What is Gated Content for Video Creators?

Written by
Derek K.
December 18, 2020

Gated content, also called “locked content” is defined as content that is hidden behind an ask - in some cases just an email, in others a paywall.

The most common type of gated content you might experience on a daily or weekly basis exists on websites of news and magazine publications:

Hulu, AppleTV, Netflix and Amazon Prime also share similar forms of gated content by showing viewers a catalog of available titles to stream, but in order to watch their content you must create an account and then pay for a subscription plan.

Gated Content for Lead Generation

Driving leads is the primary goal of an online business - no leads, no customers, no revenue. So let’s dive into how gated content can help drive lead acquisition.

First, value should be created well before asking for a lead. For video creators, this can be in the form of teasers, trailers, and short-form free content. Think of your free content as your “top of funnel”, or your “pilot episode”. From this content, a complete stranger to your project should be able to understand what they are going to get when subscribing, why it is valuable to them, and why it is worth $X a month.

On Special, we provide the ability to upload a trailer video to introduce your project - as well as the ability to choose videos that should be free, or locked. Depending on your needs, an intro video may be enough, but others may want one or two episodes per series available for free to get people hooked into the series or show!

One of the most underrated values of gated content is that it can serve as a valuable SEO (search engine optimization) tool. For those that are unaware of the benefits of SEO, when your audience searches for you on google, you want to rank the highest on the results page to be front and center and a click away! For video creators on Special, your locked videos have their own search engine optimized landing page which allows you to drive organic traffic directly to videos and series pages that can lead to ever increasing viewers and subscribers to your project.

Gated Content for Awareness

Should you lock everything down? Not necessarily. We go over the advantages of a freemium strategy in another article, but when specifically referencing gated content, there are a few things to consider:

Gated content can be thought of as a hard stop. Once people hit it, they either want it enough from the trailer that they sign up and subscribe, or they don’t, and they bounce.

When thinking about locking video content, keep in mind what your potential subscriber will be watching next. Let’s use an example of a 6 episode mini-series. If the first episode ends with a HUGE cliffhanger, that may be the perfect time to lock episode 2 onwards. This “pilot episode” can encourage greater conversion of new subscribers in order to unlock the full series, your gated content.

On the flip side, if you have content that is more freeform, using our introduction video as an explainer or preview of the content a subscriber can expect to see can serve as enough value proposition to get users to subscribe.

Optimize your gated content strategy by testing out different levels of locked and unlocked videos within each series.

Sharing Gated Content

Virality comes into play heavily when exploring a gated content strategy. The content you are leaving “unlocked” should be very sharable, high value add, or extremely entertaining to the visitor - so that viewers can share your content easily with their network and turn one earned visitor into many. Once they are subscribed with a paid subscription and therefore unlocking your gated content, your subscribers can still share your gated content with friends. Although, this time around, new viewers will enter your gated content strategy, be enticed by your teasers or free videos, and ideally convert into paid subscribers as well.

All videos on your project have built in sharing functions. Any of your visitors or subscribers can share videos they have access to. This is important to your project’s organic growth, as highly engaged subscribers can readily share videos that they enjoy - driving traffic directly to a video. This gives the visitor a high-authority recommendation to subscribe. Links from trusted sources are more likely to subscribe - referral traffic can have a 30% higher likelihood of converting! Increased conversion rates and personal referrals (from shares) can also lead to higher lifetime values (months or years subscribed) - so it’s extremely important to use this feature!

Gated Content for Your Creative Business

Building a successful, growing business with gated content requires testing, experimentation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Special, as a platform, exists to facilitate the authentic interaction between you, the creator, and your audience, your viewers.

Special is a platform for creators to launch their own direct-to-fan subscription streaming service.

Special enables creators to own their audience, maximize recurring revenue, and establish their content business.

Viewers subscribe directly to creators and content, curating their unique bundle of subscription media.

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