Being bombarded with marketing from all directions, people have become skeptical. They require proof that your marketing hype isn’t just that – hype. Case studies and white papers provide that extra ‘push’ customers sometimes need to make a buying decision.
So, why make it difficult for prospects to get that further bit of proof? If it means the difference between clicking, “YES! I want to buy your widget,” and walking away from your website empty-handed, does it really make sense to force someone to give up his name and email address first?
Having prospects register for content is a very common B2B practice. You are asking readers to fill out a form prior to reading a case study or a white paper. The idea is that you will increase your leads list by doing so. But forcing readers to register can backfire.
I recently found a software company’s website by accident. I got curious and looked around their site. It seemed like a great company, but when I clicked on their case study page, which had a very impressive list of companies, and case studies to match, I was only able to access one case study before they tried to force me to fill out a registration form to access the rest. The white papers page was worse. If I wanted to read any white paper at all, I had to register.
If I had been a prospective client, this would have thrown me off their site, and I never would have looked back. Case studies and white papers are your beefed up sales army. So be careful about forcing opt-ins.
There are two approaches that can be utilized: Forced registration and voluntary registration.
1) Do you force someone to register for content so you can generate more leads (in theory)? Or,
2) Do you give the prospect the option of registering for the content, allowing for more exposure but risking less lead generation?
With forced registration when a reader clicks on the ‘Read More’ link he is told he must give up his name, email address, and sometimes other information before being allowed access to the report. It’s a gatekeeper of sorts. You give up your contact information, we give you content.
However, voluntary registration asks the reader to fill out a form on an optional basis. In other words, he can still access the content whether or not he gives up his contact info.
According to Marketing Sherpa, voluntary registration appears to be the better way to generate a higher number of quality leads. In one study of INTTRA, an e-commerce platform for the ocean-shipping industry, nearly one out of four demo viewers were converted into leads, and it was felt that voluntary registration was the reason for this. You can read more about that study here. (Note: Be sure to read Michael Stelzner’s take on voluntary registration).
It’s hard to say whether or not voluntary registration actually does increase the number of qualified leads. Perhaps with the right amount of promotion and marketing, it will.
In direct mail marketing, we are taught to test two different sales letters against one another. Why not use the same theory for your case studies and white papers? Try one campaign that utilizes forced registration and another that requests voluntary registration. See for yourself which campaign generates the most qualified leads.
One thing you can be sure of is that with clearly labeled voluntary registration, you won’t scare away prospects, and your content will gain more exposure.
About the author: Rachel Karl is the Co-Founder of 6 Degrees Media Group, a marketing and PR firm in Oregon. She is a copywriter and author of over 100 articles, white papers, and case studies.Receive email updates when new articles are posted.