper should be distributed as widely as possible, without any obstructions. The second thinks the white paper is a valuable document, one for which a user is willing to pay in the form of an email address or permission to receive email newsletters.
Which is the right way to use the white paper? Both are perfectly viable arguments that can hold their own against criticism.
Gating the white paper increases its value in the eyes of the user. After all, it’s behind a gate so it must have some value. People who urgently want to read your white paper will subscribe to that newsletter to get at the content they want. It shows they are motivated, and we all want motivated customers. Because gating a white paper increases its value, the content had better match the expectations. I’ve personally entered information to access documents sitting behind a gate only to discover the content that had been hyped on some other platform is, in reality, pure junk. I’ve read vague documents, sloppy formatting, amateurish page design amateurish content, and even incorrect information in a document I provided my email to access. Good content is worth the hassle; bad content leaves a sour taste in the customer’s mouth.
On the other hand, broadcasting the white paper everywhere may help to increase your company’s visibility. If you have a new product, a customized process, or are trying to capture market share, a white paper can help. You’ll want to get the document into as many hands as possible. These white papers are often freely available from a company website. You likely won’t build an email list of prospects from an ungated download, but you can spread your message farther and faster when the prospect sees alternatives other than buy now or walk.
To gate or not to gate is the question, but what will your answer be?