Showing posts with label registration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label registration. Show all posts

Why can’t website visitors just view your best content?

Last week’s “Is your website wewe-ing?” blog post discussed part 1 of my observations from browsing through a number of business software vendor websites. This post looks at the second of the inside-out common practices observed.

As I was browsing through these 20 websites looking for information, access to the detailed or interesting content was gated most of the time. Almost every time I wanted to look at product datasheets, demos, whitepapers and other worthwhile content, I had to first disclose my full set of contact information to see the vendor’s marketing material. This is incredulous – these vendors provide mostly marginal, self-centered information on their web pages and make it difficult for their website visitors see the information they came to get in the first place. It’s not the crown jewels or their trade secrets – it’s just marketing materials for goodness sake.

But it gets worse – the links to these materials are somewhat deceptive; usually stating something like “download this whitepaper now”, or “view the datasheet for more details”, or “view the product demo” or something like that. I didn’t see a “registration required” qualification on the originating links. Some websites even had flashy graphics or animations promising something, but leading directly to a registration page to collect your full contact information.

Some vendors take absurdity to new levels with this practice. The worst examples require you to create a full profile with over 25 data fields to become a supposed member of some privileged inner circle group before you see their information. Wow, what a privilege to see their marketing materials. Another absurd example is after I completed the obligatory registration information with my contact information to access something, I had to reenter all the information again 3 minutes later to download something else. And they think someone is going to buy eCommerce solutions from them when their website can’t remember a simple registration from one minute to the next?

What about existing customers for one of these vendors – would they have to register to download something? I didn’t see anything to indicate otherwise. Sure they could call their account manager or Support to send it to them, but that’s just unnecessary and unproductive for multiple people.

This is a dumb practice IMO. Think about the website visitors and why they came to a website. WIIFM (what’s in it for me) – there’s nothing in this practice that’s good for website visitors. Why give them the impression that they're dealing with an impersonal company that makes things difficult for their customers? We all know why marketers 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 whitepapers, engineers typically visit the vendor’s website (70%), contact the vendor (45%) or pass the white paper to a peer (37%). Seems to me it’s possible to get more downloads and more subsequent qualified traffic by not requiring registration.

Maybe there’s a better way to handle this and rethink this registration practice that website visitors, customers and buyers loathe. What do you think about this?

Your comments are always welcome.
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