Can your website visitors freely view your best content?

in Content Marketing

Many B2B and technology companies require website visitors to register by providing full contact information before they can access some materials on their websites. This registration process is usually required for the worthwhile content such as product datasheets, demos, white papers, etc. that website visitors really want to see.

This is incredulous – many of these companies provide mostly marginal, self-centered information on their web pages and then lock away the information their website visitors came to get in the first place. It’s not the crown jewels or their product secrets – it’s just marketing materials.

Even more disturbing are the somewhat deceptive links to these materials; usually stating something like “download this white paper now”, or “view the datasheet for more details”, or “view the product demo” or something like that without a “registration required” qualification.

From a website visitor’s perspective this registration requirement to see certain material is contradictory to expectations. These businesses drew the visitors to their website by some Internet marketing means. There’s nothing in this practice that’s good for website visitors. There is no fair exchange of value. There is no WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for these potential buyers. It gives them the impression that they’re dealing with an impersonal company that makes things difficult for their customers.

We all know why marketers at these companies do this – to add the contact information to their database so they can email marketing stuff and add to their marketing statistics for management reporting.

There are many good tools available to track downloads and the use of downloaded materials that don’t require registration. Inserting links to videos or other additional materials in the downloaded material can track usage. There are better ways to fulfill marketing statistics and better track material usage without annoying or chasing your website visitors away. There are more welcoming ways to get potential buyers to sign up for permission marketing.

There are various anecdotal reports that up to 95% of website visitors abandon websites or enter bogus information when confronted with a registration form. MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide, indicates that after reading white papers, engineers typically visit the vendor’s website (70%), contact the vendor (45%) or pass the white paper to a peer (37%).

How to use this information to benefit your business

  • Website visitors, customers and buyers loathe this registration practice. If you are doing it or planning to do it, review the implications and consider alternatives.
  • If you do require registration for accessing some information, review your bounce rate in tools like Google Analytics. If visitors are getting to the registration form page(s) and then leaving or providing bogus contact information, you have a problem with the registration requirement.
  • There is substantial evidence that indicates you can get significantly more people to view these materials and more subsequent qualified traffic by not requiring registration.
  • Registrations are fine when there is a fair exchange of value such as providing no cost educational materials or reports. However, requiring registration for website visitors to view more detailed information about a company’s products/services/solutions is self-defeating.
  • Even if a website user relents and registers because they really want to see the material, doesn’t mean they’re going to be receptive to an email marketing onslaught.
  • Registration requirements are a good way to kill your business website and drive potential buyers to competitors or social media sources to get the equivalent information. They came to your site looking for the information – don’t blow the opportunity for prospective buyers to consider buying from you.

Copyright © 2009 Ingistics LLC and Marketance™

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