You're Asking Too Much of Our Relationship!

You're Asking Too Much of Our Relationship!
Stephanie Tilton - Thu Sep 17, 2009 @ 06:42AM
Comments: 17

Requiring registration in exchange for a download is a hot topic of debate these days.bleeding hearts David Meerman Scott advocates banishing registration, believing companies will fare better by letting their thoughts and ideas go viral. On the other hand, as C. Edward Brice pointed out in a recent interview with me, as long as marketers are measured on leads delivered, registration is not likely to disappear for some time. While folks like Blake Hinckley, an intern at Babcock & Jenkins, are applying impressive brainpower to figuring out new ways that marketers can collect information from prospects, marketers want to know what they can do today.

Collect incremental information

I'm a proponent of collecting incremental information during each successive interaction with a prospect. Think of your relationship with the prospect like a dating scenario. On the first date, you wouldn’t expect the other person to tell you everything about his or her self. Instead, you’d expect to learn more and more over time. That’s the same mindset you should have with your prospects.

How it works

Let's say a prospect's first interaction with you is to download something valuable, such as a white paper, eBook, or how-to guide from your Web site. You could request the prospect's name and email address in exchange for the download.You could send an email asking if the person would like to receive useful information from time to time (i.e., would grant permission to be added to your database). Plus, at the end of the paper, eBook, or guide, you could point the person to another asset in your library – whatever makes sense in relation to moving the prospect through the buying process in a logical sequence.

Let's assume that you encourage the reader to sign up for the next paper in a series. When the person requests the download, you could ask for his or her company name and role. At the end of that paper, you could point the prospect to a one-hour webinar. Upon signup, you could ask for the person's company size, timeframe to purchase, and phone number.

The key is to ask for a bit more information with each contact so you can build the information up over time. (Equally important, you should only ask for information that you will use.) That way you take the burden off the prospect while gathering the information you need. By using cookies, you can pre-populate your forms with the information you’ve captured to date. The prospect can see you’re asking for just a bit of additional information with each interaction.

What it looks like

In a recent Webinar presented by Target Marketing magazine, Adam Needles of SilverPop showed what progressive profiling looks like.

progressive profiling

If you're not using a marketing automation tool, you'll need to do the following to put this into play. Map your content assets to the prospect's role and place in the buying stage, and work with your Web or IT group to make sure your registration database pre-populates Web forms appropriately. While it might seem like a lot of work, mapping your content assets will serve you well in many ways. Plus, your prospects will appreciate not being hounded from the get-go by phone calls from overzealous telesales reps.

What are your thoughts about progressive profiling?

Related posts:

Read more Savvy B2B posts from Stephanie.

Comments: 17


1. Seamus Walsh  |  my website   |   Thu Sep 17, 2009 @ 09:01AM

Stephanie, we tested this, we actually got more people downloading the paper when registration was required. I personally think that it has to do with the fact that people expect that free information is free for a reason.

Here is an interesting tidbit, a while back Hubspot had David Meerman Scott speak at an online seminar, it also required a registration for the event. With that in mind, I think it depends on the content, where the web visitor is in the buying life cycle, and the sellers perceived value of the piece. Those 3 things should determine whether registration is or is not required.

I also think sales is based of give and take, with each conversation the seller earns the right to ask for certain information and progressive profiling is just a part of a good old fashioned sales process. Buyers often expect that and in some cases if not all, require it to move them through a sales process.

Just my two cents,

Good selling!

2. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Thu Sep 17, 2009 @ 09:15AM

Hi Seamus,
Thanks for stopping by and sharing those insights. I'm actually not saying marketers should do away with registration. Rather, I'm suggesting they collect profile information over time. As you said, asking for incremental information over time is what used to take place over the course of discussions between sales reps and prospects. Now that prospects largely gather info via the Web before ever talking to a sales rep, marketers rely on Web forms to gather that information. The problem is that many of them ask for too much of it too soon.


3. Seamus Walsh  |  my website   |   Thu Sep 17, 2009 @ 09:35AM

I agree with that but that is a two way street. Often buyers request information such as price or references, when asked what they are going to do with that information often l was met with a blank stare, almost like, "how dare you ask me that." The key, as you bring up, is when to ask, what to ask and what you do with the information provided.

The bottom line is this new paradigm of buying and selling reduces the cost of sales and brings better qualified leads to the sales process and that is a good thing!

4. Walt Kania  |  my website   |   Thu Sep 17, 2009 @ 09:36AM

I've wrestled with this question for my clients several times. We always come down on the side of less registration.

I think the larger question is, just because you have an email address and company name, What are you going to do with it? Send them unsolicited emails? Make unsolicited phone calls? Spam them?

Might it be better to simply ASK "Would you like to chat about this? Just check the box below and we can talk sometime."

Rather than "Give us your phone number, or no freebie."

That's the question. What will you DO with that info? Just because you've extorted their email address doesn't give you the right to pester them.

5. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Thu Sep 17, 2009 @ 09:58AM

@Seamus - To your point about it being a two-street, I completely agree. If you're interested, I touched upon that issue in my last blog post: What Marketers Can Learn from Top-Performing Sales Reps. (You'll find a link to it at the end of this post.)

@Walt - Great point! It really does come down to what you're going to do with the information. And you can't blame prospects for not wanting to share their contact info (or for giving false info instead) because they expect to be deluged with emails and phone calls.

On the flip side, marketers can't possibly nurture leads/keep prospects engaged unless they can contact them. That said, they still need permission to do so.

6. Kimmo Linkama  |  my website   |   Fri Sep 18, 2009 @ 08:41AM

Stephanie, I totally agree with your view about collecting information incrementally. My take on registration is that I'm reluctant to answer to a third-degree registration form in exchange for a white paper or e-book, of which so many are pure rubbish.

I have nothing against giving my name and e-mail, for example. That way, both I and the provider can gradually enter into a deeper relationship -- if we both consider the relationship worth nurturing.

7. edward  |  my website   |   Mon Sep 21, 2009 @ 09:20PM

resistration is a good way for collecting info incrementally, but the form and the content should be simple and clear, otherwise the prospects are very reluctant to fill in the form. So far I found it's the most effective way to attract prospects and screen them because after all those interested are the first potential customers. And once they get registered, you have to contact them one way or another and that might cost much time to follow and figure out how to start a conversation. That's the very begining of your marketing.

8. Brenda   |   Wed Nov 10, 2010 @ 09:43AM

What is the title of the Webinar presented by Target Marketing magazine in which Adam Needles of SilverPop shared the progressive profiling graphic you shared above?

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