I hate it when I see a link for a “free” paper only to be asked for my personal details again and again so that a marketing department can follow up with me and someone, somewhere can see the sort of people that are downloading the material.
After a chat on Twitter with @dianarailton about this it seems many people on both sides of the fence struggle with the idea of asking for details from downloaders. Having worked in Marketing Communications for a while on the IBM Global Services website I had similar conversations with people. Not being a traditionally brought up marketer I tend to reject most of what people take as the norm. I take experience from being on the other end. Now this may not always be right but the current thinking is just as wrong.
There are many problems with these registration forms that need to be filled out prior to downloading a paper:
- Filling it out a form prior to downloading and reading the actual paper is just nuts
- May be I’m just not that interested and will move on
- I always tick no further contact, thank you very much
- I’m quite capable of deciding if I want to know more, I’ll contact you after reading
- From a co’s pov, the conversion rate on these tactics is incredibly low
What this clearly exposes in most cases that many papers are nothing. Literally full of nothing. Nothing new or useful. They are plainly marketing instruments designed to get your details onto a database, which I have to trust you with, never having met you or your company. Then you will send me crap, lots of it. In a worse case, my details will be sold off or even lost.
So now if you have a registration form on your site I don’t download it. If I’m quite interested in the possible content I’ll do a quick search on the Internet and see if I can get it somewhere else. Often you can. Take the CIO Study from IBM for example. I heard colleagues complaining about the fact that it could be downloaded from a number of places on the web outside of ibm.com. Well, what do you expect? The technology is there and the way of using this sort of information is changing.
The IBM CIO study is actually a substantial piece of work but getting it to the right people takes more than just using a static website, it takes a lot of people that don’t work for you, that may comment and share the document through various channels, such as email, twitter, blogs and linkedin. And while you are at it, why not put it as a download on your blog, where people can comment on it, discuss it, rate it and not have to hand over personal contact details. All these activities also get picked up by search engines, increasing the possible reach.
Improve the way that these papers can get to the right people, provide mechanism for feedback and conversation – at least add a clickable link within the pdf… it’s not hard.
May be I’m just bolshie, but I and others certainly feel that there should be and are available new ways of doing this.
*These are my own opinions and do not represent that of my employer – just so you are really clear on that on
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