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Risks of ungating content


You’ve got a sweet white paper you’re using as a lead magnet on your website. What if you just … gave it away?

State of the world

As it stands, you’ve got a proportion of your visitors who submit their name, email address, phone number, and who knows what else in exchange for your valuable white paper.

Presumably they read and love it. Some of them even go on to buy your product.

Of course you have business that comes to you through the main contact form on your site, or paid search campaign landing pages, or by calling your toll free number. And there are renewals and upgrades from existing customers, too.

The sales you stand to lose

So these “white paper purchasers,” who get the white paper and later purchase your product, are a fraction of total sales.

How big a fraction? How many sales per month? That’s how many sales you’ll lose if you (a) ungate your content and (b) live out the worst case scenario.

How you stand to lose them

Let’s go there. Flip the switch, give away the white paper. What happens?

A visitor who would have been a white paper purchaser will probably still access the white paper.

You won’t have her contact info, though, so she’ll get no followup email sequence and no direct outreach from sales.

At this point there are three things she can do:

But the third option is off the table, since we’re in the worst case scenario.

If she buys nothing at all

She would have purchased if you’d only gotten her email address and followed up … but she decided she didn’t need a solution in the first place.

This seems plausible if your product is a nice-to-have, and if your sales team is … extra persuasive. So, is it? And are they?

If she buys a competitor’s product

Ouch. She did need a solution. She would have bought from you if you’d reached out. But instead, she read your white paper and then bought something else.

This seems plausible if your white paper is less-than-memorable, or inadequately branded, or … see above about your sales team.


It should be possible to come up with a “worst case scenario” number of sales you’d lose by ungating content, and to work through just how likely you are to lose them - based on:

Hold onto that number and those odds; tomorrow we’ll look at the upside. 👋

(Want to read more? Check out this article, an impassioned plea for ungating.)


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© 2022 Brian David Hall