Lose Control: Three Reasons Not to Require Registration for B2B Content

Lose Control: Three Reasons Not to Require Registration for B2B Content
Michele Linn - Wed Jul 15, 2009 @ 03:53PM
Comments: 18

Lose control of marketingI'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?

Related posts:

Read more posts from Michele.

Comments: 18


1. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 15, 2009 @ 04:38PM

Michele, great way to frame the issue and prompt marketers to think differently about requiring registration. I'd like to think most B2B marketing departments are savvy enough to require registration only when tied to lead-generation objectives (versus goals of visibility). As you say, what's the point of collecting all that information if the leads are worthless. However, until marketers are measured on something other than leads, it's likely going to be some time before registration disappears. Add to that what it would take to consider registration in relation to the prospect's place in the buying cycle, and marketers have really got their work cut out for them. Having said all that, I'm in complete agreement with your suggestions. I just wonder what it will take for marketers to get from here to there.

2. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 16, 2009 @ 01:09AM


What a great point you make: it is difficult for marketers to think differently about registration if one of the primary metrics they are measured on is leads generated. And, you're also right that this is a lot for anyone to think about.

My philosophy is in taking small steps to improve your current processes (otherwise, it can be totally overwhelming to figure all this out while still doing your job). Even though it may take some (or a lot) of time to "get from here to there," I think marketers can start small. For instance, map out the buying cycle and determine how content fits in; it will be a draft, but it's a start. Or look at various offers to see what kind of response they are getting; if leads aren't converting to opportunities, consider removing the registration requirement. The tides are shifting, I think, but it's going to take time.

Thanks for the great thought starters!

3. David Meerman Scott  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 16, 2009 @ 01:14AM

Great post. Thanks for including me. The statement about marketing not having a good plan for the "leads" is so true!

4. Jonathan Kranz  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 16, 2009 @ 02:25AM

Part of the problem, Michele, is that we marketers have taught customers only too well. A couple of years ago, I would've gladly given some info in return for a whitepaper or ebook. But then I got slammed with tons of email with irrelevant offers.

So I learned my lesson. Unless I REALLY need that whitepaper, I'm not giving away nuthin'. And unfortunately, so many other people have performed the same calculus. Hence the problem with registration...

5. Derek Edmond  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 16, 2009 @ 04:15AM

Point #2 is great. Sometimes the notion that you must have registration in place is so ingrained that it's forgotten what actually has to happen afterwards.

Perhaps it is me, but it seems like it is a newer revelation that marketing should take the responsibility of nurturing registrants (from WP's, case studies etc) until they are ready to get into the sales cycle.

6. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 16, 2009 @ 08:27AM

David: Your books and blog have really given me a new perspective on how to market. Thanks for the inspiration.

Jonathan: You're right that the registration requirement really scares some people away. And, I also think it stops people from recommending pieces behind reg forms becasue they don't want to responsible for a possible deluge of email. I will say, though, that I still register for a lot of white papers, ebooks and such, and the vast majority of time, I am surprised at how little I am contacted. Why ask me to take the time to fill out the form if you're never going to do anything with my info? Not that I mind the lack of email as I am typically not looking to buy, but just another side of that coin.

Derek: I think you're right that asking for registration is habit, or, as I mentioned in my post, people have this nebulous plan of what they will do with the leads "someday." The concept of lead nurturing from a marketing perspective is somewhat new, and I think there are a lot of opportunities to stand out if you do it well.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by!

7. Dale Underwood  |  my website   |   Tue Jul 21, 2009 @ 10:52AM

I think it depends a lot on the type of content. David's probably right that a whitepaper download will drop from 50% to 2% because most whitepapers fail the "valuable content" test. Check out <a href="http://www.b2bconversationsnow.com/?p=67" />5 Must Haves for a Strong Call to Action</a>.

I totally agree with point #2. I think this has become a problem because marketers have incrementally crept into the sales space without knowing it. Handling qualified leads should be the responsibility of the sales team, not marketing.

I disagree with point #3. I feel marketing is losing good opportunities by using non-effective "nurturing" techniques. In fact, as a B2B sales person, I don't even like the term "nurturing" because it implies delay. In a tough, complex B2B sale delaying the connection between the sales team and the prospect is fatal. Sales needs to find prospects early in the cycle to deliver its value proposition first and nurturing prevents that. I can see nurturing for B2C but not B2B. Marketing's problem is that it does not understand what B2B customers need early in the buying cycle and so it cannot come up with offers that will filter and capture high-quality prospects.

8. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 23, 2009 @ 01:17AM


It's great to get the perspective of someone from sales. I've worked with closely with sales for years and have set up programs where we determined how and when leads will be turned over to them. From my experience, it all comes down how sales defines “highly qualified” leads. This often means prospects who are more advanced in the buying cycle, but this means something different for most sales teams. It's definitely an ongoing process that requires a lot of communication.

I have seen instances where marketing nurtures the leads, and it works great, but, as you mention, the nurturing program needs to be effective. Again, the two teams need to work together.

I also think it is tough to get highly-qualified leads early in the buying process. If the offer is meant to generate awareness, that prospect isn’t likely to be sales-ready. Again, it depends on what your definition of highly-qualified is.

One approach that may help is to 1) determine who is involved in the buying process; 2) create a buyer persona for each group; 3) map out the buying cycle; and 4) map the content that you have - and need - to move someone along the path to purchase. By seeing everything laid out, it can help sales and marketing get on the same page and determine where and how each group would best be involved.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your ideas. Good stuff to think about.

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