I've been thinking a lot of the registration process lately. How should marketers decide if they want to require registration for their latest offer? In the past, it seemed common to require registration for most things. It's an easy trade: a bit of information for some content, right? What's the harm in that?
Well, I've had three "ah ha" moments that have changed my opinion on this.
Ah ha moment #1: By losing control of your content, you can get a lot more visibility.
Like Jamie eloquently outlined in a previous post, David Meerman Scott puts together a great case for "losing control of your content" in his book, World Wide Rave. I loved the book as well, and in addition to the points Jamie raised, this quote jumped out at me:
"When you eliminate the requirement of supplying personal information in order to receive something, the number of downloads or views goes up by as much as a factor of 50. That's right -- if you require an email address or other personal information, perhaps only 2 percent of your audience will bother to download your stuff."
I knew that not requiring registration would increase how many people viewed your content, but I never imagined it would be that much.
Takeaway: Unless building a list (a perfectly legitimate objective), consider removing the registration requirement to get a lot more exposure. And, on a related note, I've read time and time again, that for each additional field you require in the registration process, the less likely it is that someone will register, so ask only for what is necessary.
Ah ha moment #2: Marketing often does not have a good plan for the leads they collect.
My second "ah ha" moment was more gradual. I've read -- and experienced -- the pains in the lead follow up process: marketing collects leads, passes them to sales, sales calls a few and gets no where and declares the leads "junk." The issue, of course, is that the leads marketing is turning over are not sales-ready.
As a result, marketing needs to nurture leads in a way that moves them through the funnel until they are sales-ready. But, this does not often happen. So, if you don't have a plan to follow up productively with your leads, I would certainly consider not collecting information from your prospects.
I would also argue that you need a plan in place to follow up with leads in the near future. If you are collecting names just to have them in your back pocket when you get a system in place, you're doing yourself and your prospect a disservice. It just doesn't make sense to go back to someone months later and try to engage them in a conversation.
Takeway: Unless you have a plan to follow up and nurture your leads now, strongly consider letting your content go viral.
Ah ha moment #3: Only require registration for offers designed for later in the buying process.
My third "ah ha" moment came this week when I read a fabulous post from Chris Koch that made the point that we should we consider someone's place in the buying cycle when deciding if we should require registration and determining how much information we need.
Makes a lot of sense! I have often considered how content and marketing should reflect where someone is in the buying process, but I hadn't thought about how this should impact what is required for registration.
Takeaway: If you have designed content to be used earlier in the buying process, strongly consider not requiring registration as sales does not have much use for the leads (unless, of course, as stated above, you have a plan to nurture them).
As mentioned, my philosophy on requiring registration has been evolving, and I expect it to change more. I'd love to get your thoughts on how you decide what should require registration. What's your philosophy?
- Develop Content Based on Your Buying Cycle: Five Ways to be More Relevant (from Business Marketing Institute)
- 20 Support Cases for Using Social Media in B2B Marketing - by Jamie Wallace
- 11 Golden Rules for Lead Generation That Works - by Stephanie Tilton
Read more posts from Michele.