On-Target Marketing

Oct 30 2012   7:46PM GMT

Are Registration Forms Standing Between You & Your Prospects?

StephanieTilton Profile: StephanieTilton

Content registration is often considered a given in the content generation and distribution process: write a white paper, eBook, etc., put up a landing page and reg form and you’re off, right? The problem is that registration can create friction in the lead generation and nurturing process. Tech marketers need to strategically decide when it’s appropriate to ask for contact details in exchange for content – and how much information to request.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Don’t assume prospects are willing to provide their information just because you’re delivering a meaty report or white paper. IT buyers don’t only base their decision to provide contact information on the value of the content you provide. (Plus vendors often associate the value of content with the time and money they put into producing the content; hardly the same gauge used by prospective buyers.) Rather, buyers are more often concerned about holding vendors at arm’s length until they’re far along in their buying decision process.

Consider these findings from TechTarget’s report, When Worlds Converge: Similarities in Brand Reception and Media Consumption of IT and Personal Technology Buyers. Of the 3,269 IT buyers surveyed, 43% said they are somewhat willing and 42% are very willing to share their contact information when they are ready to make a purchase. However, while 53% of respondents are somewhat willing to provide those details in exchange for “expert or editorial information,” only 19% are very willing to do so in the same scenario.

When are IT buyers willing to share contact information?

When are IT buyers willing to share contact information?

In fact, when IT buyers click to download your content, much like their consumer counterparts, the majority don’t want the vendor to contact them as a result.

What IT buyers expect upon downloading content

What IT buyers expect upon downloading content

Is it any wonder that 38% of the respondents give their personal email address (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc.) when registering for vendor information? In cases where registration is required but they’re not ready to talk to a vendor, IT buyers do all they can to maintain control over interactions. 71% of the IT buyers surveyed refuse to provide their business account so as not to get inundated with messages.

Why IT buyers use personal email when registering

Why IT buyers use personal email when registering

Keep it Short & Sweet

So how can you collect the information you need to start engaging and determining whether or not someone is truly a prospective customer? Ideally you build up the information using progressive profiling, rather than hit someone with a 10- or 15-field registration form from the get-go. (For a sample scenario — and a terrific article on why you need to change your view of lead nurturing — see this article by Ardath Albee.) Don’t forget you could allow people to register using social sign-in (e.g., “register using your LinkedIn account information”), and augment the information your collect with data from third-party providers such as JigSaw or ZoomInfo.

Test Your Forms, Formulate a Strategy

Approach registration from a strategic, analytical perspective, just as you do with your landing pages and emails. Run a test of your forms with a different number of fields and see what results you yield. Marketo, a company offering marketing automation software, did just that and found that the longer the form, the lower the conversion rate and the higher the cost per lead (see the table below).

Results of Marketo's A/B test of registration form length

Results of Marketo A/B testing of reg form length

Ultimately the reg information you request should logically relate to the content that people are accessing on your site. In other words, map out the buyer’s journey and how your content fits at each stage. Then determine which contact information you can reasonably request at each stage.

Map your registration requirements to the buying cycle

Map your registration requirements to the buying cycle

Demandbase and Focus hosted a webinar on this very topic. Watch the one-hour webinar Avoiding the Lead Gen Trade-Off: How to Boost Web Form Conversions without Sacrificing Lead Data Quality for insights into how to optimize your entire site for conversions.

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