I’ve been reminded once again of what a mistake it is for B2B software companies to force prospective customers to fill out a registration lead capture form in order to view their marketing content.

Over the past week I’ve been researching project management software solutions to better collaborate with clients on marketing and PR projects, and as I was perusing various vendor websites, again and again I was asked to submit my information and “pay” just to read case studies, white papers, watch videos or listen to podcasts so I can potentially buy their product.

Instead of generating leads, these registration forms turn away the very prospects that you need to educate and engage with. Like most busy professionals researching software, I want to have a very good sense that a solution will work for my specific needs before I want to risk being interrupted by phone calls, emails, and direct mailings from people I don’t care to hear from.

That means removing the barriers to your marketing content in order for prospects to learn more about your software and see you as a trustworthy source, which compels them to contact you and willingly engage with your company. This is far more likely to result in a sale than not generating leads at all, or generating low quality leads because they’re still in the research phase of the sales cycle and probably don’t want to talk with you yet.

Survey Says: 75% IT Pros Won’t Register for White Papers

In an interview on the Savvy B2B Marketing blog with Jay Hallberg, VP of Marketing of networking monitoring software provider Spiceworks, he discussed results of a survey of users of their IT white paper community. (And yes, I do find it ironic that they are making people register for survey results report)

The survey found:

  • More than 75% of IT professionals DON'T sign up for white papers requiring registration
  • IT pros want to reach out to the vendor on their terms via their preferred channel, e.g. phone, email, or chat. Prospects don’t want the vendor to contact them. Period. If they want more information or to talk to a rep after they download a paper, they will contact that vendor.
  • Some IT vendors offer "free" white papers but require registration. If the vendor requires contact information, the white paper is far from free.
  • When vendors remove the registration wall, downloads go way up. One white paper that was offered without registration was downloaded 500 times in 3 days.

Lead Capture Forms Make Social Media Sharing Ineffective

One of the project management software vendors I checked out was recommended by someone on LinkedIn who provided a link to a white paper. Unfortunately, the link led to a registration form to download the white paper, which I didn’t do because I didn’t know enough about the vendor or solution yet. If the link had led directly to the white paper itself (or page from which I could download without ‘paying’) then I could quickly and easily have found out if I wanted to contact the vendor and engage with them. If I found the white paper helpful, I would have shared it with others via Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media venues as I know other marketing pros that need similar solutions.

By putting up barriers to your content, you’re missing out on effectively using social media to generate leads.

Registration Has Its Time and Place

Lead capture forms are effective and needed for some aspects of marketing, such as requiring prospects to sign up to receive a newsletter or attend an event, as you need their email address to send the content or event information. It is a good idea to offer a ‘bonus’ content piece such as an article, case study, video, etc. that the subscriber receives immediately in order to boost subscription rates, so in this case a registration form is appropriate.

One way to effectively use registration forms is embedding them into your content or placing a lead capture form on the same web page as your content, so prospects can contact your company if they wish, but can still view and share your content without contacting you.

Increase Lead Generation by Creating Quality Content

If you’re continuously creating high-quality content that educates and engages (and entertains in appropriate cases) your prospective customers, instead of an uninvited pest, you’ll be seen as a welcome guest who they look forward to hearing from.


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